Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran's Twenty-Four continues the streak of a high-end bulwark of action and fast-paced adrenaline. Day One and Two have been Jack Bauer endure life-changing scenarios that have comprised his moral standing and generate endless tension with those around him. Our heroic Counter-Terrorist Agent takes charge once more in Day Three, which now revolves around him attempting to prevent a deadly virus from releasing into America and killing millions; companied with a sideplot of President David Palmer struggling with personal scandals that ultimately contribute to his Presidency's demise and setting the stage for later seasons. Day Three; must like its previous counterparts, is a rollercoaster of events that could consist of its own standalone series were it not intricately connected with the deeper lore of 24's universe. But does it hold up to the gargantuan titans of its predecessors? Let's find out.
The bane of terrorists, anarchists, villains, and corrupt politicians everywhere has returned. America's true Superhero and no-holds barred hero Jack Bauer returns swinging against a deadly new foe. A nebulous enemy (later revealed as an MI6 agent turned national security threat Stephen Saunders) along with a drug cartel commanded by two vicious brothers desperate for power vye for control over a catastrophic virus capable of creating a pandemic that'd make the Coronavirus sheepish in comparison. The Cordilla Virus, a biological chemical agent which can wipe out populations instantaneously. But that's not all. This stressful day also includes a sideplot with our beloved David Palmer, America's first African-American President (in-universe of course), as he deals with falsified accusations attacking his reputation and newly-found wife. Subsequently, David's old friend Alan Miliken, an industrialist and political financier, wages war against his old comrade in an effort to see Wayne Palmer, David's brother and lover of Alan's wife; fired as vengeance for an affair Wayne held with her. You'd think all these differing plot-threads would create an incoherent mess with no validating outcomes, but it's quite the opposite. The masterful acting of all individuals involved companied with the brilliant score constructed by Sean Callery constructs a story that is as enrapturing as it is tense. The characters are constantly brought into harrowing situations against their enemies, leaving the audience wondering how exactly they intend to worm their way out of these chaotic messes before the villains of the Day achieve their destructive goals. 24's unique framing ensures that we only get to see glimpses of these characters' lives. We've never seen the intricacies of Palmer's Administration outside these hellfire crises, nor Jack's personal existence outside the stress-inducing hells he endures each Day. Sherry's schemes, Kim's characterization, Tony's struggles, and all our other Heroes and Villains aren't given close examinations of their life stories. Unlike anime or television such as JoJo, Breaking Bad, or countless other standard narrative experiences that simply tell a story from beginning to end and paint a canvas of the characters' personalities through their world experiences, 24 only shows us the most epic and consequential moments and days of these characters' lives. Despite the excitability of such a formula, this also makes writing interesting moments and situations incredibly difficult. Personal context for who these characters are and their motivations must be constructed within the short time-frame allotted to the producers, writers, and actors in charge of manning this ship. Luckily, 24 is a television program that wildly succeeds in these endeavors. Each moment of tension and suspense feels real and gut-wrenching, yet not forced or gratuitous. Instead, each of these moments are simply byproducts of the cinematic situations the directors place these characters within.
There's a particular 'binge' quality about 24 that seems to keep me coming back and back. Few shows have such gripping narratives, and fewer so that could fit such storylines into a rigid yet creative formula to present these storylines. Day 3 is simply another example of 24's excellence regarding this category. The Salazar Storyline reaches an explosive conclusion yet segways seamlessly into the second half of the Day, in which Jack faces off against Stephen Saunders whilst David's internal political crisis reaches its climax; as he finds himself ethically comprised when ordering his brother to commit theft of evidence. Sherry Palmer, David's salacious and scheming wife, returns for her final appearance in the series as once more a scheming; mischievous mastermind weaponizing her political connections to make herself a useful resource. This time however, Sherry strikes at David hard, providing his Republican rival the information necessary to emerge victorious in the election. However, actions Sherry has taken earlier in the Day regarding the murder of Alan Miliken have entrapped her into a web of inescapable revenge; the crosshairs of his desperate wife Julia; whom soon executes Sherry and herself. I believe Sherry's death was the most fitting end imaginable for her wicked character. She built herself upon an empire of lies and allies garnered through blackmail and bribery within America's stifling political environment. But even then, her presence on-screen was an entertaining one, as she provided an interesting ruthlessness that I believed David could've used to commit the more dirtier works of his Administration's policymaking. However, selling out David from her spiteful rage and lust for power completely dissolved my sympathy for her character. Her passing was one I took satisfaction in watching.
