By Aaron D. Neufeld
The following takes place between 10:00pm and 11:00am
Oh, 24! You’ve come and gone too soon. But what a ride it was! The 12-episode format this season successfully eliminated filler subplots (with the exception of all things Naveed), and succeeded in delivering one of the series’ strongest seasons! And the finale was no exception.
Jack and Chloe finally return to their old awesome ways. No CTU. No CIA. Just Jack and Chloe saving the world together. After apologizing to Jack for letting Cross take advantage of her, she pleads with Jack to let her help him. She feels guilty for everything that is happening and wants to redeem herself… a feeling Jack is all too familiar with by now. Belcheck, Jack’s severely underdeveloped ally, returns, and the three set out on their operation: “Capture Cheng alive.” Chloe hacks into a satellite and guides Jack and Belcheck through a very well executed stealth operation aboard the cargo freighter, swiftly and carefully taking out Cheng’s sentries. But then it all goes to hell, as things on 24 tend to do…
Ever since the prequel to DAY 4 almost a decade ago, Jack and Audrey flying off into the sunset to start a life together away from all the madness had always been my dream ending for Jack. A happy ending. But clearly Jack’s story is a tragic one. And there are no happy endings. Not for anybody. Except maybe the world at large once World War III is avoided thanks to everyone involved. But they all sacrifice too much for the greater good, and sometimes that even means dying. Kate, one of Jack’s best sidekicks in the show’s history of sidekicks, did her best to save Audrey… but sadly her best wasn’t good enough, and the season’s first silent clock guaranteed there would be no bait and switch for Audrey. Yvonne Strahovski did a wonderful job calling Jack to deliver the news with so much emotion, and Kiefer was at the top of his game, as he’s been all season, when he briefly loses all hope, removing his side-arm contemplating ending it all for himself. But his grief quickly turns into sheer rage, and it he decides he will end it all… but not for himself.
“My Name is Cheng Zhi!”
In the wake of Audrey’s death, Jack goes on one of his patented revenge rampages first introduced way back in the finale of DAY 1. Bullets fly in all directions as Jack mercilessly ends all of Cheng’s guards, even taking one of them out by throwing a butcher knife like a throwing star! BADASS. Finally Jack comes face to face with the man who kidnapped and tortured both he and Audrey, the latter of whom he was ultimately responsible for killing. After a brief hand-to-hand fight, where Cheng demonstrated some impressive moves, Jack holds a samurai sword to Cheng’s throat, getting him to confess his name for the CIA to verify. Once they do, Jack’s “capture Cheng alive” mission is completed. “Alive” is no longer necessary. “This is for Audrey, you sonofabitch!” Jack beheads 24’s last big formidable foe by one of his coolest kills yet! Unlike Cheng’s refusal to grant Jack’s death wish back in DAY 5, saying, “Kill you? You’re far too valuable to kill Mr. Bauer,” Jack fortunately doesn’t find the same value in Cheng’s life. So he ends it.
While I still feel that Heller’s survival was a huge mistake, tainting one of the best episodes in the show’s history, William Devane’s performance in the finale was spot on. Heller’s unyielding attitude when speaking with China’s President Wei demonstrated that despite nearly losing his own life only hours earlier, and dealing with mental health issues, he is a strong leader, and the right man for the job. The look on Heller’s face when he learns of his daughter’s death was truly heartbreaking, and his final speech to Prime Minister Davies about how he’d soon forget about the horrible death of his daughter was absolutely tragic, but brilliantly delivered.
And then there was one. Jack saved the day but Russia hadn’t forgotten Jack’s last killing spree back in DAY 8. The Russians kidnap Chloe, agreeing to her release if Jack turns himself over to them. After a 12-hour time jump, the first time jump in the series, Jack and Chloe’s touching encounter during their transfer may have been my favorite moment of the finale. Jack holds Chloe’s hand and admits to her that she is indeed his best friend. Well, dammit Jack! It’s about time! Jack sacrifices himself for Chloe’s release and boards the helicopter bound for Moscow.
- Son of a bitch!” Episode Count: 1, Season Total: 11
- “Damn it!” Episode Count: 0, Season Total: 10
- “You made yourself clear Mr. President. Now let me make myself clear. Once your forces cross the 12-mile limit outside of Okinawa, we will fight.”- President James Heller
- “At this point I think I’m the only friend you have left. Whether you want to admit it or not.”- Chloe
- “You should’ve stayed hidden like a rat! You could’ve died an old man.” – Jack
- “My name is Cheng Zhi!”- Cheng Zhi
- “There’s nothing you can do. There’s nothing anyone can do. I won’t remember anything that happens today. I won’t remember anything that happens, period. I won’t remember that I had a daughter that died in such a horrible fashion.” – President James Heller
- “You were right about what you said earlier. About being my best friend. Thank you.” – Jack Bauer
Can anybody explain to me what a samurai sword is doing chilling on a cargo ship? I’m not complaining because it allowed Jack to end Cheng in a pretty badass way, but it was pretty convenient.
The Bottom Line
If there are any complaints about 24: Live Another Day, there are only a few. The 12-episode format was successful in eradicating unnecessary filler subplots but perhaps at the cost of sacrificing character development. Did we ever get to know anything about Jordan at the CIA? And congratulations to Erik Ritter on his promotion to CIA Chief of Station, but was his character really necessary to the season’s story at all? And there was only one person Jack trusted completely throughout the whole day, and it wasn’t Chloe. It was Belcheck. And we never got around to getting to know him.
The condensed timeline also didn’t give Jack much time to express his grief over losing Audrey who was an integral character to the series for so many years, and it would’ve been nice to see Jack give her a proper goodbye. But these are small complaints in what was otherwise a superb season and finale.
Jack is now a Russian prisoner, and unlike any of the show’s past villains, Russia has no ulterior motives. “We just want you, Mr. Bauer. That’s all we ever wanted.” Will Chloe or Heller step up to get Jack back? The stage is set for DAY 10. Will that day ever come? Only time will tell.