In the fifth hour of the ninth unfathomably awful day in Jack Bauer’s career, everyone learns that the former federal agent/current wanted man was right. Of course, there were a few people who already knew this. Jack’s methods of obtaining information are typically suspect, but his instincts are excellent. Kate Morgan, whose own sharp intuition and questionable tactics are reminiscent of Jack’s, works with Chloe to retrieve info off of Chris Tanner’s flight key. Kate takes the information to her superior, Steve Navarro. The two contact President Heller, who immediately orders that all U.S. drones, no matter where they are located, must be grounded. There’s a problem, though: six of those drones went missing.
This is where 24: Live Another Day starts to get really interesting.
Margot Al-Harazi is shaping up to be one of the great 24 villains. Her actions are cruel; her calm way of justifying those actions only amplifies that cruelty. Margot’s treatment of her children, particularly daughter Simone, is abusive. In the last episode, she had her daughter maimed to get her son-in-law, Navid, back as the drone pilot. In the early minutes of the three o’clock hour, Simone is in clear pain from her injuries. Margot tells her daughter not to blame herself. Instead, Margot confesses that this situation is her own fault. For a second, we think Margot is actually regretting her actions. Not quite. Instead, she tells Simone that if she knew Navid would turn on them, she would have done something about him earlier.
Margot unleashes a tape explaining her master plan. She explains that her husband was considered a terrorist, despite being part of a “legitimate struggle.” She says that the drone attack that killed her spouse also ended 23 other lives. Moreover, she notes, six of those killed were children.
When President Heller sees Margot’s video, he requests footage of the attack. As they watch the video, Heller realizes that Margot’s accusations were correct. He asks why no one told him that there were civilian casualties in the attack. Mark Boudreau, the President’s son-in-law and Chief of Staff, says “I was protecting you.” The justification here is that telling the President about the attack would have derailed other deals he had in the works.
President Heller has not been well this season. His memory and his judgment are slipping. Yet, in this scene, he can see the situation with more clarity than anyone else in that room. “We just gave our enemy a moral victory,” he says. No one gets it. Heller goes on to explain what he means. Margot is about to launch a devastating attack, but she’s justified it as payback for American actions that are already considered controversial.
Margot has the drones, and the President has three hours to surrender to her before she really starts to do damage. Jack pays the President a visit and requests that he return to the field. Heller explains that this is a bad idea on account of Jack still being wanted. Jack drops one of the catchphrases of the series: “Mr. President, you have my word.”
This time, Jack’s word doesn’t cut it. There’s a bigger problem than Jack’s relationship to his home country. The Russian’s want him, too. When Jack finally meets with his old love, Audrey, face to face, he explains, “Everything they said is true … I killed those people.”
24: Live Another Day is shaping up to be one of the better seasons in the franchise, and it’s not because of the action. Instead, it’s because of the moral ambiguity of the characters. Jack can justify the measures he takes, but it doesn’t change the fact that he has caused a tremendous amount of damage. There are consequences. Margot is clearly driven by the horrors she saw while fighting alongside her husband. She’s obviously grieving for his death. In the process of seeking revenge, she’s willing to put thousands of other people in her own shoes. Moreover, she’s willing to destroy the family she has left in her quest for retribution. Meanwhile, the President’s staff thinks it’s better to keep the truth from their boss, when their dumb moves land him in a dire situation. It’s not that the U.S. will have to directly pay for that drone attack; it’s that a friend, the U.K., will suffer for American actions.
Over at Margot’s compound, Navid has hatched a plan to help Simone and himself escape. He made the IP traceable in Margot’s video. When the team at the CIA realizes this, they head out on a raid.
If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. Kate Morgan, who was taken off the case after the CIA received complaints from the military for actions at the embassy, realizes this. She gets Chloe on the phone to help. They figure out that the CIA is walking into a trap.
Margot’s son, Ian, had noticed Navid’s work and put in a fake location. He also informed his mother, who is not happy with this development. She tells Ian that, when the CIA go in for the raid, “no one gets out alive.”
By the end of the hour, Adrian Cross is becoming clearly upset by Chloe’s work with Kate. He professes his love for Chloe, but that doesn’t change what needs to be done here. Kate warns her colleagues that this is a trap. They retreat, but not in time. The drones turn on them.
Margot is out for more than the CIA. She turns her gun on Navid and kills him as Simone watches, seemingly siding with her mother.