Television is like a comic book character these days—death is never really the end.
Arrested Development returned for a mediocre fourth season on Netflix. Veronica Mars found new life on the silver screen. NBC said that it was rebooting its fallen superhero drama Heroes.
And then there’s Jack Bauer. Over the course of 24’s eight seasons and a TV film, we watched Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) foil terrorist plot after terrorist plot as he yelled classic Jack Bauer lines like “Dammit!,” “Dammit Chloe!,” and “There’s no time!” Nothing could stop Jack, not even a nuclear bomb. Or at least that’s what we thought.
When 24 went off the air on May 24, 2010, its time had indeed come. The ratings had declined significantly, and the show had never really managed to reach the creative heights of the Emmy-winning fifth season. Moreover, with the end of the Bush years also came the end of needing a hero like Jack Bauer that indulged our nation’s deepest and wildest fantasies about counterterrorism.
Well, dammit! Jack has done it again—this time he’s escaped television death. On May 5, four years after the series finale, Jack returns to Fox in the 12-episode limited series 24: Live Another Day.
When we last left agent Bauer, he had just fled the country to avoid capture by the Russian and American authorities. Jack had been working with the newly reactivated Counter Terrorist Unit to stop an assassination plot against Omar Hassan, the president of the Islamic Republic of Kamistan, who was in New York for a U.N. peace conference with President Alison Taylor (Cherry Jones). By the end of the season, Jack was waging a one-man war against the Russian government (they orchestrated the attack) and the Taylor administration, who at the urging of disgraced President-turned-adviser Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin), covered up the Russian government’s involvement.
Seeking revenge for the murders of President Hassan and of his lover Renee Walker (Annie Wersching), a ruthless Jack takes justice into his own hands and goes on a rampage. He kills multiple Russian diplomats and kidnaps a former president (It’s not the first time he’s done this.) In the final, poignant moments of the show, Jack stares at a drone as he talks to Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and the president. The president apologizes for her part in the conspiracy and promises to resign. Before leaving, Jack tells Chloe, “When you first came to CTU, I never thought it was gonna be you that was going to cover my back for all those years. And I know everything you did today was to try and protect me. I know that.” He then looks at the drone and says “Thank you.”
24: Live Another Day will be set in London and follows Jack, now a fugitive, as he attempts to “avert another global disaster.” He’ll be joined by Chloe, Jack’s ex Audrey Rains (Kim Raver), and her father and now President of the United States James Heller (William Devane). Jack will also go up against Margot Al-Harazi (Game of Thrones’ Michelle Fairley), the widow of a terrorist seeking revenge for her husband’s death, and CIA agent Kate Morgan (Chuck’s Yvonne Strahovski).
In Entertainment Weekly’s cover story, it was revealed that in the four years since we last saw Jack, Chloe has gone from head of CTU to “living of the grid as a punked-out hacktivist in London with her Edward-Snowden like boyfriend.” Audrey, last seen in a catatonic state in Season 6, is now married to her father’s Chief of Staff. Audrey and Jack “shippers” can expect the couple to reunite at some point during the season. Raver told EW that Audrey “is a hopeless romantic. Jack, for her, was the one and only.” Stephen Fry will recur as British Prime Minister Alastair Davies.
The iconic show premiered only two months after the tragic events of 9/11, feeding off our fears and anxieties about terrorism. Can Jack Bauer survive in a world where the War on Terror isn’t nearly as popular as the war for the Seven Kingdoms? As the clock ticks away, we’ll find out soon enough.