24 wraps up another thrilling day with a heavy dose of gunplay, tears, explosions and betrayals in a typically harrowing finale.
The season's final hours open in the White House, where we quickly learn that the government didn't waste any time starting its investigation into Hodges' death. They begin with a four-way video-conferenced deposition from Olivia, who looks understandably petrified (and guilty!).
Honestly, I thought it would be more satisfying watching her pay for all her misdeeds, but so far, I'm just feeling kinda bad for the First Daughter — having Hodges killed wasn't really the worst of her sins, and she even tried to call that off at the last minute. Could President Taylor (aka Mom) will be able to get her off the hook for this one?
Not if Aaron and Ethan have anything to say about it, as Aaron brings the former chief of staff into his ad hoc investigation of Taylor's schemes. After securing the secret audio recordings from his former office, Ethan almost makes it off of White House grounds — but just as he looks to be in the clear, the ever-wily First Daughter has him detained by security, who confiscate what they believe is the incriminating recording.
"I don't think you understand the seriousness of what you're doing," Ethan whispers in Olivia's ear before being escorted from the White House. "I don't think you do," the First Daughter replies with a nasty smirk. (I take the sympathy back!)
But what Olivia doesn't know is that the recording she confiscates and destroys is blank — Ethan's still got the real one, and its contents prove just as damning as she fears.
But the main action tonight, as always, is with Jack, who is riding in an FBI transport vehicle with Renee and Tony. If anybody in there was gonna be trouble, you'd think it would be Tony — but with his daughter held hostage by the terrorists, it's Jack who forces the vehicle's driver to break away from the convoy. And it's Jack who takes Renee's com unit, uncuffs Tony, and even shoots an agent in the leg — just to prove he means business.
While this plot keeps the threat level high, it seems like Jack could have accomplished the same end by simply asking Renee to help him rescue Kim. Of course, Bauer's probably not operating at his most rational, between an illness that makes him forget who the President is and the fact that his only child is in mortal danger.
As for Kim, she's actually taking care of herself just fine (and faring better than she did against that cougar in Season 2). Once Renee alerts her to the fact that the overfriendly couple she's been passing the time with are actually would-be captors, Kim does her best to distract them while airport security closes in. While I don't think showing terrorists photos of your husband and baby is a great idea, it's worth a shot.
The operatives aren't so gullible, though, and they quickly spring into action. The long-haired dude tells the female operative, "Take her" — which means grabbing Kim and holding a knife to her throat — then pulls a gun and takes down several security guards. But Kim doesn't need a real weapon — she's got a pen, which she plunges into the woman's leg, knocking her off guard and open to a well-placed shot from security personnel.
But by then, the long-haired terrorist is on the run, fleeing the terminal after taking out one more guard for good measure. When Renee calls to explain that Jack is a hostage and Kim is his only hope, Kim takes off in hot pursuit. (Hopefully she's got another pen handy.)
Thankfully, they don't meet again until Kim is accompanied by more gun-carrying security guards, who shoot long-haired dude as he flees in a getaway car — which promptly flips over and bursts into flames. Even as the car burns, Kim dives in and retrieves her would-be captor's laptop — and catches her arm on fire for her trouble. But after extinguishing the blaze, she informs the just-arriving Renee that they can use the laptop to locate Jack by employing some fancy tech terms she learned back in her CTU days. Good on you, Kim.
All this explosive action stands in stark contrast to what may be this season's most haunting sequence, in which Jack is hauled down a dark corridor by two men in surgical masks and scrubs, while he repeatedly screams at the stone-faced Tony, "What are you doing?"
Tony's answer: "We're gonna use you to reconstitute the bioweapon, Jack." And then Jack is promptly strapped down to a surgical table and immobilized with a syringe. Another needle is shoved into the back of his neck to extract spinal fluid — and he lets loose a chilling, primal scream of pain.
