24: Live Another Day was shaping up to be a riveting story. In Margot Al-Harazi, the show had the strongest villain of the series. Margot was a complex character for whom revenge and justice were synonymous. Her actions were brutal and her way of rationalizing them wasn’t exactly rational, but that’s what made her so interesting. She was an effective antagonist. President Heller, in the twilight of his career, is in declining health as Alzheimer’s disease progresses. Still, he is a strong leader, one who makes thoughtful, moral judgments and is willing to sacrifice his life for the greater good. Jack Bauer and Kate Morgan are both dedicated to stopping Margot and the mission is about more than salvaging their own tarnished reputations. They are wholeheartedly committed to saving people from devastation. Once Margot is gone, we’re left with incompetence. Now, the show’s focus is on the misdeeds of Steve Navarro, Adrian Cross and Mark Boudreau, none of whom are quite as savvy.
In the aftermath of the drone attacks, Steve Navarro, who runs the London CIA office and is this season’s mole, takes off with the override device. He escapes Jack Bauer’s pursuit temporarily and drops off the device for super hacker Adrian Cross to collect. Meanwhile, Jack explains to Kate Morgan that Steve is the reason agent Jordan Reed is dead. When Jack finally catches up with Steve and apprehends him, it’s almost too late. Adrian already has the device and is heading towards the London Underground station with Chloe, who is out of the loop on this whole ordeal. Adrian explains to her that the device is his creation and he’s going to use it to save lives.
President Heller is about to head back to the U.S. and is ready to make “the announcement” that his career is ending. He tells his daughter, Audrey, that he’s leaving London with “British and American lives on my conscious.” Audrey, ever supportive of her father, tries to console him. As they prepare to leave, the President gets a phone call from Erik Ritter, now the interim head of the London office, to explain the latest catastrophe. Erik is a stand-up agent, and a by-the-books sort of guy. When it comes to interrogation, he warns Jack, “If you cross the line, I’m pulling you out.” It’s not like Jack is going to listen. After all, he’s not the biggest threat to Steve. That’s Kate. She just found out that Steve set up her husband to take the fall for leaking intel to China. Steve Navarro is the reason her husband is dead.
Jack runs off all of Steve’s crimes: “There’s only one outcome here and that is the death penalty.” Steve has info, though, so he tries to pull a Nina Meyers and asks for full immunity. “Immunity is not on the table,” says Jack, “but your hand is.” That’s when Jack bashes in Steve’s hand.
Audrey and husband Mark Boudreau have a chat that does not go well. Mark shows his jealousy for Jack, even though Audrey insists that her relationship with him is long in the past. When she leaves angry, Mark calls his Russian contact and gives up Jack’s whereabouts. Remember, Russia is after Jack for incidents that occurred in the last season of 24.
At this point, the device is in Adrian’s hands. Chloe is trying to escape him, but he essentially threatens her into sticking around. Russia is on the hunt for Jack. Steve is in the infirmary after Jack breaks his hand. That’s when Kate gets her time with him. With a gun pressed to his head, she acts not like an agent, but someone out for revenge. This is what breaks Steve. He divulges the code for a tracker he installed in the device. Shortly thereafter, the President is briefed on the situation and it’s not pretty.
There’s a strong, emotional moment when Kate and Jack are in the car. Kate talks about her late husband, how he looked the last time she saw him. She believes that the final straw for Adam was when even Kate thought he was guilty. Jack lets her in on one of the many losses he suffered since the show debuted.
Adrian and Chloe return to hacker HQ and walk in on a massacre. Everyone working in that office has been brutalized; they are either dead or very close to the end. Cheng Zi, who you might recall from the several earlier seasons of 24, is back. He wants Adrian’s override device, the one that China apparently paid him to make. Chloe has to explain to Adrian that this is the guy who was responsible for torturing Jack and Audrey many years ago. Either Adrian, who prides himself on finding out everyone’s business, didn’t know this or didn’t care. Either way, he set himself up for a big fall. When Adrian is shot in the leg, Chloe is forced to get into the override device. Minutes later, Adrian confesses that he hid some information from Chloe: her husband and son died in a run-of-the-mill car accident, and it wasn’t a hit intended for her. This is a big reveal, as the two deaths are essentially what drove Chloe to join Adrian’s hacker group and his arms. It’s more of a deathbed confession than anything else. Adrian has pissed off Cheng. He knows he won’t be around for long. He’s shot in the head as the episode comes to a close.
While Jack and Kate are on the road, their car is hit. They somehow stumble out of the vehicle without visible injury, but there are gunshots and people yelling in Russian. The two fire back as the duck and pop up from behind the wreckage. Russia wants Jack. Hopefully, they won’t get him.
Cheng has his guy fiddling around with the override device. Somewhere in the middle of the ocean, a submarine crew aboard the USS Massachusetts gets a command to fire at a Chinese carrier. Cheng and his crew have just used the override device to potentially start a war.
The flaws in 24: Live Another Day are starting to show. There are only 12 episodes in this series, but they didn’t stretch out Margot’s drone war to cover all that ground. Instead, with very few episodes remaining, they move the B storyline to the A storyline. With Margot’s storyline, we came to understand her motivations. They may not have made sense, but they were clear. Now, we’re left with characters whose bad decisions have more to do with that rare and deadly mix of arrogance and incompetence. Was money Steve’s motivation? If so, why? All we know is that he ultimately failed at framing Adam, failed at covering his butt and failed at holding out with the information he had. Adrian might have a cause aside from winning Chloe’s heart and being a god of information. Mark’s more concerned with keeping Jack away from his wife than actually doing his job well. Now, all of these things have collided in one clusterfuck that needs to be resolved in the two episodes that remain.