24: 4:00am -- 5:00am/5:00am -- 6:00 am (season finale)
*Warning, spoilers from the last two hours of Jack Bauer's sixth bad day.*
(S06E23/S06E24) In honor of the two-hour, 24 season finale, we're going to do things a little differently. We're going to have a live chat during the show so you can post your snarky comments and reactions in real time. The full double-episode review will be posted in this space later.
Will we get the answers to our burning questions? Will there be a Star Wars-like father-son showdown between Jack and Phillip Bauer? We'll soon find out.
Click here to join the chat. Read the episode review below.
I'm usually a sucker for gimmicky season finales. I totally go for those heart-tugging moments, the unanticipated plot turns, the cliffhangers that leave you wondering for months what's going to happen next. And usually, TV writers deliver finale excitement and give the viewers what they want, even with all the ratings pressure bearing down on their writerly shoulders.
However it pains me to report that I really disliked the two-hour 24 season finale. Disliked may be too weak of a word. Hated works better. And that just kills me because I usually love 24, even when it's campy and silly and Jack Bauer springs back like Gumby from unspeakable torture. I'm sure there will be many who will disagree with my assessment -- please feel free to extol the virtues of the final two hours in the comments section -- but despite this lackluster season, I hoped that the writers would pull it together in the end. I was wrong.
The Bauer family: So much for the dramatic father-son showdown. So much for Jack, the all-American hero, facing off against Phillip, the personification of grizzled evil who was partially responsible for the nuclear bomb in Valencia and was willing to let the United States be drawn into a war just so he could get his "grandson" in his sinister clutches. (Still no answers on why Josh was so important to the unsympathetic Papa Bauer.) This potentially juicy storyline died with a whimper.
Papa Bauer was on an off-shore oil rig with Jack's torturer, Cheng Zhi, waiting for Josh Bauer's arrival. Meanwhile, Mike "The Brawler" Doyle was waiting to hand Josh over to Papa's men in exchange for the Russian circuit board in order to avoid a U.S.-Russian military conflict. Doyle, who disagreed with this plan, vowed he could both save Josh AND the board. However Papa's guys -- just as Jack predicted to anyone who would listen -- double-crossed Doyle. When they handed over a phony circuit board in exchange for Josh, it blew up in Doyle's face, likely blinding Doyle, as they took Josh away in an inflatable motorized boat.
The boat was pulling away when Jack and deposed CTU chief Bill Buchanan arrived on the scene. (Bill was summoned back to duty by wife and National Security Advisor Karen Hayes who wanted Bill to break Jack out of CTU custody in order to thwart Papa. Bill staged an auto accident and distracted the newbie CTU guard with a monologue about the Constitution while Jack got away.)
Bill and Jack "borrowed" a CTU chopper and headed to the rig to get Josh and the circuit board, even though Acting President Noah Daniels had just ordered F-18s to take out the rig and the Russian circuit board. On the rig, Josh -- who looked like he was in dire need of a juice box -- decided he'd had enough of his sociopathic "grandpaw" dragging him around and promising to take him to China. So Josh hit the old man on the back of the head with a wrench, grabbed his gun and shot him, though not fatally . . . just as "Uncle Jack" arrived and talked him out of plugging the old guy again (which is what I was rooting for him to do). Bill, Josh and Cheng (detained by Jack and Bill) were in the chopper when the U.S. missiles hit and Jack leapt off the exploding oil rig and onto a rope dangling from the helicopter. Once they were near the shore, Jack let go of the rope and fell into the ocean, so he could swim ashore and find Audrey.
While I was expecting an emotionally-wrought scene with Jack and his father -- something to explain Papa's evilness and fondness for all things Chinese -- there was none. Instead, the emotional scene occurred when Jack tracked down Audrey Raines' father, James Heller, and read him the riot act for leaving Jack to rot in a Chinese prison and for trying to keep Audrey and Jack apart. "Earlier today, you said I was cursed, that anyone I touched ended up dead or ruined," Jack said menacingly as he confronted Heller at gunpoint. "How dare you. How DARE you! The only thing I did, the ONLY thing I've ever done is what people like you asked of me."
It was a good scene. Compelling. One of the few compelling moments in the finale. (Kudos to Kiefer Sutherland and William Devane.)
But the gripping monologue was overshadowed by the giant question mark hanging over my head following the conclusion of the episode. Heller led Jack to a room where Audrey was sleeping. Jack gingerly kissed her head and expressed his undying love and devotion to her. It was genuine. Another solid moment. But during that scene Jack said something I found curious: "I know I promised to take care of you and protect you, but I'm at a crossroads. Right now, the best way -- the ONLY way -- to do that is to let you go." Why did Jack have to let her go? Why did he have to leave? Did he have an appointment elsewhere? As Jack headed out to the balcony and looked out over steep, rocky cliffs leading to the ocean, the sun was rising and the 24 clock ticked silently off, indicating the end of Jack's day.
It was unsatisfying. I wanted some sort of epic father-son clash. Nada. I wanted a closing of the circle, Jack started off the day in captivity and uttered his first words in almost two years ("Audrey"), and now he was walking away?
There was other unsatisfying weirdness: Chloe O'Brian being knocked up for example. "I'm pregnant," she told her ex, Morris, after she fainted and had to be taken to the CTU medical bay. "You mean, what, with child?" he responded. (I cannot, for the life of me, imagine Chloe, the Mommy Years.) The scene with deceased Milo Pressman's brother telling Nadia Yassir that Milo loved her led me to this question, why?
I also wanted to know about a whole host of characters who, when last we saw them, were in the hospital or on their way to the hospital: Walid Al-Rezani, Charles Logan, Wayne Palmer and Lisa Miller.
Maybe I'm being a bit harsh, but I have high standards for 24. It started off with such promise and excitement this season. I would've given those first four hours top ratings -- 7 on the TV Squad ratings scale -- if TV Squad had this ratings system in January. However the expectations I had for the finale weren't met, despite the cool oil rig explosion. But I'm going to be an optimist and hope that the promised season seven "rebooting" will be a true reboot and that the flaws of this season will not be revisited in the seventh. I'm giving this finale a 3 out of 7.
(A big thank you to all of those who participated in the live chat during the episode. It was fun exchanging quips and observations together.)
|1 - Worst||48 (11.9%)|
|7 - Best||46 (11.4%)|