As Tony excuses himself for a heart-to-heart with his terrorist girlfriend, we learn that he might be running yet another side-game. Apparently, Tony really wants to meet with the head of their organization to ask for a larger role in the group — though he puts particular emphasis on getting in the same room with the guy. Is Tony looking to make some desperate play for redemption by taking this guy out? Can't see that making up for all the horrible things he's done in the last few hours, but I guess it would be a start.
Though Tony's girlfriend manages to convince the big boss — the harmlessly named Allen Wilson — to take a meeting with Tony, Jack's got other plans. In a surprising display of superhero-level strength, the seemingly sedated Jack breaks free, grabs a scalpel, and draws himself a bloodbath — slashing open the neck of the first doctor who attempts to stop him, stabbing a second in the throat, and breaking the neck of a third. Brutal, sure, but also kinda cool.
And then Jack is on the run, bursting through the first door he finds and out into the first light of morning. Does the rising sun signal the dawn of new hope for him? We'll soon find out, in Day 7's final hour...
7:00 A.M.-8:00 A.M.
Hour 24 hits the ground running, as Tony quickly chases Jack down in an auto repair shop, then knocks him unconscious before Jack can toss a flare into a convenient pool of motor oil. What follows is the big reveal of Tony's ultimate motivations that we've all been waiting for — the discovery of who's been behind several seasons worth of death and corruption, and Tony's plan to murder him. I'll just let Tony explain for himself, as he does to a handcuffed Jack:
"His name is Allen Wilson. He was the man behind Charles Logan. He's the one who ordered the hit on David Palmer. And he had Michelle killed to cover his tracks." (So you're saying this guy is bad, right?)
A clearly shocked Jack isn't buying it, though, asking, "Everything you've done today is for personal revenge?"
Tony: "It's about justice."
Jack: "Justice? You killed innocent people Tony."
But to Tony, they were all sacrifices for the greater good: "I'm the one who saved lives today, Jack — not you."
A harsh sentiment, but Jack's retort is an even worse slap in the face, because it's true: "You're not honoring Michelle's life. You are reveling in her death, and she would despise you for this."
At this point, though, there's clearly nothing Jack can do to change Tony's mind. He's spent years of his life sorting through the web of terrorist organizations, searching for the person who's really pulling the strings. He's sacrificed his own morality and principles while sacrificing innocent lives, all to kill the one man on whom he blames his wife's death. It may be a twisted logic, but there's no untangling it now.
Just as Tony is about to execute his plan — and Wilson — Renee descends in a helicopter, and a massive gun battle ensues. Bad guys are shot, Renee disarms the bomb Tony had strapped to Jack like it's a mere game of Operation (Seriously, not even a "Do I cut the red wire or the blue wire?" moment of doubt?), but after lots of stuff blows up, the real drama is between two men: Tony and Wilson.
Holding a gun to Wilson's head, Tony has his glorious moment: "It took me a long time to find you, to peel back all the layers of people you hide behind. But I stayed patient, because ever since the day you had her killed, the only thing that kept me alive was this moment right here."
Then comes the real shocker: "It wasn't just my wife you murdered. She was carrying my son. You killed my son! And now I'm gonna kill you."
Of course, before Tony can pull the trigger, Jack and Renee burst in and stop him — which involves not one but two gunshots. (That second one in the forearm looks particularly painful.) Then, with both Tony and Wilson taken into custody, it's time for the post-battle cooldown.
Even in cuffs, seemingly beaten, the cocksure Wilson assures Renee there's no way he can be successfully prosecuted. This shakes Renee, who's still reeling from Larry's death, and has her wondering if it's time to employ Jack's methodology to get what she needs from Wilson.
But when she seeks Jack's counsel, Jack explains that, logically, he knows upholding the law is more important than saving lives (I'd say that one's debatable, Jack), even if he always puts lives before laws. "I guess the only advice I can give you is, try to make choices that you can live with."
And then they tease "Janee" fans with a moment when it looks certain Jack and Renee will kiss — they lock eyes, Jack puts his arm around her waist, and then...nothing. Jack is just wheeled away. These two are gonna be the new Scully and Mulder! (Although, that ill-fated pair proved the "will they or won't they?" is always more fun than when they finally do.)
