After a highly generic season, I didn’t expect this finale to be such a monumental gut-punch. But it was glorious.
Let me be this clear, this wasn’t a bad season of 24. It was well-executed, and it felt like classic Jack Bauer with the requisite double crosses, big bads, and shootouts. But it also didn’t offer anything new (and maybe a large part of the audience wasn’t craving that). But the television landscape has changed immensely since 24 left the airwaves in 2010. Bombshell twists have become a weekly occurrence, and shows today rarely shy away from killing off central characters (a feat that was 24‘s bread and butter back when it first stormed onto the scene). And aside from the show’s unique format, this season felt largely derivative and by-the-numbers; nothing ever really surprised me throughout the course of these 12 episodes. I never felt like I was dying to watch the next episode. Instead, I kept watching out of habit and sheer loyalty to Jack Bauer (one of my most favorite characters of all time).
And that’s why this finale was so good. It shocked me. In fact, it blew my brains out, particularly with the gruesome murder of Jack’s one true love, Audrey. I honestly never expected the writing staff to kill her off after everything she’d been through, but ultimately, this act further reiterated something we’ve known all along: 24 is a tragic story, and Jack will never really get his happy ending. On the bright side, Audrey’s death gave Jack a magnificent final rampage which Keifer Sutherland sold perfectly. The utter desolation on Jack’s face after Kate’s call, the hopelessness as he takes out his gun (undoubtedly read to off himself), and finally his renewed determination as he shoots, smashes and slices everyone in his path. It’s a marvelous crescendo of violence that culminates with Jack brutally decapitating Cheng. And as horrifying as his act is, it’s also strangely cheery-worthy and satisfying. Wow.
Surprisingly, President Heller stood out as the show’s MVP this year. William Devane delivered consistently solid work throughout the season, and he was downright transcendent in the finale. I found myself teary-eyed as the President heard the news of his daughter’s passing and crashed to the ground. But I was astounded by his beautiful acceptance of his Alzheimer’s during Audrey’s burial, and his gratitude in the fact that he would eventually forget the traumas he endured. If I had doubts that the disease would serve any significant purpose in the beginning of the season, they were suitably put to rest by the time this grim and enormously haunting sequence came to light.
I know many people hated 24‘s series finale back in 2010 (with Jack ending his journey on the run), but I found it to be a pretty much perfect ending to the saga. So imagine my surprise when I loved this finale’s ending as well. Jack gladly sacrificed his freedom in exchange for his “best friend” Chloe. It’s a surprisingly uplifting sort of ending with Jack also finding penance for Audrey’s death (the guilt would have eaten him alive). And naturally, Jack surviving the season means FOX will be investing in the show’s return if the ratings are good enough. I just wonder if that’s even necessary; can 24 ever really be groundbreaking again? I think I’d love to find out.
– Mark telling Jack that Audrey loves him made me smile.
– Again, I must stress how heartbreaking Audrey’s death was. The fact that a tear streamed down her cheek before she accepted her death and peacefully closed her eyes was just harrowing.
– Time jump! First time ever on the show; didn’t really feel all that special honestly.
– I don’t know how I feel about Kate’s character arc this year. Her quitting at the end made me feel like I invested in her plight for nothing. Still, it was great to see Jack trust her in saving Audrey (haha).
– I can’t remember if I ever like Chloe during the show’s original run (I binge-watched it all within the span of a month), but she did absolutely nothing for me this year. Still, I appreciate what she means to Jack and how pivotal she is to his journey.
– Seriously, that final helicopter sequence was beautiful.
An incredibly exciting and powerful closer to a somewhat disappointing season. If this is indeed the end, at least Jack Bauer’s legacy was left intact. Superb.