As we ponder which pop culture reference to use as our opening to the return of Season 8 of “24” – would ‘We love the smell of terror in the morning’ work, or should be go musical and simply say ‘Welcome to the terrordome, again’? – we realized that the seven-month layoff between seasons produces some rather large gaps in memory when it comes to the previous day’s events, and this is coming from the person responsible for blogging the damn show. As a means of getting everyone (especially me) up to speed with both the returning characters and the new ones in anticipation of the upcoming two-day premiere – once again competing with the Golden Globes, ugh – we’ve prepped this handy little refresher guide on what you can expect this season. And as a precaution, we’ve included a SPOILER ALERT! warning when appropriate. Man, IMDb is helpful and all, but sometimes it blatantly gives the game away.

Name: Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland)
Last seen: In a coma, finally succumbing to the nerve agent that he inadvertently exposed himself to while trying to stop a major attack in Day 7.
Present whereabouts: Seemingly cured of any and all ill effects of the nerve agent and preparing to relocate back to Los Angeles to be closer to his daughter and granddaughter, who’s named after Jack’s dead wife.
Likelihood of surviving to final clock tick: 1,000,000,000%. If they kill Jack Bauer, it won’t be on the small screen. And even if they did decide to kill him on TV, they’re sure as hell not going do it the same year as the final season of “Lost.”

Name: Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajksub)
Last seen: using a laptop, which was practically still smoking from the fire that it was pulled from, to pinpoint the location of Season 7 baddie Alan Wilson.
Present whereabouts: Working her tech magic for the newly reinstated CTU office in New York.
Likelihood of surviving to final clock tick: 90%, though we suspect that should Chloe die, Jack would just fall to the ground like a marionette.

Name: Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert)
Last seen: Going against her father’s wishes and consenting to the doctors’ request to use her stem cells to save Jack.
Present whereabouts: Still on the east coast with the intent to move back west. The mother of an infant at the end of Season 7, her daughter is now roughly four years old, even though we believe only 18 months have passed since this season and last.
Likelihood of surviving to final clock tick: 100%. Like cockroaches, Keith Richards and U2, Kim Bauer cannot be killed.

Name: President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones)
Last seen: Sending her treacherous daughter to the slammer for a laundry list of grotesque offenses, thereby guaranteeing that her husband never has sex with her again.
Present whereabouts: New York, where she will sign a landmark treaty with President Omar Hassan. Or at least that’s the plan.
Likelihood of surviving to final clock tick: 95%. She’s damn tough, and even some of the Presidents that die on camera don’t really die. Take, for example…

Name: President Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin)
Last seen: Flatlining in an ambulance after being stabbed by his wife, former First Lady of Crazy Martha Logan.
Present whereabouts: Unknown, but word has leaked that Logan will return at some point this season.
Likelihood of surviving to final clock tick: 100%. Hey, if Martha couldn’t kill him…

Name: Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) (SPOILER ALERT!)
Last seen: Sneaking into the holding room of Alan Wilson, with the intent to make him squeal like a pig for orchestrating the day’s events, not to mention the death of her boss, Larry “Dudley Do Right” Moss.
Present whereabouts: Unknown, but we’re guessing it’s somewhere dark, cold, and ratty.
Likelihood of surviving to final clock tick: 5%. We already had a sneaking suspicion that Renee, a.k.a. Jacqueline Bauer, was destined to fill that ‘dead/damaged lover’ slot in Jack’s life, but then IMDb revealed this, um, revealing fact: as of press date, Wersching was credited for appearing in 47 episodes of “24.” You do the math.

The re-opening of the New York office of CTU will serve much like the introduction of the FBI in Season 7. New bosses, new agents, new techies, and most likely, new moles. But damned if this bunch doesn’t appear to be squeaky clean. For now.

Name: Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor)
Title: President of the fictional Muslim nation of Kamistan and assassination target.
Potential 24 Blog Nickname: Slumdog President
Likelihood of surviving to final clock tick: 100% Swear to God, I got in a conversation with two Indian men at a local liquor store about Anil Kapoor (an ad for “24” appeared on the TV behind them), and they both proceeded to recite a laundry list of Chuck Norris-type facts about Anil Kapoor. Apparently, Kapoor can do seven lengths in an Olympic swimming pool…underwater. I was going to inquire about Kapoor’s roundhouse kick, but thought better of it, grabbed my booze, and left.

Name: Dana Walsh (Katie Sackhoff)
Title: Director of IT, CTU New York
Potential 24 Blog Nickname: If I don’t call her Starbuck, all hell will break loose.
Likelihood of being mole in disguise: 20%. She appears to be more of a Nasia Yassir (the lovely Marisol Nichols) type. Which is fine with us. After all, why bring in someone like Katie Sackhoff and ask your audience to root against her?

Name: Brian Hastings (Mykelti Williamson)
Title: Director of CTU New York
Potential 24 Blog Nickname: Sorry, Mykelti, but you’ll always be Bubba to us.
Likelihood of of being mole in disguise: 10%, but I’ll bet dollars to donuts he’s dead before the day’s over. Directors of CTU have a higher mortality rate than Jack’s girlfriends. (*pours out 40 in honor of Bill Buchanan*)

Name: Cole Ortiz (Freddie Prinze Jr.)
Title: Agent, CTU New York
Potential 24 Blog Nickname: There is surely a Mr. Buffy Summers joke in there somewhere, but man, that seems too easy.
Likelihood of of being mole in disguise: 15%. He’s an ex-Marine (that’s right, Freddie Prinze Jr. is playing an ex-Marine), so the odds of him betraying his country are highly unlikely. It would be a nice play against type, but “24” doesn’t really play that way. They tend to cast former weasels to play current weasels. See Sean Hillinger, a.k.a. Billy Walsh, from Season 7.

Name: Arlo Glass (John Boyd)
Title: Systems Analyst
Potential 24 Blog Nickname: TBD. Considering his relatively skint resume, including such roles as Drunk Guy and One-Eyebrow Smoker, we’ll need some time together before a nickname presents itself.
Likelihood of of being mole in disguise: 10%, though we wonder if he’ll produce trouble for Chloe and Morris.

That’s all we know for the moment, but the “24” blog will be back open for business Monday morning to discuss the first two hours. Fox, though needs to be slapped silly for scheduling the premiere opposite the Golden Globes, again. Yes, yes, moving the premiere to Monday and Tuesday would mess up “American Idol’s” schedule, blah blah blah. Nobody cares. Heck, the stars of “24” will be at the Golden Globes, for crying out loud. Jeesh.