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'24' recap: The end of another bad day

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Kelsey McNeal/Fox

24

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season

How did you think it was going to end? With a BEEEEEEEEEEEP? A silent clock? A slow-mo montage set to Carrie Underwood’s cover of ”Home Sweet Home”? No, you knew damn well that Jack Bauer wasn’t going to die. But geez was our boy left hanging on the edge of the Grim Reaper’s scythe, while we clung to the belief that Kim would make that last-minute stem-cell save. (And who knew his near-deathbed would be filled with such… introspection?) In other news, karma bitchslapped Tony and the First Daughter, while the seemingly loyal Ethan Kanin was ultimately revealed to be… actually loyal Ethan Kanin. (Warden Norton, you red-herringed us!) No, this wasn’t 24‘s most explosive! exhilarating! shocking! finale — it went for the heart instead of the jugular — but it effectively capped a much-needed comeback year for the show. Before we stand down, awaiting the arrival of season 8 (c’mon, 2010 — hurry up!), let’s relive the drama of season 7’s two-hour finale.

Jack is the host with the most (pathogen) Following Fake Tricia’s bring-me-Tony-or-Kim-dies instructions, Jack commandeered the van carrying Tony, Renee, and another agent — even shooting said agent in the leg to prove he meant business. Ultimately Jack tipped the situation to Renee, who called Tony a…sonuvabitch. When Tony emerged from the van with Jack, Fake Tricia was annoyed; they didn’t need a hostage. No, Tony reasoned, but they wanted more bioweapons. ”The pathogen is in his blood,” he explained. ”It’s in his organs. We’ll be able to harvest everything we need from his body.” Cold. And creepy.

At a makeshift surgical suite inside an industrial warehouse, Jack was forced onto a gurney. One needle was inserted to immobilize him, a second, more painful one to check his pathogen levels. (Nearby, Tony convinced Fake Tricia to arrange a meeting with ”the top guy,” a.k.a. Alan Wilson, to discuss a promotion.) Of course, modern medicine is no match for Jack Bauer. He opened an eye, then dispatched his captors — one neck sliced, one stabbed, one snapped — before fleeing out the door. After Tony and Fake Tricia discovered his escape (”Sonuvabitch, he’s gone!”), Tony tracked him to a garage, where they engaged in a nifty cat-and-mouse game. (When Tony used the forklift to open the door, I hoped Jack would find a bulldozer so they could have a heavy metal face-off.) Jack even tried to go out in a blaze — must destroy pathogen inside me — but Tony kicked the flare out of his hands. He needed Jack in one piece. For now…

NEXT PAGE: From First to Worst Daughter

From First to Worst Daughter Admit it: It was satisfying to see the smug First Daughter force-fed her just desserts. While Olivia fended off questions from the Justice Department’s early risers about Jonas’ car bombing, Agent Pierce persuaded Ethan to retrieve an incriminating data card from her office. Alas, FD saw signs of the stealth op (picture frame: ajar), and had Ethan searched. Found: one data card. ”I don’t think you understand the seriousness of what you’re doing,” Ethan warned FD. ”I don’t think you do,” she taunted. But surprise! As Aaron escorted Ethan out of the White House, Ethan muttered, ”Lucky for us, I’m a paranoid sonuvabitch” (do we drink on a self-referenced sonuvabitch?), and Agent Pierce reached into his sling and slipped him the real data card (yes, there’s a handoff hint in the first scene). Luckier still, Ethan had a companion device in his car that could play the card. Aaron’s hunch=confirmed.

The fun began when Ethan and Aaron confronted FD with the evidence, and she threw herself at Ethan’s mercy, offering him his old job. His counter: Come clean to Mother-in-Chief. ”Whether she decides to prosecute this or bury it, that’s her call,” he noted. And what a juicy scene that was, as FD tearily unspooled a hitman story that kept getting worse. ”How could you do this, Olivia?” flabbergasted the Prez. ”How could you do something so stupid?” The fast-healing First Gentleman came to FD’s defense, noting that Hodges deserved to die and that the recording must be destroyed. Prez: ”And cover up a murder??? Henry, I can’t just disregard the law!” FG: ”Allison, spare me your sanctimony! You’re Olivia’s mother!” Prez: ”I’m also the President of the United States.” FG: ”And our family has already paid a steep enough price for that.” FG cut even deeper, saying, ”Your job cost our son his life.” Before the Prez was pulled away by Tim, FG implored her again to deep-six the recording and ”save what’s left of this family.” (His desperate desire to protect FD was understandable, but his resentment for her job felt jarring.)

Upon her return, the Prez embraced them lovingly: ”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” — and this would be the mother of all buts — ”I have a sworn duty to enforce the Constitution, and failing to honor that oath would be worst kind of hypocrisy.” Heartbroken, the Prez offered her support to the devastated FD before having Agent Pierce take her into custody. Seething, FG looked away as the Prez called out to him. ”I’ve lost everyone,” she lamented to Ethan in the hallway. ”Not everyone,” he comforted, agreeing to rescind his resignation. Are they headed for an Aaron-and-Martha-like romance? Are the Prez and FG headed to divorce court? In any case, the First Family is an official hot mess.

