Jack Bauer, wounded, bloodied, with no ID or money has been asked to slip out of the country and disappear. I’ll say this for America, we sure know how to thank and honor our heroes. All the guy has done is routinely and single-handedly saved millions of lives, exposed major plots to subvert this nation, and thwarted every sinister villain not assigned to James Bond. Okay, he only works maybe one day every two years but those are full days. You’d think at least he’d get a commendation or something. They’d let him throw out the first pitch at a Nationals game. Show him in the audience of AMERICAN IDOL sitting next to Jane Lynch. Anything!
But no, for all his sacrifice and overtime, he’s told to scram. Such was the final episode of 24. No white light to walk towards for this Jack. No reuniting with his wife Terry or Renee Walker or President Palmer or Edgar or Michelle or Buchanan or the 400 other people close to him who are now dead. No, this Jack must carry on, alone, bleeding, and emotionally bankrupt. This may be the last time we ever see him again… unless he comes back in a movie of 24 or returns to television as THE FUGITIVE.
But it was a great ride. How the writers kept the suspense going non-stop for 24 hour periods is totally beyond me. How many traps can Jack extricate himself from? How many nuclear, biological, chemical, political attacks can there be? How many global conspiracies are there? The show ran for 192 episodes plus a two-hour movie. Remarkable.
For the first few years 24 was great escapist fare. It got better and better until one year the show and Kiefer Sutherland won Emmys.
Then it struggled. Dropping a nuclear bomb on Valencia was a bit of a buzz kill. Kim Raver as charmless love interest Audrey was another. And that mistake was compounded because they inexplicably brought her back. Did no 24 writer ever read a blog???
Torture was a big issue. Well, it became a big issue with Guantanamo Bay. So the producers modified it. Instead of just straight torture there was torture and debate. And Jack only tortured the bad guys… most of the time. In one episode he tortured Audrey. I think that's what won him the Emmy.
What the show generally had going for it was great villains. Dennis Hopper, Jon Voight, Powers Booth, Penny Johnson Jerald, lots of Arabs. But the greatest villain of them all was Gregory Itzin (pictured: right) as sniveling, conniving President Nixon… I mean, Logan. He was the key to the Emmy winning year and this season was spinning its wheels until he re-appeared.
They tried to shake things up last year by moving the series to Washington D.C. and this year it was set in New York. And the change of scenery helped but by that time I started watching the show differently.
The first few years I was really invested in the plots. I was shocked when they killed his wife at the end of season one. The message was received loud and clear – anybody was expendable. So the suspense heightened. These people really were in jeopardy.
Sure, there was the suspension of belief. In one episode Jack got from downtown LA to Simi Valley in twenty minutes during rush hour. If he was strapped to a Convair X-11 Atlas missile he couldn’t get there that fast.
And Jack seemed to heal very quickly. There was one hour where his heart literally stopped and fifteen minutes later he’s beating the shit out of a street gang in a parking lot. ICU is for sissies.
I just sort of accepted that every year his annoying daughter Kim would be kidnapped. It got to where she brought her own rope.
But I didn’t mind. This was a thrill ride.
After that one really bad season though I started watching the show differently. All the absurdities I had ignored, I now embraced. That became part of the fun.
My daughter Annie and I would have a rollicking good time pointing out these gaping plot holes. CTU hires Dana Walsh to be their chief systems analyst handing the most sensitive matters and their security check didn’t reveal she was using an alias and had been in prison? Really?? Meanwhile, an ex-boyfriend does figure it out. And in the midst of a national crisis she slips out to help him pull a heist? You gotta love it!
And this year I imagine the producers said, “what the hell? Let’s just go for it.” Two hours ago Jack was wearing a Robocop outfit shooting up a presidential motorcade. Yeah! Jack was crazed because the woman he decided he loved an hour before was killed. Turns out the President of Russia PERSONALLY put the hit out on her, as if the President of Russia even knew who she was. Genius! Torture is one thing but now Jack was cutting a guy’s stomach open to retrieve a sin-card. If you loved that scene in SAW you loved it in 24!
So thanks for the thrills. Thanks for the laughs, even if they were unintended. And most of all, thanks for Chloe O'Brien. As portrayed by Mary Lynn Rajskub, who knew that exasperation and eye rolling could be so endearing? The girl you hated in school is the one you loved on 24.
How fitting then that the final moment should be between Jack and Chloe? It ended on just the right note. Jack thanking her for everything was surprisingly touching. And when a tear rolled down her blank face well...I was misting up myself.
I will miss you, Jack Bauer. Thanks for saving the nation. Twenty times. I’d say you’re welcome to come over and hide out at my house but everyone you’ve ever helped winds up dead so I’ll just say farewell, thanks again, and you really should have that six inch gushing knife wound looked at.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010