Several storylines thus far have made us wonder whether “24: Legacy” will truly resonate with die-hard fans — but in Monday’s (Feb. 20) episode, “3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.,” the spinoff series finally finds its footing.
All it really took was some regrouping at CTU for the pieces to fall properly into place — making this all feel like the “24” series we have been waiting for. And while there is no Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) around to scream “Dammit” before punching a dictator in the neck, we’re pretty happy with the direction the overall story is taking.
First, we need to tip our hats to the Isaac (Ashley Thomas)/Nicole (Anna Diop) storyline. We may have previously pointed out how distracting all the Samsung smartphones are in this “Wire”-inspired world, but that really took a back seat when Nicole took matters into her own hands.
Having an Army Ranger for a husband has proven certain tactical skills run in the family, and Nicole shows her knack for weaponry — unexpectedly turning the tables on Aisha (Tiffany Hines) and Jerome (Hajji Golightly). In the end, she takes the high road, refusing to shoot Isaac’s rogue gang members in the back and ultimately letting them escape.
As we’ve been expecting, it’s this chain of events that leads Isaac to safety — thwarting the coming coup that would’ve put Aisha in charge — and closer to Nicole’s loving arms. It hasn’t happened yet, but there is unfinished romantic business between these two that has to play out eventually. How Eric (Corey Hawkins) will handle this is still anyone’s guess.
Speaking of Eric… His reunion with Rebecca (Miranda Otto) comes with a debrief that sparks a new plan to right Grimes’ wrongs. With Bin-Khalid’s men in possession of the sleeper cell intel, Eric presents a plan to Mullins (Teddy Sears) and the team: Track down Gabriel, an elusive weapons dealer, to find the terrorists — as they believe he supplied unique artillery to the enemies in question.
To do this, they need bait: Missile defense schematics, to be precise. CTU’s new Director shoots down the proposition right quick, but Rebecca — with Andy’s (Dan Bucatinsky) help — makes a rogue move and gets Carter the information he requests.
It’s in this moment that “Legacy” really begins to feel like a worthy “24” successor. Though we enjoyed watching Carter break into a police station to steal a boatload of cash, but it turns out that was just an appetizer.
Setting off an EMP device and shutting down CTU’s servers, Carter goes into full Jack Bauer mode as he breaks Grimes (Charlie Hofheimer) out of custody, with top secret government weapons intel in tow. If ever we were worried that Eric Carter wasn’t going to step up as the hero “24” needs, our doubts were immediately quelled in this moment.
The final piece to the puzzle — that makes this fourth hour so great — is John Donovan (Jimmy Smits). The Secret Service detained Donovan’s right-hand-woman, Nilaa Mizrani (Sheila Vand), presenting the firm belief she leaked the info that got Eric’s squad killed. That evil Muslim story angle felt a bit too easy and, thankfully, the guilty party was soon revealed: John’s father, Henry (Gerald McRaney).
We’re only scratching the surface on the connection between Henry Donovan and Jadalla Bin-Khalid (Raphael Acloque) — this tale has to go deeper than oil ties with ISIS, right? — but this family drama has proved both refreshing and engaging, thanks to the talents of both McRaney and Smits. And major props go to the “24: Legacy” writers, as well: John Donovan’s clarity and conviction are a welcome surprise — reminiscent of presidential candidate David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) from “24’s” premiere season.
Donovan’s ethical motivations — country over personal political interests — will surely guide the story forward in a way we previously weren’t expecting. It’s now only a matter of time before he and Carter cross paths, which we can only hope will be the beginning of a beautiful, and productive, friendship.
“24: Legacy” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.