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’24: Live Another Day’ Review: ’9:00 P.M. — 10:00 P.M.”

Fox

With World War III suddenly on the horizon, ‘24: Live Another Day‘ raised the stakes to cataclysmic levels with its previous hour. Does this episode follow through? Read on for our detailed recap and review!

THE EPISODE:

Heller and his advisors learn about the attack on the Chinese carrier and turn to satellite coverage, shocked at what’s happening.

Across the city, Jack and Kate continue their gun battle with the Russians and retreat into a nearby parking lot. Kate wonders if the Russians are working for Cross, but Jack knows better.

Inside, Cheng and his men prepare to move out and Chloe asks him why he’d attack his own country. Cheng says that China turned its back on him — it’s not his country anymore. He then notices the screen with video footage from outside and sees that Jack is getting close. Cheng wonders how his old arch nemesis found him and finds the tracker in the device. He removes it and orders his men to take Chloe with them. She desperately goes for her phone, but Cheng catches her and throws it away.

Jack and Kate solve their Russian problem by shooting nearby propane tanks, catching their opposition on fire. CIA backup arrives just on time, killing or capturing the rest of the Russians. Jack and Kate head into Open Cell’s HQ and finds Cross and his team dead, the device gone and Chloe missing. They find Chloe’s phone and realize she managed to record a few seconds of Cheng speaking. Jack immediately recognizes him.

Heller organizes rescue efforts for the devastated Chinese carrier when Jack calls and fills everyone in on Cheng. Heller says that Cheng died in a Chinese prison a few years back, but that’s obviously not the case. Jack says that Cheng seems to be working with the Russians. Heller orders Jack to find Cheng and the device so they can prove America’s innocence. Throughout all of this, Audrey (who was tortured by Cheng way back in season six) is visibly shaken.

At the CIA station, Eric and his team begin their search for Cheng and realize that the Russians tracked Jack’s CIA-issue phone … and that the proper tracking information was provided by Mark! Jack and Kate put two and two together and head out.

Cheng calls the Russian Deputy Minister, who is angry that Jack is still alive. Cheng knows that Jack wants to kill him, but the Deputy Minister promises him that a boat will take him out of the country,

Mark offers Audrey the chance to leave, but she refuses. Meanwhile, Heller takes a phone call from the Chinese President, who doesn’t buy the story about the drones and the device and Cheng. Heller promises to produce evidence, but the Chinese President promises war. Audrey says she has a contact in the Chinese embassy and heads out to hand over just enough information on the device to stall World War III. It’s perfect timing, because Heller’s military advisors inform him that the Chinese military has already begun mobilizing.

Audrey is en route to meet her Chinese contact when Jack calls. He tells her about Cheng and she makes him promise to get the job done before he kills him. They have an emotional moment: he’s going to have to do more bad stuff very soon and he doesn’t want her to hate him. Audrey says she could never hate him and never has. She cries. Jack kind-of-sort-of-almost cries.

Heller’s military advisors update him on the Chinese military, who are now heading for an American base in Japan. One of his colonels suggests that they ready nuclear weapons, but Heller refuses. Jack arrives and requests a private meeting with Heller and Mark. The moment they’re in private, Jack pulls a gun on Mark and he spills his guts about everything. Heller promises to arrest him for treason, Jack needs his help first. He’s going to break into the Deputy Minister’s home so they can locate Cheng.

Jack, Kate and Mark head out to the Deputy Minister’s compound. Jack equips Mark with a tiny camera and microphone. Marks says he thought he was doing the right thing. Jack gives him advice on surviving the inevitable gunfight.

Cheng and his men continue their drive to safety through the countryside outside of London. While they’re distracted by some kind of technical nonsense, Chloe grabs a nearby pipe, beats a few men out of her way and leaps from the truck. She runs into the woods as Cheng’s men give pursuit, but she trips and gets knocked unconscious. Thankfully, a British military convoys rolls by and a driver orders Cheng to move his truck. They abandon their search for Chloe and roll out.

Chinese missiles destroy American surveillance satellites, taking away Heller and his team’s visuals on the Chinese military advance. Heller takes the nation to DEFCON 3.

At the Deputy Minister’s compound, Marks does his patriotic duty and claims that he’s there to defect. The Deputy Minister initially won’t let him in, but Mark begs him, saying that he’ll be a hero in Moscow for securing the President of the Untied States’ Chief of Staff. The gate opens and Mark is led inside. From their car, Jack and Kate watch and listen, sizing up security and getting ready. As Mark stalls the Deputy Minister in his office, the techies at the CIA station shut down the compound’s security system and Jack and Kate begin their invasion, killing the guard in the courtyard and advancing into the house.

The Deputy Minister sees his security system failing on his computer screen and goes for a gun. Mark knocks it out of his hand and they begin a life and death struggle. As they fight, Jack and Kate systematically kill every last guard in the house. When they finally find Mark, it’s too late: he’s thrown the Deputy Minister through a glass door and his neck has been cut … and he’s bleeding out. Jack demands that he tell him where Cheng is, but all he says is that Russia has not forgotten what Jack has done (see: season eight). The Deputy Minister dies and, for the first time in awhile, Jack looks legitimately concerned.

Audrey and a few bodyguards meet her contact in a public park, but things quickly go from well enough to disastrous. A sniper opens fire from a nearby building, killing Audrey’s men and her contact.

In the forest, Chloe wakes up. In the compound, Jack and Kate search the Deputy Minister’s office.

Audrey’s phone rings. It’s Cheng, and he’s watching her from the camera attached to his sniper’s weapon. He orders her to sit down and says he may allow her to live.

OUR REVIEW:

The women in Jack Bauer’s life have a bad habit of ending up very dead, often directly due to Jack’s actions. Considering that the first season concluded with the death of Jack’s wife, we can’t help but wonder if this (potentially final) season will mirror that shocking moment and kill off Audrey. The other obvious option is that Jack will save her, partially redeeming him for letting so many people die over the years.

’24′ is a difficult show to talk about in a critical context because even its staunchest defenders admit that it’s fantastic popcorn entertainment that’s frequently devoid thematic resonance or moral responsibility. It’s an action show that only pretends to care about politics every so often. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it frequently makes it feel like a guilty pleasure more than a truly great program. This latest episode delivers on the action and suspense and nuttiness (did Chloe really bludgeon her way through armed guards so she could jump off a moving truck and escape thanks to unconsciousness?), but even a season this consistently entertaining can’t hide how shallow all of this really is.

At the same time, who cares? This remains the biggest, slickest entertainment on network television and it’s the only show with the proper amount of raw nerve to feature its hero raiding the home of a foreign official and killing everything in his path. Its absurdity has never been more charming or lunkheaded. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but ’24′ is still doing that one trick better than anyone.

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