Image Credit: Greg Gayne/Fox First things first: I trust that, by now, you’ve read how Fox plans to replace 24 next season: A new cop drama from The Shield’s Shawn Ryan! A police drama set in Chicago doesn’t sound quite as sexy as Kiefer Sutherland saving the world in a 24-hour period, but I’m going to reserve judgment until I see what Jason Clarke (Brotherhood) will bring to the badge — and whether Ryan will serve up some of that true grit that we came to love from his FX drama.

And it’s also because of the upfront presentations going on RIGHT NOW in New York that I’m going to keep my comments about tonight’s episode brief. I’m saving up my energy, anyway, to give 24 a proper send off this Thursday, when our next issue hits the stands. Pick one up or you’ll be the last one on your block to know that Tony Almeida’s original name was Tonio (actually, that’s not in the piece, but it’s a true story. Good thing Kiefer Sutherland didn’t like saying it so Tony was the choice instead!) To get you in gear, here’s a great quote from Carlos Bernard about whether 24 will stand the test of time:

“I have no idea. Who knows how things age, you know? You might take a look at an episode 15 years from now, and just laugh your ass off watching it. From day one, we really tried to play it for keeps. We felt like the only way the show could work was to play it for keeps. That’s why I think none of us have ever done parodies on it. Wait, I did do one in Japan, that’s right. But that doesn’t count.” Fun! Okay, onto last night’s episode.

I wasn’t planning on coming back. I guess Jack gave us a little sneak preview of what to expect from the show’s final two hours. Having gone rogue and completely out of his mind, Bauer set out on another kill-a-palooza tonight, gunning down about an army of Russian guards before eliminating Novakovich with a red-hot poker. But eradicating one of the Ruskie puppetmasters wasn’t the scene that was meant to shock us; it was the one-man takedown of the President and all his men! I got an early tip last week that tonight’s episode was a homage, of sorts, to Iron Man, and Bauer didn’t disappoint: To reach the heavily-guarded Logan, Bauer channeled Tony Stark’s metal alter-ego so he could ambush Logan in some New York tunnel trap from hell. Over the top and ridiculous? A physical impossibility? Yes, yes and oh hell yes — but then, how else would we be treated to the delicious sounds of a squealing ex-president?

It didn’t take much to cajole the information out of Logan, who freely sold out the Russians in exchange for avoiding so much as a harsh word from Jack. Though I was surprised that Jack allowed him to live, we figured out the reason for his survival by episode’s end: Jack planted a tiny microphone on Logan’s shirt so he could discover the true threat behind the day’s activities — the top Russian honcho Yuri, now on his way to sign the peace treaty.

As I watched Taylor position herself under the sword of Damocles, I felt a bit of that frustration that Cherry Jones so willingly expressed to me last week (read the Q and A here). There was a moment tonight when Allison could have thrown in the towel and exposed the truth, but she let the devil guide her yet again by making the preposterous decision to sick the FBI after Meredith. Honestly, I don’t have the words. At this absurd juncture, it would seem far more plausible for Jason Pillar himself to blow up Meredith’s office if it meant preventing publication of Dana’s homemade video. Instead, we get more of Taylor pillaging the Constitution while our patience is tried yet again in this third-to-last hour of 24. (Repeat after me: But I love Jack Bauer. But I love Jack Bauer!)

A few other random thoughts: It seemed way too easy for the FBI to track down Meredith at that hotel, where she managed to reach Kayla and say enough about the cover-up that it didn’t really matter if she was heading to some federal lockdown facility (why didn’t she stash the evidence some place else, anyway?). We learned that Pavel actually intended to gun down Renee, but no anticipated the rise it would get out of Jack (for further evidence, see the hundreds of Russian corpses he’s left behind). Arlo had one of the best lines of the night (“How in hell did he pull that off?”) upon learning that Jack took Logan hostage.

And for the love of God, Jack’s injured! What can a bleeding man accomplish in the next two hours? (A lot, says Yuri, because “nothing’s more dangerous than a wounded animal”). I reckon you’ll float a few ideas in the space below. But one more note: Instead of penning a recap next week, I’m going to give the final word to our esteemed critic Ken Tucker, since it’s appropriate that he weigh in on 24’s series finale. Instead, I’ll be off interviewing executive producer Howard Gordon to post the SECOND after the clock stops ticking next week. Got a burning question about these final hours? Post ’em below and I’ll make sure to ask him.

Finally, make sure to pick up this week’s issue of EW in which we pay tribute to the last eight seasons!

Episode Recaps

Kiefer Sutherland
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