NEXT PAGE: Kim takes action

Kim: Taking action while standing by She was no VictKim — in fact, she was more worried about getting on her flight than chasing after an armed baddie. But let’s back up: Enjoyed the tension that built as the chatty long-haired husband and his oh-honey! wife (who were the most interesting part of this story) tried to keep Kim conned. Yet Kim noticed the curiously positioned laptop and LHH’s bloody neck — R.I.P., Agent Franks — before receiving a gate call from Renee, who warned that Tony’s operatives were watching. (Best eeek! moment: When LHH suddenly appeared as Kim described him to Renee.) Noticing an increase in security, LHH cued his wife: She took a knife to Kim’s neck while he swapped bullets with security. Kim used the power of pen to break free — and security took out Wifey — while a wounded LHH bolted through an Authorized Personnel Only door. Instead of waiting for airport police to mobilize, and frustrated by a dead cell battery (”Dammit!”), Kim chased after him. In semi-heels. With no gun. A little absurd? You bet. But she’s no victim!

Kim tracked LHH to the parking garage, tipping off the cops. As LHH sped toward the exit, he was shot, his car flipping over and igniting. Wisely realizing that LHH’s laptop may lead the FBI to Jack, but stupidly not bringing the fallen cop’s gun, Kim reached into the car. He grabbed her arm, and their latop tug of war became so heated, they both caught on fire. She finally wrested it from his grip and tore off her burning jacket as LHH slow-roasted to death. And then a whiff of comedy. Kim to Renee: ”With a D11 inverse router we may able to backtrace the signal to the people that have my father.” Renee: (strange look) Kim: ”I worked at CTU, systems analyst.”

Tony to Jack: I’m the hero, you’re the bomb! Good news: Tony and Jack finally talked it out. Bad news: No face-punching. Handcuffed, Jack urged Tony not to convert him into a bioweapon factory, and Tony claimed no such intentions. That was just a ruse to kill Alan, the mastermind behind corrupt ex-Prez Charles Logan who also ordered the hits on David Palmer and Michelle. (In short, Alan was the Russian Doll inside all the other Russian dolls.) ”This is the man who murdered my wife, Jack!” declared Tony. ”Everything that you’ve done today is for personal revenge???” said Jack, echoing our incredulity. ”It’s about justice,” retorted Tony. What about all the innocent people he killed? ”Ten times as many people would’ve died if it hadn’t have been for me,” scoffed Tony. He said that he enlisted Bill and Chloe to take down the madmen in this conspiracy but Jack fouled it up: ”You see, I’m the one who saved lives today, Jack, not you. I’m the one who helped you recover the CIP device. I’m the one who warned you about the White House attacks! I’m the one who stopped Jonas Hodges from launching those missiles!” Jack, of course, threw the subway attack in his face, but clearly the facts weren’t going to get in the way of Tony’s Justice Jam ?09. (Given what we know now, do all of Tony’s actions add up? I’m not so sure. But his good guy/dead guy/bad guy switcheroos have been entertaining.)

There was one more wrinkle to Tony’s plan. ”I’m not going to kill him, Jack,” Tony said, holding up a c4 belt. ”You are.” (Whoa. Didn’t Locke say the same thing to Ben in the Lost finale?) Tony explained that he wouldn’t be able to get close to Alan, but bio-wonderboy Jack was ”the one he’s coming for.” After Jack uttered, ”[Michelle] would despise you for this,” Tony noticed Fake Tricia approaching, and taped Jack’s mouth shut. End of discussion.

NEXT PAGE: Tony gets revenge?

Tony gets revenge arrested Tony was about to blast Jack and Alan into oblivion with his cellphone detonator when Renee crashed the scene in an FBI helicopter. During the shoot-out, Renee gunned her way over to a weakened Jack and quickly disarmed his bomb belt. Could they find Alan before Tony did? No. Tony located him, flanked by Fake Tricia, and she got out only a few words of relief before he shot his lover dead. (Maybe she shouldn’t have kissed Alan on the cheek.) Then he held a gun to Alan’s head, savoring the moment with an it-took-a-long-time-to-track-you-down-but-I-was-patient speech. ”Because ever since the day you had her killed,” said Tony, ”the only thing that keep me alive was this moment right here.” ”You sound like you were involved in some kind of a tragedy,” Alan responded, ”but I had nothing to do with it.”

