After a four year absence, 24 is returning to TV in the form of a “limited series.” Shortened seasons for broadcast shows are in right now. Big-network programs like Hannibal, The Following, Sleepy Hollow and Under the Dome are taking a page out of the British/Premium Cable model, offering shortened seasons of around 12-15 episodes without the traditional option of extending the season. 24 is embracing this model as well, cutting Jack Bauer’s “day” in half to (theoretically) tell a tighter story and keep costs down. How well 24 translates into 12 remains to be seen, but there is no denying of the excitement of having Jack Bauer back on the small screen.
As a limited run companion piece to our series-spanning Dead Series Discussions we—Patches, Zach, Jeff and MegaMix—will be posting reactions to each episode of Live Another Day as it airs. These “ReJacktions” are not as long or formal (ha!) as our other posts on the series, but instead give us a chance to add some reflections and observations for each episode. Once the season has ended, we’ll give Live Another Day a proper Dead Season Discussion before bidding farewell to 24. At least until Jack comes back again.
This week’s ReJacktion is focused on Episode 12 of Live Another Day, “Day 9: 10:00 p.m. – 11:00 a.m.”
It contains SPOILERS for the entire series of 24 and strong language. Parental discretion is advised. Discussion occurs in real time.
There were numerous episodes this season where Live Another Day turned me into the snarky reviewer I can’t stand. Then, numerous others made me think that LAD would end up a top-half season. Some of it is because LAD was the most intensely inconsistent show I’ve watched. Some of it is because HYPERBOLE, BITCHES! No proclamations this week. Just disappointment.
My suspension of disbelief was itself suspended (without pay) several times this week as second shooters appeared where it didn’t make sense for one shooter to be, Kate and the CIA used their precision handguns to take out a sniper, China took several minutes to assemble an amphibious invasion large enough to capture Okinawa, the Chinese Premier had no desire to, you know, actually see Cheng, who of course knows martial arts, presumably because he is Asian.
Even worse, the finale did nothing to make LAD greater than the sum of its parts. Belcheck was awesome, but we never find out why he’s with Jack. The season ends without Heller’s Alzheimer’s impacting the story in any way, making that seem like transparent sympathy-baiting. Audrey is offed in the most shockmongering way possible, ensuring she would become the least interesting character to earn a silent clock. And Jack is hauled off by an angry, totalitarian government, an ending that would have been great if he hadn’t already escaped that exact situation three seasons ago.
All this compounding bullshit left me unable to get into the ending. If there’s good news, it’s that the ending got a little better with a second/separate viewing. I watched it again while grabbing screenshots. Unencumbered by the rest of episode, I was struck by how brilliantly executed the last ten minutes were. The ideas were terrible, mind you, and I’ll take that to my grave. But the execution was perfect.
First, Kate turns in her after-action report before seemingly ghosting on the CIA. It’s a fittingly quiet end to a pretty good season for the character and the actress. Next, Mark is prepped for transport. Tate Donovan kills this scene as he looks up at Erik Ritter with these giant, weepy puppy dog eyes and asks if Heller is okay. Absolutely devastating…
Then, we cut to Audrey’s funeral procession. Sean Callery does the heavy lifting by cranking the CRY, MUTHERFUCKERS music. William Devane assists by delivering his (terrible idea) lines with a beautiful tragic dignity. Jon Cassar puts the icing on the cake with a gorgeous overhead shot of the procession and by lingering just a beat as Heller places his hand on his daughter’s casket. Plus, military funeral processions, you know…
Finally, Jack trades his freedom for Chloe’s. Kiefer Sutherland rescues this scene by smiling twice, once while walking towards the helicopter and another before boarding. It might not seem like much, but I can’t remember the last time Jack Bauer looked so satisfied. “I’ve lost everything and everyone that I’ve cared about, but not this time. Not Chloe. My best friend. My only friend. She’s safe. I won.”
I don’t know. This ending blows. But if Jack Bauer can be satisfied with his ending, maybe I can learn to be too.
I agree that this one was better upon re-watch. One thing that 24 often asks of its viewers is to forget the bad/stupid/illogical stuff that happened to get us where we are and just live in the moment. If we can forget (but never forgive) the terrible, table-setting convenience of the previous episode and just try to engage with this episode on its own terms, maybe we’ll like it more.
