written by Manny Coto & Evan Katz | directed by Jon Cassar
Around this time in any prior season of 24, the show would be scrambling to keep the plot going by introducing fresh villains and a twist in the narrative, but 24: Live Another Day's wrapping up its shorter run. This story compression has been a boon for the show, preventing it making too many ridiculous decisions, and he finale delivered everything you could hope for. The best thing was how it managed to off-set the predictable nature of one-man army Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) saving the day, with unexpected and surprisingly poignant character moments.
JACK (to Chloe): You were right about what you said earlier about being my best friend. Thank you. Look in on my family when you can.
Last week's heart-to-heart between Audrey and Jack hinted at a rekindling of their relationship (setting up a big change in Jack's life for a potential tenth season), and Kate's success eliminating Cheng's sniper created a sense of relief the writers swiftly exploited with a nasty shock. I won't actually miss Audrey as a character, but I am disappointed the show's once again avoided giving Jack a stable relationship. I guess they can't get enough of tormenting the poor guy, because he also ended the season giving himself up to the Russian in exchange for Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub), to face a Moscow prison hell-hole.
The bulk of the finale was built around action two set-pieces (the aforementioned sniper situation with Audrey, but also Jack storming a ship to locate Cheng and prove to the Chinese he was behind the U.S attack on their warship). The avoidance of a World War are huge stakes, but there was also a good personal angle once Jack was told Cheng's men had killed his ex-girlfriend. Although I have to question the sense of Kate messing with Jack's head, by phoning him with that tragic news during a dangerous mission that was ongoing!
One thing that did unsettle me slightly was Jack opting to decapitate Cheng with a katana, after proving his identity with voice and facial recognition. It delivered the intended shock, and I'm not saying Cheng didn't deserve to die, given his back-story as Jack's torturer... but, really? One episode Jack's pushing an unarmed Margot Al-Harazi out a window (to save tax-payers a costly trial?), the next he's lopping off Chinese gangster's heads as vengeance? He's a little unstable, isn't he. Maybe the writers have gone too far, in trying to top themselves with "crazy shit Jack can do" scenarios—now excruciating torture scenes have become de rigueur since 24 went off-air.
The eagerly-anticipated "time jump" was also a curious matter. I was expecting it to cover a problematic travel issue (which would have been handy, considering Jack somehow went from London to Southampton instantaneously!), but it was instead used to give the audience perspective on the previous night's events. In that sense, it worked well. 24 seasons are like roller-coasters, and the last episode is where everyone gets off after the carriage has squealed to a halt.. 24LAD allowed us to see the people wandering around feeling sick, hours later. Jack was packed off to Moscow (as I mentioned), CIA operative Kate appears to have turned her back on her career, Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan) is being flown back to the U.S for trial as a traitor, and President Heller (William Devane) is doing likewise with the body of his beloved daughter. It was a surprisingly emotional wrap-up.
HELLER: 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.I particularly loved the moment when Heller told Prime Minister Davies (Stephen Fry) that his Alzheimer's means he soon won't even remember he even had a daughter, let alone how she died in such a terrible way. Devane's been great this year, and that was a brilliant moment packed with sorrow.
Nobody really won this season, did they? 24LAD culminated with pyrrhic victories all round, with people losing loved ones and themselves in the process of preventing global war. But I doubt the clock's stopped ticking on 24 just yet. See you in Mother Russia next summer, Jack?
16 July 2014 | Sky1