Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lament for 24

Two shows that revolutionized my TV watching ended two weeks ago. One, LOST, ended brilliantly, One, 24, ended wretchedly.

Earlier this season, I entitled a blog post "Salute to 24." That was in the middle of this 8th and final season of the mostly brilliant show. Season 7 was abysmal and seasons 5-6 were pretty good. Seasons 1-4 were amazing. My previous post talked about what made the show great, namely the rules of 24. I thought season 8 was back on track, following the rules and giving the audience what they had come to know and love. I also knew that they had announced that this was the last season of the show and I was excited about how the show would end. My wife and I speculated about such endings that would satisfy us.

Such and ending would go something like this: First, Jack would have to die. The show and Jack are one and the same. Without Jack, no show, without the show, no Jack. The fact that the show is over, yet Jack is still out there somewhere is inconceivable. There is no "quiet life Jack." If he is not fighting terrorists, he IS not. Second, Jack should die doing something heroic, saving the world for the umpteenth time. A self sacrificial death would have been the perfect ending for 24.

Yet, what do we get instead. The last several episodes of 24 were a character assassination of our beloved protagonist. The show broke rule number one, which I quote from my previous post:

"First rule of 24: Jack is always right. Jack has an infallible moral compass. Everyone else gets conflicted from time to time, but Jack is steady and never has to debate a decision. He just knows what to do. So, you can determine the relative goodness or badness of any character on 24 based upon their current relation to and opinion of Jack."

In the last several episodes of season 8, Jack clearly loses his moral compass. We see Jack heartlessly execute Dana Walsh (yeah she deserved it, but not like that), brutally torture and disembowel a Russian operative, tear through a Russian diplomat's security crew before impaling said diplomat with a poker (OK, we didn't actually see this, only the aftermath and the embeded poker in the stomach of Novakovic), and finally, bite off the ear of Presidant Logan's chief enforcer. Jack lost his way.

The show gave a feeble attempt to repair the damage they had done by having Chloe stop Jack from assassinating Russian Premier Suvarov in favor of pursuing more legal means of retribution. Yet, it was too little, too late.

There were a couple of nice moments in the finale between Jack and Chloe and between Jack and President Taylor, but far from anything that would redeem the train wreck. We are left with a fugitive Jack, a shell of a man, a far cry from the hero we had come to know and love.

So, I must lament the show's ending. Here's to rewatching seasons 1-4 and remembering the glory days.

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