After a four-year hiatus, Fox's action-thriller series 24 returns with Live Another Day. Shortened to 12 hours and transplanted to London, Monday's two-hour premiere has Jack Bauer contending with a slew of new terrorists and political adversaries. 24: Live Another Day is easily accessible to newbs, with only a few threads leading back to the show's original eight seasons. But to help get everyone up to speed, here are 24 bits of history that help Live Another Day make sense:
1. Jack Bauer is basically the American James Bond.
Kiefer Sutherland's ass-kicking domestic hero is a former Green Beret with Delta Force combat training, the language skills of C3PO, and patriotism that would make George Washington envious. For criminals, extremists, and the boys up in D.C. alike, the name “Jack Bauer” is synonymous with the world's deadliest soldier.
2. Jack will do pretty much anything to get the job done
There's an obsessive, apolitical quality to Jack that makes him one of the more complicated heroes to ever have graced the big or small screens. He's out to save the world — no matter what the cost. Sometimes, that means playing ball with Washington; David Palmer, former president of the United States and recurring character in the show's early seasons, considered Jack a friend (preventing an assassination attempt really brings people together). Palmer personally requested Jack to investigate Day 2's planned nuclear attack. But when the law constricts Jack's plans, he isn't afraid to take matters into his own hands. In the past, he's become addicted to heroin, given himself over to Chinese imprisonment, and killed off his own men in order to protect the innocent. On Day 3, Jack chopped off the arm of his protégée to prevent the activation of a viral bomb. Nothing is off the table when Jack Bauer enters a room.
3. Jack isn't above pain.
Jack isn't a superhero. He's pervious to damage. During the show's run, the writers went to great lengths to prove his stamina. In eight days/seasons, Jack was shot, stabbed, impaled, electrocuted, waterboarded, cracked in half, and often put in a position where self-inflicted injuries were the only solution (on Day 4, he thrust a knife into his side to fake a struggle with a terrorist's cooperating wife). Though he holds the record for most near-death experiences averted by a defibrillator, 24 is quick to explore an injury's lasting effect. After being tortured on Day 2, Jack developed a lasting heart condition.
4. Today, Jack is branded a terrorist.
By the end of 24's series finale, Jack is outrunning the FBI after murdering Russian Foreign Minister Mikhail Novakovich, a conspirator in an effort to derail an American-Russian peace treaty. Part personal revenge, part global heroism, Jack sacrificed his reputation and citizenship to pop two in Novakovich's head. When we pick back up with him in Live Another Day, the CIA is hot on his trail, hoping to catch the homegrown “terrorist” once and for all.
5. Jack's a veteran of the Counter Terrorist Unit.
Before 24: Live Another Day, which transplants the series' action to London, most of the show's conspiratorial intrigue took place in Los Angeles at the CIA splinter agency, the Counter Terrorist Unit. CTU is the war room from every high-tech spy movie ever, with dozens of computer whizzes decrypting files and satellite-tracking vehicles while office managers yell out crisp orders. Jack began as a field agent for CTU before becoming its Special Agent in Charge on Day 3. The legacy of CTU lives on in the CIA's London-based operation center, run by Benjamin Bratt's Steve Navarro.
6. CTU was perpetually in direct danger.
As the hub for Los Angeles' terrorist plot-foiling, CTU found itself under attack season after season. Day 2 saw the underground fortress bombed by anti-federalist extremists. On Day 6, Chinese mercenaries infiltrated the complex and executed several members of the CTU team. The most tragic attack came on Day 5, when a Kaukistan separatist released nerve gas into the facility, killing nearly everyone inside.
7. Worse, the agency had a serious mole problem.
On top of literal attacks against CTU and its employees, terrorist groups planted men and women of their own inside to spy on Jack's team and/or screw with operations. CTU agent turned purveyor of confidential info Nina Meyers is the most infamous of the bunch, first introduced as a good guy on Day 1 only to become of the series' most villainous characters. The mole trope is worth mentioning because one look at Live Another Day's lineup and you know someone's up to no good.
8. The government didn't care for CTU either.
CTU was eventually disbanded after a government investigation found the agency guilty of human rights violations. Apparently wanton sharp object-assisted interrogations are problematic. Kurtwood Smith appeared as Senator Blaine Smith on Day 7 to lay the smackdown on Jack. Politicians proved more difficult to defeat than terrorist goons.
9. Chloe O'Brien is Jack's closest ally.
Introduced on Day 3, comedian Mary Lynn Rajskub's wry intelligence analyst grew from random CTU pawn into Jack's greatest confidante over the course of the series. As one of the few trustworthy brainiacs in the office, Jack often called upon Chloe to update him with analytics while entrenched in action. “Dammit, Chloe” became a term of endearment as Jack pushed Chloe to dredge up on-the-fly information, yanking circuit board schematics and slipping past firewalls with expert speed. On Day 4, she helped Jack fake his own death. On Day 6, she assisted Jack by stealing nuclear secrets he could use as a hostage bargaining chip. In their final moments, Chloe assists Jack in outrunning the FBI.
10. Helping Jack didn't earn Chloe any fans.
The move seems to have had repercussions. In “Chloe's Arrest,” a short epilogue included on the Day 8 Blu-ray, the FBI arrests Chloe in front of Morris, her husband, and their 6-year-old son. By Live Another Day, Chloe's an Edward Snowden hacker type fighting the man from across the Atlantic.
11. Chloe once shot Jack.
A fun continuity callback planted in Live Another Day: After agreeing that shooting the Russian president may not be the smartest way to expose Day 8's grand conspiracy, Jack convinces Chloe to shoot him in the chest to cover-up what the FBI will see as abetting a terrorist (and keep her out of harm's way from politicians working with the anti-peace Russians). She does, and Jack suffers a nasty wound in his left shoulder. We see scars from the stitched up bullet hole when Jack appears shirtless in Live Another Day's two-hour premiere.
