Finally, 24 is back with its long-awaited seventh season and it gets off to a pulse-pounding start in downtown Washington, DC, with a vehicular smash-and-grab by black-clad thugs toting heavy firepower. Their target is tech expert Michael Latham (John Billingsley), who will soon be put to use hacking through the firewall that protects America's most vital communication networks.
Jack Bauer makes his far-from-triumphant first appearance in a Senate hearing, where he is being questioned over possible human-rights violations. As Sen. Blaine Meyer (Kurtwood Smith) grills the former CTU agent, it almost feels like 24 itself is on trial for a seemingly cavalier attitude toward extreme interrogation methods (AKA torture).
"Basically what you're saying, Mr. Bauer, is that the ends justify the means, and that you are above the law?" Sen. Meyer asks.
Yet Jack is unashamed, telling Meyer, "When I am activated, when I am brought into a situation, there is a reason. And that reason is to complete the objectives of my mission at all costs. ... The people that I deal with, they don't care about your rules. All they care about is a result."
Day one of Jack's hearing is quickly cut short, though, when FBI agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) interrupts the proceedings with a subpoena from the bureau. It seems the country's security is again in jeopardy, and who are you gonna call to help but our man Jack Bauer?
The need for Jack's personal involvement in this latest crisis becomes clear when Walker reveals the man behind that opening-scene abduction: presumed-dead former CTU agent Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard).
In an effort to convince us that this is even remotely possible, Walker reminds Jack that he may have seen EMTs wheel Tony away, but he never actually saw the body after that, did he? Plus, Almeida's grave has since been exhumed and surprise the body buried there isn't Tony's.
I have to admit, I'm still having a tough time with this plot device bringing a character back from the dead is one thing, but turning a beloved one like Tony into a villain is practically sacrilegious. However, Walker also helpfully reminds us that Tony's wife was killed by a faction operating within the government, and that a man who has lost everything is capable of just about anything. We'll soon see just what that means for Tony.
Before the end of hour one, Tony has taken control of a passenger jet, and Jack is already returning to his old torturous ways. But the man he is interrogating, an Irish former colleague, who is soon to be gunned down by sniper fire caves before Jack can even get that ballpoint pen into his eye. Such a tease!
Springing out of the excellent 24: Redemption prequel is what appears to be this season's primary subplot: As Colonel Juma continues to slaughter the innocent citizens of fictional African nation Sengala, new President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) considers whether the U.S. should intervene with military force.