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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jack Bauer Lives Another Day...But At Great Cost

24 logo.

So last night was the season finale for 24: Live Another Day...and all I can say is, if this is the permanent finale for the hit FOX TV series, then this show ended on a great note! A very sad and bleak note, but a great note nonetheless. Jack Bauer once again proved why he's one of the greatest action heroes to grace the small screen, and Kiefer Sutherland displayed that he was up to the task of bringing this character back to life after a four-year absence from television. Not to be outdone by Sutherland was Mary Lynn Rajskub as Chloe O'Brian—who showed that she will always be Jack's best friend and trusty sidekick whenever a terrorist comes along to make the proverbial crap hit the fan.

Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) ponders his next move after defeating Cheng Zhi and averting a world war in the finale of 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY.

In regards to the finale, this episode was completely emotional and action-packed. The fact that there were two silent clocks (one for the death of Audrey, Jack's one true live and the daughter of President James Heller, and the other to mark Bauer's uncertain fate at the hands of the Russians) showed that the producers were gonna have 24: Live Another Day punch TV viewers in the gut (in a good way) before the end credits came rolling. To see the anguish on CIA agent Kate Morgan's (played by the ever talented and beautiful Yvonne Strahovski) face as Audrey (portrayed with grace by Kim Raver) lay dying in her arms after being shot by a second Chinese sniper (the first one was eliminated by Agent Morgan) was devastating to say the least. But it was even more heartbreaking to see the initial responses by Jack and President Heller (played superbly by William Devane) when they got word that Heller's daughter was no more. Heller's collapse to the floor upon hearing the news about Audrey's death, and subsequent confession to the British Prime Minister on an airport tarmac (while Audrey's casket was being loaded aboard Air Force One) that Heller won't remember his daughter's horrific fate, let alone that he had a daughter at all due to Alzheimer's, was the kind of performance that should earn Devane an Emmy nomination next year. As for Jack...

President James Heller (William Devane) is about to receive devastating news regarding his daughter Audrey in the finale of 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY.

If Kiefer Sutherland gets an Emmy nomination for Live Another Day next year, it will be for the reaction he conveyed upon Jack getting a phone call by Agent Morgan about Audrey being fatally wounded. Jack initially takes out his handgun and ponders doing what he probably thought about doing on the previous 8 'days'—ending his life—but quickly places the firearm back into its holster when Bauer realizes that he has one last job to do as he was about to save the world from disaster once more. The following events proved an adage that's been shown numerous times before in the other seasons: When Jack Bauer is pissed off, he's really pissed off...and you don't mess with him at all. Particularly, you don't mess with Jack when he's welding a Samurai sword. Cheng Zhi (played with sinister relish by Tzi Ma) learned this the hard way when he was the one responsible for Audrey's death and the next world war that would've begun between America and China had Bauer not located him in time. Considering all of the brutal things he did (not just to Audrey but to a couple of Chloe O'Brian's friends) in the few episodes he was in during this season, it was definitely a well-earned payoff to see Bauer dispatch (Re: decapitate) Cheng with that sword. But even though Jack achieved justice for Audrey and the other people who suffered at the hands of Cheng in the final moments of this season, there was more justice to be had in the world of 24; unfortunately, it would be at Jack's expense.

Cheng Zhi (Tzi Ma) is about to meet his fate by way of a Samurai sword welded by Jack Bauer in the 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY finale.

Jack's ability to save the world on nine different days was not without cost: He had to take the lives of colleagues who stood in the way of a crisis being averted, he lost many people (along with Audrey) that he loved, and his anger in wanting to take out the bad guy resulted in him eliminating foreign dignitaries that would cause those nations to seek vengeance on him (which is how Bauer met Cheng Zhi in the first place). One such nation is Russia...who would use Jack's friendship with Chloe O'Brian as a way to force him to surrender himself to the Russians and atone for the acts that he committed against their country in Day 8. Like the previous seasons of 24, there was no way that Jack Bauer was gonna have a happy ending, and to see him say his goodbye to Chloe just as Jack was about to board that Russian helicopter to Moscow (to be interrogated, tortured and incarcerated, no doubt) was fitting for a hero who saved the world so many times and suffered so much while doing it. If this season of 24 is indeed the final time that we'll see Jack Bauer thwart terrorists on the TV screen, then this ending was the right way to conclude it. As mentioned in the second paragraph of this entry, there was a silent clock to mark Jack's fate and the conclusion of Live Another Day. There's no better way to accentuate the ultimate sacrifice that Bauer made in this 12-part series...but here's hoping that there will also be a way to celebrate his ultimate victories if 24 gets another season. Jack deserves as much. Carry on.

Jack Bauer and Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) bid farewell to each other, prior to Jack boarding a Russian helicopter and heading to an uncertain fate in the 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY finale.

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