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24: Legacy - 7:00pm - 8:00pm - Review: “Solid but perplexing”



With a couple of exceptions - seasons one and four - 24 had a tendency to break its seasons into smaller chunks, marking each with a different villain. This often occurred around the 16th episode: Peter Kingsley in season two; Stephen Saunders in season three; President Logan in season five; and so on. Legacy ended its eighth hour (and thus the same stage of its season) taking a similar approach, an almost entirely predictable tactic given the episode’s placement and the show’s history.

Jadalla hasn’t been especially striking as a villain. Certainly, there’s been a personal element to his plot that raises the stakes and the impact on Eric, but he’s mostly come across as less inclined to act than talk. His words ultimately amounted to nothing, and though his narcissism wasn’t necessarily his downfall, it does contribute to painting him as a failure whose contempt for the United States was far greater than anything he actually achieved. His bark was greater than his bite. It’s particularly frustrating given that he spent nearly eight hours trying to recover the list of sleeper cells before being stopped (*) without having actually done that. The one attack that did take place was carried out against his will, and he was unhappy that it even happened. So while it may have been the point to suggest that this man is so blinded by rage and fuelled by revenge that he was wholly ineffective as a terrorist, its overall competence as a storyline hasn’t been high.

(*) The episode’s climax didn’t make clear whether he died as a result of the missile strike or not, but it did look like he succumbed to any injuries he sustained.

Bringing in a new villain in the form of Oded Fehr’s Asim Naseri, then, is a smart move. And yet “7:00pm - 8:00pm” managed to mitigate that shift by negating to explain anything about him. The extent to which his character was established consisted of Eric making clear that he knew Naseri and agreeing with Locke that he is incredibly dangerous. That’s a hook, yes, but not a particularly strong one, and it’s all the more bizarre because of how long the post-split-screen scene was and how determined Legacy seemed to be to avoid specifying why this man is such a threat. The show was clearly going for a tease, attempting to leave viewers on edge wondering who Naseri is. Instead, it became empty drama, and as if the show didn’t feel confident enough to expect a clarification to be a cliffhanger. That was a mistake because the idea of a terrorist with a background not specified to the audience is far less intimidating than one whom we know something about.

Still, both Eric and Locke - and, presumably, most if not all of the other main characters - know who he is, so at least there’s a basis for building his character. It just didn’t get off to a strong start and, given how Jadalla’s arc fizzled out, that isn’t a great sign.

The attack on the compound - unsurprisingly carried out by fighter plane - was just as strangely constructed. Cutting away from the building as the missile was about to hit was odd, and not cutting back to the rubble before the act break was similarly baffling. There’s no reasonable explanation for it. If it was a creative decision - the most likely scenario - then it wasn’t a particularly good one. Although the intended impact may have been to show CTU’s reaction to Eric and Andy’s potential death, it fell flat since the sequence never had a sense that either of them would perish. It was a sour end to an otherwise strong plot for both Eric and Isaac.

Eric taunting Jadalla was a lot of fun, and even more so by the end of the hour after Eric ended up being right about his chance of success. Meanwhile, Isaac’s determination to save his brother - albeit inspired mostly by Nicole - made for yet another good piece of character progression. Though they’ve had their differences in the past, it’s clear that Isaac doesn’t want to see his brother dead, and so enlisting his crew to stage a full-scale assault on Jadalla’s compound seemed almost inevitable, in hindsight. But it was him and Nicole trying to convince his crew to fight that stood out the most, Isaac’s priorities becoming abundantly clear and Nicole’s bemusement over what this gang has become since she and Eric left a great moment. Andre’s argument, in theory, makes sense, but the implication that they’ve stopped caring about each other and are now only in this for the money reflects badly on them. Isaac’s leadership abilities are sorely lacking - Andre even going as far as to question his loyalty - but he can’t be faulted for caring.

At one point, Isaac tortures one of the terrorists sent to murder him and his sister-in-law, using what looked like a crowbar and a steel chain to gain information. It’s brutal but effective, and especially striking given that just moments before, Tony is shown to be interrogating Henry with considerably less success. His resolve is impressive, almost unrealistically so (*), and Rebecca ultimately calls off the interrogation after Mullins says they found Jadalla. For a specialist, however, Tony’s ability to pry the truth out of Henry is remarkably poor, and it’s perhaps worth wondering if he’s not done this for a long time and has lost his touch, or if he just isn’t good enough to break this man. In either case, Tony comes off poorly. And for such a touted return, in a multiple-episode subplot that has so much relevance to the main story, sidelining this side of the show as much as this hour did is perplexing.

(*) In the fourth episode, John begins to ask questions and Henry almost immediately gives up everything he knows - or, at least, everything we know him to know, Luis’s involvement excepted. Now, despite being exposed to excruciating pain, he won’t talk. There’s a real lack of consistency there.

While “7:00pm - 8:00pm” wasn’t a bad hour by any stretch, it was overwhelmed with choices that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. However, the new direction of the season will hopefully invigorate the final four episodes and make Legacy, overall, something more memorable.

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

Nicole asking Isaac who he was calling if he couldn’t trust CTU filled my mind with the memory of Jack calling Tony in season four under similar circumstances.

The government killing Jadalla in a missile strike is exactly how President Keeler decided to try and prevent Secretary Heller from being assassinated live on the internet, the major difference being that Jack rescued Heller in time to call off the strike.

Notes:

Between last week’s “I’ll see you in another life,” and this week’s “Isaac, we have to go back,” Legacy is going in hard on the LOST references.

Mullins’ attempt to dissuade the Director of National Intelligence from destroying the compound was pathetically embarrassing.

When Eric mentioned Naseri’s name to him, another of the terrorists asked why he was using that name, which leads me to believe he was using an alias in Jadalla’s crew.

All it took for John to not express utter contempt for his father after learning the truth about the Rangers was a little torture. Tony may not have uncovered the information they needed, but he did improve that relationship.

Isaac was paying very little attention to the road when driving Nicole to CTU.

Andy held out against Jadalla for all of about five seconds before agreeing to comply. That must be some kind of record.

What did everyone think of “7:00pm - 8:00pm”? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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