WARNING: FULL SPOILERS
The original 24 suffered from tired cliche after tired cliche in its later seasons, rendering it nearly unwatchable at times. Twists were either obvious or poorly executed. The big, “shocker” moments would be undercut by bad execution. Subplots that either went nowhere or were simply terrible destroyed any kind of cohesive narrative. 24: Legacy appears to be paying homage to those troubles in its inaugural season, producing possibly the worst episode so far.
A huge moment is destroyed by a terrible build up and a tired cliche rears its ugly head. The issues that plagued the last years of 24 are everywhere in the sixth hour of Legacy. Even as Corey Hawkins continues to be a strong core, the show continues to let him down.
Eric Carter and Company
Eric goes through a number of emotions in this episode, and Hawkins is great in nearly every scene. From grieving over the fallen Ben (Charlie Hofheimer) to lashing out angrily at Locke (Bailey Chase) after CTU is unable to capture the terrorists, Eric becomes a volatile man obsessed with hunting down Jadalla (Raphael Acloque).
Throughout Legacy, there has been a suggestion that Eric misses the action of being on a battlefield, explaining his insistence on joining Locke’s team as they go after Jadalla. Yet he constantly denies it. This compelling idea keeps the character interesting and Hawkins does a great job portraying this duality.
Eric is not some adrenaline junkie, looking for the “thrill” of the hunt. At the same time, it does not seem like a purely noble quest. The way he prepares his weapon just before the raid on Jadalla’s hideout and his rage afterwards suggest something deeper. In many ways, he is a younger version of Jack Bauer, portraying that same dogged focus.
Jadalla and Eric should have an intriguing adversarial dynamic, but it has not been allowed to develop. We still know little to nothing about Jadalla; Eric is fighting a ghost. The main plot line is seemingly becoming secondary, undercutting its own main character. In a turning point episode, Eric virtually disappears from the last half hour.
To develop those terrible subplots.
Cliches and Terrible Plots Aplenty
Nicole’s (Anna Diop) story goes from mildly interesting to terribly cliched by the end of the episode. Not one, but two tropes that ruined the original 24 turn up here as both Nicole and Isaac (Ashley Thomas) are kidnapped by Jadalla’s men just before CTU can take her to safety. Because we have not seen that before right?
Not only does the kidnapped loved one cliche appear, we also get the possibility of a mole in CTU. How else could Jadalla’s men have found Nicole? The previous Nicole/Isaac story line, which was never strong to begin with, makes sense now…Legacy was simply spinning its wheels until they could get to this point.
It is an unfortunate turn because Anna Diop continues to be a highlight. She has an incredibly expressive face and makes the most of it during the conversations she has with Eric over the phone. The look on her face as Eric ignores her question about meeting her at CTU is powerful. But by the end of the episode, she is spouting cliches at Eric and Jadalla as the damsel in distress.
And then there is the culmination of Amira’s (Kathryn Prescott) terrorist cell plot. This should have been that signature “shocking” moment that 24 is known for. She drives a truck full of explosives onto the George Washington bridge as CTU scrambles to track her down. But they are too late and hundreds die in a fiery explosion…
…And it falls flat.
First of all, we have seen this before on the original 24. We have seen a nuclear bomb go off in Los Angeles and honestly this feels like a bit of a step down. Especially since the special effects are not that great.
But more importantly, the build up to the attack is what ultimately sabotages it. Before I get to to Amira, I have to address the terrible Harris (Kevin Christy). When I say terrible, I am not referring to the actor himself, but to the baffling logic surrounding the character.
Harris joins Amira and brother Khasan (Themo Melikidze) at their home, saying that they went to far killing Drew. You are part of a terrorist attack, Harris…and one death throws you off? WHAT THE HELL DID YOU THINK YOU WERE GETTING INTO?
When he shoots Khasan and is subsequently stabbed by Amira when he tries to finish him off, the whole thing is so clumsily handled, it is laughable. And we are supposed to believe that this incident is what hardens Amira. She now has the strength to carry on with the plot as Khasan dies in her arms.
But Amira has never been very believable in any of her motivations. She has gone from a hardcore, (Awkwardly) seductive terrorist, to a reluctant killer of teenagers and back to a dedicated jihadist at the drop of a hat. There is no hatred or sorrow for her on my part. I feel nothing for her and her plight and that is what upsets me most.
Amira’s father (Ivo Nandi), the biggest reason for her growing reluctance, is introduced so late that he comes off as an annoyance. Khasan, the man whose death is supposed to catapult her into fanaticism, is barely in the previous episodes. All of these motivations are so thin and poorly done that it never works.
The attack itself is terrible as well, but not in the way Legacy wants. The only familiar characters we see die is Amira and a poor transit cop we meet minutes before. I am not advocating all out carnage, there is enough of that on television these days. But the empty shell that is Amira is the death that is supposed to shake us? Really?
I know an action drama like this is not known for innovative storytelling, but this is pushing it. It feels lazy and these stories grind the show to a narrative halt, much like they did with the original 24. Why does Legacy exist if it simply repeats the same mistakes as its predecessor?
Turning My Back
The main picture I used for this review had a purpose. I am tempted to turn my back on Legacy. There may be good news though. The previews for next week’s episode show that Nicole’s kidnapping may be resolved next week and Amira and her terrorist cell are out of the picture. But this show will really have to pick things up to dig themselves out of this hole.
SCORE: 1 OUT OF 10
24: Legacy airs Mondays at 8pm on Fox