Tuesday, May 22, 2007

24: Free Time? What's He Supposed to Do With Free Time?

Another 24 finale, another crossroads for Jack. He's not captured by anyone, he has no obligations, and he has nothing to look forward to, but all the same, he needs to take some time off to figure things out. Or maybe he just needs a vacation. Either way, when he busts in on Heller, shouting and pointing his gun, Heller somehow convinces him to leave Audrey alone – which he does, after a nice little goodbye, and then he stares out at the ocean with a look of anguish. There's something very off-kilter about the way the season ends, and I think it's this: Jack has nothing to do. It's not like the season four "striding off into the sunrise" ending, because he had a purpose then, to go underground. Now he has no idea what to do and nowhere to go, and that's scary. It's very un-Jack. Quick, let's get back to the Jack Nukem we know.

Reason #634 why you always listen to Jack Bauer: because if you don't, you could put someone's eye out. You would have thought that they would have learned by now. But they haven't, so CTU has to put Jack in custody so he doesn't ruin the Josh-for-component plan. That lasts about as long as you'd expect – roughly 20 minutes or so – before Buchanan breaks him out, but they're too late to save poor Doyle, who's blinded when the fake component explodes in his face during the trade. So, having failed at that, Jack and Buchanan go on to save Josh. It's clear from the start that Jack and Buchanan were practically made for each other, in terms of rogue operations. Buchanan flies the helicopter while Jack runs around the platform and confronts his father, and when the F-16s near the platform to blow it up on executive orders, Buchanan lets down the ladder so that Jack can make a spectacular leap to the helicopter while the platform explodes in a huge fireball behind him. See? Soul mates!

And then there's Chloe. She collapses at the end of the first hour, but when she appears in the clinic at the top of the second hour, with no ill effects, insisting that she's fine, that's when I'm all, "Oh, snap, she's pregnant." And she is. With parents like Chloe and Morris, that kid can't help but be messed up. Probably not as much as Jack and little Jennifer Dylan Cox, but it still wouldn't hurt for the O'Brian kid to join them in some sort of support group.

By the way, I haven't really given Peter MacNicol his due, but he was easily the best part of this season's Washington scenes. Tom Lennox vacillated back and forth between slimy Machiavellian dealmaker and principled Palmer loyalist, but in his hands, it wasn't a contradiction – they were two parts of a complex whole. Good on you, Mr. MacNicol, for singlehandedly making the Washington scenes bearable, and for not allowing me to make the Ghostbusters II joke I was dying to make all season.


Paul Levinson said...

Enjoyed the review - and you're right about MacNichol.