24: Season 2 was important for the long-term viability of the series. The first season could have just been labeled as a brilliant one of a kind experiment that could only work once. Season 2 proved there were plenty of opportunities to put Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland) through nightmarish 24-hour periods.
While the first season was a more focused, personal drama with the assassination attempt on Senator David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), the threat significantly escalated with Jack trying to stop a nuclear bomb from detonating on US soil and preventing a war.
In fairness, the season doesn’t start off as explosive as its predecessor. There’s a lot of stage setting with the threat of the nuclear device, Jack getting back to action, Kim’s subplot, President Palmer’s response crisis and the seemingly disconnected Warner family wedding.
One of my favorite aspects of this season was how the writers play on viewers’ blatant or barely there prejudices toward Middle Easterners. America was still in its ‘rah rah Muerica’ phase following 9-11 and it was a little too easy to be in Kate Warner’s (Sarah Wynter) shoes and consider Reza suspicious. That payoff still remains one of 24’s greatest twists.
Season 2 gets some well-deserved grief from the fan base summed up with one word: bobcat. Part of what made the first season so ingenious was Jack was constantly being emotionally distracted worrying about his wife and daughter, Kim (Elisha Cuthbert).
Kim would have been better off sidelined this season, but instead the writers have to resort to one ridiculous scenario after another to keep Kim in harm’s way. The bobcat gets the most jeers, but the bomb shelter with Johnny Drama, the grocery store hostage shootout and Horrible Misadventures in Babysitting just made Kim an extremely frustrating character arc all season.
And it’s not like Kim was needed thanks to a stronger supporting cast. The CTU arc was outstanding with Tony (Carlos Bernard) struggling to deal with an increased leadership role and his mounting feelings for fellow agent Michelle (Reiko Aylesworth), who would quickly become a fan favorite.
Palmer’s storyline was intense political drama as the president has to deal with mounting pressure from his advisors (Jude Ciccolella and Michelle Forbes) to prepare for war. While the Palmer family drama in the first season was solid, Haysbert was able to take his performance to another level as the commanding, yet thoughtful Commander-in-Chief. The return of some of the series’ greatest villains also led to several memorable episodes.
The season’s best arc was the redemption of CTU Director George Mason (Xander Berkely). Mason was that prickly only looking out for Number 1 manager everyone’s encountered at some point or another. But when tragedy hits, Mason rallies making his storyline resolution one of the series best thanks to some amazing performances from Berkely, Sutherland and Cuthbert.
With 24: Season 2, the writers were learning what worked and what situations didn’t need revisiting. That would prove invaluable as the series continued its ascension to one of TV’s finest shows.
Rating: 9 out of 10
- LOST has a heavy presence this season with Daniel Dae Kim playing one of Jack’s trusted CTU field agents; Alan Dale plays the vice-president and John Terry as the Warner family patriarch.
- The Walking Dead’s Michael Cudlitz appears as a CTU agent helping Jack with a valuable informant.
- Billy Burke played the psychotic father of the child Kim babysat, but ironically he was the well-meaning and loving father in Twilight. His ex-wife? None other than Sarah Chalke, who played the 24 villain Nina Myers.
- Bauer has to deal with two major villains from other series in Tobin Bell — Jigsaw from the SAW franchise and Thomas Kretschmann (Baron Von Strucker from Avengers: Age of Ultron).
Photo Credit: FOX