About two weeks ago, 24: Live Another Day decided to undercut all the work they’ve accomplished this season in the final ten minutes of the episode by having a nuclear sub launch torpedos and sink a Chinese carrier. That episode was already in danger of toppling over as the story was shifting gears, but this moment just took any compelling, realistic notion of stakes and threw them out the window.
It was already bad enough that the show burned through Michelle Fairley’s excellent guest spot as the terrorist widow, Margot Al-Harazi. Fairley was an excellent villain and she was grossly underused here. When Jack inexplicably tossed her out a window, I was sure there was a deeper reason that would be revealed as there were still quite a few episodes left to go. Instead, 24 told us this season was really about the “Override Device,” a technological MacGuffin that would allow anyone access behind any government’s military firewalls. This also created a very shaky connection between Mouth Mustache and Cheng Zi, the Chinese villain that just pops up and the show relies on Chole to tell us who he is.
So Zi manages to create an international situation that looks to be resolved with a few simple phone calls. Let’s not even dwell on the fact that this show is not going to end in a nuclear holocaust. So Jack sets out to save the day in a violent sequence that loosk cribbed from a first person shooter video game off of Sega Dreamcast. 24 also doles out a few major character deaths. Audrey’s death is the most insulting and confusing, as a car just practically drives up and shoots here while the park is crawling with agents. Better is Jack’s Tarantino takedown of Zi, complete with a samauri sword.
Still, 24: Live Another Day keeps its options open, wrapping up with Jack pulling a “Jesus” by giving himself up to the Russians in exchange for Chloe’s freedom. I think the only moment in the finale that felt real was William Devane’s President Heller watching his daughter’s body being loaded onto Air Force One. He remarks about his deteriorating condition that will leave him soon with no recollection of even having a daughter. It’s a moment that illuminates the weird problems with the season, that introduced interesting character elements that never really affect anything in a narrative sense, ie the President’s Alzheimer’s, Margot’s daughter, etc.
24: Live Another Day felt like it was building to something big. Instead, it ended up being exactly what we should have expected: just another season of the same old 24.