This day starts at 4 p.m., as a mysterious man enters a flophouse under the watchful and sinister gaze of an assassin. Meanwhile, across town at theUnited Nations
, President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones
) is set to sign a historic nuclear-monitoring treaty with a once-hostile Middle Eastern nation (thinkIran
) now under the benevolent reign of Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor
, "Slumdog Millionaire
"). He seems like a good guy, this Hassan, but he may be just a little too chummy with the West for the tastes of certain elements in his country.
Hence, an assassination plot is percolating. And where worldwide catastrophe looms, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) cannot be far behind. Our hero first appears in the most paternal settings imaginable - or unimaginable, for Jack. He's with a cute little girl, his granddaughter, and trying to get a cartoon on TV. Happy and contented as grandpa, Jack decides to get on the next flight out with his daughter, Kim (Elisha Cuthbert), and start his life over.
Then . . . a knock on his apartment door.
CTU in NYC is under the direction of Brian Hastings (Mykelti Williamson), a rigid efficiency freak, while the agency has some newbies, including Dana Walsh (Katee Sackhoff) and her lover, Cole Ortiz (Freddie Prinze Jr.). Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) is here, too, and has, as always, boss issues.
There is much, much to savor over these four hours, especially New York - luminous, beautiful, and even dowdy when the circumstance dictates. (A shame what's going to happen to it.) Jack is still Jack, or maybe Michael Corleone, because - by God - just when he thought he was out, they pull him back in again. (How many times have we heard that one before?)
The familiar "24" tropes are all here - the CTU agents with secrets, squabbling presidential aides, CTU bosses who mistrust Jack, presidents who do a double-take when they hear his name. Best of all is Renee Walker (Annie Wersching), who turns up Monday. Gone is the fresh-faced FBI agent, replaced by an embittered, depressive, borderline homicidal knuckle-breaker who's just looking for true love. Like Jack last season.
Four immensely enjoyable hours. Alas, I can't speak to what happens during the remaining 20.