Monday, May 17, 2010

Jack Bauer Is COMING TO GET YOU! The Penultimate Episode of TWENTY FOUR (24!)~!


Note: The following rant was written by a man in a state of gravitas-induced adrenaline-overload. Read at your own peril.

- You know, there's a reason why, back in December, I named 24 as my #1 show of the decade. There's a reason why, when all is said and done, I will be incredibly sad that 24 is off the air. There's a reason that, despite an uneven final season, 24 continues to be *the* must-watch show on television ...


Because, holy Soulpatch-on-a-Stick, this episode of 24 BROUGHT THE PAIN and yes, KICKED MY ASS SEVEN WAYS TO SUNDAY. This truly was an hour of power, Bauer-style.

I think the moment that finally turned this season around was when Cole told Chloe the other week that "there were no good guys anymore." The President, Jack ... all of them were operating in a morally grey area, moving further and further away from the side of the angels. This to me was a key moment because it allowed the show to finally drop any pretense that Jack was doing what was "right," in trying to expose the Russians' involvement in the attempted attack on NYC. Jack isn't a "good guy" anymore. He's a psycho hellbent on revenge. We've all come to terms with that, so ... now we can have some fun with it, and see just how far he'll go.

And boy, did he go all-out INSANE in this one. But man, it made for one hell of an entertaining romp. Jack strapping on a metal assault suit, complete with Iron Man-style face mask, and essentially taking an entire NYC commuter tunnel hostage in order to hijack Logan's car ... well, holy crap - it was one of the most flat-out awesome scenes in 24 history. Jack has always been a sort of proto-Batman, and this jaw-dropping, gravitas-doused scene took that comparison to its logical extremes. Jack became a full-on urban vigilante. And man, I think even the Punisher would be quaking in his boots if he had run into the armored-up Jack attack in full-blown rage mode. The combination of Jack's single-minded assault and Logan's petrified squeels of terror mixed together to create a potent stew of awesome sauce. I mean, DAMN. What a sequence. The follow-up interrogation of the snivelling Logan was similarly classic. Logan was rightfully petrified of Jack, and man, it's always a pleasure to see those two interact.

Speaking of Logan, how hilariously crazy were his scenes with the President?! God, that man is so snake-like it's scary. I was cracking up as he held Taylor in the palm of his serpentine hand - he'd already convinced her to put the hit out on Jack and to install his man as head of CTU - now he was getting her to supress the press and make sure that Dana Walsh's evidence of the conspiracy never sees the light of day. As frustrating as it's been to see Taylor go back and forth so much on Logan, seeing her now firmly haven fallen into the abyss, with seemingly no way out, is proving pretty darn entertaining. I blame lack of sleep for her descent down the slippery slope of moral corruption. I mean, it can't be easy making rational choices on zero hours of zzz's, right?

The one big sin this episode committed? They teased us with a line of dialogue from Chloe that had me jumping out of my seat in an excited state of frenzy. As Chloe explained that "there was one" off-the-grid agent who could help her out in her time of need, the 24 faithful couldn't help but jump to various conclusions as to this mystery man's identity. Could it be - dare we dream? - the Soulpatched one, Tony Almeida? Back from the darkside and ready for one last shot at redemption? Or, could it be Aaron Pierce, Agent of Awesome, 24's true moral compass and the one man possessing of near-equal amounts of gravitas as compared to Jack himself? As the clock ticked toward commercial, my brother and I pumped our fists in anticipation - finally, 24 would come full-circle in its final hours, and reintroduce a fan favorite character to add that one last exclamation point to an already off-the-charts episode. But, it was not meant to be. The agent of which Chloe spoke was simply Cole, Freddie Prinze Jr, who was locked up in a CTU holding cell. Sure, it made sense in the context of this season's plotlines, but still ... why tease us with such a dramatic, cut-to-commercial cliffhanger, if the payoff wasn't suitably huge? I don't really see how an Aaron Pierce can be introduced at this point, but ... who cares! Make it happen, 24 - all bets are off at this point. Unite the show's surviving heroes for one last stand against the world, dammit!

That said, taken on its own terms, this was still one incredibly badass episode of 24. It stands to reason that this monster of an episode should fall on the same day that many of the networks unveilled their new Fall TV lineups. Because, sure, there are some interesting new shows on the horizon, but what series will rise up to replace 24 in our hearts and minds, I ask you? The answer, of course, is none! No other show would have the balls to have a half-crazed psycho-sadist on a tear in an NYC tunnel, decked-out in a metal assault suit with nothing on his mind but sweet, unholy vengeance. 24 at its best is in a league of its own - it's pulp-fiction espionage-action at its hardcore best. And after a rocky season, I'm happy to say that it looks like we're in store for one hell of a finale. We're on the edge, on the precipice, staring out into the abyss, baby. The end is nigh. But who would you want to usher you into a violent, flaming apocalypse if not Jack by-god Bauer? Because Jack - it is written - shall bring the pain. Upload it to your PDA, read it back in real-time, and take that to the bank.

My Grade: A

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