Jack Bauer returns in new version of ‘24’

By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Observer Correspondent 

6-4 24_web

Photos Courtesy of Fox Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) with President James Heller (William Devave)

There’s no question that when “24” went off the air after eight seasons a few years ago, most had some glimmer of hope that Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) would somehow return.

Now that he has, this time in London, he and “24: Live Another Day” have not disappointed one bit.

Without giving too much away, if you were a fan of the show before, you’re going to love the new incarnation. In this season’s 12-episode run, we’re reunited with Jack who was last told by the former president and utter weasel Allison Taylor he would never be able to return to America.

The White House is now occupied by James Heller (William Devane), father of Audrey Raines (Kim Raver), who before this was the Secretary of Defense. The brilliance of having Heller as president is heightened by his past interplay with Jack, who was once his daughter’s sole love — and who was once his special assistant.

The two had such a terse relationship in seasons past, so their connection this season, before anything starts, is already well-defined. There’s no love lost between them — and it shows in their first London encounter (we won’t go beyond saying that … other than you should look carefully for something being quite off about Heller from the get-go that isn’t related to Jack or Audrey at all).

But there’s a new twist to the Raines-Heller-Bauer saga, and that is that Audrey, who recovered after being held captive by the Chinese government (remember Jack breaking into the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles, and the consul being killed by one of Jack’s men?) as she searched for Jack years ago, has regained her mental stability — and is married to a man called Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan), who also happens to be Heller’s chief of staff.

Boudreau apparently nursed Raines back to health and is extremely weary of Bauer — he blames him for all that happened to his wife in the past — and at first, hides Bauer from Audrey for as long as he can.

The dynamic is fascinating — and as anyone who recalls how much intensity there was between Audrey and Jack before can attest — there’s a big chance something significant is forthcoming between the two.

The only other notable cast member to return is Chloe O’Brian, played by Mary Lynn Rajskub. We find Chloe — perhaps too ironically living in London — completely changed and anti-government. Who could blame her for that, of course, given how much the government for which she worked so diligently over the years always seemed to turn its back on her — and on Jack, for that matter.

Now again, without giving away the plot, Jack’s connection to Heller and crew in “Live Another Day” is based on intelligence he’s gained that terrorists have the capability of overtaking American- operated drones — and that these terrorists are hellbent at using the drones to kill innocent people — especially Londoners.

And, of course, what would any incarnation of “24” be without there being tons of people — including new character Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt) — completely doubting the veracity of Jack’s intelligence and motives? This might be the biggest drawback of the series thus far, six episodes in. Can there be one series where someone who really matters believes Jack from the get-go? Is there no one who knows Jack has never been wrong — and has never done anything to compromise his government?

Aside from that, the writing for the show has been as strong as it’s ever been. And it’s pretty clear that packing an entire “day” into 12 hours/ episodes has made this newest series extremely intense. If you’re a fan of “24” and haven’t seen “Live Another Day,” you’re going to want to catch up with it. It’s been a long four-plus year wait. But the writers and cast of the show have made it absolutely well worth it.

Catch “24: Live Another Day” at 9 p.m. Mondays on Fox. Watch videos and more online at www.fox.com/24- live-another-day.

The Observer Staff