Another character whom left us this Day was Ryan Chappelle, the bureaucratic hogtier that stifled CTU's fieldwork through his rigid regulations and by-the-book mentality. Despite Ryan's irritating presence, I felt his being there since Day One etched him into the show's 'Veterans Club', which is a term I coined just now to commemorate 24 characters that have stuck with Jack Bauer the longest through his arduous and hellish adventures. The past three Days have been rather harsh towards this unfortunate council of characters. Teri didn't make it past Day One, her killer Nina Myers also perishes in Day Three (more on that later), George Mason was engulfed in nuclear hellfire on Day Two, etcetera. I feel while 24 always introduces stellar new characters to fulfill the roles their old counterparts instituted, the show axes them off far too quickly. My complaints with this series are few and far between, but this has to be my most vocal of them. While 24 prides itself on providing a realistic; tense experience of Counter-Terrorism and political conspiracy; sometimes characters arrive for only a Day and simply vanish. Carl Webb, Lynne Kresge, and countless others don't even receive dignified ends for their characters; but simply dissipate entirely into the narrative void. Now I understand the reasoning for this, 24 is a labor-intensive experience that requires numerous; complex puzzle-pieces to fit together miraculously. In this haze of ensuring that every episode and Day connects to each other, characters and possible plot-lines are forgotten in the mire. Yet still, characters are simply done away with far too quickly, and I can definitely say that for Ryan Chappelle. In spite of his bureaucratic overlord-stature and personality, his last few Episodes featuring him displayed a side of vulnerability, fear, terror, and regret that we never got to examine closely in previous Days. Granted, this was because the threat of death marked him as a corpse walking, but even still. I feel if 24 kept some of the 'Veterans Club' around to further develop their characters and intertwine themselves in further narratives, the legendary show would ascend to even higher watchability in greatness. Imagine if Ryan became redeemed and eventually realized the virtues of Jack Bauer's style of working and became an ally of his later on. Or George Mason had survived the events of Day Two and become a friend of Bauer's. We could have seen storylines with surviving characters that further evolved their places in the story so their deaths didn't feel so sudden to generate shock value. Nonetheless, the show's endless re-watchable factor and greatness mostly dilutes these complaints I have, which are; again; entirely minor compared to its advantages in the grand scheme of things.
Back onto characters we lost in Day Three, Nina Myers. The soulless information-dealer, spy, mass-murdering psychopath and profiteer whom ended Teri Bauer's life at the end of Day One meets her grisly fate on this day. While I would've liked to see Nina further provide issues for Jack and perhaps see a more 'epic' conclusion to her character arc, she did receive a poetic end when being shot dead in the same room where she executed Teri Bauer, when nearly about to kill her daughter. Nina was a supervillainess that didn't garner her appeal simply from being a stereotypical 'femme fatale gone bad'. She was cold, ruthless, and determined, and it didn't matter what side she pretended she was on, because in the end she served only herself. Again, a great character that met a fitting end, yet I believe there could've been more done.
Onto individuals that were newly introduced here; Chase Edmunds provides an interesting, youthful counterpart to the aging Jack Bauer. It's a shame he doesn't seem to make an appearance after Day Three, considering his character potential was near limitless. Embodying the Bauer spirit of breaking regulations when it means saving innocent lives, Edmunds created an interesting 'buddy-cop' relationship with Jack, having its up and down moments when tensions with Bauer regarding his daughter's safety was brought up. Chase was a perfect love interest, having the charisma, attitude, and fiery spirit that embodied a righteous agent of CTU that bore a patriotic outlook on the events of 24. Unfortunately, the Day's end saw Chase parting ways with his left hand after the last vial of Cordilla Virus was attached onto him. His character seemed like the perfect foil to Jack, as while he seemed willing to accept Bauer's orders and go off the book to accomplish his goals, he simultaneously remained wary of going against the law and was initially against Bauer when he orchestrated a prison break in order to break Ramon Salazar out as part of a greater plan set in motion. While seeing him in further Days would definitely be a treat, he served his purpose in Day Three swimmingly, providing a heroic foil necessary for Bauer while also serving as an interesting character in his own right.
Next, we have Chloe O'Brian. A sarcastic, hard-to-like CTU agent, Chloe's computer skills and technological know-how have made her an inseparable asset of the Counter-Terrorist Unit's operations. The writers definitely played up her exaggerated personality, constantly having her spew snarky comments towards everyone around her and generally being a pain in everyone's side. Hopefully as the series progresses Chloe becomes a more likable character personality-wise. Jack's hard-ass ness is earned through the experiences which have thrown him through Hell and Back. Tony's ruthlessness is developed over the course of this series, with him becoming more unhinged and furious as time goes on. Chloe's rather boisterous personality on the other hand is just recently introduced, and doesn't feel earned. I found myself growing rather irritated at her whenever she outburst towards Tony, Jack, or any of the more memorable or likable characters in our roster.
Kim Bauer's character is actually enjoyable to watch here. Without any draining subplot dragging her down (save a rather head-scratching one involving a baby of all things), she performs to her best capacity as both a character and asset for CTU, being another necessary foil to Jack and representing what he truly desires to protect when embarking on immensely dangerous hijinks. I do believe Kim's life being put in danger near the conclusion of Day Three as being a double for Stephen Saunders' daughter was a tired plotpoint of Kim's life being in jeopardy to make Jack act irritationaly, but there was nothing ostensibly draining or annoying about that fact, so in the end it was simply a passable sequence to watch.
I've already spoilt quite a lot, but I highly recommend you watch Day Three for yourself. Like its previous (and I'm hoping subsequent) 24 iterations. There are still enough twists and turns I've managed to preserve within my analyses to keep this storyline spicy, and I would grant Day Three a resounding 9/10, only detracted due to the needless character deaths I mentioned earlier, and my personal grievances against Chloe's overly confrontational personality. Still an awesome watch! 24 forever! You know I should watch Designated Survivor after this, I'm growing a Kiefer Sutherland political thriller addiction...