Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Tragedy of Jack Bauer

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.

23 comments:

Gary said...

Adam, you're right. As much as the show is about fighting terrorism it's about Jack and how a human being can put himself through all of this for our enjoyment and still manage to hold it together, barely.

It was nice to see Jack really happy again at the start of Season Four. For about five minutes. The fact is (pardon the cliche) he doesn't have TIME for all of that. When he's happy, he's weakened. Jack Bauer wouldn't think twice about sacrificing himself. But when he's faced with having to sacrifice someone he loves, he thinks too much.

This is why Teri had to die at the end of Season One. This is why (as hot as she is) they needed to get Kim off the show. And this is why he had to let go of Audrey.

Twenty-four hours is not a lot of time and distractions crowd the plot.

Now the series can "reload" and start fresh. No distractions. No girlfriends (Marilyn?). No family members in danger. Now the focus can go back to "how f'd up a situation can we put Jack in and how does he get out of it?".

And just how did Jack impregate Chloe from over five thousand miles away? ;-)

Rickey Henderson said...

Here here. I'm still recovering from the lack of Tony in last night's ep, but overall, I really dug the season finale.

Jack staring out into the ocean is a total punch in the gut. We're not used to seeing a vulnerable Kiefer. So emotionally, it was a real shocker.

No Tony grinds my gears however...

KGrace said...

I have only recently discovered "The Jack Sack" and I love it.

One question, and I'm shocked that you didn't mention this, considering how indepth all your other posts about the episodes seem.

Why would Jack leave Philip on the oil rigger, with a boat right next to him, and the component? I get that he was injured... but that doesn't seem to stop people like Philips.

Adam said...

Philip was TOTALLY left as a loose end. You're right, I faled to mention it in my post (I was running late this AM geting ready for work) but I too was watchng the scene and thinking "Philip and the component are left alone... this will come back to bite Jack in the ass. Good catch, kgrace!

Rickey Henderson said...

Indeed. Philip Bauer could easily have escaped on the raft with the microchip. I doubt he's dead. And speaking of loose ends, what about Milo's brother? He just wanders off? I could've sworn he was up to no good.

KGrace said...

And those smoldering looks that he was giving Nadia while telling her that Milo died because he was in love with her. I was a little freaked out.

As was I freaked out about that intensely long hug that he shared with Chloe.

And why was the first thought that popped into my head when Jack was staring into the water, not that he might jump but instead that perhaps he saw a little speedy raft zooming around the ocean with a bloody Philip on it?

Adam said...

Hey, did any of you catch the EMPIRE STRIKES BACK moment between Jack and Philip last night when Philip is on the platform and he "senses" Jack is near, etc. I was amused by this!

Sally said...

Yep, I caught that moment, too. Weird...like the rest of the season.

While I too was a bit disappointed overall, your point that Jack turning the writing into gold is true. His acting was just unbelievable (he's got the bleak look down pat) and for that reason the ending was more or less appropriate.

Maybe S7 will find him and Tony sharing an apartment in Greenwich Village helping to take care of Chloe's baby. After this season, anything's possible!

KGrace said...

I'm such a dork for again watching the finale.

Did the Russians ever obtain proof that the Component was on the Oil Rig? It was just assumed that it was, based on Doyle, right? But there was no proof to the president or to the Russians that Bauer and the Chinese hadn't already handed it off. It just seems strange that the Russians would call off a major strike against the US based on assumptions.

That's it.. I'm not rewatching anymore! I won't make it to January if I do.

Adam said...

kgrace, here's my reading of the Russians calling off the attack:

The Russians said they were tracking a Chinese sub just near the oil rig, but not close enough to "pick-up" Cheng. This being the only visible way that the Chinese would get the component, when the sub turned away to head back home, that was a sign to the Russians that the component was never retreived.

Now, of course the whole assumption that the component was on the oil rig in the first place was a big thing for the Russians to accept, the question that the episode never posed blatantly was "Are the Russians willing to go to war based on an absence of incontrovertible proof?" In the real world, the answer would be no, and for that reason I can accept the show's treatment of the issue.

