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'24: Live Another Day' recap: Jack Bauer makes triumphant return

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Kiefer Sutherland plays agent Jack Bauer in '24: Live Another Day' (Fox)

It’s been four years since Jack Bauer was branded a terrorist by his own country but when we see him again, it's clear little has changed. The premiere’s first few minutes are tense as the CIA’s London branch hunts Jack through the cloudy gray streets of England, the show’s trademark clock ticking in the background. They grab him soon enough, proving that while this limited series may be twelve hours shorter than a normal season of "24", Jack Bauer still has a very long day ahead of him.

If his capture seemed a little too easy, it's because it was. The entire thing was an elaborate ruse by Jack to infiltrate the “special activities” unit where his only friend, Chloe O’Brian, is being tortured. Time has not been kind to fan favorite Chloe, who’s sporting a new goth look and seems a lot worse for wear. The duo make a daring escape, injuring many CIA agents in their wake. We’re quick to learn that Jack’s rescue wasn’t just about loyalty to his friend. He needs Chloe’s help to stop an assassination attempt on the president of the United States. After serving time for her role in Jack’s departure four years ago, Chloe has begun working with a group of Edward Snowden-esque hackers who reveal the secrets of intelligence agencies. Derek Yates, one of the members of her new crew, has gone rogue. Derek’s developed a technology that will allow him to take over drones used by the U.S. military and he plans to sell them.

One new character who seems to be a major player this season? Disgraced CIA agent Kate Morgan, whose failure to realize that her husband was a double agent has led to her losing her job. On her last day at the office, she realizes Jack’s capture was a set up and uses this as leverage to get back the job from which she’d just been fired. It’s clear she doesn’t play by the rules (she tasers the security guard attempting to escort her out of the building) but that just might prove to be an asset to our hero. By episode’s end, Kate corners Jack, who assures her that he’s not the bad guy she’s looking for right before knocking her out cold.

Who is the bad guy? A mysterious woman named Margot who is willing to pay big bucks for Yates’ drone technology. Derek tests his new weapon by hacking into the drone that innocent soldier Chris Tanner is operating and firing at a group of American and British soldiers. Tanner is framed for the act, which could prove to be very bad news for President Heller, who is in London to finalize negotiations for a new military base that’s being met with resistance by those protesting the United States use of drones.

That’s far from Heller’s only problem. He’s showing signs of dementia and the symptoms worsen when he’s under pressure. His chief of staff, Mark Boudreau, is especially worried, which leads to some tense moments between him and his wife. And just who is Mark’s better half? None other than Jack’s true love, Audrey Heller. Mark doesn’t let his wife or father-in-law in on the fact that Jack has been spotted in England, citing their dark history with the man as his reasoning. This being “24”, its hard to tell whether his protection could have more sinister motives, but one thing is for sure, the Hellers won’t be kept in the dark for much longer.

Jack and Chloe’s attempt to grab Derek Yates is thwarted by the CIA and both Yates and his ditzy girlfriend manage to get away. Chloe uncovers some of Yates' files from his computer that include a plan to take over several drones at once, with the intention of using them to assassinate President Heller. The data self-destructs before it can be saved, whatever other evidence quickly disappearing.

Yates, who barely escaped death by Bauer, confesses to his scantily clad girlfriend that he’s sure Margot was trying to have him killed and will sell his technology to the highest bidder. His admission leads to the episode’s final twist: His girlfriend isn’t just some bimbo going along for the ride, she’s Margot’s daughter. She murders Yates in cold blood and takes off with his briefcase, assuring her mother that everything is still going according to plan.

Are Jack’s attempts to save the president an attempt to get back in Audrey’s good graces? Part of a plan to allow him to return to the U.S. and reunite with his daughter? Or is he really a patriot who refuses to give up on the country that turned on him? His true motivations remain to be seen, but the next ten hours promise to be explosive.

"24: Live Another Day" airs Mondays at 9 on FOX.

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