WARNING FULL SPOILERS AHEAD
The union has just been jacked.
24 Live Another Day reached an action backed and heart breaking end tonight, as Jack was once again made to suffer at the hands of his former Chinese captor. Between, Heller’s final speech about the horrific reality of his disease, Audrey’s death and Jack’s final surrender, there weren’t many emotional positives to take away from this final hour – but that didn’t stop it from being one of the finest hours we’ve seen in a long time.
As for the season as a whole, 24 has managed to once again captivate audiences with an explosive yet refined mix of the typical elements we’ve come to expect. There’s been the usual double-crosses, extreme terror plots, thorny political discourses and use of evolving technologies as there always is, however, this time we’ve seen a much more enclosed approach to the material that prioritized quality, not quantity, of these themes. A shorter 12 episode run worked in its favour much more than most people expected, pairing that with an effectively utilized London location and you can begin to see why in its 9th outing 24 can still pull a few rabbits out of its dusty hat.
Bringing back Audrey & Heller was a calculated move that paid off with both characters meeting a shocking end in one form or another. Heller’s closing remarks about not remembering his daughter’s death in the future was humbling to hear, this also proved that not all characters need to have their heads chopped off to evoke a reaction in the audience.
Speaking of which, the action this year has been as high-octane as always, let’s not forget that violence is at the centre of 24 and the root of much of its controversy, yet we all know, Jack Bauer is synonymous with kicking ass (or arse in this case). Bauer has gone through a lot over the years and 2 moments in the past 12 weeks symbolized the result of these experiences.
Firstly, throwing Margot out of that window was shocking yet satisfying. Previously, Jack would’ve taken her back to CTU and tortured her for a few hours for more information, now he simply has no time for terrorists – he’s been down this road too often and knows it’s not a satisfying form of justice. The other moment of extreme bloodshed was of course the removal of Cheng’s head from its shoulders. Beautifully brutal if not a little convenient that a Russian quartermaster’s choice of ornamentation is a couple of samurai swords but hey, we’re not complaining.
Elsewhere in the show we’ve seen strong performances from a lot of the new comers. Yvonne Strahovski (Morgan), Tate Donovan (Boudreau – surely they could’ve picked a more pronounceable name for Audrey’s new fella) and Gbenga Akinnagbe (Erik) all played their parts well without being too overly dramatic or distracting. Donovan especially gave an envious, cunning and sinister turn as the misguided Whitehouse chief of staff, turning from good to bad to good as the clock ticked away.
Underneath all that eye liner and black clothing was the Chloe we all know and love once again, providing tech support in the most epic of fashions on the Call of Duty-esk final sequence on board the ship. Belcheck, Jack’s other BFF besides Chloe, was a quality addition, although it would’ve been nice to know more about who he was and his connection to Jack, perhaps a scene discussing Jack with Chloe could’ve provided a strong opportunity.
Ultimately, the success of this season, and the series as a whole, belongs to Kiefer Sutherland. Now at the age of 47, with over 200 hours under his belt as JB, Sutherland looks as capable as ever of packing a punch or suffering in the most excruciating ways. The news of Audrey’s death emitted a response that at first felt like it was going to emulate the tears of season 3’s conclusion before becoming a potential suicidal moment that eventually gave way to a rage filled demolition of the ship’s crew. Although this was only a short sequence, Sutherland once again squeezed a range of emotions out of it as Jack gained yet another mental scar from a loved one’s death.
24 Live Another Day has been a thriller from start to finish in every sense of the word. The closing moments with a Russia-bound Jack reflecting on another bad day out, teases the set up for a potential Moscownian adventure in season 10. As for now and London, Jack has once again found himself out of time.