24 season one summary

Oct. 31, 2003, midnight | By Josh Gottlieb-Miller | 20 years, 7 months ago

So I know what you're thinking, if you've seen an episode or two of 24. You know 24 is a ridiculous mish-mash of hammy acting and unbelievable plot twists (as in the kind you don't believe). You also noticed the split screen suspense and innovation and the sheer urgency that ran throughout the show, or you rooted for Kiefer Sutherland's heroic Jack Bauer. Despite all the plot convolutions you still wanted to watch 24; you just wish you knew what was going on.

Silver Chips Online is here to help, with plot guides to seasons one and two (season two's plot guide found here) so that you know what to expect this upcoming year.

First a summary of 24 in general: 24 follows iconic counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer (as played by the wonderfully straight-faced and believable Kiefer Sutherland, the man who holds those insane plot twists together) as he races to save his family and country from disaster in the face of some nefarious scheme that usually endangers both.

Season one's scheme involves the assassination of cool and authoritative Dennis Haysbert's Senator David Palmer: a black Presidential candidate. The setting is Los Angeles, the day of the California Presidential Primary. Each episode is shot in real-time, starting at midnight.

24 begins with the government's Counter Terrorist Unit getting news that someone is planning an assassination of Palmer. While Bauer is called in to find the assassin and Palmer prepares for the day, his daughter Kim (the annoyingly foolish Elisha Cuthbert) is kidnapped, later joined by her mother, Bauer's somewhat-estranged wife, Teri (poor, abused Leslie Hope). Meanwhile, a major network reporter reveals to Palmer that his son Keith has been implicated in the death of his sister's rapist. The plot thickens when Palmer learns that his family, advisor Carl and financiers covered up the killing and then killed Keith's psychiatrist who knew about it and framed Keith. Also, there's a mole inside CTU!

Gaines, the criminal mastermind behind both the Bauer kidnappings and the Palmer assassination emerges and uses Bauer's family as bait to force Bauer assist in the assassination. (Eventually they plan to frame him.) Finally, a connection to Gaines is found, and Bauer tortures him until he learns the location of Gaines compound, at which point he liberates the place, guns blazing, and rescues his family. But only after his wife Teri has been raped, the first in a disturbing trend of sexual menace continuing throughout 24. Also, heroic Tony and Bauer's ex, Nina (who he had an affair with, hence the estrangement from Teri), discover the mole at CTU. The mole then commits suicide.

CTU soon learns that Palmer's assassination and the Bauers kidnapping are linked. Gaines was being hired by the Drazens, a family of war criminals looking to free their father, Victor Drazen, from military prison and revenge themselves on the men who put him there. Bauer was in on the mission against the elder Drazen, and Palmer had ordered it carried out.

As Bauer struggles with his superiors' at CTU, Teri is revealed to be pregnant, Kim is again kidnapped and Teri then suffers amnesia. Palmer is able to dispatch the concerns over his son, though, tricking his enemies into revealing that Keith wasn't complicit in the psychiatrist's murder. Later, Palmer reveals his son's situation to the nation, and Keith turns himself in. Palmer's wife Sherry had tried to keep her son out of the courts and for this loses favor with her husband. She then attempts to get Palmer to cheat on her so she can blackmail her way into remaining in power, by his side, but fails and is dismissed (i.e. dumped). Bauer is again sent to kill the Presidental candidate by the newly-freed Drazens, but he saves Palmer from an exploding cell phone, hunts down the Drazens and kills them, his daughter having unbeknowst recently escaped from their clutches.

It turns out Nina told Bauer that his daughter was dead, but Nina was also working with the Drazens. Gasp! Having now established the show as one of the most convoluted melodramas on television, Nina kills Teri for finding her out. Though Bauer stops Nina from leaving CTU, he doesn't kill her because they don't know who her real superiors were. Jack is broken by his wife's death.

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