Monday, May 18, 2009

24 Season 7: 6AM-8AM- The Finale Quick Review

Alright, gang this is the end of Season 7. What have we learned?

1) Tony is not "evil." He intended to take down Alan Wilson, the man responsible for the deaths of his wife, Michelle, and his unborn son (and David Palmer). This is the same man who helped orchestrate the Bluetooth group, Philip and Graem Bauer and Commander-in-Thief Charles Logan. This is a lot to learn in one episode. Something tells me we'll be chewing on the remainders of this revelation next season too. But back to Tony- he plotted to take down Wilson but apparently Jack Bauer made things complicated.

If we're to take Tony's plan seriously, we have to look back at how this would have played out had Bauer never intervened. Jonas Hodges was acquiring the bioweapon on behalf of Alan Wilson. Wilson and the group intended on deploying the weapon in several months. To that end, I think Tony's actions to infiltrate the group make some degree of sense. But Tony had to prove his worth to Wilson before he could get close to him, and that required that he steal the CIP device, wreak havoc around the country and personally kill several FBI agents along the way. Whatever the justification, Tony has truly fallen. His primary goal wasn't to prevent further deaths by Wilson, but to get right in the man's face and have his revenge. Tony will likely get the death penalty for his crimes. In the real world, he would never see freedom again.

But thankfully his motives make perfect sense given the losses he's suffered. His actions are that of a man who is numb to the world and those people who were once close to him. When you have nothing to lose, as Tony said last week, what is there to hold you back from doing whatever is necessary to see out your own goals? So, no- they didn't ruin Almeida's character at all. They developed him from a once-heroic figure into a very human and suffering man. They developed him from a once-heroic figure into a very human and suffering man. And the Imam's words with Jack Bauer could have just as easily been spoken to Tony:
"We live in complex times... nothing is black and white. But I do know this- I see before me a man, with all his flaws and all his goodness... simply a man. Let us both forgive ourselves for all of the wrongs we have done."
Redemption comes from within, that's a major theme of this season.

2) Kim Bauer saved Jack Bauer. Kim, under attack at the airport, personally managed to save herself and track down the laptop one of the hitmen was carrying which led the FBI to Tony's secret hiding spot. Because Kim acted so courageously, she helped prevent Jack being used as a human hand grenade on Wilson. And at the end, she was able to give her stem cells to Dr. Macer for the experimental treatment that we all know will succeed for next season. Kim, you're a Bauer all the way.

3) Renee Walker is cut from the same kevlar as Jack. Renee and Jack had an interesting scene before Bauer is wheeled away to the hospital. She seeks advice from Jack on how to handle things moving forward. All season long, we've seen that Walker is an impulsive person, taking risks that she rationally knows are wrong. But she's also smart, capable and fearless (that "tuck 'n roll" during the shootout is a classic moment!). She's proven to be one of the best characters the writers have conjured in years. This season wins for Walker alone- and I look forward to her next character arc next season (and to learn what eventually happened in the interrogation room with Wilson).

4) Tim Woods hides under coffee tables. I'm sorry, but Secretary of Ubiquitousness
Tim Woods was in 80% of this season. Timmy was in Season 7 more than Chloe O'Brian! I hope that Tim Woods finds a private sector job as Ryan Seacrest's shadow for next season.

5) Agent Aaron Pierce is Deep Throat. The legendary Secret Service Agent put on his Nancy Drew slacks this season and helped to uncover the plot by Olivia Taylor to kill Jonas Hodges. I'm not sure how that will play out- I imagine politics may allow President Taylor to make a public case that Hodges was a scumbag of the highest order, creating some public sympathy for Olivia. But the catalyst, the key player in it all was Pierce. Had he not intervened, Olivia would have walked. I was pleased by Pierce's pivotal role.

6) Jack is in a better place now. No, Jack didn't die! Watching tonight's finale, I was thinking of the scene Jack had with Secretary Heller at the end of Season 6, where Heller tells Jack he's poisonous. I don't think that version of Jack exists anymore. Now, Jack has arrived at a place that only imminent death could have provided. I rolled my eyes at the "Jack is going to die" plot for a few weeks because we all know Jack is back next season. But what the writers did was use this plot to help Jack resolve some of those issues he was left with at the end of Season 6. This is great character work by the showrunners. I look forward to this new, reborn Jack next season. We've had the human weapon to entertain us for years. But let's see some growth here, please? This season has provided the perfect platform for that to happen.

I enjoyed the finale- I found it interesting, less action-packed than I expected, but the acting was very impressive. I like these characters a lot (except for Woods, but you know what I mean). I think the new "family" that Season 7 built is interesting and breathes new life into the show. Overall, this season was the show's redemption, in addition to Bauer's rebirth. Let's hope they don't regress next season. I highly doubt they will.

