So I finally finished watching this season of 24. Considering that I was five episodes behind as of three days ago, it’s impressive that I only finished a week past the finale’s air date. For some reason, my interest in the show waned about mid April. Crazy, right? How can you just stop watching 24 midstream? It was around the time that it was revealed that Tony was, in fact, bad after all. I was disappointed by this turn of events, and was annoyed by all the drama with Olivia at the White House. Thankfully, I was happy to see the plot take a couple of last minute detours to give us a high octane, fascinating finish to the season.
I’m always amazed when I think back to the beginning of any given season of 24, and realize how many turns the story has taken since then. It’s no different this time around. I blogged about the first four hours of season seven back in January; so many characters that were integral in those episodes, and all the storylines that kept us tuning in, are things of the distant past now. Jack was working with Agent Walker, as well as Bill, Chloe, and Tony. Their enemy was a Sangalan warlord who had ties to corrupt American goverment officials. Fast forward to the end of the season, and all the Sangalans have either been killed off or taken into custody. Jack’s crew changed several times over the course of the season. He turned on Agent Walker a couple of times, and Tony turned on Jack a couple of times. Bill sacrificed his own life to save the President, and Chloe was arrested and then released again to help save the day. As for the White House events, I wasn’t a huge fan of the siege during which Bill died. Once that settled down, though, I found the family politics of President Taylor and her daughter mildly entertaining. Olivia could have been this year’s Kim, but she was just intriguing enough to escape that stigma.
Rather than summarize the closing hours of the season, since everyone probably watched them before I did, I’ll give my opinion on the major plot turns the writers gave us as the clock ticked down.
- The Shadow Organization’s Plot to Release a Bioweapon in D.C. – As ludicrous as this story was, that a secret organization would throw caution to the wind and throw together a last minute terrorist attack in a desperate attempt to seize control of the U.S. government, it was highly entertaining. I try not to analyze the motivations of this organization too much. I mean, we don’t know what issues they had with the current U.S. government (other than what Jonas Hodges ranted about), or what they intended to do if they somehow gained control and seized power. But at least the writers tied up some loose ends from previous seasons, including explaining President Logan’s involvement with these people and identifying the mastermind responsible for Michelle and President Palmer’s deaths. Back to the bioweapon plot: they cast a likable actor (Omid Abtahi, who recently played Tony the tech guy on My Own Worst Enemy) to play a character we wanted to survive his unfortunate circumstances. As Jibraan, the innocent immigrant that Tony’s gang chose as the fall guy for their operation, he humanized the already disturbing chain of events. To say that the action in these episodes was fast-paced is putting it mildly. From Jack and Renee’s frantic rush to locate Tony and the device, to Jibraan racing up the stairs of the subway, and finally to Jack throwing the bioweapon into a sealed compartment just in the nick of time, this would have been a satisfying final chapter to the season. Instead, we got a final burst of intense plot twists.
- Olivia’s been a very bad girl – Another silly element of this season was President Taylor’s quick reconciliation with her estranged daughter Olivia, and her even swifter appointment of her as her Chief of Staff. But once I got used to Olivia acting like a spoiled, selfish child all the time, I was entertained by this campy diversion from the main events. In a moment of understandable anger over Jonas Hodges’ escape from prosecution for a life in Witness Protection, she orders a hit on his life, only to back out at the last minute. Too bad for her that her shady contact told the hitman to proceed anyway. What followed was a series of events during which Olivia got what she’d had coming to her for a long time. I love that Aaron and Ethan Kanin worked together to uncover the truth – I knew that Ethan didn’t have the real data card on him when Olivia detained him. At least Olivia came around in the end, and was brave enough to confess the truth of her actions to her mother and father. That scene was well played by all involved. How awful was it when Henry Taylor told his wife that her career is the reason that their son is dead? I really thought that maybe she was going to resign the presidency and try to work on the issues with her husband and daughter. But instead, she alienated herself from both of them by doing the right thing – turning Olivia over to the justice department. I’m curious about who actually planted the bomb that killed Hodges, and if this story will surface again next season. I see some potential for more development…
