Jack Bauer Really Likes Shooting People In The Leg

From rowdy government officials to creepy terrorist sex cameras, 24 has it all. "Over the top" can't even begin to describe this wonderful, ridiculous television show.

By the end of last night's episode—1:00pm-2:00pm—Jack Bauer is shooting civilians' legs in order to start a riot so he can invade the U.S. embassy and rescue a framed soldier in hopes of getting vital information to convince the president of the United States that he's being targeted by terrorist-controlled robot drones. Because 24.

Again: by the end of last night's episode of 24, Jack Bauer has shot two civilians in the leg, adding to a lofty Innocent Person Leg Shooting Count that includes Christopher Henderson's wife and some cop in season 8.

It's the type of pastime that makes Bauer come across less as "tortured hero who sometimes goes too far" and more "terrifying anti-hero who really might not be doing what's right all the time." To put it in Dungeons & Dragons terms, I'm beginning to wonder if Bauer has spent the past four years sliding from Chaotic Good to Chaotic Neutral, beginning with that terrifying revenge quest at the end of season eight. Just what has he been doing these past four years? How many people has he shot in the leg? Has he killed anyone? Is Jack Bauer even capable of going four years without killing anyone? He was murder-free last night, and even one hour without a Bauer Kill made last night's episode feel lacking somehow.

But hey, that's why we watch this show, isn't it? We want to see Jack get DARK—and at that, the newly-revived 24: Live Another Day has not disappointed. It's been three hours since Bauer reappeared on our radar and already he's invading consulates, which is usually not a smart career move, unless one equates job advancement with being shipped off to a foreign country and getting tortured for two years. We haven't seen Jack reconnect with a married (and changed) Audrey yet—now that's gonna get dark—but we can tell that he's on edge. He's still angry. He's embraced the darkness.

There wasn't much action in this hour, but there was a whole lot of setup, both in president Heller's circle, where the chief-of-staff is forging documents and generally acting like a scumbag, and in House Terrorist, where Catelyn Stark and her merry band of creepers are plotting a revenge scheme against the president by playing in gardens and developing weird four-way sexual tension.

Most importantly, we get some Serious Character Development with the revelation that Chloe's husband (Morris, who you may remember as the alcoholic CTU analyst who helped terrorists rig a nuclear bomb) and son (Prescott, a baby) were assassinated by Shadowy People who were really just after Chloe. Ouch. This explains why Chloe is A) in London; B) working with sneaky hackers; C) dressing all black and putting eyeliner on her cheeks.

It also evokes some meaningful parallels. Hey, guess who else has lost loved ones in the line of duty? Mr. Leg Assassin himself, Jack Bauer, who has never really been able to recover from finding his wife's dead body in the back rooms of CTU oh so many years ago. Could Chloe perhaps now have new reasons to trust and empathize with what Jack does? Or will this tragedy keep pushing her to that same darkness, where she might not have the fortitude that her grizzlier BFF has shown all these years? Is she going to be able to handle that? This new dynamic will be fun to watch, and even though 24 hasn't quite mastered the art of subtlety, I think that Chloe will have to make some tough choices by the end of this day in London.

And then there's Kate Morgan, by far the show's most compelling new character, channeling her inner Bauer through Reckless Interrogation and Not Playing By The Rules. In order to get one of the baddies to talk, she drives him to a tunnel full of drug addict gang members who that baddie once ripped off, then parks the car, letting him sweat for a while until he gives her ANSWERS, DAMMIT. In just three episodes, Morgan has already become a more convincing Female Jack than Renee Walker ever was, and Yvonne Strahovski plays the role with the type of coolness we've never really seen in a 24 character not named Bauer. (Actually, we've seen a lot of Bauers, and other than Jack, they were all pretty lame.)

By episode's end Kate has found Bauer at the U.S. embassy, and by the end of the next episode they'll most certainly have some struggles and CONFLICT. Jack will probably win.

"Everybody has a weak spot," Kate says at one point. Clearly she needs to spend more time with Jack Bauer.

Stray observations:

  • 24's version of British parliament feels like a Monty Python sketch. Are they all just drunk all day? No wonder we won the revolution.
  • For a little while, I was psyched that Terrorist Mom might have a sympathetic backstory—her husband was killed by U.S. drones—because the best villains are sympathetic even when you don't want them to be...
  • ...and then it turns out she installed hidden cameras in the Terrorist Mansion so she can watch her daughter have sex. Sympathy points GONE.
  • Speaking of Terrorist Daughter, why did she need to cut her leg and put blood on her face in order to get civilians to mob Jack so she could escape the subway? That was so unnecessary. All she had to do was scream.
  • Why are civilians always getting in Jack Bauer's way? Don't they watch 24?
  • British Wikileaks sure is gonna regret betraying Jack Bauer.
  • While I'm glad the writers cut this season down to 12 episodes, it still feels like there's a bit too much filler here—I really can't bring myself to care about the dynamic between Terrorist Daughter and her husband, who doesn't want to do this anymore and will probably wind up betraying Terrorist Family only to get shot at the end of an episode as Jack cradles him yelling DAMMIT.
  • Anyone want to take odds on when we'll see Tony Almeida, Mike Novick, Aaron Pierce, and Charles Logan? Of course, they'll all happen to be in London today, because 24.
  • I will never get used to watching people drive on the left. NEVER.

Mole Count: 0

Jack Bauer Kill Count: 0 :(

Jack Bauer "Dammit" Count: 1

Ridiculous Jack Bauer Quote of the Week: "You can't bring back the ones you love. Trust me. But you can honor their lives by helping others. It's the only way forward... Now Chloe, I don't want to make you do anything, but I need your help. Please. Help me stop these attacks from happening."