That said, unlike Heller, I’ll never forget the out-of-the-effing-blue-ness of Audrey’s situation over the final two hours of the season. Seriously. Not to beat a dead panda, but Cheng has the resources to track Audrey and target her with a sniper, but he also has a backup shooter in case something happens to the sniper, and then a backup driver for the backup shooter so he can get away? That’s nuts. Wouldn’t a second sniper just have been easier? OR, wouldn’t it have just been easier for Audrey to die in the first attempt? The only thing her survival brought us was Kate informing Erik of what was up, something that had no bearing on the rest of the episode.
Beyond that, things were actually decent. The boat infiltration reminded me (in a good way) of Captain America 2, or perhaps even better, Lethal Weapon 2. Jack’s reaction to Audrey’s death was pretty great, even if it was yet another occasion for Kiefer to whip out his scrunchy cry-face that somehow never seems to produce any actual tears.
The follow up rampage was about as great as could be expected. I’m pretty sure Jack killed more men with more different weapons than in any previous single episode, and he didn’t even break someone’s neck with his legs! Jack giving Cheng “a little off the top” was appropriately crazy, but the lack of consequences don’t sit well with me, particularly with WWIII only unofficially averted via Gavin’s voice/face identification technology.
Chloe’s (convenient) disappearance and the subsequent time jump felt like them cramming what might’ve been the next 2-4 hours worth of show into 10 minutes. They half-sold it through Jack and Chloe’s final (?) exchange, but since episode 4, I feel like those characters have been so far away from each other, that it doesn’t entirely work. There’s some nice symmetry to Jack rescuing Chloe in the premiere and the finale, but the late-season murk clouded the depth of their relationship.
As for Alzheimer’s, if its inclusion was simply leading to this moment on the tarmac, I’ll take it. Yes, it made for awkward moments, but I applaud the show for not firing that particular Chekov’s gun. We know it’s going to go off anyway, as Heller’s little speech to Alistair made clear, and that’s probably more devastating than anything.
As decent as much of this finale was, I’m tempted to rank it as the worst finale of the series. Not because it’s bad, but as Patches noted, because we’ve seen it all before. Is that par for the course of Live Another Day? Stay tuned, I guess.
Remember that one time when a fellow anti-terrorist (woman) called Jack to inform him that his love had been murdered by the villain whose compound he was raiding at that moment, and after tearful consideration of whether or not he could proceed he steeled himself and raided said compound, killing everyone in his path until, finally, he was able to dramatically execute the mastermind of the plot that had thrown his whole world into turmoil throughout that day (and also, COINCIDENTALLY, GUYS, resulted in what, to the outside world, was the murder or a major US political figure, who it turned out wasn’t actually murdered but was FOOLED YOU lul)?
DO YOU REMEMBER THAT, GUYS AND GALS?
I guess all I have to say of the writers of 24 is “way to go.” We were all so down on that total bummer S1 finale, and are glad that we have come full-circle by having nearly the same thing happen in S9, but rather than ending with that incredibly memorable scene of Jack losing it all, we get to end instead with a scene of Jack sacrificing himself to save Chloe, who has no one left, and flying off complacently to some Putin Punishment camp.
As I told the guys the other day, and will write about in depth in my LAD recap, I feel cheated. I have a theory that the writers had either 2 complete halves of seasons or 1 complete set of 8 episodes, and tried to shoehorn them into each other. Assuming, for the moment, that I am right, it’s not surprising that when trying to hammer what they had into 12 episodes, they ended up making something that was less than its individual pieces. I wouldn’t have enjoyed a season or half-season about Cheng no matter how well it was written, but commitment to the character of Margot might have been enough to take me 12 episodes. Alas, they bailed on her at the 8 or 9 episode mark, and made the entire rising action up until that point meaningless. What we are left with at that point is exactly the 4 episode arc that we ended with – this pretty contrived and overall bad-tasting finale.
Either the writers were feeling that there are no good ideas left, or…
THERE’S NO TIME
I laughed a bit at the samurai sword on the Russian fishing boat. Such a boring, bizarre, out-of-character way for Jack to say goodbye to the least-character-developed villain in the entire run of the show. So, fitting, I guess.