UPDATE: Please go here if you’re looking for the 24 season 8 series finale.

Normally, I come away from a show with a critical eye towards issues or angles that distract me from the main plot, yet this seventh season of 24 and its finale came at us with a new sense of energy, focus and desperation that I don’t remember feeling before. I also found myself hating not one, but two characters from the show while being shown a side of Jack Bauer that I was not used to seeing.  That was unique and somewhat disturbing.

This year we had no CTU and Jack had to work as a cooperative consultant for the FBI (imagine a consultant that’s one of the most dangerous men alive!).  We did get to see some of our CTU favorites but in unique scenarios.

You’ll see why after the break, where the SPOILERS are hiding.  You’ve been warned.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

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Up until the finale, we were thrown one curve after another but that’s the norm for a day in the life of Jack Bauer.

Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland) was removed (read: borrowed) by the FBI from the Senate hearings where he was on trial for his brutal but necessary methods from previous seasons.  The FBI came looking for him for help with dealing with someone from his past – Tony Almeida.

In the course of his duties, Jack is infected with the chemical bio-weapon and for the first time, we see Jack at a disadvantage.  Dealing with the affects of the bio-weapon, he’s weakened and confused at times.  It was eerie to see Jack this way.

We found out that Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) was alive but was working with the bad guys, while working for the good guys, and then, as it turned out, Tony was working for the bad guys to kill a bad guy.  Bernard portrayed Almeida very well and I really ended up disliking him.

Almeida is the ultimate when it comes to doing everything necessary to achieve his goal, no matter what.  At this stage of the game, what little morals he might have had are gone.

In the course of the first few hours of the day, we found that a secret splinter-group of the CTU was still in operation in the form of the ever sarcastically snippy Chloe O’ Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and the earnestly focused Bill Buchanan (James Morrison).

Through a round-about fashion, Chloe ends up assisting the FBI with their computer woes, Bill Buchanan selflessly gives his life to save the President.  Bills death was a stunner for viewers and Jack alike.

From one moment to the next, the terrorists are thwarted by the FBI, with the assistance of a sick Jack Bauer, who was able to maintain some semblance of composure with medications that temporarily stave off the affects of the biochemical coursing through his system.

The Final Few Hours Ratcheted Up The Intensity

Despite having captured Tony Almeida, the terrorists get to Jack’s daughter and Jack is manipulated into helping Tony escape, much to our chagrin.

Tony takes Jack hostage with the intent of using his body as a source for a new bio-weapon.  We learn that everything Tony has done he did in order to meet the mastermind behind all of the terror on this day, Alan Wilson (Will Patton).  We learn that Wilson is the grand conspirator behind the deaths of Tony’s wife and President David Palmer back in season 5.

Back at the airport the FBI manages to apprise Kim that she’s being watched by the terrorists.  The cops show up, a shoot out ensues in the airport and one of the terrorists makes a break for it.  The FBI aren’t there, so Kim follows the terrorist hoping to retrieve his laptop.  He crashes his car after being shot and Kim needs to get on Twitter bad.

Kim bravely digs deep and crawls in the burning car to retrieve a laptop because it’s the only connection to where her father, Jack might be.

In the end, after tracking the laptop signal to where Jack was being held, the FBI shows up in time just before Tony could detonate the bomb that he strapped to Jack, with the intent to kill master bad guy Alan Wilson.

Back at the White House, meanwhile, other things were going on.  The First Daughter, Olivia Taylor (Sprague Grayden), has tricked her way into the White House Chief Of Staff position and is a very manipulative little b*.  I really hated this woman – hence my kudos to Grayden for her portrayal of this little trickster.

Olivia lets her emotions get the best of her and she has Jonas Hodges (Jon Voight) assassinated.  Hodges was one of the initial middlemen in this terrorist plot and was responsible for killing Olivia’s brother at the end of the 24: Redemption.

Aaron Pierce (Glenn Morshower) gets the former Chief of Staff, Ethan Kanin (Bob Gunton), to assist in retrieving a recording device disk from his old office and gets the phone record evidence necessary to prove Olivia’s involvement in Hodges’ assassination.

President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) has her daughter arrested for her transgressions against the law.  She has no other choice, as the leader of the nation.  This tough decision may destroy her family.

In the beginning of the day, Special Agent Renee Walker (Annie Wesching), was rather aghast at Jack’s brutal methods.  After slowly recognizing that his methods are more effective and expedient than the legal process (and having her boyfriend murdered by Tony Almeida), she crossed a threshold that she never thought she would.

In the FBI interrogation room, the man behind it all, Alan Wilson, smugly sits patient, knowing he’s untouchable.  He can’t be connected to anything.  Actor Will Patton has this touch to playing insidiously evil, cunning men.

Renee enters the interrogation room with her gun and the scene fades to black.  We’re left making our own assumptions or wishes of what happens next.

Kim goes to the hospital where her dad, Jack is dying.  He finally decides it is time to let go and he’s in a coma from the medications needed to alleviate the pain.  Despite Jack earlier declining the idea of an experimental stem cell procedure to save his life, Kim decides to go ahead and have the risky procedure. Will it save Jack’s life? We’ll know for sure when season 8 starts.

This Finale Was Fun

Some say the 24 season 7 finale episode was predictable.  We’ve seen old and new characters.  Tony was not killed, so maybe we’ll see him again?  He can always manage a break out.

I’ve always enjoyed Aaron Pierce and I hope we get to see him again.  We also found ourselves watching the return of Kim Bauer.  I hope that next season, we get to see Kim some more.  Who knows?

Some good justice got dispensed by the end of the season: Olivia Taylor paid the piper and Tony Almeida, for all his love torn revenge, failed when only inches from his goal.  What a waste of all his energy, to finally be thwarted within feet of his target (see the pic above).

I really enjoyed the hard emotional transition that Renee Walker endured to become the perfect girl for Jack Bauer.  More importantly, she understands Jack on a different level than most.  Jack and Renee had a heart to heart talk about dealing with everything they had to do to get the job done and I felt a connection at a very deep level between the two.

I do believe she was stepping over the line as she walked into that interrogation room.  But truly, I jest about “the perfect girl for Jack”, because we know jack never really enjoyed anything he had to do. Jack did what he had to, for his country.

I had fun with this episode, as many of the story lines were properly tied off and very little was left hanging, though I can’t wait to find out what happened with Renee. If she didn’t cross the line, I’d love to see her and Jack work together.  The bad guys would be in so much trouble.

So does Jack Bauer live through the experimental treatment?  I guess so since we have another season coming at us.  In fact, 24‘s eighth season debuts Jan. 17, 2010!  But even sooner, you can own the Blu-ray version of season 7, which was released on Tuesday, May 19th.  That’s fast.

Tidbit:  The 8th season of 24 is described as a real world political situation that takes place in New York approximately 12 to 18 months after the events of season 7. Filming starts in a few weeks.

Was it a good finale? Oh yeah.  Was it predictable?  Sort of, but what had me on the edge of my seat was worrying about that which I was expecting to not happen.  Would they twist it up and tick me off?  Or do the same ‘ol and bore me?  I wasn’t bored wondering.  I had fun.  Did you?  What did you like?  Did anything irk you?  Let us know your thoughts.  We’re eager to hear them.

Season 8 info source:  Sci-Fi Wire