A deadly virus is loose in L.A. Super agent Jack Bauer is fighting a drug habit. Counter Terrorist Unit chief Tony Almeida has been shot.
Viewers have come to expect such riveting stuff from Fox’s 24 (tonight, 9 ET/PT). But the real shocker this third season? It took six episodes for Jack’s eternally imperiled daughter, Kim, to put her life in danger. This time, she is held at gunpoint by a CTU mole.
In 24‘s first two seasons, Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) killed an attacker and helped trigger another man’s death. She was kidnapped and pursued. Her descent into ridiculousness hit bottom when a cougar tracked her in the wilderness.
“When I was reading the episodes last year, it was like, ‘Oh, my God, how am I going to pull this off?'” Cuthbert says.
She knows that Kim’s misadventures have made her the girl TV critics and fans love to hate: “I do understand the frustration of some of the choices she’s made. But it’s not Elisha Cuthbert making the choices; it’s Kim Bauer,” the 21-year-old Calgary, native says. “So I’m cool with it.”
This season, which is set three years after Season Two, Kim has joined CTU as an analyst.
The move was designed to weave Kim into the main story. Producers, who were eager to keep the character active, feel that Kim’s lack of connection to the primary action led to extreme plot twists.
Says executive producer Robert Cochran: “For all the complaints made about the story line, that was our fault, not her fault. We really like the actress.”
Besides a job, Kim also has a boyfriend, dashing CTU agent Chase (James Badge Dale).
And that relationship allows Kim to continue making life difficult for her beleaguered dad.
If that’s more than enough to keep Kim occupied, Cuthbert has found time for films. She has a small part in Love Actually and she gets her first lead role in March in The Girl Next Door.
In the meantime, Cuthbert likes the change of pace for Kim.
“The only thing I’m worried about is that as much as everyone complained about how much trouble Kim got into, I wonder if maybe this year they’ll be hoping for it.”