I never thought that I would find myself crying once those final seconds of 24 ticked away. And yet, here I am, sitting on my computer chair with my left leg pulled up to my stomach and my right curled under my butt, the show as I’ve known it is over, and tears are rolling down my face…
How did this happen? Wasn’t I one of the advocates of the “It should have ended years ago” and “It’s time to stop the clock”-credos? Didn’t I firmly believe myself past my 24 addiction?
And why exactly am I crying?
There’s no easy answer to that. The simplest and most detached explanation would be “because Howard Gordon wrote a damn good script and the actors did a damn good job of acting it”. But that reply doesn’t tell you why it has made me cry. I can try to dissect things a little. I know that I’m sad over “24” ending, despite everything, because it has been a part of my life and the best thing on TV for the last 9 years. I’m sad because back in 2001, when “24” first happened, I felt like I’d been searching for that very TV show to come along for more than two decades of my life; never before had a TV show so completely and thoroughly consumed me, engaged me, made me wonder, fear, tremble with anticipation and want more like a junkie in desperate need of his next shot. Never before had a show (re-)awakened the writer in me and inspired me to write hundreds of pages of fanfiction, pushed me to create my own storylines, fill in the blanks for existing characters, spin the thread further, create my own world beyond the show. But most of all, it was so bloody entertaining to watch.
‘The moment of truth’, a friend just told me as I revealed to her that I had much more than just watery eyes when the yellow ticking clock counted the final three seconds of “24” down to zero (sorry if you consider this a spoiler, but it was a really nice touch and I had to mention it). I suppose that’s what it is. The simple truth is: Yes, I’m still a fan. I admit it, no need for coersive interrogation.
And yes, I will go out and buy the season. In fact, I will go out and buy all the seasons again, even those that I already own (some of my DVDs are kaput, so that’s why). Whenever that S1-8 DVD box comes out, I’ll get it. Even though I might never watch S5 or S6 (which I haven’t hitherto owned), now that “24”‘s clock has ticked and died away, it does not feel appropriate for a fan who’s shedding tears over the finale not to own the complete DVD set.
Do you consider my reaction hypocritical, taking into account that I have been criticizing a good part of the 8th season earlier? Have I been lying to myself when saying that “24” was better off dead? Maybe. Or maybe I have been preparing myself for this, inevitable, painful moment that comes about when you finally realise that “Never again” has just gained a new meaning. But on the other hand, I think that my criticism was also a way of demanding that things get better. I do believe that true fans have the right to criticise; the only people who don’t are those who actually have no idea what they’re talking about. I myself have never really given up on the show, even though there were things I didn’t like. I watched each season as it aired, even when the show was at its worst, and I hoped that when it finally went away, it would go out with a bang.
And boy, did it do that.
No, fear not, nobody got blown to pieces in the final moments. But Gordon came awfully close to ending the show with something that I and other like-minded fans have believed from Day 1 would be the only real way, the only fitting way, of wrapping things up. If I hadn’t known about “24”‘s plans for the future, I would really have gotten worried. But even so, it had gripped me. I was right there in the midst of it. I was anxious about Jack, Chloe, Cole, I was yelling at Taylor to finally do the right thing, I was wishing that Logan would just drop dead, and for Dalia Hassan to stand up to Taylor…
But even though I knew that the remainder of the season rested on Jack’s revenge spree (hell, he gave us Darth Bauer ©TheJackSack) and although I wanted Logan to finally die and pay not only for his role in this season, but also for what he’s done to David Palmer, Michelle Dessler and by proxy, Tony Almeida, I couldn’t make myself root for Jack to kill Logan, or President Suwarow. Ever since Renee was killed, the path that Jack took made me feel very ambiguous about him. He chose to race down this road to ruin, and as much as I sympathised with him, as much as I understood his anger and pain, I couldn’t in good conscience side with him. There are limits, Jack, even for you.
I won’t give away how things eventually played out, you’re going to have to watch the eps yourself if you want to find out. I’ll just say the ending has left me torn. Okay, I can’t end this without addressing a couple of things that are definitely considered spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the finale, DON’T READ the rest of this until you have.
Obviously, I’m torn on the Logan issue. While I couldn’t sanction Jack’s taking him out, I’m also not really happy with him potentially surviving the season, and possibly getting away with another slap on the wrist. However, kudos to him for finally having the balls to do ‘the right thing’, put that gun to his head and pull the trigger. That was the perfect way to give us all what we wanted, and keep Jack out of it. Now, I don’t believe in suicide, but in Logan’s case, I had no problem with the death penalty – by his hand or the government’s. death was the just punishment. It was just fitting that he’d try to take the coward’s way out and kill himself rather than facing another public humiliation. But I was in fact surprised that he killed his watchdog. Not bad for a wuss! Funny, though, he blew his own brains out and the EMT’s were able to say just a couple of minutes later that he will probably survive (at least we got the mention of permanent brain damage). Way to go, Charles. You can’t even commit suicide right!
I’m also torn on the Jack issue, though. If there had been no movies planned, I would have really wanted to see Jack die on screen. I believed that it was the finality of Jack’s death that “24” needed in order to really call it quits. We’d discussed the options numerous times in forums, and the finale almost got us there three times. It was almost as if Gordon was going through the possible death scenarios in his head and then decided to include them all: a) ‘killed by a friend’, b) ‘suicide’, c) ‘killed by a foe’. But since neither Chloe, nor Jack himself, nor his executioner actually put a bullet in Jack’s brain, Jack survived. Now, I’m surprisingly okay with that – in fact it feels a little comforting to know he’s still out there and ready for a day at the movies. But he was also given yet another free pass – and that makes me feel a little betrayed.
I understand that Alison Taylor felt the need to give Jack a head start, and I applaud her for not just granting him a pardon. He was, after all, about to assassinate some very high-ranking politicians just minutes prior. But why is it that Bauer always gets to flee the country and go dark while Tony gets slapped over the head with the rule book and the law book and left to rot in a federal penitentiary? I know, because Jack is the star of the show. But it still doesn’t sit right with my Almeidaist heart. There, I had to say it.
However, I did love the episodes. They were so well written. Never, not for a moment before Jack and Chloe began to say their goodbyes, did it feel like we were heading towards the end of the series. It just moved on, pushed on, raced on, and made you wish there was more than just the 7, 6, 4, 2 minutes left. And I guess what really made me tear up in those final moments was Jack’s mention of Kim, and when he made Chloe promise him to protect her. His family has always been his soft spot. And now he’s once again left to run for his life and forced to disappear from Kim’s life after just having reconnected with her. Poor Kim, she must have gotten used to it by now. And Alison Taylor, she proved to be very much like David Palmer. Not only won’t she seek re-election, but she’s stepping down and turning herself in. Finally. I’m glad she’s found the way back to where she used to be before that snake Logan started slithering around.
Anyhow… I think I’d better stop. I think what I’m going through is no different from what the people on the set were going through when shooting that final ep. One more shot of Kiefer’s knee, another shot of his ankles, another shot of his elbow… Dragging it out just so that ‘the next one’ would be that last shot of the series. So… I will stop dragging things out on my end.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed the season. It has done what it had set out to do – entertain me. I hadn’t been as invested and as addicted to it as I had been in some earlier years, but at the end of the day (literally), it has managed to move me. And that is a good way to remember it. Thank you, all.
00:00:03 — 00:00:02 — 00:00:01 — 00:00:00