Enjoying the addictive pleasures of 24 has always required a willingness to also swallow a whole lot of hooey — Jack Bauer’s never-fail cell phone, for example, or his magical ability to teleport anywhere in Los Angeles in just under five minutes. (He’s the only man alive who finds it faster to travel in L.A. by car than by helicopter.) But after the raucous, two-night, four-hour premiere-aganza that wrapped up last night, you may find yourself suffering from an even-worse-than-usual 24 hangover, that queasy feeling characterized by hazy recollections, general confusion, and wobbly moments of thinking Wait, did that actually happen? For the foggy and disoriented, here’s a recap of the 24 premiere's more ridiculous moments. (It should go without saying that everything that follows is prefaced by a major SPOILER ALERT.)
After leaving Jack to molder in a Chinese prison for two years, the U.S. government suddenly ponies up the mystery ransom to set him free — why they never did this before isn't explained — so they can trade his life to a known terrorist who’s apparently living in the L.A. sewer system. Then when Jack stumbles off the plane, bearded, mumbling, and scarred, the government doesn’t so much as offer him a rare steak or a quick on-the-house shtup before handing him over to be tortured to death in a manner of the terrorist’s choosing. (They do, however, allow him to shave off the beard and get a haircut.) The rationale for this incredibly implausible deal with the devil? The terrorist has promised to reveal the location of Hamri Al-Assad, an even-more-despicable terrorist supposedly behind a series of deadly bombings. But guess what? Assad, the man responsible for waging twenty years of bloody war on the West, is bunkered down in a bungalow in L.A.! Talk about embarrassing! CTU has surveillance satellites that can tell what variety of Band-Aid you're wearing, but they couldn't pinpoint a public enemy number one living with four other dudes in the San Fernando Valley. It’s like finding out that Osama bin Laden’s been hiding in a suburb of Chicago all this time, yet in order to figure this out, the government had to turn over Colin Powell to al Qaeda to be murdered.
Oh, 24: It’s good to have you back. —Adam Sternbergh