24: Legacy S01E01 Recap: "12 P.M. - 1 P.M." [Series Premiere]
Don't let the fancy new font on the clock or the advanced technology fool you; 24: Legacy is exactly the same kind of show its predecessor and namesake always was. The moles, the over-the-computer screen distrusting glances, the unnecessary subplots involving teenagers that probably won't pay off until halfway through the season, Legacy's premiere, "12 P.M. - 1 P.M.", wastes absolutely no time doubling down on all the tropes the Kiefer Sutherland version of 24 created and buried into the ground long ago. If you weren't a fan of 24 before, the good news is that it won't take long for you to figure out that you probably won't be a fan of Legacy either. And quite frankly, considering all the people from the original series back to work on this one (like Jon Cassar, David Fury, Manny Coto and Evan Katz, among others), it should surprise no one that 24: Legacy makes no attempt to hide what it wants to be.
But if what you've come to Legacy for is similar to what you always went to 24 for, then it seems as if you and I are in for a hell of a ride. The premiere is, in large part, exposition and set up for new characters, a new setting and a new set of conspiracies and terror threats, but the episode also makes good use of its time, all things considered. Its two main protagonists are pretty quickly believable in both their motivations and altruism, and the plot seems simultaneously large enough to feel threatening and exciting yet small enough to justify how said protagonists have to deal with it.
The story follows Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins), an ex-Army Ranger who wakes up on this day to find four of his five squad members dead, the supporters of the man they killed (Sheik Ibrahim Bin-Khalid) hunting them down one by one, not for revenge, but in order to recover a strongbox that contains - as we later find out - activation codes for a number of sleeper cells that could launch a full-scale attack on America. This drive was unwittingly in the hands of Carter's other squad member, Ben Grimes, who suffers from PTSD and lives off the grid. Eric tracks him down with the help of the former director of CTU who orchestrated the raid on Bin-Khalid, Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto), who has to work covertly as she no longer runs CTU and because the fact that the rangers' locations was leaked leads her to believe that her replacement, Keith Mullins (Teddy Sears) could be a mole.
It's all very 24-y. And that's great. While this episode is, as mentioned, a lot of setup, this story still provides ample opportunity for a lot of heart-pumping action, the best part probably being a ridiculous set piece near the end when Eric rolls a giant metal tube onto the terrorists that are chasing him and Ben. It feels grand and large scale, and that's what made me really happy with this premiere.
But we all know that part of what makes or breaks 24 is its characters. We could debate for hours the merits of a 24 show without Kiefer Sutherland, but one way or another we're here, and Jack isn't. What we have instead is Eric Carter, and while we still don't know all that much about him and he honestly doesn't get time to do much, character-wise, in this episode, he intrigues me at a glance. He's certainly a badass and capable of the job, but he also has a rich personal history that will likely unfurl over the course of the season, between his past in the army and connections to characters like Rebecca and Ben, but what's especially interesting is the deal with his brother Isaac, a gang leader with whom his relationship has soured over Eric's wife Nicole. And Nicole, by the way, holds her own in some early action scenes with the terrorists that invade their house, setting her apart from the Teri Bauers of the world.
As for Rebecca, we actually learn a fair bit about her. She's the wife of a senator with presidential aspirations, John Donovan (playing the same role he played in the later seasons of The West Wing for some reason), who feels obliged to give up her career in exchange for potentially becoming the first lady because she didn't wan to four years earlier. That four year period allowed her to take down Bin-Khalid and win a medal of honor, one we see her accept early in the episode. Her actions at CTU also seem like things we've seen in the previous series but on crack. She wastes no time working covertly with one of her ex-employees when she figures national security is on the line, and by the end of the episode she tazes her handpicked replacement. That's something that wouldn't happen until like a dozen episodes into a normal season.
Both Rebecca and Eric seem instantly willing to do whatever they need to do to protect their country. While that may seem like a leap for some viewers, the reality to me as a veteran 24 fan tells me that they've been through this before, and don't need to jump through hoops to justify what they're doing. Eric immediately decides he needs to save the country, and why wouldn't he? He's the brother of a high-profile gang leader who decices instead to serve his country and quickly rose up the ranks to become a ranger who took down a top terrorist. As for Rebecca, she led that operation, and CTU on a national level. Do you think she hasn't had to taze someone on the job before?
They may seem like shortcuts, but they're the kind of shortcuts we've always wanted 24 to take. You know what you're getting with this show, and the reduced 13 episode count guarantees that we'll get it quicker. While this pilot was still a lot of setup and a lot of exposition, it did a lot to reassure me that it'll be a version of 24 well-worth watching, even if the connections to that previous universe will be tenuous at best. "12PM-1PM" gets 8 terrorist strongboxes out of 10.
Notes & Quotes:
- The one thing that kind of dragged this all down was the whole Chechnyan high school terrorist subplot. You know that won't pan out until most of the way through the seaoson, but we'll see where it goes.
- The only connection so far to the previous series is one of the CTU analysts mentioning how her cousin was Edgar Stiles. Now I just miss Edgar again, though.
- There's no way Jack hasn't said this exact same line: "Why does it need to be you?" "Because right now, I'm the only one I can trust."