Is Jack Bauer the good guy or the bad guy in Season 8? Some people find themselves asking that question and not getting any definitive answers in response. While Bauer has joined the upper echelon of crime-fighters, joining Jason Bourne and James Bond as one of America's greatest additions to our government (notice the continuing trend: they all have J.B as their initials.. very curious), Jack has blurred the line between good guy and bad guy and taken all of the pain and suffering he must have suffered throughout eight seasons worth of episodes and begun to let it loose on the people who killed Renee. Tonight showed Jack at nearly rock bottom; his pain at losing Renee has caused him to make erratic decisions that not only goes against the law but has somehow thwarted every single one of Charles Logan's plans.
Tonight found Jack attempting to track down somebody who can help him release the evidence he found that implicates the Russians. The evidence that Dana Walsh had consisted of a video tape between her and Pavel discussing the plot to kill Hassan and implicated that the Russians were involved in his assassination all along. Jack decides to turn to the one person he knows he can trust: Jim Ricker (played again by Michael Madsen). I complained last week that Madsen's role on the show was too minor, which was disappointing considering how great of an actor he is, especially in a role like this. Jack and Jim decide to call Meredith Reed, Hassan's mistress from early in the season, so they can have somebody to release the information to the press. As it turns out, though, Jack has other plans for her besides using her role as a reporter.
Back in the White House, Charles Logan continues to lie and cheat his way back into the spotlight. Watching him approach President Taylor and attempt to convince her to tell the world how he was somewhat responsible for the peace treaty made me furious at both Logan and Taylor. We already know that Logan's moral compass has been destroyed since the day he took the oath as President of the United States, but watching President Taylor destroy her legacy is especially frustrating. Part of me hopes that the writers redeem her character before the end of the show, because her character was superb in a season and a half worth of episodes. If they ended the show with her being the female version of Charles Logan, it would be disappointing.
At the same time, however, it's entertaining to watch Charles Logan squirm as Jack Bauer gets closer and closer to uncovering the truth about his involvement. By implementing Jason Pillar (Reed Diamond) into CTU, he believes he has the upper hand on Jack, but in one of the show's most thrilling scenes this season, Jack Bauer once again proves to be ten steps ahead. He sets up a meeting between him and Meredith in the middle of a crowded mall, knowing very well that Pillar and the rest of CTU are going to be waiting for him. He takes out four of the Russians without batting an eye, and with Ricker's help, captures Pavel, the Russian terrorist who killed Renee. As Jack punches and kicks and destroys Pavel's body, slicing him up with a knife and burning him with a blowtorch, he soon learns that Pavel has a phone with a SIM card missing that contains all of the recent calls made. He deduces that Pavel must've swallowed the SIM card, and in an act of extreme violence that is even brutal for a show like 24, Jack states, "This is for my friend," before plunging his knife deep into Pavel's gut, leaving him to die with a horrified and tortured expression on his face. For a character that is one of the easiest to relate to and sympathize with, Jack Bauer is quickly becoming a character who continues to draw new lines in the sand when the old ones prevent him from achieving his vengeance.
24 has been taking everything that was missing from the earlier episodes this season and using it in this final block of episodes. Even if the show isn't quite what it used to be, what show stays the same over eight years? If I'm being honest, a show should never stay the same for long periods of time. Even some of the best shows of all time (I'm thinking specifically of "Seinfeld" and "The Shield") changed over time, whether it was changing the style or changing some of the actors and actresses, even if they were fan favorites. Shows grow better by evolving and fixing mistakes they've made before. 24 may be ending its run this year, but the show's constant changes without actually changing the character of Jack is what's making these episodes so compelling. Jack has spent at least a decade being tortured, losing his loved ones, fighting terrorists and losing what little humanity he had left in him. It makes sense that years after his wife died, after Kim Raines was kidnapped by the Chinese, after every one of his relationships went down the toilet, he would finally snap with Renee's death. There was always an undeniable chemistry between them; she was the Yin to his Yang and vice versa. However, when the government refuses to take action against murderers and terrorists, something has to be done, and eight seasons worth of events has lead Jack to finally ignore any moral reasoning he may have had before.
Many people have complained about how Jack's character is being ruined by these episodes, but I think it's a logical progression from where he began. Remember when Jack Bauer was sitting in his living room with his daughter, playing chess and looking content? If you said no, I wouldn't blame you. Jack's been missing happiness for quite a long time, and when you have happiness yanked away from you after you've had it for the first time in forever, it makes sense to want to fight back against the people who took it away. I will admit that I felt a little uneasy about Jack stabbing Pavel in cold blood, but he can't trust the government anymore, with Logan and Pillar controlling CTU's every move and President Taylor no longer making decisions on her own.
This episode was running on all cylinders and featured some great character moments besides Jack, Charles Logan and President Taylor. We got to see the aftermath of Dana's death and how it affected Cole, and any situation in which the show gets to use an extremely under-utilized Arlo is great by me. I've felt that the last few years haven't been friendly to Chloe; after quickly becoming a fan favorite, the show hasn't given her anything interesting to work with. However, seeing her in the CTU director seat (even if it's being currently occupied by Jason Pillar) has lead to some powerful scenes with her. And words cannot describe my glee in seeing Pillar's face after Jack killed the Russians in the mall. It was the face we've all grown familiar with: the "Oh no, I shouldn't of messed around with Jack Bauer" face, and if the end of this episode is any indication, it's not the last time we'll be seeing characters making that face.
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