Man in room: “Hi, my name’s Farhad.”
Rest of room: “Hi, Farhad.”
Man in room: “And I’m a villain.”

Hiding in plain sight: it’s the new twist ending.

From the moment they set up the white she-devil reporter Meredith (who, of course, is blonde) as the supposed inside person that will take out Slumdog President – they even had her doing the shifty-eyed thing, gawd – I’m thinking, “Nope, it’s the brother.” And that’s fine: there have been several transparent baddies in the past on “24.” But how many of them were revealed in the second hour? Seriously, we’re only two hours in, and we already know that Slumdog’s brother (official 24 blog nickname: George Harrison) has brought in the Russian hit man Davros (nickname still pending, though I’m leaning towards Moscow Mike, after watching him slip into New Yorkese without a moment’s hesitation when he took that cop and his wife hostage) to kill his brother, and he plans on using Slumdog’s indiscretions with said white she-devil as leverage to keep him in line. That’s usually a late reveal, isn’t it? They might spend the next 22 hours fleshing out the story in colorful ways, but I feel as though they’ve already played their biggest card.

Unless…

Perhaps Slumdog’s wife is Sherry Palmer in disguise, and she’s the driving force behind George Harrison’s plot. The Hassans are as estranged a couple as you’re likely to find, so it’s safe to say that Slumdog’s death would not crush her. She was just a little too still, too calm. I don’t trust her any farther than I can throw her. And that’s good; the show could use another villainess along the lines of Sherry Palmer and the late, great Lady MacBeth that was Shohreh Aghdashloo. Does anyone have a better voice than Shohreh Aghdashloo? Seriously, they should make a computer program that enables people to speak like her. It would end war.

24-Ep801_Sc155_0175

“I’m Jack Bauer.” “That’s nice. My wife kills vampires. You’re picking up the check.”

So let’s take a look at the fast-talking clowns that call themselves CTU New York. They’re led by two guys, CTU director Brian Hastings (nickname: Bubba) and ex-Marine Cole Ortiz (nickname: Buffy) who are clearly in over their heads. Their head systems analyst Dana Walsh (nickname: Starbuck) is hiding some shameful past that, from the looks of her country bumpkin blackmailer, might involve tube tops and pole dancing. Lastly Arlo Glass, the man in charge of the drones, or something, uses satellite feeds to spy on hot women (nickname: Merv the Perv). Stuck with these idiots is Chloe, who is having a hard time adapting to their “Minority Report” technology, but seems to be the only one who knows a trap when she sees one. The lack of field experience and instincts with this crew is galling. How many useful leads will Jack and Chloe have to provide before they’re deemed helpful?

Speaking of Chloe, I love Mary Lynn Rajskub as much as anyone, but she has been terrible so far, reading her lines like she has a plane to catch. There is no rhythm or real emotion behind what she says – it’s just chatter. Elisha Cuthbert, on the other hand, has turned in her best work yet in these first two hours. She also looks fabulous.

Madame President didn’t play too large a role in these first two hours, other than being the level-headed, middle-of-the-road President that we will never see in real life. Her new chief of staff Rob Weiss is a pushy little fucker though, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Ethan Kanin throw a roadblock or two his way.

For as much hype as the season premiere of “24” generates, this was not their best first step. Bad guys busting off shots in the middle of the street, but there are no witnesses. (It’s New York. Someone is always watching.) A compromised CTU employee, a la Samwise Gamgee from Season 5. On the plus side, the writers appear to be playing the ‘damn it’ drinking game again, so that’s fun. Still, hours three and four, to quote Hard-Fi, better do better than this.

And, in a new wrinkle to the 24 blog, I’m including a video to the song that inspired each week’s title. Take us home, Shane and Kirsty.