Ricky Church reviews the first season of 24: Legacy…
24: Legacy’s inaugural season ended earlier this week, bringing a close to former Army Ranger Eric Carter’s stressful day to stop a number of terrorist attacks. Legacy was a satisfying follow-up to the original series with some interesting new characters, but it relied way too much on the worn out tropes of 24 and didn’t take quite enough risks to truly differentiate itself from its parent series.
As the star of the show, Corey Hawkins did a great job throughout the season as Carter. He really got to make the character his own and show how he was a worthy successor to Jack Bauer. However, he only really started coming into his own further into the season. For the first few episodes, Carter was nearly a carbon copy of Bauer, making the same type of morally grey choices Bauer would have made. In the second and third episodes, Carter infiltrated a police station by not only taking two officers hostage, but strapping them with actual C4 to get them to comply with his wishes.
That is the type of decision Bauer would have made in a heartbeat with no regard for procedure or how his superiors might feel. It didn’t really help Carter to do such a ballsy Bauer move with little understanding of his personality or past so soon into the series. The comparisons to Jack lessened as the season continued and Carter was fleshed out into a character of his own. No matter what, though, Hawkins gave a good performance as Carter throughout the season.
Other good characters were Miranda Otto’s Rebecca Ingram, Jimmy Smits John Donovan and Dan Bucatinsky as Andy Shalowitz. Rebecca was a worthy leader to CTU and Otto gave a good performance as her. She actually got to do a fair bit in and out of CTU, whether helping a bit with her husband’s campaign, meeting Tony Almeida for clandestine interrogations or getting in on the action herself when she was taken hostage. There was a big variety of material Otto got to work with and she portrayed Rebecca as an intelligent, compassionate if hard-edged leader.
Jimmy Smits was another great addition as Senator John Donovan who was in the middle of running for President. For most of the season, Smits was unfortunately relegated to the sidelines as he dealt with some campaign and personal crises of his own. He only really got more to do in the final stretch of the season as Donovan became directly involved in the terrorist plot. His team-up with Carter in the final two episodes was a surprisingly fun aspect and allowed Smits to stretch some more muscles.
Over the course of the season, Bucatinsky’s Andy really shined. What seemed like a typical CTU analyst role became something more than just a mouthpiece for plot exposition or comedy. Andy really stepped into his own as an important ally for Carter and Rebecca and his strongest episodes were in the middle of the season as he was willing to sacrifice his life to stop the terrorists. He was definitely a hidden gem of 24: Legacy.
Unfortunately, not all of the cast was able to shine quite as brightly. Teddy Sears was good as the new CTU leader Keith Mullins, but was surprisingly underutilized and evolved throughout the season. We got to see how loyal to the job and smart he was, but Mullins largely played second string to Otto’s Rebecca.
Anna Diop and Ashley Thomas were probably the weakest members of the cast as Carter’s wife and brother respectively. Diop did well with what she was given, but she didn’t quite have a strong enough story or arc. Thomas’ Isaac alternated between being a good and annoying character, being portrayed rather inconsistently with some random mood changes. Again, the story just didn’t quite serve him and he didn’t even appear in the finale, leaving his and Nicole’s storyline unresolved.
One of the big problems I had with the season were the villains. Raphael Acloque’s Jadalla bin-Khalid served as the main antagonist, but he was a pretty textbook villain. We were told he had actually rejected his father’s jihadist lifestyle and studied a Western education, but then decided to honour his father’s legacy after his supposed death. The reason for this sudden change was never given, nor did bin-Khalid ever receive an ounce of development. Acloque played him well enough, but his only purpose was to give 24: Legacy a bad guy.
Similarly, Oded Fehr shifted to the secondary antagonist once he was introduced and the main plotline dealt with, but much like bin-Khalid, Fehr’s Naseri wasn’t developed. We learn what his motivation for striking against Carter and America is, except when Carter asks him for greater detail in the finale he literally says “I don’t have to explain myself to you”. His motivation for killing an entire family was never fleshed out beyond what we were given and having him say he wouldn’t explain himself was a lost opportunity for some development and put Fehr’s talent to use.
The other big problem this season faced was how much it borrowed from the original series. Many of the same tropes were used, from a mole within CTU (twice this season), CTU being invaded by terrorists, the hero making some really grey choices and more. It went even further than that by directly copying some of 24’s very first season: the son of a terrorist seeks revenge for the death of his father against the main hero and their family only for the father to reveal they did not die after all. That’s 24 Season One in a nutshell. The only thing they missed was Carter’s wife Nicole dying in the end, but even that was fulfilled with the death of Rebecca, Donovan’s wife.
Some of the parallels to the original series were interesting, though. One of the main themes of the season was examining how the characters needed this lifestyle to be complete or were somehow addicted to it. Nicole and Donovan both said their spouses couldn’t leave the life of a covert operative and even a character like Andy was too attached to his job at CTU. It was definitely an interesting theme to play with.
In hindsight, it was also good to hold back as much as they did on the return of Carlos Bernard’s Tony Almeida. It allowed the show to rely on the new characters rather than force feelings of nostalgia with someone as beloved as Tony. While it would have been cool to see Carter and Tony team-up, their fight in the finale was one of the most memorable moments of the season. On that note, many of the action scenes were intense and well done, both in their choreography and cinematically.
Overall, fans of 24 will enjoy 24: Legacy. While it could have leaned less on the tropes of the original, Legacy presented many interesting new characters that proved they can carry on the spirit of 24. If it comes back, hopefully it can take more risks to differentiate itself and develop the villains much more, but 24: Legacy is at least an entertaining, if not perfect, follow-up series.