The team behind 24: Live Another Day deserves much credit for limiting Kiefer Sutherland to about four minutes of screen time in this episode but still managing to ratchet up the suspense and hold our attention. That the series is able to squeeze in a lot of compelling storylines without continually resorting to Jack Bauer’s cunning threats and tactics shows that the 24 is not just a relic of the Bush era, but a dynamic thriller that can work in the context of any administration. Perhaps the reason this season of 24 has been so taut and clean is due to the halved slate of episodes. Instead of needing to prolong big character decisions – for instance, whether Heller will release Jack, or how Navarro is going to handle Kate due the complaint from the Marine – the show drives right ahead and keeps the action moving.
24: Live Another Day ‘s best new asset is Agent Kate Morgan. The writers are turning her into a heroine striving to prove herself while continually receiving some of the same obstacles that confined and challenged Jack in earlier seasons. She squares off with a Marine at the top of this hour, only to find out that he filed a complaint and she must sit out on the next run. She has a noble set of virtues, proved by her quick alliance with Jack from last week’s episode and this one, and enough expertise in intelligence to spot false leads (Al-Harazi’s fake-out with the IP address, for instance). Kate and Jack could be a remarkable team, along with unsung hero Chloe “Lisbeth Salander” O’Brien.
Even though the hour begins with a victory, as Kate retrieves the key that proves Tanner is innocent, the plot soon thickens. When Heller gives the command to ground the drones, Navid presses a few buttons and the six of the ten weapons can no longer be tracked by radar. This should send the president into a frenzy, especially given his senile mental capacity a few hours ago, but he acts with relative calm.
This episode is also significant for finally bringing Audrey and Jack face-to-face. Although the touching noses and heavy breathing did feel like a bit much, both actors did their best to carry some of the soapier dialogue. By handicapping Bauer in a holding room for much of the episode, though, his encounter with his ex-girlfriend made the character more vulnerable.