'24: Legacy' Team Talks Tackling Black Lives Matter: "This Is a Reality"

24 Legacy Pilot Still 2 - H 2017
John P Fleenor/FOX

24 Legacy Pilot Still 2 - H 2017

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the second episode of 24: Legacy.]

Well, that's one way to earn cash fast.

In its second hour, 24: Legacy put Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins) through his first major time-sensitive test: coming up with millions of dollars in order to purchase sensitive information from Ben Grimes (Charlie Hofheimer), the disgruntled army veteran threatening to sell a list of terrorist sleeper cells to the highest bidder — even the terrorists themselves — all within the span of about an hour. With limited options and even fewer people he can trust, Carter carves out a creative path toward the money: intentionally getting himself arrested in order to steal millions of dollars in drug money secured during a recent raid.

It's a move one can imagine Jack Bauer enacting back in the old days of 24, except that Hawkins' Carter doesn't have to do a whole lot to catch the police's attention, other than exist.

"He's a young African-American male running on the street with a weapon and bruises on his face. We deal with that a lot," Hawkins tells The Hollywood Reporter about the scene in which Carter is arrested. "And we took it on face-forward. This is a reality. It's something that he's going to have to deal with, without taking away from his mission, without taking away from what he has to do. He is black. You don't have to 'make it about race,' because he is who he is. It's interesting how we deal with that."

In creating the scene, showrunners Manny Coto and Evan Katz wanted to portray aspects of Carter's experience that were never in play for Bauer: "There's the reality of the stop-and-frisk, and we thought it would be interesting if our hero could use it to his advantage. It's definitely a theme that runs through episode two, and we touch on it later on, but we don't want to give away any plot points. It's not something we could ignore. It's something our hero has that's different from Jack Bauer. He has a different life experience than Jack Bauer. It's something we wanted to explore."

Once in police custody, Carter outfits the cops with bomb vests, threatening a big bad boom if they don't do exactly as he says. It leads to an episode-closing action scene that boxes Carter into a corner, almost completely surrounded by an entire police precinct.

"Sometimes 24 can seem a little grand," Hawkins says of the scene. "Sometimes these things can seem a little outlandish. But the reality is, if you look around at our current landscape, nothing is out of the realm of possibility in terms of terror and politics. Nothing's out of the realm. I think 24 has always keyed into that. You might see it and go, 'Oh, that's television.' But it's a reality for a lot of people, and we just don't know about it. It's a reality for our intelligence officers, Rebecca Ingram and CTU. He's going to have to adjust to working within the confines of America. But when he can't work within the rules, he's going to take whatever action he can to save his family and save his marriage and save his country. Literally, he breaks into a police station to do what he has to do. That's the plan, because he's gone to his brother and to Ingram and the government and this is the next thing he knows to do in that moment. If he had a little more time? Maybe he could think out something a little better to do. But he can't. He's always racing the clock. Ben keeps calling him: 'Where's the money?' 'I don't have it! I don't have it!' But he knows Ben's going to do it. He knows he's going to sell the list to the terrorists. Because he knows Ben is not wound as tightly as he thought he was. He has to make these decisions. Although they can sometimes seem a little irrational, it's not a rational sort of situation. He's dealing with that."

With that, the 24: Legacy star paints a scenario that's all too familiar for longtime fans of the series. But once again, Hawkins points to some key differences between Bauer and Carter.

"Eric comes from a complicated past," he says. "He grew up in Washington, D.C., and I think that backstory will continue. The thing with 24 is that because it moves so much, it's a challenge, and sometimes things get revealed about these characters as you go. On the surface, everything seems to be okay with Eric. At the beginning of 24, we saw Jack Bauer was a bit of a broken man. He still had his family, but it wasn't a typical family situation. Eric doesn't come from that."

Viewers have already seen a bit of where Eric comes from, thanks to the storyline focusing on his brother, Isaac (Ashley Thomas), a powerful man involved in dangerous businesses. In the first episode, Eric brings his wife Nicole (Anna Diop) to hide with Isaac while he tries to stop Bin Khalid's men, and during that scene, Nicole expresses her theory that Eric still pines for war. Hawkins thinks there's something to that.

"He thought he wanted the white-picket-fence life," he says. "He thought Nicole would enjoy that. He did it for her. He thought maybe he would enjoy it. But I think he's trying to figure that out. He left his wife with his brother because he's the only person he can trust. Even though they're estranged, that's blood. Blood is always thicker than water."

"Eric's trying to make his way the best he can," he continues. "You don't know his history yet. You don't know the things he's seen growing up. And you might not know it until later on in the season, or maybe even further down the line in other seasons."

Let us know your take on 24: Legacy so far in the comments below, and check in with THR.com/24Legacy for more on the show.