24: Live Another Day: “4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.” (Season 9, Episode 6)


Due to its spare 12-episode count this year, 24: Live Another Day has done two things to adapt to the shortened number of hours we get to spend with Jack Bauer and company. The plotting has quickened, but the compelling character drama has slackened. The seventh episode of FOX’s revival was its crazier hour yet, in some ways that were darkly thrilling but also brisk to the point of letting the characters evaporate to let the exposition and plotting take the frame.

Due to the various subplots that the show’s writers must keep moving forward every week, there is no room to slow things down to let some character moments breathe. We had a bit of a reprieve from the heightened tension during last Monday’s hour, when Audrey and Jack had a tender moment, but it was only a moment. Now, any intriguing internal struggle is let go in favor of keeping with the frenetic pace of the drama. If Jack and Kate are caught in a life-and-death situation, involving arms Karl Rask and his cronies of enhanced interrogators, then there is simply not enough time to cut back to a calmer subplot.

As much as Audrey and Mark’s scattered marriage, or the president’s feud with the prime minister, or any CIA London office politics could have been an interesting aside from the main action, it is hard to imagine we will be seeing any major growth in any of the B-plots, as long as the A-plot is rolling.

Speaking of that A-plot, Heller has reinstated Jack to partake in a covert operation, a quick about-face from his attitude toward his old friend from the last couple of weeks. Jack demands that Morgan comes along, knowing that he will need a way to gain the trust of Rask, who he believes has connections to Margot Al-Harizi. Rask is not thrilled with Jack and so he hopes he can use Kate as leverage to prove he is not a mole. Somewhat improbably, he has quick access to a serum that causes her to fall unconscious.

Just as improbably, Rask’s cronies have a drug that reverses that mixture, and thus she wakes up, just in time to be subjected to torture. Kate, meanwhile, has just as much stamina as Jack does under the harsh light of enhanced interrogation. She is electrocuted and slashed in the leg, but still has the strength to get into position and take down an intruder. Yvonne Strahovski’s relieved smile was the best, most cathartic moment of this hour (and should give Chuck fans something to cheer about).