PS Stay tuned, I'm putting together another video that will be ready in a few hours (hopefully). I give you my word, it's going to make you giggle like the Pillsbury Doughboy on crack.


Rickey said...

The very ending was pretty anti climactic, but you're spot on about the acting. Really strong performances all around. Rickey really enjoyed Jack's parting conversation with Freckle Chest--that was a seriously great monologue. Oh, and the White House is 125% more awesome with Ethan back in it. Good finale, certainly a helluva lot better than how Season 6 concluded.

J. Todd Hatcher said...

Oh man. I kind of eyerolled at the "he ordered the hit on Palmer/Michelle" business - seriously, how many does that make? - but Carlos' amazing passion made me forget all that. On the whole, the finale was slightly more low-key than I thought it would be, but that's not a bad thing. Kim saves Jack. I love it.

Also, even though I was getting annoyed that the Olivia business was getting so much screentime, their last scene followed by Taylor and Ethan's conversation got me almost as emotional as the Jack/Tony situation. Great stuff.

I could write paragraphs about this stuff. In short, it was great.

Justin said...

An awesome finish to an awesome season.

Now where do we rank it amongst the others? I've been re-watching the other seasons throughout this one (About halfway through the 5th now) and I'm thinking that if it isn't the top, it's near it.

TheJackSack said...

@Rickey- Amen on the Ethan front- bringing class and dignity back to the White House. Too kool for skool, as the the youngsters say.

@Hatch- you're more than welcome to expound here at TJS. We love a good conversation.

I personally need to think about the Logan/Wilson connection some more- I may dig out some old episodes to see if there's anything there that might help resolve this huge revelation tonight. But if we do finally get "justice" by having Wilson prosecuted for the deaths of so many important 24 characters, wouldn't that be a nice turn of events?

I say we've not seen the end of Wilson, unless Renee tore out his eyeballs in the interrogation room.

Brian Pelts said...

I figured going into tonight that we wouldn't get everything tied up in a neat little bow, but I totally didn't expect a multi-front cliffhanger of sorts. I'm not complaining, I'm just freaking out a little 'cause it's gonna be such a freakin' long wait for the next season to come along and sort all this mess out. Seeing Agent Freckles make the decision to the dark side and go in to rough up the younglings made my black heart fill with glee and love.

Here's a crazy thought I can't shake loose: The show runners KNOW we all assume that the stem cell treatment will work. But what if it doesn't? What if "having Keifer back for Season 8" means he'll be guest starring as a corpse in the first hour? I know, I shouldn't dare say it out loud...

TheJackSack said...

@Justin- perfect, you're in Season 5- does the Logan/Wilson angle jive with you?

TheJackSack said...

@Brian, I love the Episode III references.

If Kiefer's legal troubles intervene, who knows! Nah, Jack is the show- but they have laid the foundation for Walker being a central character. maybe we'll get a spinoff?

Brian Pelts said...

I used to think spinoffs were of the devil, but then I started watching Torchwood. An Agent Freckles spin-off would be tolerable, but I'd so much rather have her back full-time on the main show. It's been so long since Jack has had anything resembling a partner; I think the "reborn" Jack Bauer should be less lone wolf this time around.

Alright, I'm just grabbing for straws because I love Annie Wershing with all my heart and soul and want her to have my little ginger babies. Is that so wrong?

J. Todd Hatcher said...

It just hit me - they never again mentioned poor Bill. Yeah, I know Jack and Chloe talked about it a few hours ago, but the guy was such a legend and I still feel like he got shorted big time. I really wish there had been a reference to Karen or something.

Anyways, now that they've re-opened the S5 conspiracy, do you think we'll see Logan again? Man, I would kill for a Logan/Tony scene...maybe he could help expose the group? Or would that be too close to the S6 storyline?

TheJackSack said...

@Brian, your motives are just and noble. Go forth and make her your lady-friend.

@Hatch- Amen, re: Buchanan. Ya know how some people think Almeida is God (ahem!), well I think Buchanan was one of the greats too. He was the most heroic bureaucrat next to George Mason (my personal Lord and Savior). Mentioning him tonight didn't seem "organic" though, so I didn't take offense.

Now, will Logan return? Heck, will the yet-to-be-determined-alive Philip Bauer return too? Wilson could either be the starting point or the final note on a storyline that has spanned 3 seasons (if not more). We never learned the identity of the "guy on the yacht" at the end of S2). And there's a chance there's been a conspiracy going since Day 1. But without going too far off the deep-end, Wilson may factor into S8's storyline, but I suspect other new elements will dominate the storyline.

