WARNING: FULL SPOILERS
In the history of modern television, is there any government agency more inept than the Counter Terrorist Unit of 24? Every season, there is a mole, a poor leader or something worse: An attack on the headquarters. 24: Legacy once again relies on that annoying trope as the ninth hour takes a bit of a step back from two solid episodes. It relies so heavily on the ideas of the original, it makes you question why the show even exists.
Not everything is bad…Corey Hawkins, Jimmy Smits, Gerald McRaney and Miranda Otto give some of their best performances so far. But the show’s lack of inventive ways to fuel its plot takes away much of the tension it tries to build. 24: Legacy has become predictable and thoroughly average.
Eric Carter, A Troubled Hero
In last week’s episode, Hawkins had his weakest episode as Eric was forced to say some pretty cliched dialogue. However, this episode features some incredibly strong moments for Eric that show just how troubled and determined the character is. He actually does not have a whole lot to do in the episode, but Hawkins makes the most of it.
Everyone will probably believe that Naseri (Oded Fehr) escaping CTU with both Jadalla and John Donovan (Jimmy Smits) is the big moment of this episode. And while it is an important event, we have seen it before (More on this later). For me, the biggest moment is Eric pacing nervously as he hears the news. You can feel his obsessive need to fix things completely take over at this moment as he can barely contain his rage. Without saying a word, Hawkins says it all with his body language: Everyone else is botching things up and only he can take care of it.
The scene between Eric and Isaac (Ashley Thomas) is also very well done. I have been incredibly critical about Thomas early in the show, but he has begun to emerge as a solid character. He works very well with Eric here, questioning why it always has to be him to hunt down the terrorists. Eric’s barely controlled rage, constant pacing and discomfort trying to explain his reasons are executed beautifully by Hawkins, realistically showing just how obsessive our hero truly is.
But this scene also led to an unfortunate return to the soap opera style love triangle between Eric, Isaac and Nicole (Anna Diop). The whole storyline does not fit at all in an action series and continues to take away from a solid show. For one thing, it takes away from two of its participants. It makes Eric a little too similar to Jack Bauer from the original show: He is a dogged man who cannot put that same determination into a marriage.
Nicole also suffers in this subplot, taking away the strength of the character the show built up in the early episodes. She is caught between one man who neglects her and Isaac, a man who put his hands on her. When Nicole and Isaac almost kiss at her home after she finds out that Ingram was actively recruiting Eric, it is a cringe worthy moment. The character does not deserve both of these men and Diop does not deserve this subplot.
In addition to Hawkins, Jimmy Smits continues to stand out as John Donovan. His scene with an equally great McRaney truly shows just how good Donovan is. McRaney gives us a very selfish Henry, a man grasping not so much for his son’s welfare but more for his family’s legacy. The fact that John will have none of it is truly powerful due to Smits’ performance. He is protective of his father, but also completely disappointed in him.
He also has a strong moment with Otto as John tells Ingram that he still cares for her despite her attempts to torture her father (That is a truly weird sentence to write.). I am also glad to see Ingram’s regrets come back over her questionable methods. However, the two characters’ reconciliation leads John to CTU at the worst possible moment.
Kidnapping and Torture, Torture and Kidnapping
Not only does Legacy give us one kidnapping, it gives us two! By kidnapping the girlfriend of a married member of CTU, I am guessing the writers thought they could get away with yet another captured loved one plot, but its still the same thing as before. Worse, the CTU security chief Grant is just introduced in this episode, so you end up feeling nothing for him.
And then John is kidnapped, too! His appearance at that moment is so convenient and so stupid, it is almost laughable. So Naseri and his men just happen to come across a presidential candidate as they escape the (Supposedly) top counter terrorist unit in the United States? And why does he only have two Secret Service agents with him? Wow. Why not give us an inventive villain who does not rely on the typical tropes or blind luck?
Oded Fehr is a welcome addition to the cast as new big bad Naseri, but he does not seem that original. When Mullins (Teddy Sears) describes what made Naseri so evil, it truly is a nefarious thing (He beheaded the family of an American asset in the Middle East), but we have seen it before. And his methods: Kidnapping, blackmail and hiding in plain sight…been there, done that. It is good to see that Jadalla (Raphael Acloque) is still in play and it should be interesting to see where their relationship goes, but the show now feels like it is on auto pilot.
You can almost see where the show is going. Eric will take out both Naseri and Jadalla, who will probably have doubts when he sees whatever nefarious and over the top plot he has in store. Nicole will most likely leave Eric for Isaac, forcing him into the waiting arms of CTU. Ingram will most likely die, because CTU can never have a capable leader…who else will Eric clash with in future seasons?
In many ways, this episode encapsulates Legacy’s biggest flaw: Because it uses so many of the classic tropes, why does it even exist? The show seemingly promised a new “day” for the show and so far it has been staggeringly pedestrian with a few scattered moments of interest. The previews for the next episode show Ingram and Eric discussing going rogue yet again in the same garage Eric and Andy (Dan Bucatinsky) were in when they discussed leaving CTU out of the loop. There is no shifting gears here, just staying on automatic.
The cycle continues…
SCORE: 5 OUT OF 10
24: Legacy airs Mondays at 8pm on Fox