24, Kiefer Sutherland
Credit: Richard Foreman/Fox

Back in May, we found out that Sarah Michelle Gellar hubby Freddie Prinze Jr. would be a big part of the upcoming season 8 of Fox’s 24 (which premieres Jan. 17), but now we’ve got an EW exclusive first look at one of his early scenes with Keifer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer.

The former teen heartthrob plays Cole Ortiz, head of field operations for a reconstituted CTU in New York City, where the action takes place in the upcoming season. “We’ve attempted to call him a young Jack Bauer, but he really is his own character,” says 24 executive producer Howard Gordon.

Much of Prinze’s storyline concerns his character’s romantic relationship with Dana Walsh, an agent at CTU played Katee Sackhoff. (Sci-fi nerds, try to contain yourself!) “We’ve got a really interesting story to tell with these two,” adds Gordon. “What we learn in short order is that she may not be who she says she is, and it has to do with her past, which comes back to haunt her in the present. This wonderful Boy Scout is about to learn that the woman who he’s about to marry—she’s kind of the perfect girl—has secrets. In the tradition of 24, work and personal lives don’t mix.”

But now to the big question: Does he get along with top-dog Jack Bauer? “The dynamic is that, from the very first moment, Cole is enamored with Jack,” Gordon reveals. “But he has a few encounters with his hero that make him question that—sometimes you don’t want to meet your heroes. But the two wind up having a great deal of respect for each other.” But is that a revelation? Anybody who watches 24 knows you better have respect for Jack Bauer—or, well, you know.

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