18
May
2010
24: Season 8, Episode 22
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.
Jordan
Yet again this week, President Taylor was the biggest problem with 24. Her character is unquestionably acting as an agent of evil at this point, but she isn't fun to watch like Charles Logan (Itzin bobs his head like a snake tonight while he tempts her to censor the press, just begging for all sorts of slimy comparisons). She isn't threatening like so many 24 villains before her, and she isn't tragic evil, which would require us to sympathize with her increasingly irrational and immoral actions. She may not be any type of evil that is enjoyable to watch, but nevertheless she is a despicable force, trying to blame Logan for any of her unconscionable acts, then immediately proceeding to censor the press, and arrest a reporter who might have some damning evidence against her. And most infuriatingly, she continues to insinuate that she never had any choice in any of this, which shows cowardice of a much less enjoyable sort than Charles Logan (who was never more of a coward than when he was whimpering, "That's Jack Bauer! He's coming for me!" in that underpass).

All this is by way of saying that President Taylor's scenes are by far the weakest part of this episode, but fortunately they are pretty brief. In contrast to that, Jack Bauer, always the strongest link in the 24 chain by a mile, is providing for some stunningly compelling television, as he operates against the wishes of his president, law enforcement officials, and even against rationality. Jack is flat out terrifying tonight, and when he dons his black hockey mask he pretty much becomes the vigilante superhero his the show has always wished he was. For seasons now Jack has been as unkillable as any masked hero of comic lore, and tonight he actually donned a mask and reigned brutal vengeance down on those who he believes have wronged him.

Sure, it would be easy to point out that we could have used this level of intensity earlier this season. It would also be within reason to point out that whiel Renee's death would have come as a shock to Jack, its hardly the most traumatizing thing he has gone through, and it seems unlikely to cause him to transform into the angel of chaos he has become since she died. But this is 24's swan song, and for better or worse I'm going to cut the show some slack, sit back, and enjoy the mayhem Jack is causing.

And my god was there some great mayhem to relish in. Perhaps the best moment was Jack's attack of Logan's motorcade, if only for the aforementioned girlish terror Logan exhibited at the sight of him. As soon as he got the chance, Logan spilled everything he knew to Jack (no surprises there), but watching Jack swoop in like a mythological embodiment of righteous fury was a sight to see. He may not have been eviscerating anyone this week, but he coldy, calculatedly terrorized a tunnel full of innocent bystanders to kidnap a former President and extort information out of him.

The other parts of the plotline were comparatively weak and boring, but then anything would be boring in contrast to Jack's rampage. Meredith the reporter got arrested, which would have mattered more if there was enough season left to make a story out of her censorship. And Chloe is still trying to bring her friend back from the edge, recruiting Cole and Arlo to help her out. This is all standard fare, but got me thinking: Can Jack Bauer be saved at this point? And should he be?

The reveal of the room filled with Russian bodies was less out of an action film and more a scene of pure horror. Jack seems to have become a combination of Harvey Dent and Beatrix Kiddo, with all the darkness, emotional baggage, lack of mercy, and awesomeness that entails. Just seeing the trail of bodies he left in his wake, and the way he snarled at Logan tonight made me wonder if there is any coming back from what he's done. It took them almost an entire season to get here, but I am on the edge of my seat with anticipation for next week's two hour finale. For once this season I don't know what's going to happen next, and even more importantly, for once I care.

Grade: A-

Notes:

-"There is nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal."

-Earlier this year I read an interview with Sutherland where he said that if this ended up being the last season, there was some powerful stuff to end with. I didn't believe him for most of this season, but now I see he was right on the money.

-Jack bugging Logan's lapel was the first legitimate twist this whole season. And my God was it a satisfying one.
Tags: 24
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