Tragedy strikes the final hour of ’24: Live Another Day’ as Jack tries to save the world yet again with catastrophic results when the final seconds tick away…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
For all the heroics and world saving Jack Bauer has done in his nine seasons as the greatest soldier the planet has known since Captain America picked up his shield, the one common thread that follows him throughout his life is the tragedy of those closest around him. Jack’s wife Teri died during season one of ’24’ when she got too close to Nina Meyers, a double agent who was working against the American government while also operating inside the Counter Terrorism Unit.
Jack saw his partner Chase lose a hand, countless co-workers and friends lose their lives in the line of fire, a President he helped to protect from assassination eventually get cut down by a bullet, not to mention losing Renee Walker just when it appeared his life was going to get back on track again. Jack Bauer may be a hero to millions, but that’s the only comfort he probably has left after witnessing just about everybody he’s ever loved die before his very eyes. The stain on Jack’s weary soul is unmistakable, like a tattoo that stretches from his heart to his back.
So it was with profound happiness and joy that Jack finally found a connection to his old life this season when he reunited with Audrey (Raines) Boudreau after he resurfaced in London to help stop another assassination attempt, this time on her father President James Heller. It’s been theorized by just about everyone that’s ever watched ’24’ that Audrey was really the love of Jack’s life, even more so than his wife or Renee and seeing them lock eyes even if only for a few seconds in a couple of episodes, it seemed like destiny had intervened to get these two back together.
But as we learned in the season finale, Jack just isn’t meant for levity in his life. Pain and suffering are his long lost friends and it seems that at the end of every day for ’24’ they find him again. As Friedrich Nietzsche once said “to live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.”
Get To the Boat
Jack is able to find out where Cheng Zhi and his men are headed after finding a hidden cell phone in Anatol Stolnavich’s office, but his old enemy is on the run and his plan to escape involves holding Audrey hostage with a high-powered sniper rifle pointed at her head while he makes his way to a boat bound for Russia (one can only assume anyways). The threat backs Jack and Kate off at least momentarily, but they have a plan — they always have a plan.
Jack will work with his old pal Belcheck to track down Cheng and his men while Kate goes off to save Audrey from the sniper using a small CIA team to stay off the radar as not to alert the terrorists of what they are up to currently.
Meanwhile, Chloe makes her way back to the road after literally jumping from a moving vehicle (don’t try that at home, kids) and a nice British couple offers to help but all she wants is to use their phone to call Jack. Now I have to say the memory on characters on ’24’ is something special because they never forget phone numbers. I can barely remember my own cell phone number and I’ve had it for a decade. That said, Chloe tracks down Jack and asks to help him stop Cheng’s men — she made a big mistake trusting Adrian while unwittingly helping him build the override device so now she needs to make good. Jack agreed and swoops by the side of the road to pick her up.
Kate is off to save Audrey from the sniper, who has her pinned down on a park bench, caught between his crosshairs with orders that if she runs she’s expendable and if the order comes down from Cheng, she’s got to go. Time is ticking away (as it always is on ’24’) and Kate’s off to the races to rescue Audrey while Jack takes down Cheng and recovers the override device.
The Brink of War
With Jack off to find Cheng and Kate to help Audrey, the President is left to fend off the upcoming Chinese attack squadron headed right for American bases on the Japanese island of Okinawa. The Chinese President isn’t willing to back down without proof that Cheng actually orchestrated the attack on his aircraft carrier, and with each passing mile the armada draws closer and closer to the point where the American ships will be forced to attack and then at that point there’s no going back — it’s World War III.
With Chloe hacked into a satellite providing infrared scanning of the boat to find all of the guards, Jack and Belcheck begin their attack. One by one the red shirts are taken out, but as men start to go missing, the Russians running the boat along with Cheng realize they’ve been found out and Jack is on board. So Cheng’s tech guy hacks Chloe’s hack and takes over her satellite service. It’s like 90’s cable when all you had to do was switch the wires in the back of the box and you got all the premium channels — taking over a satellite is somewhere in that level of sophistication.
Back at the park, Kate is able to distract the gunman long enough to give Audrey cover to escape and along with her fellow CIA tactical team, they take out the sniper from his gun nest in a building. Kate gives Jack the good news that Audrey is safe and sound, but then the worst possible thing happens — a second gunman arrives and lays down a spray of machine gun fire, taking out a few CIA agents before running to a getaway car to speed off in great haste. Kate’s okay, but unfortunately Audrey is not. She took a bullet right to the gut and she’s fading fast.
Kate tries to stop the bleeding but as a single tear rolls down Audrey’s cheek, she closes her eyes and fades off into eternal slumber. Audrey hasn’t had a very easy life either, especially since meeting Jack Bauer for the first time, but it was truly sad to see her go after returning this season. Kim Raver deserves huge applause for her performance this season and the scene she shared with Kiefer Sutherland when Jack and Audrey were reunited for the first time in years really did steal the entire show. It was a heart pounding, heart wrenching goodbye to an all-time favorite character from ’24’ and fact is there aren’t many originals left alive at this point to even make guest appearances if there is another season.
