WARNING: FULL SPOILERS
24: Legacy’s fifth episode is marred by show’s diversions into its terrible subplots. Whenever it concentrates on Eric Carter’s (Corey Hawkins) hunt for the elusive guns dealer Gabriel with the troubled Ben (Charlie Hofheimer), it is compelling and a solid tribute to the original show. The action is great and the dynamic between the two characters is one of the truest relationships on the show.
But we spend an inordinate amount of time with the world’s worst terrorist cell and Nicole’s (Anna Diop) unwanted getaway with Isaac (Ashley Thomas). While Nicole’s story took some mildly interesting turns, it also undercut her emerging powerful character. And as the terrorist cell subplot advances, it gets worse in more ways.
Why Do We Cut Away From This Again?
The most troubling aspect of those subplots is that it takes away from a truly exciting main story. It is not perfect: Gabriel turns out to be a stereotypical scarred villain (Not Tony Almeda…BOO!) and the decision to go rogue turns out to be pointless.
In the end, Gabriel still needs to verify the plans and CTU still needs to come in, completely nullifying the need for Eric’s decision. Fake weapons plans would have been fine instead of risking the real thing. If they are trying to make CTU look bad, it is not working that well.
But the rest of the storyline is pretty exciting. Gabriel’s “loyalty” test forcing Eric to shoot Ben or die is very well done. Hawkins’ performance at this moment is spot on. Eric is loyal no matter what and he is fully prepared to die for his principles at that moment. It is incredibly effective. However, this moment is also Ben’s curtain call as he is shockingly killed.
I have always been a fan of Ben because he was a complicated character worth learning more about. How did he get all those connections? Hofheimer and Hawkins had an excellent dynamic. Ben could have been a simple plot device to show Eric’s loyalty but Hofheimer made him into a very compelling character. So long, Ben…you will be missed.
John Donovan’s (Jimmy Smits) story line is actually very brief in the episode, but Smits manages to give a powerful performance. His father Henry (Gerald McRaney) suddenly changes his story, saying his son simply misunderstood his confession, throwing John into an emotional rage. You can see the look of disgust and betrayal on John’s face.
While I really do love the “father betraying his son for his own good” plot, Henry’s motivations still feel a bit murky and in a bad way. Is he protecting his business? His son? A mix of both? There is a mix of genuine narrative curiosity and nervousness in my head for this story line. It is in the positive now, but I hope it leads to something good.
I love how Ingram (Miranda Otto) keeps her cool the whole time John is losing it. She coldly regards Henry, showing just how strong her character is. I just wish the other female characters would do the same.
Troubling Developments…In More Ways Than One
Nicole’s story line actually starts out strongly. I like the turn that Isaac has taken, as Ashley Thomas injects some real menace and aggression into the character. His witch hunt within his own organization shows just how dangerous he can get. When an enraged and paranoid Isaac gets physical with Nicole after she tries to talk sense into him, it feels like a turning point. Nicole, who has emerged as one of the smarter characters on Legacy, gets ready to leave.
But even after putting his hands on her and getting inappropriately close, Isaac manages to talk Nicole into staying. All of her strength is snatched away at that moment. Her staying makes no sense other than story convenience. Any other woman would get the hell out of there, especially one as strong as Nicole.
There are also hints of a possible love triangle and that upsets me even more. Granted, it appears to be a completely one-sided infatuation from Isaac, but the writers continue to disappoint by needlessly over complicating these subplots.
And that brings us to Amira (Kathryn Prescott) her brother Khasan (Themo Melikidze) as they prepare for Jadella (Raphael Acloque) to activate them. They get an unwanted (By both them and me) visit from their father Mikail (Ivo Nandi). His sudden arrival should not be that big a surprise…it continues Legacy’s increasingly haphazard way of throwing this story line together.
Introducing the young sibling’s father this late in the show (They are activated by the end of the episode) feels completely unnecessary and a clumsy attempt to garner more sympathy for Amira. Which is strange because when we were first introduced to the character, there was no sign of her recent reluctance.
In last week’s review, I expressed how troubled I was that the sympathetic foreign terrorist in a show full of Middle Eastern terrorists was somehow a pretty white girl. This troubling portrayal continues here. Her brother and even her father are very much the foreign “Others” here: Angry and violent. It feels like the writers or producers think that the audience would only sympathize with an “innocent” kid who looks like the girl next door. Even her accent is not as severe as the others.
I applaud Legacy for trying a different approach, but everything about this story line feels wrong. Poor scripting, uneven characters and (In my eyes) racially insensitive portrayals make this subplot an utter failure.
Legacy’s unwanted dallies into these subplots are a little puzzling. The main story is more than enough, especially with a steadily improving protagonist in Eric Carter. The biggest tragedy is that these subplots take away from some of the more interesting supporting characters.
Why not flesh out CTU analyst Ray (Dan Bucatinsky)? Or Mariana Stiles (Coral Pena)? All we know about her is that she is Edgar Stiles’ cousin. Ben was a great character who should have been fleshed out more.
I know we are only on the fifth episode of a twelve episode season, but it seems like the show has already run out of material or has completely loaded the latter half of the season. The thing is, they may lose some viewers…they have almost lost me.
SCORE: 4 OUT OF 10
24: Legacy airs Mondays at 8pm on Fox