12. Most of Jack's other teammates are dead ...
Why is Chloe so crucial to Jack that he'd surface in London to connect with her once again? Well, he doesn't have a ton of other friends. Most of them were killed in action. Palmer was successfully assassinated on Day 5. His co-worker Michelle Dessler was killed in a car bomb. Her husband and CTU staple Tony Almeida was killed, revived, and eventually incarcerated for a revenge plot. And many of Jack's better acquainted agents were killed off in the nerve gas incident. Jack is a loner by choice, but life hasn’t given him too many options.
13. ... and so is his family.
Day 1 began with Jack Bauer's wife, Teri, learning she was pregnant and debating when to tell her family. It ended with Nina Meyers planting one in the innocent woman's head. Teri's death plagued Jack from start to finish, even after he disposed of Nina on Day 3.
14. But, honestly, some of Jack's relatives deserved it.
If only Jack's immediate family had been around to help him grieve. Instead, his brother, Graem, and his father, Philip (James Cromwell) were busy assisting Jack's archnemesis President Charles Logan in the CTU nerve gas attack. Later, they covered up the theft of Russian nuclear briefcases in hopes of turning China into a world superpower. Philip wound up killing Graem, while it took an airstrike to kill the man who brought Jack Bauer into the world.
15. Jack's daughter is still alive.
Though she was nearly killed by a cougar on Day 2, Kim Bauer, daughter of Jack and Teri, is alive and well in Los Angeles. Kim was intertwined with CTU from Day 1, starting as a damsel in distress and fighting her way into a job at the agency. Kim had a handful of loser boyfriends and nice guys who didn't last (including Jack's protegee Chase), but by the show's end, Jack's continually imperiled daughter settled down with a doctor and had a daughter, Teri. Live Another Day tells us Kim is preparing for kid No. 2, a boy. While she may not jet to London for this limited series, her presence is essential to understanding why Jack wants to recoup his citizenship.
16. Jack's tried his hand at dating.
A season of 24 might be a literal ticking clock, but that didn't stop the writers from pushing Jack back into the dating pool. After uncovering her sister's ties to a terrorist sleeper cell on Day 2, Jack hit it off with bystander Kate Warner. Faking his death on Day 4 led Jack to assume a new identity and shack up with Diane Huxley (Connie Britton). Neither made it past their individual seasons.
17. His most recent love affair spurred his act of “terrorism.”
Jack met FBI agent Renee Walker on Day 7, but the relationship only turned sexy on Day 8. In the back half of the season, Jack and Renee take a breather from the action to make sweet, sweet love. Minutes later, a sniper offs Renee for her involvement in the investigation. Watching another woman perish at the end of Jack's opponents provokes our hero to take action, offing the Russian conspirators in a shower of gunfire.
18. Audrey Raines is the one that got away.
Day 4 opens with Jack and his new gal pal/department of Defense policy analyst Audrey (Kim Raver), who's in the process of divorcing her dick husband, Paul. Of course, she's soon abducted by terrorist mastermind Habib Marwan's henchmen. Audrey is the rare Jack Bauer flame that stuck around. Their relationship fizzled out at the end of Day 4 after Jack let her shady ex-husband die on the operating table. On Day 5, false information puts Audrey on Jack's terrorist suspect list. When he exposes the ruse, the two fall for each other once again. On Day 6, Jack learns that the Chinese captured Audrey while investigating Jack's own capture.
19. Jack interrogated Audrey's ex-husband using only a lamp.
It should be noted that one of Jack's greatest demonstrations of his McGyver-like resourcefulness occurred when Audrey's husband Paul turned out to be in cahoots with a terrorist plot. Needing to interrogate Paul as quickly as possible, Jack fashioned a torture device out of a hotel room lamp.
20. Jack let Audrey go for good.
Realizing his work was starting to take a toll on the people he loved, Jack ended his relationship with Audrey in the final beats of Day 6. The love connection was still there — when a catatonic woman slips her hand into yours, that means something — and Jack has never really put Audrey behind him. Audrey, on the other hand, remarried. In Live Another Day, she's seen accompanying her husband, chief of staff Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan) to London.
21. Audrey's dad is a key member of the 24 political scene.
Jack's relationship with Audrey was tricky from the get-go. At the beginning of Day 4, the two were sleeping together even though Jack worked for her father, secretary of Defense James Heller. (Heller is now the president in Live Another Day.) After Jack prevented Heller’s kidnapping, he became a fatherly figure and a key ally in the agent's battle against turncoat Charles Logan.
22. Jack and Heller didn't end on good terms.
Heller and Jack worked together through Day 4 and 5, but when a tortured Audrey returned to American shores in Day 6, Heller vowed never to let Jack interfere with his daughter's life again, going so far as to file a restraining order. Jack didn't take it well, despite agreeing with Heller's intentions. In order to say a proper good-bye to Audrey, Jack held Heller at gunpoint to gain access to the room. Heller hasn’t reappeared until now.
23. A few fan favorites could pop up.
Amazingly, there are a few notable characters who survived 24 and could show up in Live Another Day. Secret Service bodyguard Aaron Pierce (Glenn Morshower) was basically a background extra in Day 1. By Day 7, he was an ass-kicking member of Team Jack. He survived shoot-outs, capture by the diabolical Logan, and threats from the president's daughter, Olivia, on Day 7. When he turned the table and booked the criminal First Daughter, Aaron walked into the sunset.
24. Jack's mobile device of choice is a PDA.
Let's pray he upgraded in the last few years. Although, “CHLOE, SEND IT TO MY iPHONE” doesn't have quite the same ring.