24 : Time’s Up

I write this having now seen the final two episode of Season 7 three times. This has thankfully given me some distance from the emotional impact of the episodes. I thought about writing a season recap and finale review immediately after seeing the episodes, but it would have been entirely postive and I would have revealed the idiotic fan-boy within.

With that distance I can now more easily point out the weak spots, and unfortunately there where still a few. The Taylor’s storyline did finish strongly and all involved made the best of what they where given, but as a political family the show didn’t get us emotionally invested in them as we did in the Palmers during Day One, and so there scenes never had the weight and gravitas that the writers were clearly going for. Kim never looked truly comfortable in the scenes which required her to stalk bad guys & talk technobabble nor did Renee in her final scenes.

Looking more generally at the season, during the hours that Tony’s true motives were shadowy (at best) many online hoped beyond hope that when revealed they wouldn’t be a betrayal of the character, and that they would make sense. Thats up for the individual to decide, i’d say they did. But actually I don’t what to focus on Tony, I think he’s recieved enough coverage this year thanks to the sterling work by the folks at aig.com.

The most interesting thing for me was Jack revealing how he became the one man counter-terrorist army he is now widely seen as being (especcially by the wider media when they report on and review the show), because this is far from the man he was back in the very first episode. Perhaps it’s been a gradual change, but at several points during the season i’d wondered how he went from this….

Nina, you can look the other way once, and it’s no big deal, except it makes it easier to compromise the next time, and pretty soon that’s all your doing is compromising because that’s how you think things are done, You know those guys I blew the whistle on?,  … , You think they were the bad guys?, because they weren’t, ‘bad guys’, they where just like you and me, except they compromised, once ~ Jack Bauer, 12:49 AM Day 1

… to this …

If you don’t tell me what I want to know, then it’ll just be a question of how much you want it to hurt.” ~ Jack Bauer, Day 5

There are numerous answers, ranging from the one Jack himself gave about “Adapting to your enemy” at the beginning season when testifying to the Senate to the one I’d always tried hard to accept which was that losing everyone he cared about meant he grabbed hold of protecting his country as the last worthwhile thing in his life. But during the course of the season the show seemed frustratingly unwilling to explore this as much as i’d expected given the events of the prequel TV movie “Redemption“. Instead the season often at times gave us the most abrasive and unapologetic Jack we’d ever seen.

The final two hours where therefore a refreshing change of pace, the final twenty minutes as Kiefer’s performance and some wonderful writing finally reconciled the two extremes …

“I’ve been wrestling with this one my whole life, I see 15 people held hostage on a bus and everything else goes out the window, I will do whatever it takes to save them, and I mean whatever it takes, because maybe I thought if I save them, I could save myself, … , it always starts out with a small step, before you know it your running as fast as you can in the wrong direction just to justify why you started in the first place, these laws where written by much smarter men than me, and in the end I know that these laws have to be more important than the 15 people on the bus, I know that’s right, in my mind, I know that’s right, … , I just don’t know if in my heart could ever have lived with it” ~ Jack Bauer, 07:31 AM Day 7

In that beautiful moment, Jack made sense again, not just to me, but I think to himself, in admitting (and maybe realizing?) why he was willing to take the extreme measures he does, he found the closure he as a character had been chasing ever since he held the dying Teri in his arms at the end of Day 1.

Kiefer and numerous producers have often been quoted as saying that Jack isn’t indesctructible, despite what many of us believe, and that given the right time and circumstances they would kill Jack off.

I’d suggest that at 07:59:59 on Day 7, those right circumstances have been reached, and i’m firmly of the belief that if Jack does return for Day 8, it can only take the show and the character backwards.

His time has run out.