Jack Bauer's Small-Screen Time Runs Out, Leaves Fans Eagerly Awaiting Big-Screen Debut
July 10, 2010 by: Megan O'Neill
The clock has finally run out, and Jack Bauer is on his way to God knows where - we happen to know it's the silver screen, of course - and the journey has been nothing but heart-stopping and unbelievable. We have followed Kiefer Sutherland's long-suffering federal agent through eight of the worst days of his life. We have cheered for him as he successfully raced against time in order to save the country from some massive threat, we have cried for him as he has lost those he loves most in the world, and we have gasped in horror as he has toed the line between hero and villain. No matter what, he has always ended up being the guy we would most trust to save us when we're in trouble.
And I can't say how glad I am that, after a season of questionable choices and drastic departures from the characterization we have come to expect, he has received a finale worthy of the complex character he is. It sounds ridiculous to talk about a fictional character like he's real, but in so many ways, Bauer transcends the typical idea of a television character, just as 24 transcended the typical idea of a primetime series. I couldn't have asked for a better temporary conclusion to his story. From the beginning of the episode, when we heard something we haven't heard since the first season - Sutherland's deep voice saying "events occur in real time" - I knew that I was in for a ride. And boy, was I ever. While I was hoping against hope for an appearance by Carlos Bernard's Tony Almeida or Glenn Morshower's Agent Aaron Pierce (who, prior to Season Eight, was the only character besides Sutherland's Bauer to appear in every season of the series), even the dashing of those hopes wasn't enough to make me find something wrong with the finale. Finally, after some serious missteps over the course of the past few seasons, the series had returned to form.
Of course, the finale came blazing onto screens after a few heartbreaking moments, but as any 24 fan knows, there's only so much happiness that Bauer has ever been permitted. He couldn't stay with daughter Kim Elisha Cuthbert, finally at least tolerable) and granddaughter Teri (named for her long-dead grandmother, once upon a time played by Leslie Hope) and pretend like he was any old civilian engaging in domestic bliss. He couldn't protect President Hassan (Anil Kapoor) even though he thought he had a chance. He couldn't find a happy ending with Renee Walker (Annie Wersching). (Heck, he couldn't even find a happyafternoon with her, let alone a happy forever.) On the flip side of that coin, he shot Dana Walsh. A lot.
And that would have been enough to make the season worth it, to be perfectly honest. It's hard to pick out specific moments to discuss, because everything, as always, was nearly-seamlessly connected. But truly notable were the exchanges between Jack, and his long-time confidant and Girl Friday, Chloe O'Brian (Mary-Lynn Rajskub). The final exchange, which ended as Jack's face dissolved into the static of a decommissioned satellite, was so bittersweet...but also a little bit hopeful. Jack has spent his life saving others...finally, someone saved him. Finally, the writers got things just right. And just in time.