That being said, Jack should have taken the component from Philip, ending the crisis in a real, substantial manner. Philip would still be left alone with the raft to cause trouble in the future, but the Russians standing down would be based on a real basis. BUT, then again, if I were writing the show, Tony Almeida would have been on the oil rig, shooting Chinese troops with Jack. Sigh...

Adam said...

And gary, I hope this fresh start for next season really happens. The show NEEDS it badly.

Rickey Henderson said...

Good call on the Star Wars split screen shot--I noticed that too last night.

Now that I think about it, the list of unanswered questions is pretty long: what did the US give up for Jack's freedom? how is Wayne Palmer doing? how is Lisa Miller doing? Is Logan dead? Did Reed Pollock act alone?

Too many frakking questions...

Adam said...

Wayne Palmer, Lisa Miller and Mike Doyle are all sharing a hospital room presently. Thay are collectively Dumb(Lisa), Deaf(to his doctor's advice--Wayne) and Blind(Doyle). They will have a new series on FOX next season (starring Nathan Fillion as the doctor).

KGrace said...

Adam -

I get what you mean, I do think it was sloppy on Jack's part not to ask Cheng where the component was or even Philip for that matter. It just seems like if the writers had given the F-18's 90 more seconds till they fired, then perhaps Jack could have recovered the component.

As for Tony, I did a happy dance in season 4 when he appeared out of nowhere to help Jack out of a jam. And I was locked and loaded to do another one last night.... however I tossed my dancing shoes across the room in anger when it was Bill who flew Jack in. Damnit!

Okay - was anyone else bugged when Doyle said Damnit on the phone last night to Nadia???

Rickey Henderson said...

Well yeah, that's because it was the worst. damnit. ever.

Adam said...

Doyle's "Dammit" was weak coffee, all the way. And notice how he sat down and said to Josh "I give you my word..." Come on! Ricky Schroder had potential, but they didn't write that character well.

Now, while Tony outclasses Buchanan in all categories, I really did appreciate the friendship Bill showed at that crisis point. Bill Buchanan is one of the good ones, and I am glad they didn't kill him off. And he got his own sack too!

AmyV said...

Nice analysis, Adam... I think I'm going to suffer some withdrawl this off-season, though. It's been a blast being connected to all you crazy 24 groupies. I've actually enjoyed the show this season — in some ways — better than previous seasons because of the camaraderie of all you nutsy cuckoo boys. ;-)

Adam said...

Amy, the feelings of camaraderie are mutual. This blog has been a fantastic experience, a completely insane sort of behavior that can only be done with the proper kind of crowd. While the off-season will be tough, I am going to continue this blog regularly over the next few months, taking breaks only for tanning and margaritas.

Rickey Henderson said...

"a completely insane sort of behavior that can only be done with the proper kind of crowd"

...yeah, transients, rage-oholics, and vikings.

Glad to hear you're keeping this going over the painfully long six month wait. Keep up the strong work buddy.

EasyMac said...

Man, why oh why did the writers have to fall back on the worn-out predictable pregnancy story line for Chloe and Morris? Why did they have to get back together - I don't see why that makes a difference to Jack when he's killing and toturing... and why get them back together with a BABY? So trite.

Adam said...

Chloe was totally misused this season, I think. She was completely superfluous, and what's worse, she was boring. Chloe boring? What's up with that? Morris was also useless, and annoying on top of that. The list of mistakes from Day 6 can become very long, really quickly. Let's just be thankful that next season will bring us a big change in location and supporting characters. I hope that these new elements will do the trick in bringing the show back to its former glory.

glockspeak said...

adam, dude, next to jack, you're my hero! i'll need someplace to cower for six months until season 7 and to know you'll be blogging precious tidbits just makes me ...well... you know! william devane is an actor/god. hell, even way back on knots landing he blew the nauseating script writing away. and when Bill got his very own jacksack, I nearly broke down crying...DAMMIT, beautiful!

Adam said...

glockspeak... thank you. (bows head) :)

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