As Jack Bauer, clad in black body armor and a black Darth Vader-esque mask, approaches Charles Logan's car, the look of fear on Charles Logan’s face is one to remember, a classic moment in a show that's already given us so much by which to remember it. Jack Bauer has proven for eight years that he is the stuff terrorists' nightmares are made of, so to see Charles Logan staring in the eyes (or rather, mask) of a man with nothing to lose is nothing short of incredible. Episode 22, the last full episode before the two hour series finale next week, was a bit slow at points, but still proved to be invigorating when focusing on Jack’s violent vendetta against the Russians. Slowly, but surely, the blueprint of Season Eight’s plot is being unfolded and, as the picture becomes clearer, it actually makes me feel a bit better about some of the missteps the show took earlier in the year.
After three straight episodes of Jack going rogue, “24” doesn’t seem to be ready to slow down whatsoever. We’ve seen Jack shoot Dana Walsh in cold blood and gut Renee’s killer like a pig in the last couple of hours, and tonight we find Jack looking for Charles Logan with vengeance in his eyes. This episode split the narrative into multiple pieces. We now see Jack on his own searching for Logan, while his friend, Jim Ricker (Michael Madsen reprises his role once again, and it’s nice to see that he wasn’t delegated to a one episode stint), goes back to his apartment as Meredith Reed attempts to find somebody trustworthy to whom to give the evidence. Meanwhile, Charles Logan is acting as repulsive and slimy as ever, slithering his way into President Taylor’s inner circle while attempting to take credit for bringing the peace treaty back together. President Taylor is also showing some strain from her illegal activities, especially after Logan informs her that they still haven’t caught Jack Bauer. She continues to make stupid mistakes, her latest one involving the arrest of Meredith Reed and the destruction of the evidence that proves the Russians were involved with Hassan’s assassination. If I were President Taylor, I would be afraid to know that an ex-special agent who has nothing to lose is out murdering the culprits of his loved ones death. If I were her, I would crawl into the fetal position and pray Jack shows some mercy. Back at the CTU, Pillar runs around like a chicken with its head cut off while Chloe, Arlo and Cole try to track down Jim Ricker so he can help them find Jack and stop him.
Early on in the episode, Jack finally tracks down Logan and corners him in an underground tunnel. What results is one of the season’s most intense and well-choreographed action sequences yet. Jack slowly approaches Logan’s car, picking off each agent that pops his or her head out. Eventually, Jack reaches the car and his masked face looms in front of the window for a moment, where Logan’s eyes, wide and nearly popping out of his face, latch onto Jack’s. It doesn’t take long for Logan to admit that Mikhail Novokovich was responsible for ordering Renee’s death. Jack finds Mikhail and kills him, suffering a knife wound in the process. As the episode comes to an end, it’s revealed that President Yuri Suvorov, the President of Russia, was ultimately responsible for everything that’s happened today, including Renee’s death. Logan tells Suvorov that Jack will never know Suvorov’s role in today’s events, not knowing that Jack has placed a listening device in his collar and heard every word. With a cut to his stomach leaking blood and his eyes red with rage, Jack takes off after Suvorov, leaving a single blood stain on the wall he was leaning against, a menacing and somewhat macabre reminder of the blood that has been shed in the wake of Jack’s killing spree.
Despite continuing the rapid-fire pace that the last half of the season has had, this episode left me feeling a little bit cold towards the character of Jack Bauer. While I could accept his actions over the last few hours (if my loved one was shot in the gut by a Russian sniper while I was in the same room, I would be shooting and stabbing every guilty man and woman in sight), tonight was like watching a soulless machine killing and injuring people with no thought of anybody else. I still enjoy watching Jack take out bad guys, but he seems to have lost the true motive behind it: justice. To him, justice seems to have died with Renee. Yet, there’s still a sense of urgency in Jack’s scenes, and it helps to know that this sudden burst of violence was born out of the death of someone he loved. It makes the harsher moments seem more human.
Besides the moments with Jack, everything else was slow-moving as usual. Since Chloe finally got her moments to shine earlier this season, she's become pretty tame. Arlo proves to be one of the most useless characters on TV. Nothing against his character or the acting either; the writers just have no idea what to use him for and they’ve struggled to give him even one interesting episode. As for the White House plot, the same thing has been happening for nearly three weeks: Logan attempts to catch Jack, he informs President Taylor of the good news, Jack escapes from Pillar’s grasp, Logan informs President Taylor of the bad news. The show has gotten itself into a repetitive cycle, and even the great acting by Gregory Itzen and Cherry Jones can’t save the plot from feeling rehashed from week to week. Fortunately, next week shows some major White House drama occurring, so I’m hoping things will get more interesting as far as President Taylor goes.
“24” has exceeded my expectations this season. When it first began, you most likely would’ve found me shaking my head, groaning, complaining and lamenting the days that “24” used to be a first-rate and original drama. However, this season has grown on me the further we've gotten into it. I still feel as though the writers are making things up as they go along, but the stakes this time are much more interesting than in the last couple of seasons. It’s nice to have a season again where the final episodes don’t involve the world potentially exploding in a wave of fire and smoke. Instead, we return to the (somewhat) human side of these characters and witness as they attempt to get through the aftermath of a potential threat. With only two episodes of “24” left, I find myself growing nostalgic and wishing that the show had at least one more incredible season. However, with “24” making the trip from the silver screen to the big screen, I think we can assume that the writers will give us at least a couple more incredible hours of one of television’s greatest dramas of all time.
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