The 24 clock may have just ticked for the last time.
And if that’s the case, let’s pour one out for a once revolutionary and great franchise. Over 8 seasons, a miniseries, and a reboot, 24 gave us a legendary TV action hero, a cougar joke involving Elisha Cuthbert on Happy Endings, and an Emmy-winning fifth season.
There were a lot of terrible, recycled plotlines, but there were just as many ridiculously awesome moments. Unfortunately, Legacy, which has not yet been renewed or axed, far too often fell into the former. With a new hero and an entire new ensemble (minus Tony), the reboot reverted to old tricks, almost always failing to replicate the perfect blend of crazy and entertaining that 24 had made into an art form. It’s hard to say if Legacy‘s struggles were a result of casting, writing, fans having tired of the 24 tropes, or a combination of all three.
Now, there were some positives to the Corey Hawkins-led series. The Straight Outta Compton star faced an uphill battle replacing Jack Bauer and while the show didn’t always do him justice, Eric Carter eventually served as a suitable Bauer stand-in. Initially on the sidelines, Jimmy Smits proved to be the Legacy standout, demonstrating in this finale why you hire Emmy-winner Jimmy Smits.
One of the highlights of the show should have been the return of Tony Almeida, but, other than showing that this is the same 24 universe, the good guy-turned-bad guy-turned-good guy-turned-I-lost-track guy was wasted. After his share of face-offs with Bauer, Tony does at least get one showdown with Carter.
Legacy‘s season finale kicks off with Carter and Ara (Naseri’s daughter) bracing for the armed arrival of Tony and crew. While Carter manages to take out a few of Tony’s lackeys, the two men soon engage in an all-out brawl. Just as Carter appears to emerge victorious, having broken Tony’s arm, Sidra and her gun join the party. Not scared by threats of shooting his kneecap, Carter refuses to divulge where Ara is hiding. Luckily for him and his knee, Tony gets a call from… JOHNNY D! Donovan updates his former romantic rival on the idea of a swap: Ara for Rebecca. Without giving an answer, Tony hangs up. Terrible phone etiquette. He does showcase better real life etiquette, giving Carter the go-ahead to take the girl and make the deal.
Carter may have the little girl, but he’s got one big problem: They don’t know how to contact Naseri. The urgency only increases when Khalid goes live with his broadcast of Rebecca. Going out on a limb and guessing this won’t be a romantic comedy. Yep, definitely a public execution. It’s all good, though, because Ara pulled a total ’90s move and memorized her dad’s phone number!
Despite the fact that it’s kind of rude to answer during the boss’ big show, Naseri picks up. After briefly letting Ara talk, Carter takes the phone and, in exchange for Rebecca, offers to send Ara to her family in Yemen. If Prison Break is any indication, sending her to Yemen right now might not be the best idea. Before answering, Naseri hangs up. What is up with all these people leaving us hanging about their decisions? Really selling that he might kill Rebecca, Naseri holds a knife to her throat, only to then kill all of his comrades, except a shocked Khalid. “Alright Mr. Carter, we will finish this conversation,” Naseri says right into the camera. I mean, you could just call the guy back.
What follows is mostly exposition. Here’s the summary to save us all time: Rebecca takes responsibility for kidnapping Ara, Carter must meet Naseri alone, Carter will try to kill Naseri and Khalid after saving Rebecca, and Ara will be brought to the Jordanian embassy.
After killing some time, Carter arrives for his rendezvous with Naseri. Once the terrorist sees his daughter safely at the embassy, he allows Rebecca to head toward Carter. Unfortunately, Naseri did a terrible job of securing his boss, as Khalid comes up firing, taking down his own man and Rebecca, who jumps in front of Carter. Upon dispatching with Khalid, Carter tends to Rebecca. She looks in rough shape and keeps calling for John. With an ambulance on the way to his wife, John gets word and heads to the hospital, leaving behind a panicked and gun holding Simms.
Up until now, there hasn’t been the time (or writing) for great emotional scenes. But Rebecca’s dire condition changes that in a big way. First, we get a nice Rebecca-and-Carter moment in the ambulance. “What Nicole said, that there’s something inside you that scares her,” she says to her friend. “I know what that is… because I have it too. We all do. People who do this work — it’s a gift and it’s a curse, and it will eat you alive if you don’t deal with it. Go where it leads you.” Right now, hopefully the road is leading to the hospital.
Thankfully it does, resulting in an even more tear-inducing scene. As doctors work to save Rebecca, John gets a bittersweet update from Carter. “You were the only thing she was thinking about,” he tells the politician. But things take a deadly turn as Rebecca can’t be revived, and Smits absolutely crushes his devastated reaction, reminding audiences that he’s JIMMY SMITS! Any hope of Rebecca somehow still being alive is dashed by the silent clock going into commercial. HOLD UP. Didn’t they also do the silent clock for the first time when Tony seemed to die? Just saying.
Okay, she dead. Jumping ahead 12 hours, which I think is a cheat to the structure of the series, John is sitting next to Rebecca’s definitely dead body. Following a long absence, Nilaa, a.k.a. How Am I a Series Regular, makes her return with the sole purpose of telling John that his father is here to see him. You know — the guy who set up Nilaa, leading to her arrest? That couldn’t have been a tender reunion.
Papa D comes in and shows why you cast Gerald McRaney, even if he’s only eight years older than his TV son. “I’m trying to understand how this happened… how I let this happen,” he admits. “They’re all dead because of me.” Well, at least he realizes his wrongs and is on a new path. “But there is one thing as true as it ever was: This country needs you.” Oops, I spoke too soon. He goes on about how John has gone up in the polls and says he should stay in the race. Damn, let the man grieve for more than exactly 12 hours!
“A son should not have to pay for this father’s sins,” declares Papa D, to which his son responds, “And the husband shouldn’t profit from his wife’s death.” BOOM! Upon being called outside, Smitty really brings it in his final goodbye to Rebecca.
Turns out, Simms couldn’t handle the heat, so he killed himself. To protect the man’s legacy, Donovan doesn’t tell the FBI the truth about what Simms had been up to. Wait is this what the entire show was about? Simms’ legacy?! Yeah, probably not. Anyways, Donovan has a sudden change of heart and tells Nilaa to cancel his call with the party, because he’s not dropping out. President Santos would be proud.
Throughout the day, countless times, Carter promised Nicole that it was almost over, and it finally is. The two celebrate at CTU, minus Isaac, who’s “going through a lot right now.” Join the club. “You were right, I need this,” Carter confesses to his wife. “This is where I belong.” Then, Legacy does right by Nicole, not making her the all-too-familiar wet-blanket TV wife. “I’m not gonna lose you,” she says, offering to make it work. He seems much more skeptical, referencing what he’s seen this job do to families, but she convinces him otherwise, and they embrace before he departs for his debrief with Mullins. Watching him leave, Nicole seems to slowly come to the conclusion that she has lost her husband. Isaac, I hope you’re by your phone!
What did you think? Did Legacy adequately fill the 24 void? Do you hope it comes back for another go-around?