- Kim and the Cougar – In a strange and subtle way, the 24 writers revisited the now infamous scene from season two (?) in which Kim evaded a cougar in the California wilderness. This time around the cougar wasn’t an animal, but the human version, as in an older woman (Sarah) dating a younger man (Bob). Maybe it’s a stretch for me to find a connection between the two, but that’s how I see it. I’m happy to say, though, that this time around, the story was much more believable and entertaining. Kim has wised up over the years, and it was fun to see her step into her dad’s role of following a suspect, once bad guys Bob and Sarah realized their act as a married couple wasn’t fooling her anymore. (And that quick and deathly airport shootout was really something, too.) Kim’s quick thinking move to grab Bob’s laptop from his burning car ultimately led the FBI to Jack, and allowed them to take Tony and Wilson into custody. Well done, Kim. Now get back home to your husband and daughter. And really, there’s no need for you to pay your dad a visit next season. Quit while you’re ahead. 🙂
- Jack in mortal peril – Poor, poor Jack. If he’s not being exposed to a deadly bioweapon or betrayed by his longtime comrade, he’s being blackmailed into helping terrorists escape custody and having his organs harvested to engineer a new strain of the bioweapon! Of course, we knew he wouldn’t actually die, even though various characters kept reminding us that he had only hours to live. They even sent in a spiritual advisor to talk to him in his last moments. By the time next season begins, Kim’s willingness to try the stem cell treatment will have proved effective, and Jack will be back to his superhero strength and resolve – maybe with an occasional moment of confusion or some anger management issues as remnants of his exposure. But even though we knew Jack would survive, watching him endure all these horrible things while also dealing with incapacitating symptoms, made for some exciting television! I was certainly surprised when he jumped off the stretcher and killed Tony’s medical team with a few flicks of a scalpel and a couple of head locks.
- Tony’s Grand Plan for Revenge – This remains the most disappointing aspect of the season for me. In the initial promos, we saw Tony was clearly the bad guy. But then, a few episodes in, they told us he wasn’t actually bad. Then we found out he was bad after all and had been playing both sides. But wait… that wasn’t exactly the whole story. He wasn’t doing all this because he was evil. He was simply trying to find closure on what happened to Michelle. Turns out that the same mastermind of this shadow organization is the man responsible for ordering the hit on Michelle. So, we’re supposed to believe that Tony was willing to let thousands of innocent people die, and betray his few remaining friends, just so he would have a chance to meet face to face with Alan Wilson, and kill him? I like to think that Tony was a bigger person than that. He wouldn’t be so self-absorbed and obsessed with revenge that he would forget all his training as a CTU operative, his oath to protect the innocent, and so on and so forth. But as much as I hated seeing Tony so lost and gone over to the dark side, the final revelation that he was motivated by revenge was a better option than that he was simply evil or crazy. Well, I think he was a little crazy – make that a lot crazy. Attaching explosives to Jack and using him as a weapon to reach Wilson?! I really thought Jack was going to have to kill Tony when Tony wouldn’t get out of the way for them to detain Wilson. Instead, Jack shot him in the arm. Tony’s deranged, furious speech in this scene was a bit too campy for my taste, but then the climactic 24 moment of the villain’s fall is often over done. Such is the nature of the show.
The only other thing I have to say about the final episodes is that there was a recurring theme of making tough choices and dealing with the consequences. Olivia chose to end a man’s life, but couldn’t handle it when people found out what she did. President Taylor had to decide between maintaining her integrity as a world leader, or keeping what remained of her family in one piece. Kim had to risk her own safety to keep sight of the man who could lead to her father, and she succeeded. Tony stubbornly stuck to his plan to carry out revenge for Michelle’s death, despite the high cost of lives and his own conscience. Chloe risked losing her life to help Jack save countless more lives, even though it meant she might never see her husband and child again. And perhaps most chilling, Agent Taylor apparently succumbed to her season long battle between doing what was right and doing what was necessary, as she took off her badge and stepped into Wilson’s interrogation room, to, we can assume, torture him into giving up the names of the other people in his organization.
All things considered, I think this was one of the best seasons of 24. It was well worth the long, strike-induced wait. I look forward to watching next season, but I don’t mind having seven months to catch my breath!