Okay, I have the date circled on my calendar. I am certain that all my fellow 24 fans have done the same. The new limited run series begins with a two-hour premiere on Monday, May 5, 2014. I know I am running all the possibilities through my brain, and the fact that the series ended with Jack in such a terrible position only makes all the potential conflicts all the more savory.
Appearing at a press conference to promote the new series, Keifer Sutherland (Jack Bauer), Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe), and showrunner and executive producer Howard Gordon spoke about the reboot of the beloved action series. With the title 24: Live Another Day we get some foreshadowing as to what to expect, and it all seems in essence downright James Bond-like with the setting and intrigue London has to offer.
We also know that Jack Bauer – the identity at least – is a dead man. When last we saw Jack he was on the run. Ostensibly a man without a country, his family lost to him, Jack seemed a ghostly image on the TV screen as Chloe grimly ordered, “Shut it down!” The screen then went blank and we have been waiting since 2010 to find out what Jack did next.
Knowing Jack Bauer as well as fans do, there is a sense that he can survive anything. His ability to live despite the most harrowing circumstances propels him forward, against overwhelming odds, and he is usually victorious. Of course, because of the nature of his job, Jack is in constant danger, basically cannot have a family, and has long ago thrown the possibility of love to the wind.
However, the interesting casting information is that Kim Raver is returning to the series. True fans will recall Kim as Audrey Raines, whom Jack loved and lost (the list is sadly a long one there for Jack). The way we last saw Audrey was in a catatonic state, completely ignorant to Jack’s presence. Jack left her under the care of her father (the terrific William Devane who is reprising his role as Jack’s nemesis James Heller), and they parted ways in less than amicable circumstances.
So there are endless possibilities of internal and external conflicts for Jack (what else is new?). There is also the history of Jack’s actions that will haunt him, with everyone no doubt after this now international fugitive. The Chinese and Russians want him, not to mention an assorted list of terrorists, the FBI, CIA, and NYPD, and they all would like to make him pay for his “crimes” in one way or another.
The truth for Jack Bauer is always the gold standard as to how he proceeds. When he realized President Taylor (Cherry Jones) had compromised her administration in truly nefarious ways, Jack’s loyalty ended. Jack adheres to a personal code that is unbreakable but causes him nothing but grief; still, one has to admire a man who puts everything before his own well-being and safety to get the job done.
Jack has “died” in one way or another many times for his country – he has faked his death; his heart stopped and he was brought back to life; and his identity has been erased. He is persona non grata in his own country and everywhere else in the world, but Jack will not let that stop him. If he encounters something he deems threatens the safety of citizens and his country (or now presumably the U.K.) he will stop at nothing – absolutely nothing – to get to the finish line.
Obviously, we 24 fans have been waiting a long, long time, and this feels right to us. When the original series ended, many of the fans had hoped for a happy ending for Jack Bauer, but I often noted that Jack is a tragic hero, and tragic heroes seldom have a happy ending and usually end up dead. Jack has lost his wife, lovers, family, and friends. He has lost his dignity, his reputation, and his job. In so many ways Jack has died and yet he refuses to yield, and in that there is always a glimmer of some kind of hope.
24: Live Another Day brings that hope to the loyal fans and will no doubt attract new ones as well. The series has always given the fans perhaps not what they wanted but definitely what they deserved. With Howard Gordon at the helm again, we can believe that Jack is going to be up against all odds and pushed to the limit of his endurance, but that is, of course, when Jack Bauer is at his best.
I will be counting the days until May 5th. Anticipation is sometimes difficult, but at least we know that Jack is back, and that is not good news for the bad guys in London – or anywhere else for that matter, but great news for us.
I will return with a review of the first episode in May. Until then, as always, Klaatu Barada Nikto.