by Sarah Carbiener
Season 8 of 24 begins with Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) curled up on a couch with his adorable granddaughter, and for the first hour of the new season, the show was having a hard time finding a reason for him to get off that couch and fight new terrorists. But by the end of the final hour in the four-hour season premiere, Jack had a beautiful and dangerous reason to stick around and I had a reason to keep watching.
Starting at 4:00 p.m., Jack’s latest day from hell involves (so far) hunting down weapons-grade uranium, infiltrating the Russian Mob, and protecting the world’s one hope for peace in the Middle East, President Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor), from being assassinated. Typical stuff for our man Jack.
At first, it felt like this season was going to stay a little too true to formula. Jack is pulled out of retirement (again), no one at CTU trusts his instincts and he has to go out on his own (again), and at one point he ends up tied to a chair getting the crap beat out of him (again). But then former FBI agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) is brought in to CTU.
Apparently, Renee had a breakdown after the events in season 7 (check out the DVD if you want to see why), but she’s the only one who’s ever gotten close to the Russian Mob, having gone undercover six years ago. Jack is worried she’s too much of a loose cannon to be trusted. As it turns out, she’s more like an entire armory of loose cannons. She is the perfect reason for Jack to stick around CTU one more day and for me to stay tuned.
The casting department scored some major hits this season. Jennifer Westfeldt of Kissing Jessica Stein plays a reporter who’s gotten too close to her subject, President Hassan, played by Slumdog Millionaire’s charismatic Kapoor. And Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff plays Dana Walsh, CTU’s new top tech geek, rankling the already cranky Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub). Even if Renee Walker hadn’t entertained the hell out of me, I would keep watching this season for its cast alone.