24: 6:00AM - 7:00AM / 7:00AM - 8:00AM (season finale)
(S07E23/S07E24) "You don't know what I've done." - Jack
When 24 first premiered back in 2001, we were all taken off guard. It was so different, innovative, and action packed - like nothing we'd seen on TV ever before. But do you remember why it worked so well? Sure, there was a vast conspiracy that enshrouded the whole day in darkness, but for the most part, it was all about Jack and his family. The Bauers were what made Day 1 so memorable.
You felt horrible when Jack held Teri's lifeless body in those final seconds, and it was because the season focus was weighted towards them and not Drazen or Nina. Because of that formula, the show took off and with each season from then on, 24 became bigger than itself and so did the conspiracies. Then the bubble burst with Day 6 when it all came crashing down - we'd seen enough nukes, bio-pathogens, and Middle Eastern terrorists. The difference? All of that became more important than Jack. After Day 7's stellar finale, I think we can all agree that 24 has found its roots again.
In some regards, the finale could be considered slow - certain aspects played out in a very deliberate manner. However, for diehard fans, the parallels drawn to season one were a perfect reward for sticking with the show all these years.
Following last week's shocking ending when we found out that Cara had two of her goons watching Kim, Jack was forced to help Tony break free from FBI custody. Then came the next big shocker. Tony wasn't after freedom and Kim was just bait for Jack. Why? Jack is a walking petri dish right now, chock full of virus particles - the only source of the virus now available. Harvest his spinal fluid and key organs, use them to reconstitute the virus, and Tony and Cara's shadowy boss Alan Wilson is back in the domestic terrorism business. Too bad Almeida forgot that Jack doesn't go down without a fight. He killed the doctors and got away. Things were only just beginning at this point, though.
Pat yourself on the back if you called it from the beginning. All along, Tony had been playing both sides with one goal in mind - avenging Michelle's death. Turns out that Alan Wilson was the man behind Charles Logan and that makes Wilson responsible for the deaths of David Palmer, Michelle Dessler and it turns out, Tony's unborn son. Tony took three years to turn himself into the crime underworld's go-to guy and then another year to get a face to face with Wilson. If anything, all of this certainly explains why Tony was all over the place this season - he was literally doing anything and everything to maintain the course for his one singular goal.
Tony finally got his wish of meeting face to face with Alan only to have Jack screw it all up. It certainly changes how I feel about what Tony did this season. On some level, what he did feels very much like what Nina Myers did to Jack in season one, and I think it's probably safe to assume that Tony not dying (we only saw him get carted off by the Feds) means we'll probably see him at least once or twice during Day 8. My guess is that he'll have some sort of key intel based on some op he participated in during his tenure as bad guy extraordinaire.
Moving to the events at the White House, again, it felt very much like we were watching Day 1. In the same way that David was forced to exile Sherry after her actions, what Allison did to Olivia came as no surprise. Her daughter ordered a hit on Jonas Hodges and she has to go to jail - period. What will it mean for Allison next season? Well, her son is dead, her daughter will be in jail, and her husband will almost certainly be sleeping alone in another wing of the White House. It's entirely possible that we're going to see Allison as a much colder, more calculated, far more bitter person once the new season begins. She's lost it all and there's no reason to assume she'll be pleasant to deal with once the day's events really sink in. Honestly, I feel bad for Ethan - he's going to end up being her punching bag; her outlet for endless "what If I had done things this way" conversations.
As for Jack, this was arguably the most fulfilling ending for him yet. Even though we know Bauer ain't dying, for now, he is on his deathbed and with that comes regret and remorse for sins committed. The way torture has been used in this show over the past seven seasons always suggested that this moment would come, when Jack's "I did what had to be done" mentality finally became something even he had to question.
The fact that he turned to Jabraan's Imam from the mosque (I think his name was Kohar?) for spiritual guidance speaks very highly of Jack's guilt - he's turning to someone who follows the same faith as many (most?) of the people Jack has killed in the name of defending America. The final scene was even a silent recognition of his sins. It mirrored the final seconds of Day 1 as Jack held Teri's body, only this time it was Kim comforting Jack. Again, we know he's not going to die, but it seemed like a subtle nod that yes, the way Jack Bauer does things could get even Jack Bauer killed.
That question, what if Jack were to die, was answered, though. His legacy lives on in Kim and Renee. Both exhibited plenty of Jack moments throughout the hour. Seeing Kim stab her female captor with a pen, yell "dammit!" as her cell phone battery died, grab a laptop out of a burning car only to be spouting off CTU techno-babble moments later proved definitively that she is her father's daughter.
Renee made the transition, too. Once she realized that if Alan was taken into FBI custody, he'd walk free, she took matters into her own hands. Heeding Jack's message (in a nutshell, when innocent lives are on the line, I'm the worst person to ask for moral advice), Renee did what had to be done to get whatever intel Alan Wilson had. We didn't actually see her torture him, but you know she did.
We're left feeling the same way we did at the end of Day 2 as Palmer lay gasping for breath, potentially dying after shaking hands with the elusive Mandy. We know Jack isn't going to die, and it's safe to assume that Kim aiding in the stem cell therapy for her father is going to work, but will Jack be the same? Will his mind be 100% when Day 8 kicks off in NYC? Will he find God? Is it possible that being given a second chance might actually change how Jack Bauer does things? The clock is ticking.