The all-new “24: Legacy,” which premiered right after the Super Bowl on February 5, looks like it’s going to be more than just another reboot of the long-running “24” franchise. We’ve only had three episodes appear on FOX, and it looks like “24: Legacy” is staying faithful to the original premise of “24” (all action taking place within 24 hours), while also offering a few new wrinkles and twists that make it a worthy successor to the “24” franchise.
The first major change that everyone’s talking about is Corey Hawkins (who played Dr. Dre in “Straight Outta Compton”) as Eric Carter, replacing Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer. Hawkins has been described as a more athletic hero than Sutherland and that’s just perfect for the non-stop, frenetic action pace of “24: Legacy.” In this series, Eric Carter is a former Army Ranger who’s trying to adjust to private life in the Washington, DC area after leading a major commando raid on Sheik Ibrahim Bin-Khalid.
In Episode 1, it’s Eric Carter who’s in danger, as the Islamic terrorists are now after him, determined to snuff out the 6 Army Rangers who took a prized possession of the Sheik – a lock box containing a USB with the names of all the terrorist sleeper cell members in the United States. The heat is getting so hot that Eric Carter has to turn to friends in the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) in Washington for help.
There are signs that the Eric Carter character is going to be a vehicle to take on issues that are relevant today – such as the issue of soldiers with PTSD and the difficulty of soldiers adjusting back to regular civilian life in the United States. And we may also get more information about him and his family life than we did about Jack Bauer. One big narrative thread will be Eric Carter’s attempts to keep his wife safe, even if it means giving her over for safekeeping to his gangster brother. In Episode 1, it’s clear that Eric and his brother have a troubled history.
Not everything is at it seems in “24: Legacy.” It turns out that one of Eric Carter’s Ranger squadron mates, Ben Grimes (played by Charlie Hofheimer), has realized what a valuable commodity he has – the lock box with the USB with the sleeper cell members – and is determined to sell it to the highest bidder. The only problem is that Grimes seems to be battling some inner demons and has gone off the grid.
And that’s not all –there’s apparently a mole within the highest ranks of government, possibly even within the CTU. As a result, there are only a few people that Carter can trust, and one of them is Rebecca Ingram (played by Miranda Otto), who is the former head of the CTU in Washington and now the wife of Senator John Donovan (played by Jimmy Smits) who has presidential aspirations. The only problem is that nobody really knows where the mole is – it could be within the CTU, or it could be within the CIA or FBI or NSA.
When “24” first burst onto the scene nearly a decade ago, the idea of a real-time narrative taking place over a 24-hour period was fresh and buzzworthy. We’ve now grown used to the timing and pacing of the show – but just as we keep watching the next James Bond flick or the next Jason Bourne flick – we also can’t keep our eyes away from the screen in “24: Legacy.”
The chase is an effective storytelling technique, and it’s clear that “24: Legacy” is going to leave us on the edges of our seats, just as the other seasons of “24” have. There is a certain excitement in seeing events unfold in real-time. It may limit some of the ability of the show’s creators to tell us what’s happening, but it means there’s a real premium placed on amazing, non-stop action. And the split-screen action scenes are great!
Given the recent presidential election, it’s impossible to hear the words “radical Islamic terrorism” and not have a strong reaction. In a sense, that’s a very real issue that the creators of “24: Legacy” are going to have to address through the series. There are still Arabic-speaking terrorists, but we’re likely to see a more nuanced view of them: in today’s America, it’s no longer possible to talk about Islamic terror without facing charges of Islamophobia and getting into a discussion of the “Muslim ban.” Just what are these terrorists trying to do?
Part of what makes the narrative so powerful in “24: Legacy” is that you have a game of cat-and-mouse taking place on multiple levels. You have Eric Carter engaged in a cat-and-mouse with the Islamic terrorists who are intent on taking him out. You also have a cat-and-mouse game taking place at the highest reaches of the U.S. government. Our assumption is that Rebecca Ingram is someone we can trust, but that’s not true of other people within the U.S. government. There’s even been some fan chatter than Senator John Donovan (Ingram’s husband) may be willing to burn Eric Carter if there’s a chance of advancing his career.
This non-stop action is going to play out over 12 episodes, and it’s almost guaranteed that the final hours of the show are going to be based around the evil terrorist plot to launch a major attack against the United States. Right now, we don’t have the details, but it’s a safe bet that this plot is going to be so dastardly and epic that the terrorists are going to stop at nothing to use the terrorist sleeper cells to their advantage.
It looks like FOX has another winner on its hands. While the ratings of Episode 1 on Super Bowl night were a bit lower than expected, there’s still plenty of action, adventure and intrigue left in this winning franchise. Some fans may mourn the departure of Jack Bauer, it looks like the show’s creators have found a more than suitable replacement in Eric Carter. “24: Legacy” is going to be nail-biting, down-to-the-wire action that is almost certainly going to be another TV hit for FOX. If you missed an episode, stream the series online with a Comcast XFINITY internet plan.