WARNING: FULL SPOILERS
When 24: Legacy was first introduced, I was hoping for something different. But this season has been incredibly disappointing, as the show too often relied on tired cliches that killed the original 24. The show started to gain some momentum with last week’s episode, but with so little time, it was doubtful that it could finish strong.
However, 24: Legacy’s season finale is a surprisingly solid conclusion. It plays with shades of gray in its character’s morals in an interesting way. Characters meet their ends knowing their troubled pasts led them to their fates. And we get a cool-knock-down-drag-out fight between Eric (Corey Hawkins) and Tony (Carlos Bernard)!
Does a strong finale make up for the shortcomings of the rest of the season? No…if anything it highlights just how badly the show botched the earlier episodes. Why didn’t they concentrate on the compelling plot that emerged in this outing?
Shades of Gray
The shades of gray present in nearly every facet of this episode provide some of the strongest moments the show has ever had. What are these characters capable of doing in the name of “justice?” And what price will they pay in the end?
Corey Hawkins finishes strong as Eric Carter. On the action front, his fight with Tony is genuinely exciting. Each takes the other’s best shot, but when Eric breaks Tony’s arm, it is a great “Whoa!” moment. The abrupt end is a little disappointing, as Tony stands down when he is told Ingram’s (Miranda Otto) life is at stake. This probably means Tony could return should Legacy continue though.
But Eric’s strongest moments occur when he dives into the gray areas of this secretive world. His genuine disgust with Simms’ plan to kidnap Naseri’s (Oded Fehr) daughter gives way as exchanging the daughter is the only way to save Ingram . The scene where Eric uses the daughter Ara against Naseri just out of ear shot of the girl shows just how far he will go. We can see him struggle with it just before he makes those threats.
This moment is made even more powerful by the brief exchange between Eric and Ara just before she is sent home. It is a simple conversation; Ara describes the beauty of her home, expressing genuine sympathy when Eric says he has never seen those cypress trees she loves. Eric is gentle here, showing that good men are capable of doing questionable things.
And in the end, Eric finally admits that he truly does “need” this life with CTU. The final conversation he has with Nicole (Anna Diop) is strong , as Eric is finally honest with his wife. It is an emotionally earned moment for the two, as her acceptance of it is genuine. All she wants…deserves…is honesty in their relationship. But that troubled look she has as Eric disappears behind the door…Their life with CTU will not be easy.
Hits, Misses and Missed Opportunities
While that scene is strong, it also shows the wasted potential of Legacy. It foregoes authentic drama for the “Gotcha!” moments and those moments are poorly executed. In this scene with Eric and Nicole, we see just how strong one on one relationship drama can work. It is not a coincidence that Isaac (Ashley Thomas) is nowhere to be seen. This is a nice, almost realistic scene that shows just how much that other nonsense is not needed.
There are other hits and misses with the shades of gray theme as the finale proceeds. First the other hits. The confirmation that Ingram really did play a part in Ara’s kidnapping gives us a truly interesting character. She acknowledges it with little regret, but accepts that she will eventually pay for it. Sure enough, she is fatally wounded in the exchange.
The conversation she has with Eric in the ambulance is powerful. She admits that they share one trait: There is something inside that scares them. Something capable of doing scary things. In the end, both accept it. It is truly sad to see Ingram die as she is one of the more developed characters, but it is a fitting end for her story arc. She would happily give her life for those she cared about, taking a bullet meant for Eric.
Equally well handled is the emergence of a more cynical side to idealistic John Donovan (Jimmy Smits). In those final moments (The show flashes forward twelve hours…it really is 24 now!) when an FBI agent questions John about Simms’ suicide (more on him later), he lies about his confrontation with the man. When his father Henry (Gerald McRaney) begs him to stay in the presidential race, John does not budge…but easily lies to the FBI. On the spot he changes his mind, a moment that feels genuine and real. He sees just how easily he can deceive.
However, that is where the solid character portrayals end. Simms (James Moses Black) commits suicide after looking at photos of his family, and it barely registers. Much like the elder Bin Khalid, Simms is basically a plot device used to motivate other characters, not a real threat himself. Plus, we barely see him before this moment. It is frustrating because he could have been a cool villain.
The same goes for Naseri. He has a sympathetic hatred for the West because he thinks they killed his daughter. He never hesitates to hold this over Ingram’s head. In turn, Eric calls Naseri out for killing the innocent children of the man he called a traitor. It is a cool moment that shows no one’s hands are really clean, but it does not hit as hard because we barely know Naseri.
These moments should register more readily, but the these storylines are wasted. Keeping all of this secret and rushing it all out in the final episodes truly hurt Legacy’s success. Can you imagine just how much more powerful the confrontation between Ingram and Naseri would have been if the latter was revealed much earlier? What if the show never had Bin Khalid come back? His character was useless anyway. Shock value apparently takes precedence over compelling drama.
The end of 24: Legacy does an admirable job of wrapping up its first season with an exciting conclusion. But in the end, it only succeeds in showing just how weak its story telling is.
SCORE: 6 OUT OF 10
24: Legacy airs Mondays at 8pm on Fox