Following Audrey’s death, Kate decides this is the right moment — IN THE MIDDLE OF AN ASSAULT ON A TERRORIST BOAT — to call Jack and tell him the love of his life was gone. It was like a gut punch when Jack heard the news and for a moment as he lowered his rifle and picked up his revolver, he contemplated ending it all. Jack couldn’t be broken in a year of torture courtesy of the Chinese, and even in complete exile he never (at least in the scenes we saw) thought about putting a bullet in his own head to end it all. Hearing that Audrey was gone was almost enough to push Jack over the edge, but the moment passed and he immediately shifted from sadness to rage and anger.
And you will not like Jack Bauer when he’s angry.
So he loads up his assault rifle and proceeds to go Rambo on everybody in his way as he charges towards the control cockpit to find Cheng Zhi and put an end to this god awful day. He actually has to engage in some fisticuffs with his former torturer, and give Cheng credit, he’s got a pretty sick roundhouse kick. He doesn’t have a defense to Jack’s knees-to-the-face attack, however, and following a brief skirmish, Cheng is in custody just seconds before the Americans and the Chinese are about to fire on each other.
Jack reaches the President in time and he puts Cheng Zhi up to a camera where the CIA is able to confirm with audio and facial recognition software that this really is the man they’ve been looking for and they transfer the data over to the Chinese president. He’s satisfied and opts to pull back his troops while working with Heller to eventually find reparations for the hundreds of soldiers who lost their lives when the aircraft carrier went down at sea.
With the camera feed cut off, Jack decides to do a little cutting of his own — thankfully there was a Kill Bill sword sitting just a few feet away. I was hoping Jack would put the sword to Cheng’s throat and beg for him to go for a gun while saying ‘I want you to pick it up‘ — but alas there was no standoff. Jack instead drops ‘this is for Audrey’ and proceeds to lop Cheng’s head clean off his shoulders.
As he exits the boat with Belcheck, they go back to the computer room where Chloe was working and of course she’s gone, there’s blood on the floor and Jack’s phone begins to ring. He has to meet a mystery person at a mystery location for what we have to assume is a way to retrieve Chloe.
Back at CIA headquarters, the secret service has to inform the President about his daughter’s death and upon hearing of Audrey passing away, Heller collapses from the gravity of the situation. It’s okay to fall down President Heller, this one knocked the wind out of all of us.
12 Hours Later
There’s been a promise of a time jump all season long because with only a 12-episode run, ’24’ couldn’t exactly be in real time like past years of the show. Finally, the day leaped ahead 12 hours as we picked up the day after Jack stopped the terrorists and Audrey died. President Heller is putting his daughter’s coffin aboard Air Force One to take home to be buried and he shares a final moment with the Prime Minister. It was a heart breaking scene as Heller recounts looking at a picture of a beautiful woman on his desk that was there from the very day he took office as President, but he just couldn’t remember her name. 15 or 20 seconds later, the President recalls that the woman in the picture was Audrey, his daughter, and it’s then he realizes this debilitating Alzheimer’s disease is grabbing hold with both hands and isn’t letting go. Eventually thanks to this disease, Heller won’t remember this day, Audrey dying or even the fact that he had a daughter. A few more tears should be rolling down your cheek by this point.
At Jack’s meeting, the culprits are revealed — Stolnavich’s threat before he died that the Russians would never forget what Bauer did to them once upon a time comes to fruition. They kidnapped Chloe and exchanged her for Jack turning himself into the Russians. She goes free but before she leaves Jack says that she really was his best friend, and as they clasp hands one last time, he walks towards extermination as he boards the Russian helicopter bound for Moscow.
It was the last sacrifice Jack could make to save someone he loved. He couldn’t save Audrey, but he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to save Chloe. And with that the final seconds ticked away of ’24: Live Another Day’.
This season was certainly action packed and in classic ’24’ fashion gave us plenty of twists, turns, torture, and a few turncoats to boot. The accelerated nature of the show running for 12 hours instead of 24 actually worked better in today’s television landscape where series like ‘True Detective’ front-load everything into a much smaller package than the old TV model where a series had to run for at least 22 weeks. Jack was back and it was a glorious three months on Monday nights because he was sorely missed. Sure, ‘Homeland’ quenched our collective thirst for a drama rooted in terror, but nobody can do it the way that Kiefer Sutherland has done it for nine full seasons playing ultra-hero Jack Bauer.
Hopefully (and likely) Jack will be back for a 10th season of ’24’ with expectations riding high that an announcement will come at San Diego Comic Con in just over one week’s time. ’24’ was gone for four years and that was four years too long. The ‘new’ show probably can’t survive more than another season or two at most, but as long as Jack is ready to take down the terrorists — dammit — I know I’ll be watching.