Phew, despite everything, series 6 has been quite a ride. I would have liked to have gotten this review up sooner, but really there is so much to consider, and I really wanted to along with reviewing episodes 23 and 24, to give my opinions on series 6 as a whole, and where the show goes from here.
I’ll start from the top, 23 was a solid episode, though in my mind I can’t help put compare it to 21 and 22 which were both fast paced and full of action, a comparison that 23 doesn’t really live up to, but that’s hardly surprising as really 23 was more designed as a brief catching of breath and a positioning of pieces. It does it’s best to play some slight of hand to distract us from this fact, but it can’t quite sustain the pace necessary to really keep the viewer completely engrossed – it’s clear it was produced with the knowledge that 24 would be aired straight after.
That leads us to 24, which follows the standard formula which has been worked out for final episodes, which at it’s simplest is, first half action, second half closure. The first 20 minutes is guilty pleasure action, pure and simple, but you’d have to be dead not to love it, and it rounds out the die hard homage’s from this season perfectly. Escaping from an off shore oil rig, hanging from a helicopters rope ladder, seconds before f-18’s blew it to kingdom come, no action hero alive would say no to that. It’s a sequence which is filmed flawlessly, in fact some of the frames come close to being works or art. It had me ready to eat every word i’ve ever written against Jon Cassar’s direction of 24, then I checked the credits and saw on staff director no.2 Brad Turner directed this episode, nevermind. Credit should also got to go to DP Rodney Charters, who i’m sure worked hard on making these episodes look so amazing.
After the action wraps, we get 5 or 10 minutes of what amounts to house keeping really. The most notable of these wrap up scenes is Chloe telling Morris that shes pregnant. which for some viewers might have been a little anticlimatic in it’s execution, though I thought it was underplayed beautifully, had they added anything to the scene it would have been too cheesy for it’s own good. We didn’t seem to get as much of these scenes as usual, so me thinks there was a lot of “hellos and goodbyes” cut from the this bit of the episode, to make room for Jack’s final scene, but we’ll get to that in a bit. Scenes between Nadia and Doyle, Karen and Bill were notable in there absence, especcially when Cheng got to say his last word. I think really with rumours of where the shows headed, its odd that not nearly as much was tied up for rest of the characters as is usual.
But any thought of being cheated out of some closure really does evaporate when you consider the final 12 minutes. It’s all Jack, it should almost be greedy, but considering everything it isn’t. If you’ve been crying out for the writers and the show to acknowledge what Jack has been through, to show us the toll it’s had on him personally and emotionally, you will love the final 12 minutes. Kiefer plays this scene better than any scene all season, he really is at his peak and Jack as a character is at the end of his tether, he’s pleading for his life back, any shred of a normal life to cling on to, but then he sees Audrey and knows she is in no state to offer him it – and you feel for him. I was in floods of tears for most of it I will freely admit.
These last 12 minutes are a true landmark moment for the show, mark my words, because they effectively offer us as fans a choice, accept this as the end that we always knew would have to come eventually – it’s been a nice ride, thanks for the company, … or … , personally invest it whats to come, which will be quite different I am positive, personally invest in seeing Jack pull back from the brink and reclaim a life worth living. Don’t make up your mind before seeing these final minutes, doesn’t matter if you’ve seen the rest of the episode (but it is worth a look), because after seeing them I know where i stand, i’m in, before this I wasn’t sure if I still cared about the character, but I do, and as long as the show’s got that going for it, aslong as it keeps me caring then it’s, for me, a show worth watching.
It’s worth a moment to mention the rumours that having been flying around what the ending of the show could be, that a character, quite possibly Tony, would return from the dead to give Jack the shock of his life and act as a catalyst for starting afresh next season as well as having the fans on tender hooks all summer long as to quite how they would explain his reappearance without it becoming a soap. Sources inside the show (Jon Cassar) have stated this was a ending seriously considered, but that in the end, at a time when they want to take the show back to it’s roots, and reclaim some of the realism that they feel has been lost, bringing Tony back would have impeded rather than helped that goal. I’d say they made the right choice on this, however the fanboy inside of me is really hoping they just might of gotten as far as filming some of that ending, because that would be beyond cool to see.
So, if the reports are true we could be tuning in for a completely different ride next year as the show undergoes a radical overhaul, with apparently the show being stripped back to the raw components (Jack Bauer, Real Time, Stopping A Baddie), and that nothing else is a given. For me this is a must, it’s clear to me that s6 was the last outing of the formula as it is, which is disappointing how much I loved s5, and even more so since it started out so promisingly with four episodes which gave me high hopes for the series. But unfortunately it never quite delivered what the first four episodes promised as the series drifted targets every couple of episodes and with the writers perhaps a little complacent after s5. Though it defintely had it’s moments (episodes 4, 17 and 24 go into my list of personal favourite episodes) as a whole it doesn’t quite stack up. I only wish I knew more of there plans for next year, because I’m more eager than ever to see the next series, though I do have a little hesitation because if the reboot doesn’t go perfectly then the show i’ve been addicted to for 6 years will be gone, dead, and it would need more than a silent clock to mark it’s passing.