'24' recap: Jack's back (and so is...) | EW.com

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'24' recap: Jack's back (and so is...)

After an almost two-year hiatus, season 7 kicks off with D.C. intrigue, jetliners in danger, and the return of another familiar face

(Kelsey McNeal/FOX)

‘24’ recap: Jack’s back (and so is…)

How surprised was I to wake up this morning and realize that the first two hours of 24’s season 7 would debut on my dusty, trusty Toshiba in mere hours? Not surprised at all, given that my face had been sufficiently rubbed in billboard/TV ads warning of oncoming Beep!-BEEP!-Beep!-BEEP! Perhaps the better question was this: Was I ready? After all, it’d only been almost 20 months since the last season ended? Slow down, Fox! Give season 6 a little time to breathe! We’re still processing all the craziness that happened! (Wait. What did happen? I seem to recall that the old dude from Babe got blown up on an oil rig. And that we all tried to forget a lot of that season.) Luckily, I’m a forgiving guy, and there’ve been so many gripping years of 24, I found myself rather psyched for another full-on Jack Attack. (There was, of course, a Jack Attack Jr. — the ”Look! Over here! We haven’t forgotten about you!” two-hour prequel in November. For those who didn’t watch, super agent Jack — who’d been chilling peacefully in the fictitious African nation of Sangala — was suddenly charged with keeping innocent schoolchildren out of the hands of a blood-thirsty militia. And although he saved the day, er, two hours, he ultimately had to surrender himself to Billy from Ally McBeal, who, on behalf of the U.S., wanted Jack back in the States to answer questions about playing Mr. Mean Guy with suspected terrorists.)

Enough gum-flapping and backstory. Let’s get on with the show-by-blow, which may or may not occur in real time.

First thing I notice about the first hour: The following takes place between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Okay, that’s better than those 6 and 7 a.m. kickoffs of recent seasons, but still a tad early for my blood. I’d prefer to get moving at, say, 10:45 — sleep in, have a scone, flip through the Times — but whatevs. Second thing I notice: The action is now based in our nation’s capital, far away from L.A. The producers decided to shift the focus from CTU to FBI HQ in D.C., which seems like an appropriate shake-things-up move. Hey, there are only so many horrific things that can happen in one city, even L.A.

After watching a father and daughter in a car banter cutely about their cell phones, we are treated to not one but two jarring car crashes before the dad is kidnapped and threatened by a masked man in a van: ”We don’t want your money, Mr. Latham. We just need you to fix something for us.” Hmmm, that voice sounds familiar, but I can’t place it….

Meanwhile, That ’70s Show patriarch Kurtwood Smith is running a senate hearing on intelligence-gathering techniques, and he’s trying to roast himself some Jack Bauer, who declines counsel. (Be careful, Jack, he may call you ”dumbass” and ground you so you can’t go out with Donna tonight!) The Senator grills him about his ”extreme interrogation methods,” and when asked if he broke procedure, Jack answers bluntly: ”Probably.” I’m liking Kiefer’s Bauer here — he’s not playing any political games, besides wearing a suit. (I would’ve been even more impressed if he’d worn a T-shirt that read, ”My two favorite teams are CTU and whoever is playing the terrorists.”) But seriously, give the show props for putting this season in a post-Abu Ghraib context; Jack’s take-no-prisoners exploits have been begging for legal consequence. During a tense exchange with the Senator, Jack shoots back, ”And please do not sit there with that smug look on your face and expect me to regret the decisions that I have made, because, sir, the truth is, I don’t.” (Cue Team America’s ”America, F—Yeah!”, because you can’t handle Jack’s truth!) Before Jack can further incriminate himself, the Q&A session is disrupted by FBI business; Jack is remanded into the custody of an attractive agent named Renee Walker. Congrats, Mr. Bauer, you have just pulled the ultimate get-out-of-study-hall card.

NEXT PAGE: We know that face!