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24: Legacy - 6:00pm - 7:00pm - Review: "Welcome back, Tony Almeida"



March 13, 2006 was a Monday and it, like the eight Mondays before it and the ten after it, was a night on which FOX aired a brand new episode of 24’s fifth season. That particular Monday night’s episode, however, had a significance: Tony Almeida’s apparent death at the hands of Christopher Henderson.

It’s an incredible coincidence, then, that eleven years later to the day, FOX airs an episode of 24: Legacy in which Tony becomes the first familiar face to return in the series’ new incarnation. For Tony, of course, this isn’t his return from death - he appeared 20 times in season seven and featured in the story extension 24: Solitary, found on the Live Another Day Blu-Ray - but it’s notable nonetheless.

His return here has been highly anticipated amongst fans, but for those viewers who have only seen Legacy, the difficult task was to make introducing him worthwhile while not depriving long-time fans. And, as far as that goes, “6:00pm - 7:00pm” did a solid job. In establishing his prior relationship with Rebecca after his wife died, the series placed Tony in a context that works for either type of viewer (*) yet treats him like a character who needs little more explanation - and, really, he doesn’t. Short of a complete exposition dump consuming several minutes, there is very little more that Legacy can say, and so uses that to its advantage by making it all that’s needed. Ultimately, Tony’s role here is likely going to be as this outside interrogator and only that, and so there is no point wasting time trying to up his significance to this iteration.

(*) There is still time, of course, but it would be nice if the show had explained a little more about how Tony and Rebecca met. Even if, on a personal level, I have a mental block on contemplating what I consider the destruction of his character.

As it was, Tony’s inclusion was fun, with Carlos Bernard’s performance the typically dry and confident turn he oft showcased in prior seasons. And, really, that’s all 24: Legacy needed to do with him.

Using him in the return of enhanced interrogation, an aspect of CTU operations he is strongly familiar with, was smart too. The series - and critics of it - has frequently turned to this as a point of contention: season seven questioned the use of torture, and there was often a character opposed to it in many instances during other seasons. Rebecca’s decision to shield CTU, Mullins, and her husband from the inevitable fallout over torturing Henry shows her experience, but that she would turn to it at all displays just how determined she is to get the job done. Mullins may have approved her suggestion - though not the man she uses - but had she not made the suggestion, it’s difficult to envisage him implementing it on his own accord. His clear lack of experience as a leader, and as someone who seems reluctant to do whatever is necessary irrespective of its problems, is an interesting character trait, and it’s fascinating that he’s being contrasted with his mentor; her doubts over quitting have only become more prominent in these half-dozen hours, and it’s easy to wonder if the season is heading in the direction of bringing her back permanently.

Eric, meanwhile, was stuck desperate to rescue his wife and brother, enlisting Andy as the man to take to help Jadalla repair the drive and recover the information on the sleeper cells. Unsurprisingly, Eric had a plan to save his family and stop the terrorists - destroy the data instead of salvaging it, sacrificing themselves in the process. It’s a noble act, and one we’ve seen variants of play out multiple times before - Jack (more times than I can count), Heller (twice), Lynn, etc. - but one that, handled with finesse, can still be impactful and successful. Centring this on Andy’s obvious fears was the right move, particularly given the further exploration of his and Locke’s relationship. Dan Bucatinsky, who has had very little to do in recent episodes, was allowed to provide Andy with a greater depth, something that worked in the hour’s favour and gave a much-needed heft to their mission. Knowing Eric’s background, his willingness to die to protect his family and thousands of Americans is what we expect, and although that didn’t detract from the emotion of his choice - especially as he said goodbye to both Nicole and Isaac, which Hawkins nailed - it’s much more powerful to see this ordinary, more relatable man (*) making peace with this sacrifice. He’s scared, initially hesitant, and would love a way out of this, but he knows what needs to be done and the larger-than-him consequences if he doesn’t. Seeing Andy apologise for being so hard on Locke was a strong moment, and an important one in the development of his character.

(*) I’m just guessing, but I imagine there aren’t many viewers with a similar life experience to Eric; Andy’s struggles, even if not identical to our own, are what a lot of us can and do go through.

On the other side, Isaac, expecting to die, also gets something similar off his chest: that he’s to blame for “losing” Nicole, and that he will always love her. The spark that Legacy has continued to float between them has been frustrating, but this was both effective and intelligently handled. The romantic tension has been one-way from Isaac, and so it makes a lot of sense that he’d use his potentially final moments to be honest about his feelings; at the same time, his understanding of their relationship is a sign of his growth. And Nicole’s complete non-reaction - barely even a change in expression from Anna Diop - was appropriate where it could have derailed all of the competent work done.

Jadalla’s plan to turn the Carters over with little resistance was surprisingly naïve at first glance, though it became a lot clearer in the episode’s cliffhanger as he ordered their deaths. It’s difficult to see either ending up dead next week, with Eric likely to find a way to save himself, Andy, Nicole, and Isaac, but it at least prevents Jadalla from looking completely incompetent - a risk the show was running to that point.

“6:00pm - 7:00pm” benefitted greatly from a narrower focus, thanks to the conclusion of Amira’s arc last week and the integration of Eric, Jadalla, and Nicole’s storylines into much more of a singular narrative this week. Though this was something of a quieter episode, it felt more energetic; the emotion gave more meaning to each development.

From the CTU Archives (connections to 24’s original run not mentioned above):

A number of Sean Callery’s scores this week took beats from previously used compositions: the Eric vs. Locke fight uses a portion from Chase vs. Arthur Rabens in season three; Eric saying goodbye to Isaac uses the same music as Tony and Michelle driving Jack out of CTU at the end of season four. There are two further pieces of music I recognised but couldn’t place - the first used when Eric is desperately pleading for Andy to help, the second used when Isaac is led out of the van.

The Mullins-Rebecca back-and-forth of “What are you going to tell him?” followed by “The truth.” is probably 24’s most used piece of conversational dialogue.

Notes:

One of the episode’s opening shots features the headline: “Big blast on GW Bridge.” It made every part of me shudder. It’s the full stop that’s particularly odd, though the headline itself is nauseating.

Tony took off his gas mask very quickly upon getting into Henry’s transport.

“I’ll see you in another life,” Andy tells Locke, as my brain automatically adds “brotha” on the end of that sentence.

As Eric tells Andy the story about apartment searching in Baghdad, they’re driving. In the next shot, they’re just stopping at the scrap heap. It feels like there’s a scene missing in there.

After the first season, 24 got into a habit of hasty sunrises and sunsets. This hour is no different, with it taking around 20 minutes to go from the sun setting to pitch black.

What did everyone think of “6:00pm - 7:00pm”? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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