Tony pistol-whipped and kicked him, ranting that Alan had ruined the new life that he and Michelle were starting. ”It wasn’t just my wife you murdered. She was carrying my son… You killed my son! My son! And now I’m going to kill you!” (Our condolences. Would’ve liked to see a scowling baby Tony running around.) Just before he ended Alan, Renee shot him in the shoulder. And when he ignored Jack’s orders to stop crawling toward his gun, Jack shot him too — but just in the wrist. As FBI agents took Tony and Alan into custody, I thought: Poor Tony. The dude’s been on a hellish mission to avenge Michelle’s death. First, the lethal needle he was about to jab into Henderson was redirected into his own chest; now this. (I bet someone will slip a paper into Tony’s cell that contains the info on the man behind Alan who really ordered the hit on Michelle, and when Tony goes to pick it up, it’ll be yanked away on an invisible string.) On the plus side, the writers conspicuously left him alive, cracking the door open for a return…

Renee goes dark If Tony couldn’t extract justice from Alan, neither could Renee: Facing a mountain of charges (treason, conspiracy to commit terrorist attacks), Alan played dumb. ”Whatever this conspiracy is that you think that I’m a part of,” he said coyly, ”I guarantee you won’t find a shred of material evidence connecting me to it.” Renee was so frustrated, she let loose her second sonuvabitch of the night.

Before Jack was taken away on a gurney, he and Renee had a poignant heart-to-heart about how far she could go in the name of the law. ”I can’t tell you what to do,” said Jack. ”I’ve been wrestling with this one my whole life. I see 15 people held hostage on a bus, everything else goes out the window. I will do whatever it takes to save them, and I mean, whatever it takes—” A chuckle. ”I guess that maybe I thought if I saved them, I’d save myself.” While he talked about the decision to choose lives over laws, he did caution: ”When you cross that line it always starts off with a small step. Before you know it, you’re running as fast as you can in the wrong direction, just to justify what you started in the first place…I guess the only advice I can give you is, try to make choices that you can live with.” At that moment, Jack’s pain flared up. ”I don’t know what to say,” said Renee, welling up. He touched her cheek and held her hand. ”Don’t say anything at all,” he said before being wheeled off. (Although that came dangerously close to soap, Kiefer can always save the scene.)

So, what did Renee glean from their talk? Bad(ass) Jack got the job done. When Janis (still riding that compliment high from Chloe) asked Renee to sign transfer documents for Alan, Renee killed the camera on the monitor, ominously warning her, ”Get out of here.” Janis refused. Renee shorted out the door entry keypad and forced Janis at gunpoint to cuff herself. ”Let the courts take it from here,” pleaded Janis. ”Stop this now before it’s too late….” Renee stared at Alan through the one-way glass. ”Larry would not have wanted this,” said Janis. Don’t dishonor his death like this.” Renee placed her badge on the table, entered the interrogation room, and closed the door. She was completing her path to the dark side, just as Jack had been moving toward the light, in all senses of the word.

NEXT PAGE: Jack gets his soul saved

The soul-saver and the life-saver As Dr. Macer talked to Jack about putting him in a coma to ease the pain — the disease was at an advanced stage — they were interrupted by a visitor: Muhtadi Gohar, the imam from Jibraan’s mosque! ”Thank you for coming,” said Jack. ”I was surprised to get your call,” answered Muhtadi. ”I made so many mistakes,” said Jack. ”And I always thought that I would have the time to correct them.” ”You have the time,” Muhtadi responded. ”Right now.” Raw as hell, Jack started crying: ”You don’t know what I’ve done.” Muhtadi soon took Jack’s hand and said: ”Let us both forgive ourselves for all the wrongs that we have done.” Afterward, Jack thanked Muhtadi before whispering, ”It’s time,” and closing his eyes again. (This scene was almost as poignant as it was unexpected.)

Visiting hours were not over yet, though. Kim ran into the area, fretting that she was too late. Dr. Macer explained that he was just in a coma, and Muhtadi introduced himself: ”I’m a friend…We spent the last few minutes talking and I can tell you he’s accepted what is happening.” ”Maybe he has,” Kim said, ”but I haven’t.” She asked Dr. Macer if was too late to do the stem cell treatment. Dr. Macer mentioned the fine print — it’s experimental, the odds of success are cruddy, it’s risky — but Kim was on a mission. ”I understand the risks, and I know my father didn’t want me to take that chance, but it’s my choice now. And I made up my mind.” While Dr. Macer prepared for surgery, Kim walked in the room to see Jack. Holding his hand, she said, ”I’m sorry, Daddy. But I’m not ready to let you go.” Beep-BEEP-Beep-BEEP. And all together now: That’s it? Are you serious?

Given that there’s a season 8 with Jack, I guess we assume that Kim’s Hail Mary treatment worked, as outlandish as that scenario may be. While season 7 didn’t match the highs of, say, seasons 1 and 5, it won us back after season 6, and proved that the franchise can still thrill. And if nothing else, this will go down as the season that we saw a more enlightened Jack Bauer — and a Jack Bauer that TASERED A PHONE.

So, what did you think of the finale? Of the final moment? Of the season? What were the best and worst moments of the year? What’s on your wish list for next season in the Big Apple? Remember, this is our last recap, so make it count.

But before you start pecking away, I did want to thank you for taking the time out of your Tuesday mornings to read my reenactments/ramblings. We 24 fans have a special bond (we try not to let reality get in the way of enjoying a good plot twist), and I had fun riding the crazy coaster with you. Your theories and predictions were impressive, and I tip my hat to those of you who continue to believe that Boss Moss is alive somehow, somewhere. I hope to see you down the season 8 road. And dammit, have a great summer.