Well it's finally here: The 24 finale. Not only the season finale, but the series finale. It's the end of the road for Jack Bauer - and based on what Fox has allowed to be done to his character this season all I can say is "Rest in Peace."
Now that's not to say that I know he's going to die in tonight's episode (this is being written prior to the show airing), but what I am saying is that as far as I'm concerned the well-loved, honorable, stop-at-(almost)-nothing to defend his country man that we've come to know died a few episodes back.
Whoever took over the series and the character played by Keifer Sutherland from the original creators of 24 seems to have had a different vision of who Jack Bauer really is... apparantly a vengeful psychopath that has just been barely held in check for 7 seasons. This season he's crossed a line he never actually contemplated crossing before: Cold blooded murder of unarmed people for revenge - and torture so vile that it would make Al Qaeda proud.
In case it's not clear, I've not been happy about this final season (#8) of 24 - frankly, I wish they'd retired it about three years ago while it was still great - and with what they've done with the show this season I just don't see the prospect of a theatrical version of 24 doing that well at the box office.
The following review is full of spoilers for this episode.
The culmination of the season sees Jack determined to go all the way up to the top of the chain of terrorist events of the past 24 hours and expose Russian President Suvarov, who was the ultimate power behind the day's events. Jack has killed everyone up the chain up to that point and is making headway in getting to Suvarov. They do at least show a bit of humanity in Jack when he tells ex-President Logan's aide that they took away the option of a justice system for him when they tried to bury the events of the day - making him judge and jury. He spares the life of the aide instead of murdering him.
Dalia (now President of the IRK) finds out about the source of the assassination and confronts President Taylor, who finally has to come clean about the cover up. Taylor has been sliding down that slippery slope and fighting it as best she can, but is willing to pay almost any price for the Middle East peace agreement to go through. When Dalia refuses to sign the agreement once she learns the truth, Taylor goes off the deep end and threatens a full scale attack if Dalia doesn't sign the treaty. VERY grudgingly, Dalia agrees to sign.
Jack of course makes it into the UN building without much trouble, while Chloe, Arlo and Ortiz try to get to Jack in order to retrieve the video evidence, get the information out and stop him from assassinating the Russian President.
Chloe comes upon Jack as he is about to assassinate the Russian President, and manages to get through to him by invoking Renee Walker - saying she wouldn't want a war started because of her (with a country that has intercontinental nukes, no less). Jack acquiesces, - but knows that the TAC team is coming and gets Chloe to shoot him just as they arrive in order for her to be able to get the digital recording out.
Eventually President Taylor has a change of heart, after watching a recording that Jack made for his daughter about the events of the day and stops the agreement from being signed - along with stopping the planned assassination of Bauer by Logan. In the end Jack's death is barely averted, but Taylor tells him that they'll both have to face the consequences of what they did that day - and is going to give him some time to leave the country and go into hiding. In a heartfelt goodbye, Jack tells Chloe that he never thought that she would be the one who watched out for him for so many years - and that is the end.
After the incredible suspense of some previous seasons, this final episode felt lacking. Maybe it's from having gone through this so many times, but there was never really a sense that the plan wouldn't succeed or that the news wouldn't somehow get out. I guess they can only dangle you out over the edge of the precipice so many times until you learn they're always going to bring you back in to safety.
And here's a major issue: The final episode of every season has always revolved around some critical danger that Jack has to stop. In this episode the big issue was "will he assassinate the Russian President?"
Was the audience supposed to be on the edge of its seat for fear that Jack would go through with it? The man was responsible for an attempted terrorist attack that would have taken out tens of thousands of people, which was only avoided because JACK stopped it.
Jack had already taken out everyone else up the chain who was involved, so who gives a damn if the guy was killed? That was a poor, poor lynch-pin for the episode. Yeah, yeah - nuclear war, yadda yadda - not much of a motivating threat in the last 45 minutes of a series finale.
The one thing that was in doubt was whether they would actually kill Jack at the end of the episode since this was the end of the series - but no, they left him alive and on the run. There was too much similarity to the same thing that happened a few seasons back when Jack had to go on the run from the U.S. government. Frankly after 8 "days" I was ready to see Jack finally have some peace in his life, as they hinted at 24 episodes ago in the season opener... the chance to finally retire and enjoy life with his daughter and grandchild.
So after so many years of nail-biting episodes and entire seasons, this final episode of 24 felt like it went out more with a whimper than with a roar.
Sadly, not a fitting end to the story of Jack Bauer - no doubt due to the bloody temptation to bring him back once more whether it be in another season, series or feature film.