Anyone else getting a pretty strong sense of déjà vu? It can't just be me, right? Because I know I'm not the only person who watched the season eight finale of 24 (though, you could very easily convince me that I was the only person who enjoyed it). I dunno, man. I feel like my buddies Surnow and Cochrane really tried to pull a fast one on me. I even caught myself wondering if they were just straight-up broadcasting playback of a DVD of the season eight finale. You know...that supposedly final episode of 24, wherein Jack loses the woman he loves, which prompts a super crazy, Terminator-esque revengepage (revenge rampage)? Because I sure as shit remember it. I remember it in that way where I feel like I just now watched it all over again, instead of what probably should have been a really cool and exciting finale of the (oh please God, please) very last season of 24.
Which is unfortunate, because throughout its brief run, 24: Live Another Day proved that it could be decently fun and even kind of fresh, almost in spite of being that kind of show whose very draw lies in the familiarity of so many of its elements. It's always as fun as it is groan-worthy to sit down for another season of 24 and hear your favorite characters start talking about opening sockets and neutralizing terrorist threats.
Unfortunately, with its final episode, 24: Live Another Day took all of the goodwill it had built up over the course of its preceding eleven episodes and tortured them in the dank underbelly of a container ship headed for China. And there was a decent amount of goodwill to be bound and tortured, too.
This season was a fun one, when it really kind of shouldn't have been. There's absolutely no reason another season of 24 should have worked as well as it did, but Live Another Day managed to be a real good time almost in spite of itself. None of the storylines got boring, and despite some of the content being requisitely groan-worthy, this season (almost definitely due to its truncated structure) managed to move at a nice, breezy clip. Once Margot Al-Harazi had been done away with, it was thrilling to watch all of Jack's problems breathlessly converge on him, even if I did find myself scratching my head and wondering just how Russia and China managed to get so many gun-toting nationals into England, purely for the purpose of fucking shit up.
And fuck shit up they did! 24 served up some genuinely thrilling moments in the few episodes that sidled up against the stupid, sweaty mass that was the finale, and even made me disregard how utterly dumb it was when Chang showed up out of nowhere. Fan service is one of the reasons Live Another Day exists in the first place, which also makes it one of its biggest problems. In fact, it's fan service that weighs the final episode down the most, as it becomes glaringly clear that Chloe is only really in this season...to have Chloe in this season. She's not much of a character anymore; more just a caricature, dressing in ways that Chloe O'Brien would never dress and doing things that Chloe O'Brien would never do, but still saying things that, ha-ha yep! Chloe O'Briren totally would say that! I forgot about all that other stuff that doesn't really work!
But none of that was a huge problem until the series' fat was sort of stripped away in the finale and everyone realized that 24 was practically reading from pages of old scripts and hoping we wouldn't notice. So of course, Audrey Raines—who had managed to avoid being written as much of a character at all for the majority of the season, just a daughter-figure to Heller's father-figure—becomes the woman in the refrigerator, so Jack can have a crazy and thrilling rampage.
And then this rampage wasn't altogether too crazy, or even really that thrilling. At all.
And then Jack is fucking fistfighting Cheng...which, the the idea that this old dude would even last for two seconds in a fight against Jack had me wanting to immediately turn off 24 and start watching as many consecutive hours of Downton Abbey as I could (gotta start sometime, right?).
And then Jack has a fucking samurai sword?
And then Jack is fucking CHOPPING OFF THE VILLAIN'S HEAD WITH SAID SAMURAI SWORD?!
Congratulations, 24. Y'got us. You've shown that you can just do whatever you want as a TV show, and that people will love it. (Based on the bafflingly emotional responses I saw on Twitter, at least.)
And then of COURSE the Chloe with the Dragon Tattoo has been kidnapped, and so of COURSE the Russians still want Jack, and so of COURSE he gets in the helicopter at the end...and then he's given a silent clock.
Does that mean we've seen the end of Jack Bauer? Will he live to torture and improbably survive yet another day? No way to tell.
I guess it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if Bauer came back for another season. After all, for the most part, 24: Live Another Day was quite well-done. Right up until the moment when Jack Bauer chopped off the villain's head with a samurai sword, that is.
I think that's where they lost me for good.