Squish said...

Nice to know that they didn't cause death and destruction. Go Aaron! What a guy..

I wonder if they'll be able to slot Tony in season 8 So he can truly redeem himself? Though I'm surprised he just did what he did for revenge, but I guess it just shows to what lengths people go to to get their revenge.

Rickey said...

Trying to tie the events for all the previous days into one big conspiracy seems iffy to Rickey. More needed to be said beyond "oh, we were behind the Logan thing" or "by the way, we killed Tony's wife." Why did they do this? What is their agenda? Did they just start a big conspiracy for it's own sake? The writers need to be careful, they're doing a lot of retconning and treading into MGS4 territory with all this stuff.

Nobody has mentioned it yet, but Will Patton's bad guy was all sorts of fun. He seems kind of flaky and unhinged. Shades of Ledger's Joker almost.

Justin said...

@Adam - First off, sorry for not getting back to you until now.

I haven't gotten to the Bluetooth Cabal yet, but I do think it's possible. I see it as a setup similar to the mafia, which is optimized to protect the higher-ups. I'll compare the roles, as I see them, to The Godfather since I figure most people are at least somewhat familiar with the movie.

Alan Wilson is the Don (duh)

Cara seemed to be the go-between for everybody to get to Wilson, which is what a consigliere does. In other words, she's Tom Hagen.

I'd assume that Graem, as well as the other anonymous people in "the group" would be like the Caporegimes. So they're like Tessio or Clemenza.

Does that make any sense at all?

Dr. Alice said...

This was fantastic. A finale that was both well-resolved and open ended. Who knew that could happen?

With respect, to me the theme of this season's finale was not redemption, it was ethics and personal choices: Tony's, Olivia's, the President's and Renee's. And of course Jack's - but Jack's life and choices sort of framed all the others that were playing out. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I thought it was a smashingly good ending and it should give a good carry over to next season. And Kim grew up and did a great job! Miracles do happen.

TheJackSack said...

Dr. Alice, what if I said "redemption is a major theme" not the only theme? I reread that part of my post and agree that it was too absolute a statement?

I agree with you that the "ends justifying the means" was a large moral question this season as well. We're big tent here at TJS. Let us rejoice in multiple themes, yes?

Anonymous said...

Good finale, but one thing is bothering me. Alan Wilson is clearly a very careful man- just look at the security he brings with him everywhere he goes.

If he put the hit on Michelle, that means he put the hit on Tony. Remember, they were *both* supposed to die in the car bomb explosion.

You're telling me that Alan Wilson, paranoid SOB, didn't know that he'd once tried to kill Tony? That he just forgot and didn't do his research? No way. He would have known it, and wouldn't have agreed to meet with Tony. Or he at least would have mentioned it.

Huge hole IMO, unless someone can find a way around it.

P.S. Kim is awesome.

TheJackSack said...

@Anonymous- excellent point but my take on Wilson's knowledge of the Palmer/Almeida-Dessler operation is that he had someone else handle those details.

Any time you're discussion something that involves the death of a former US president, a smart and careful man like Wilson would try to buffer himself as much as possible. And Almeida eventually ended up "dead" so whomever called those shots (Graem Bauer probably) reported back to Wilson that everything was a success.

Dr. Alice said...

The show was definitely layered enough to carry more than one theme. And redemption goes nicely back to the prequel that kicked off S7.

I just really hope that at the beginning of next season we get some idea of what has happened to the characters in the interim. I do not want to see the writers leaving plotlines hanging in midair *cough* LOGAN *cough*.

Kasia said...

I was thinking about what you said regarding the likelihood that Tony would get the death penalty for what he's done, which is certainly true. Might it be interested to set Day 8 on the day of his execution? It's totally plausible he could be sent to a federal prison in NY awaiting execution. In Season 3 the crimes he committed were in Cali but he went to prison in Washington state. Perhaps this would be a way to bring him into the plot, esp if it explores the conspiracy further, for Day 8. Sure, it's contrived, but it wouldn't be the most contrived convenience for the sake of character awesomeness we've had to swallow.

BigEasy said...

You know, one thing that sorta bothers me is that, in essence, Tony is pissed because they killed his wife and unborn son. But, the same thing happened to Jack is Season 1. Yeah, he ended up killing Nina for it, but he didn't go off the reservation because of his need for revenge. In fact, it almost seems like the writers forgot about that little subplot of S1. It would have made a great shouting match between Tony and Jack if Jack had retorted that everything that had happened to Tony had been done to himself already, and he didn't go killing hundreds of civilians just to extract revenge.

