A review of tonight's "24: Live Another Day" coming up just as soon as I mention your rather rude habit of asking for favors at the end of a gun...

Having set up the situation and introduced the new characters in last week's two-part opener, "24" gets a chance tonight to, if not take a breather, at least slow down just enough to really catch up with Jack and Chloe and to get a better sense of some of our major players.

So we get even more evidence that Kate Morgan is a female Jack Bauer (and Jack himself has had love interests who turned out to be moles), and Yvonne Strahovski works better in a more ass-kicking mode this week than when Kate spent much of last week petitioning Steve Navarro to put her back in the field. And Erik turns out to be less whiny once he sees her in action, even as I'm assuming he and/or Steve will pay the price for Kate's recklessness, just as most of Jack's former bosses and co-workers did.

And we get much more time with Margot and Simone, who appear to be this season's big bads. (With "24," there's always the possibility that they are the villains who will lead Jack to the true villains, but with half the number of episodes to fill — we're already at the one-quarter mark of the season — that may be less necessary.) Michelle Fairley does well in a role that, like all of this season's new players, is made up of pieces of past "24" characters, and we'll see how long Simone's reluctant husband goes along with all this craziness before mother-in-law decides he's detrimental to the cause.

But the real highlights of the episode involved Jack and Chloe. Last week, Jack was in complete lone wolf mode, not speaking unless absolutely necessary, insisting that he had no friends and was only freeing Chloe for the sake of the mission, etc. Here, though? We get as close to the Alan Alda version of Jack Bauer as you're ever going to get. Jack has a friend! He has time to give out hugs! He says "please" when someone points out that he's kind of a rude ass! Of course, he also shoots civilians in the leg when he needs a distraction to get into the embassy, but he said "please" to Adrian Cross!!!!!

And even though I had little to no memory of Chloe's son (who was first discussed in one of the seasons I didn't watch much of) and am sad that we'll never again see Morris, Jack recognizing Chloe's loss was a genuinely emotional moment in the midst of all the exposition. These two are the show, no matter the year, the location, the format or the villains, and this is the only relationship  in Jack's life that matters. (Though if Elisha Cuthbert wants to make a cameo where Kim eats ribs and/or dances with Hip-Hop Santa, I would not object.)

Not a mind-blowing episode (and a rare hour where it felt less like we got a cliffhanger than like the clock ran out in the middle of some action), but one that was a bit more substantive than all the required set-up we got last week.

What did everybody else think?