Review By Joe Thompson
Now at its halfway point, Live Another Day executes a near perfect hour of tension filled drama by finding the perfect balance between its many characters and plotlines. At different points, it’s felt as if there might be too many moving pieces this season, but all of the narrative threads were pulled tight and came together.
Michelle Fairey’s Margot is quietly growing into a top notch villain. Her motivations are simple, revenge for the death of her husband and innocents in a drone attack, but it’s her relentless devotion to her plan that makes her so frightening. So far we haven’t really seen her give any pause when dealing with an obstacle. I mean, she murders Naveed, her son in law, while his wife and her daughter looks on. Now, thinking Naveed’s sister might suspect something amiss, Margot sends Simone on a recon mission to see what she knows and then expects Simone to kill the sister and kid. Obviously, Simone is under some severe mental or emotional abuse here. We watch her struggle with obeying Margot or doing the right thing while sitting at the dinner table. Eventually, Simone implores them to run, but it scares her sister in law instead, which forces a struggle, and Simone stabs Naveed’s sister, but the kid gets away. I’m no expert in negotiations, but maybe you should put the knife away BEFORE you get in a struggle? There’s a nail biting sequence where Simone’s niece flees the house, running through London traffic that ends with Simone being struck hard by a double decker bus.
President Heller is having a rough hour of his own. Prime Minister Daives is all up in his face after the mission to catch Margot ends in a drone strike and the death of numerous agents. So now they know at least one armed drone is close to London. Heller asks the military to cooperate with British intelligence, but has another dementia moment when he repeats himself and like, everyone stops and stares at him like he just started barking out loud. I feel bad for the old guy. Thankfully, it’s only a moment and he calls Grumpy Jack back into a meeting, willing to sanction Jack’s earlier mission request to get info from Margot’s arms dealer.
So Grumpy jack’s back in the field and I swear it’s better than he’s ever been. Jack’s so haunted by his past actions, that it turns out he’s been carrying out missions on his own, shutting down potential threats he finds. Now he requests Agent Morgan for his mission, promptly telling her she’s going to be bait so Chloe can hack the dealer’s computer. If Jack tells this guy Morgan turned another of his employees to rat, then just maybe Jack can get what he needs. I love the look on his face when Morgan grabs the syringe full of a knock out drug and just jabs it into her neck. She’s tougher than even Jack thought.
Some of the episode’s most squeamish moments come here, when Jack tries to get back into his former boss’s good graces. Turns out they have a drug to counter Jack’s, so they wake up Morgan for a round to awful torture. Even better, PM Daives, under the impression that Heller’s losing his mind, has British intelligence shadowing Bauer, busting onto the scene just before all hell is about to break loose. And then it does anyway.
And if that’s not enough, 24 calls back to a couple of plat thread that have been quietly dangling in the background. Remember that pesky little order Mark forged to deport Bauer to the Russians? Well, seems that they’d like to collect him now, please and thank you. Mark got affirmation from Bauer about what a good man he is (codependent much?), so Mark tries to rescind the offer, but it’s not that easy. The Russians would like Heller to explain personally why they cannot have the man they deem a murderer to bring to justice. Oops. Elsewhere, it looks like Kate’s husband was probably innocent after all, which will be a relief to her since she brings it up at nearly every introduction. It just goes to prove that old adage: Never trust Benjamin Bratt.
This hour is packed with relentless action and tight pacing. It overcomes the jaded familiarity with these characters and format, making me care once again about what happens next.