I get why Tony was so hellbent to get to Wilson. I have a 2 year old son, and would do anything to protect him, and probably more than that to avenge him. But there could have been more to the Jack/Tony relationship at the end, if they had juxtaposed the characters better.


dogman said...

Adam thanks for your concern over my boy Tony. As you said, it's all about pain management. I left a full report on Now I can return to 24 universe.

Tony truly has fallen,however it is in keeping with the brooding nature he has previously shown. There has been a fascinating corelation developing between Tony and Jack's characters. While Tony's nature has descended towards the darker side, by the same amount has Jack's humanity increased. The characters that worked hand in glove for so many years are both now in very different places.

I mean Tony of old would never have been able to execute Ryan Chappelle, for any cause, but Jack was able to do these acts(killing Curtis another) for love of country. They have taken their visible toll on Jack, to the point where I'm not sure would he be able to do it now.

Tony, alternatively has arrived at a point where he can kill indiscriminately when it furthers his personal agenda. Jack's wounds have the chance to mend, with his life getting new meaning through romance with freckles, mending of the strained relationship with Kim, and even a grandchild. Tony shared a passionate love with Michelle, and when she was taken Tony's heart was susceptible to immerse itself in the equally strong emotion, hate.

Conversely, Tony has lost everything. It was bad enough to lose Michell, but to lose an unborn child in such a manner must be agonising. That is why it is difficult to condemn his actions as evil. Jack always had Kim to think of and protect. Tony has nobody.

Tony has saved Jack on numerous occassions,and the final mirror image would be for Jack to bring Tony back from the brink. However, killing the feds, is definitely a capital offence. There are plenty of plots and material available to wet our appetite for S8.

I was just thinking about the guy on the yacht the other day, and it seems to me that he was a/the puppetmaster in S2. If he was so important then, it's unlikely that he won't be returning as not to would be a loose end. Not something 24 is renowned for.

TheJackSack said...

@Kasia- I think the idea of including Tony Almeida's "day of execution" works perfectly into the real-time format of "24." There is a definite deadline (pun intended) to that issue. And yes, typically prisoners in the Federal prison system are placed anywhere throughout the states, and NY has its own facilities.

@Big Easy- I think the important thing to remember is that no two people react to crises or tragedies in the same way. Jack exhibited his rage and grief in extreme ways too, (killing an unarmed witness at the beginning of S2, etc.). Yes, Tony was a hero and we hate to see these characters go dark, but if anything were to push him over the edge, it would be losing Michelle. Remember his acts in S3?

@dogman- I read your post re: your pup at AIG- hang in there.

I think your comments on Tony and Jack are insightful and spot-on. Tony's passionate love for Michelle decimated the man's spirit. I think there is "redemption" for Tony but not in the typical sense (he will never be trusted to work in govt. again, obviously). And Jack may be the only person who can help his old friend find peace. I think they need to address this issue in some fashion next season.

Justin said...

The "guy on the boat" in S2 is Max. He was killed off in 24: The Game, having been involved in the plot for the game too.

Not that he couldn't be connected in some way to Wilson.

Ivan said...

I'm pretty sure Wilson programmed the 24 Game...

Adam, nice job defending Tony in the AIG forum. I agree it was heroic (gutsy is really the word I would have used) of him to turn to the dark side.

TheJackSack said...

Thanks, Ivan. So, what was your overall take on the finale? Too much Taylor? Not enough CTU Kim?

Ivan said...

I liked the finale quite a lot, though there were some things I imagined would go down differently. And I do not buy the whole extracting the pathogen thing.

I loved how the First Gent pretty much told Taylor it was her fault that their son died and Olivia, Kanin, and Pierce were great.

As for Tony, I dig his motives for doing all the shit this season, but making Wilson the tenth character responsible for Michelle and Palmer's deaths was pretty lame.

TheJackSack said...


The first family stuff was well-written and acted. Some folks complain it detracted from the Jack v. Tony stuff, but it's clear that a part of rehabilitating this show was re-establishing a strong US president. It's no coincidence that David Palmer was president during the show's heyday.

As for Wilson being a new "mastermind" I think it was important in explaining Tony's motivations, which we both agree were solid dramatic choices based on your comment. If drudging up the Logan mishegos one more time was their best route, then so be it.

Spencer said...

Tony's still alive, in the world of 24 where the government and it's views on society are fucked up. They don't allow torture, but giving someone the death penalty is ok? Nah.

If the writers wanted us to think Tony was going to die, they would've had Jack shoot him in the head. The fact that that didn't happen is meant to at least keep his ultimate fate ambiguous.

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