This review contains spoilers. Reader discretion is advised.
The tea leaves having been falling for some time now and neither FOX, nor anyone involved with 24: Live Another Day has had any interest in sweeping them up.
From the start, bringing 24 back in a limited capacity was a calculated test of faith to see if the audience would return. No one was going to lose any sleep if the prayers went unanswered.
The believers in the show’s unique vision, the believers in Keifer Sutherland and his inseparable on-screen persona, Jack Bauer, returned. The ratings were impressive to start—considering the show’s four-year absence and lack of syndication—and held steady throughout. As the season went on, cast interviews made it clear that it wasn’t just the press asking the obvious questions. There is legitimate interest in continuing the series in some form. In some corners of the Internet, that sentiment was amplified in part to the impressive performance of Yvonne Strahovski, who seamlessly transitioned to the female lead role as a new face in a season where character callbacks reigned supreme.
Finally, the last leaf was turned over tonight. Strahovski, in speaking with The Hollywood Reporter this week, said there would be blood. Some characters wouldn’t make it out alive tonight. To what extent was 24 going to ration this bloodshed? Would Strahovski’s Kate Morgan be a casualty? After years of playing with fire, would Jack see everything he worked for go up in flames? Was the wow factor—killing off both and wiping our dirty hands clean of 24 forever—in play?
Six episodes into this season I was writing about 24 on a weekly basis, but I had already written it off. Then the death of Margot signaled the beginning of an improbable turn around for me. Never have I ever, I guess we’ll play this game, sluggishly labored through half a season of television and seen such a stark contrast between the beginning and the end. Tonight I figured I’d be writing an obituary for 24, for Jack Bauer, but instead, miraculously, it feels like a rebirth.
Jack deferring to Kate—trusting her to try and save Audrey— is the beginning of the changing of the guard in this series. I say beginning, because smart money says this isn’t the end of 24. If I’m reading my tea leaves correctly, the best time to make a major announcement would be next week during Comic Con, where there will not-so-coincidently be a 24: Live Another Day panel.
Tonight’s episode exhibited why 24 rose from the dead. The previous ending to the series, with Jack dissolving off out of our lives, didn’t sit well with many. This time around they had more options. Though Jack was robbed of the happy ending with Audrey, he was able to make peace with Chloe. The range of emotions in the final minutes when Jack was standing before the Russians, presumably on the edge of death, made this bumpy ride well worth it. As many times as he’s stood there before, this felt like it could be final. With Kate, the heir to his throne, still alive, his true love murdered, and the safety of his best friend secured, it was time for Jack to go.
I saw enough to make me want this show to return in some form. Hell, my emotions were so twisted; I wanted Jack to return in some form too. But part of me wanted them to pull the trigger. I was almost convinced we were in for one last shock, the one we really never thought would happen: Jack executed for his sins in broad daylight, finality assured.
As someone who wrote off the season long along, all I can say now is: How naïve of me.
Stay tuned for scenes from the next episode of 24 where Jack Bauer breaks out of a Russian prison and saves President ____________ and rescues the country of ______________ from a _________________.