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24 – “Day 8: 5:00 A.M. – 6:00 A.M. “

It's funny what'll happen when you discover an old friend or family member is passing away: sometimes, you're more inclined to forgive them for any mistakes they've made and make amends with them for their flaws, however fatal they may be. 24 is sort of like that at this point. It's been announced recently that 24 would not be returning for a 9th season. That's right, eight years of Jack Bauer killing terrorist after terrorist seems to be about as much as Fox is willing to air. I admit that I take in this news with a heavy heart; 24 was the first serial drama show that I started watching. It was the first show to draw me into the world of television. Hearing that it's being canceled upsets me, even though it's clear the show has reached a point when it just needs to end. Thankfully, the writers seem to have constructed this season to end on a strong note, and I'm sure after a few minor edits to the scripts, the finale of the show will be powerful and memorable, something that can't be forgotten.

Tonight was another thrilling installment of the show, the third one in a row, which is rare for this season. So far, we've been bogged down by pointless storyline, weak writing, some unfortunate focus on characters that are less than interesting and a tepid pace that has rarely picked up. Luckily, the last few episodes have been superb in combining revelations, action and intrigue together. The episode focuses on President Taylor informing Jack that she wants him to escort Hassan and his family to an underground base, where he'll be safe from the terrorist threat against New York. Back at CTU, they attempt to track Samir, Taran and the nuclear rods, but Dana makes it difficult for them. In the White House, Rob Weiss, the chief of staff, makes life even more difficult for everybody by teaming up with a corrupt general who wants to kidnap Hassan in order to comply with Samir's demands. The general believes that he's doing the right thing, while Weiss is still not confident.

The episode was certainly not without its weaknesses. This Dana Walsh plot is still stale, mostly because we're bombarded every season by moles, double agents and good guys who turn out to be bad guys. It certainly was a surprise that Walsh was working with the terrorists, but not a "Oh my God, that was such a game-changer" kind of surprise. More like the "Oh my God, please tell me they didn't do THAT again" type of surprise. Fortunately, there was plenty to love as well.

I was extremely happy to see President Taylor make a return, and not only did she bring the acting chops but she was given a killer monologue to give to the Joint Chiefs, rallying everybody the way that David Palmer used to in the most dire of situations. Of all the Presidents, President Taylor comes the closest to delivering the intensity and bravado that Palmer could bring. Everybody else has been sub-par at best, although Charles Logan was great as well.. I just see him as more of a villain than anything. Taylor was missing for nearly four episodes, much too long for a character who ended up winning an Emmy award last year for her performance. Keep her at the forefront -- that's my advice to 24 writers. It'll help the quality of the show if they can focus on the strong aspects of the show instead of the weak ones.

For anybody who enjoys their action scenes, there was plenty to love in this episode. The final section of the episode is dedicated to Jack, Renee, Hassan and the rest of the White House staff attempting to fight the men that Weiss and the general sent after Hassan. The last three episodes have substantially boosted the number of terrorists Jack has killed so far, and it also acted as an adrenaline boost. Any more of these in the next few episodes, and we'll be overdosing before we know it.

I'm still not sure how I feel about the nuclear rods. Part of me hopes the bomb does actually go off so that the stakes will be higher than ever and so we'll be able to transition to another plot knowing that this whole nuclear rod thing hasn't been introduced only to erode before our very eyes. It's nice for Jack and everybody to save the day, but come on: let's see another event like Season 6, where the nuclear bomb went off in Valencia. That was an incredible moment of the show, on par with some of their greatest moments. So far, Samir has been a disappointment, Taran has been occasionally great and the nuclear rods have been nearly non-existent in the midst of all of these other plots. Let the rods go off and let the stakes be raised. I guarantee the show will continue to gain momentum heading into its final episodes.

It's going to be sad to see one of my favorite shows leave television, but I'd rather see the show go out while it still has some dignity left instead of sticking around simply to annoy everybody at the end of every season on whether or not it'll return (I'm looking directly into your eyes, Law and Order). At least 24 will end on a high note, based on the last few episodes and especially this one. And with Charles Logan making a return, how can these last few episodes NOT be good?


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