Meanwhile, Olivia is finally 'fessing up to having Hodges killed. Like a kid admitting it was she who broke that antique vase, she calls her parents together and sobs while explaining how she ordered Hodges' execution.
While Mama Taylor is incensed, the First Husband surprisingly springs to Olivia's defense, taking her side over his wife's. "Hodges killed our son. You know, if anyone deserves to die, it's him. All you should be thinking about now is how to protect our daughter. .... Destroy that recording, and save what's left of this family."
After briefly excusing herself to go learn the fate of Jack and Renee's operation — success, hooray! — Taylor returns to her husband and daughter, kisses them each on the cheek, and delivers her verdict. "I never imagined that this job would be so hard on both of you. I had no idea of the price this family would pay, and for that I am so sorry.
"But I have a sworn duty to enforce the Constitution, and failure to honor that oath would be the worst kind of hypocrisy. ... As President, this is what I have to do, no matter how much it breaks my heart. Agent Pierce will remand you to federal custody." Wow. That's cold, but it's the right call. Bye, Olivia!
The next right thing Taylor does is take Ethan back as Chief of Staff, a position that's once again vacant. She may have lost two-thirds of her family in one day, but at least she's got old Ethan back.
At FBI headquarters, Renee seems to have taken Jack's advice to heart — but to her, making choices she can live with apparently means torturing Wilson until he names names. Of course, Janice tries to stop her — "Larry would not have wanted this. Don't dishonor his death like this." — but Renee has made up her mind. Taking off her badge, she heads into that interrogation room with Wilson and closes the door.
Meanwhile, as he lays on what is presumably his death bed, Jack calls in the man he had interrogated for Al-Zarian's whereabouts. And, holding no grudge, the guy takes Jack's hand and offers a simple prayer: "Let us both forgive ourselves for all the wrongs that we have done." Jack's fitting words, both for the moment and 24 as a whole, are simply, "It's time."
Kim doesn't agree, though. While Jack lies in an induced coma, she shows up at the hospital ready to undergo the experimental stem-cell procedure that will presumably save Jack's life. Sitting on her father's bedside, she tells him, "I'm sorry, daddy, but I'm not ready to let you go." Neither are we, Kim. Neither are we.
- Did the scenes of Kim chasing long-haired terrorist dude in the back corridors of the airport remind anyone else of Die Hard 2? Of course, Kim's no John McClane, but who is (other than Jack Bauer)?
- Speaking of action-hero moves, I loved how Renee hopped onto the side of that SUV and gunned down terrorists while riding over to Jack.
- I could understand why Tony would want to savor his special time with Wilson, but would he really want to risk Jack and company bursting in and stopping him, just like they did?
- As Tony was led away in handcuffs, his parting shot at Jack was pretty brutal and below-the-belt, but powerful nonetheless: "These people think they can take everything away from us Jack. Somebody had to stop 'em. And what did you do, huh? You ran away. You're one of them now. Congratulations. How would Teri feel about that, huh, Jack?"
- A reconciliation of the crankies? Not nearly as fun as the clashes, but still nice. Janice (haltingly): "I'd, uh, like to thank you for all the help you gave me today." Chloe (grudgingly): "Yeah, it was interesting. Given what you had to work with, you did a pretty good job." As Janice clearly understands, coming from Chloe, that's effusive praise. Maybe they'll be BFFs after all!
Well, that does it for another explosive day of 24 — though, as usual, we finish on a cliffhanger. While we can safely assume Jack will survive (duh) and be in decent fighting shape for next season, there are a lot of questions left unanswered. What will Renee's actions mean to the hunt for Wilson's conspirators, as well as to her career? Will Tony be tried and executed for his crimes? Will Jack shed a single tear of joy upon meeting his little granddaughter? Hopefully at least some of those questions will be answered in about eight months (Wow, that does sound like a long time, doesn't it?).
Thanks to everyone who watched and discussed all of Jack and the gang's exploits along with me---it's been a fun ride. Hopefully, I'll see you all back in the same place next year for 24's eighth (and final?) season.