For 6 seasons, we've been watching Jack Bauer's life get worse and worse. Starting with the death of his wife in Day one and culminating last night with his not-too-subtle contemplation of suicide, Jack Bauer is as tragic a figure as any.
What did I think of last night's finale? It was serviceable, but not awe-inspiring. It tied up most of the loose ends but left a few major ones danging for future seasons it appears. Before we get to the specifics of all of that, I have to say I am amazed that my "hopes, wishes and dreams" for the finale were all unfulfilled! That's right, I went 0-5 on the night! There was no explanation of Josh's true importance (a draft that I read, which may have been bogus in retrospect had Philip Bauer being Josh's true dad). There was NO FREAKIN' ALMEIDA, and this hurts more than words can describe. I heard no explanation about Doyle's past in Denver, and he lost his eyesight too, which was not cool. Cheng didn't die, he just made threats in that Elmer Fudd voice of his to nobody in particular after being captured. And Nadia, while in the locker room talking to Milo's creepy-ass brother, couldn't find two minutes to take a much-needed shower. Sigh.
Okay, not that all my prospects for last night's episode came up empty, what was good? I LOVED the goofy scenes with the Russians. They're the most unintentionally funny characters on the show. Here they are, "furious" about this circuit board falling into the Chinese's hands, and they are nodding along with VP Noah Daniels like everything he's saying makes sense. Like everybody is all friends, in fact! And after the oil platform is taken out, you see the Russians shrug at one another as to say "Do we not start World War Three then? Okay, let's drink!"
Also, as Bill and Jack take the chopper to save that mysteriously unimportant 16 year-old Josh Bauer, there's another classic 24 moment that I shall always cherish: Jack turns to Bill and hands him his own sack! Then Jack takes his sack out and the two renegade rogues march forth to fly on some desperate suicide mission. Cue loud synthesizer music! Aw. Yeah.
But the show's best scene, probably of the whole season in fact, came courtesy of William Devane (SecDef James Heller) yet again. Devane and Sutherland own the screenwriters. Whatever crap those drunk bastards in the Writer's Room come up with gets shined to a gleaming piece of gold by these two professional actors. But the scene with Jack and Heller was a good reality-check for the show; folks, Jack Bauer is broken. It's fun to see the guy take out 30 Chinese dudes in 2 minutes flat, but the sad fact is that he is so far down a path of psychosis that he may not ever be truly normal ever again. This is interesting material. Now, I'm not asking that there be therapy sessions with Jack and Dr. Melfi on the show, but the occasional mention of Jack's mental state lends credibility to the show. And I like the nod to the end of season 3 where after everything dies down, Jack got into his car and started crying like a deranged mess of a man. But last night, in a similar set-up, all you saw was emptiness on Jack's face. And what James Heller said to Jack about needing to be in the game is completely true. Jack is made to do this-- and for at least two more seasons, we get to watch more life and humanity get sucked out of this tragic hero.
Let's hope the next six months go by quickly.