'24': Whatever happened here didn't happen here
Jack Bauer went out with a whimper, not a bang.
After spending the last three episodes killing everything in his path, Bauer was basically a second banana in a two-hour series finale that no doubt left hardcore fans of his style of justice wondering why the writers took us down this road only to wimp out in the end.
First a little catch-up. Bauer is out to avenge the death of Renee Walker, a woman he loved for, oh, 10 minutes, earlier in the day, and to expose the Russians' involvement in the murder of Kamistan President Omar Hassan.
Unfortunately for Bauer, U.S. President Alison Taylor is more interested in a peace treaty built on deceptions and cover-ups than she is the truth. She has been seduced by former President Charles Logan, who is hoping to redeem his tattered reputation by salvaging the broken peace treaty. Bauer has escaped Taylor's efforts to keep him on ice while the treaty is signed. He's on the run and determined to bring the Russians to justice and take out Logan as well. Whether his murderous plans extend to Taylor as well is unclear, but as his pal Jim Ricker told him a few hours earlier, "This path you're on, there ain't no coming back from it."
Having learned that Russian President Yuri Suvarov was in on the murder of Kamistan's Hassan, Bauer sets his sights on him. While the writers also keep trying to sell us that Suvarov and the now-dead aide Mikhail Novakovich gave the order for Pavel to kill Renee, I'm not buying it. Pavel was told to follow Bauer and Renee, not kill them. He acted on his own. Whatever.
Now that we're all caught up, here's what went down in the final two hours of "24."
Meanwhile, Dalia Hassan, the widow of Omar Hassan, is stepping into his shoes and is prepared to go ahead with the peace treaty when reporter Meredith Reed tells Hassan's daughter about the Russians. Although Reed had been sharing the sheets with Omar Hassan, Dalia believes her about the Russians and goes to share the information with Taylor.
But Taylor, who has been compromised by Logan and lost all her values, has already had Reed locked up. She tells this to Dalia and confirms that, in fact, the Russians were involved in her husband's murder. Dalia, the only one with principles this whole season, says she won't sign the peace treaty. Taylor says if Dalia doesn't sign it, the United States will attack Kamistan, using the failed attempt by the terrorists to detonate a dirty bomb in Manhattan as justification. "It will take decades before your country recovers," Taylor warns.
While Taylor is threatening Dalia Hassan with the destruction of her country, Bauer has kidnapped Logan aide Jason Pillar, who is also overseeing the manhunt for our hero. Bauer has Pillar get him into a building across the street from the United Nations. In a moment of weakness and perhaps a sign of things to come, Bauer doesn't kill Pillar when he has the chance and instead knocks him out and stuffs him into an SUV. Bauer does get Pillar to stitch up his knife wound, which is good, because the little drops of blood made it kind of easy to find Bauer.
Bauer heads up to the 22nd floor and finds a spot that gives him a clean shot into the office being used by Logan. He calls Logan and tells him to get Suvarov up there with him. The scenes between Logan and Bauer are priceless. When Logan asks Bauer how he is supposed to get Suvarov to come up to his office, Bauer responds that he should tell Suvarov he has knowledge of a credible threat on his life. "Try the truth for a change," Bauer barks. When Logan makes the call to Suvarov and the Russian chief agrees to come to his office, he asks Bauer how he did. "You're a world-class liar, I would've expected nothing less," Bauer cracks.
Before Bauer can go through with his plans, Chloe finds him. Bauer renders her unconscious, but before he can pull the trigger she comes to and warns him that CTU is on their way to his hideout and to give himself up. Chloe promises to help Bauer get the truth out. Bauer persuades Chloe to take evidence from him and to shoot him before the CTU team arrives and, as per orders, kills him on sight.
Although it's the second time in the day that Bauer has been shot, this one is a through-and-through and doesn't do any major damage. Pillar, whom the NYPD found, comes to question Bauer before he's taken back to CTU. Bauer tells him to come close so he can whisper something to him and then goes Mike Tyson on Pillar and bites off part of his ear.
While Pillar's looking around for his ear, Chloe tries to put Jack's evidence on the Web. But before she can finish, Pillar and CTU grab the data card and it ends up in President Taylor's hands. Logan hands it to him herself and then says it's time to take care of Bauer for good. She says she'll lock him up halfway around the world, but Logan persuades her that this situation requires a more permanent solution.
"He will rise up from the deepest hole in the ground," Logan warns.
After Logan leaves to have a celebratory drink with Pillar -- "a little something to numb that ear pain," the former president says to his henchman -- Taylor watches the evidence taken from Chloe. It's a video of Jack telling Kim why he did what he did. While that's hardly a smoking gun (what happened to the tape of Dana with Pavel and all the recordings Bauer made of Logan?), it's suddenly enough for Taylor to find her soul again. She refuses to sign the peace treaty, telling the world that "before there can be a meaningful peace, justice must be served." Then she tries to get in touch with Logan to stop the hit on Bauer.
Rather than do that and face the music, Logan kills Pillar and then tries to commit suicide. Fortunately, CTU drones are able to track Bauer and the president gets ahold of the hit men and tells them to stand down. She apologizes to Bauer and tells him to "leave the country while you still have the chance."
Before he can go, Bauer reaches out to Chloe and thanks her for standing by him (but doesn't apologize for choking her into unconsciousness). Chloe cries, and all of a sudden I thought I was watching Lifetime. After they hang up, Chloe orders the drone away and video of Bauer erased.
"Whatever happened here didn't happen here, understand," she says. That ending would've been almost tolerable, but the writers had to ruin it by having her add "Shut it down" before we get our final beep beep.
Since this was the final episode of "24," it seems to require some farewell thoughts. This was a fairly disappointing season of "24" although the last three weeks prior to tonight's two-hour send-off almost made it worthwhile. That's because there was so much action there wasn't any time to reflect on how absurd the show had gotten.
But the finale had very little action, as Bauer was basically neutered. When push came to shove, the producers weren't ready to have him wipe out the heads of state of both Russia and the United States and were more concerned with leaving the door open for a movie. I'm curious as to how Bauer will get out of the country with a bullet hole in him and a couple of knife wounds that need medical attention. But I'm even more curious as to when CTU will discover the body of Bill Prady, the probation officer Dana Walsh killed and stuffed in a closet there.
As far as the ending goes, I'd have been happier seeing Bauer and O'Brian sharing some onion rings with "Don't Stop Believing" playing in the background. Then a Russian could have come out of the woods of Pine Barrens and finished them off.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Jack and Chloe face off. Credit: Fox Broadcasting
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