**FINALE SPOILER ALERT**
If you loathe the idea of hearing even the slightest bit of info regarding the 24 series finale, skip the next paragraph.
About a month and a half ago, I mused in a review that Jack and Chloe were each other's only match. Meaning really, out of all the characters on the show, I can only tolerate and respect dissent toward either character if it's the other character dishing it out. Of course, I had no idea they would find themselves at odds with each other the past couple weeks. And I surely would never have imagined the series finale would consist of an epic mano-a-mano showdown between the two friends and terrorist-busting machines. But according to Entertainment Weekly, executive producer Howard Gordon reveals just that, saying, "It's about as hairy a confrontation as you can possibly imagine." Uh, yeah. Team Jack: Jack Bauer, Jim Ricker (Michael Madsen) and Cole Ortiz. Team Chloe: interim CTU director Chloe O'Brian, President Allison Taylor and the entire U.S. government. Choose wisely.
Going into tonight's hour knowing this tidbit, you would expect the situation to get uglier. Indeed it did.
What an unorthodox way to wrap up the series. Instead of Jack pursuing terrorists and traitors in the final hours, everyone's chasing Jack in hopes that he doesn't blow an international peace agreement. Over the past few weeks we've been able to pick apart and analyze the president's decision to cover up the Russians' involvement with the day's terrorist acts in exchange for their cooperation in the peace deal with the Islamic Republic of Kamistan. Shady, backdoor politicking, sure, but the president, under the influence of the slithery ex-president Charles Logan, insists it's all for the greater good. With much of the focus on that, we haven't even bothered to question Jack's deliberate insubordination. Why should we? After all, it's Jack. How often is he wrong? The only thing is... Chloe is unsure about his state of mind after Renee's murder. So while we may not agree with her, we shouldn't rule out vengeance as the number one motivator for Jack to seek the truth.
The final minute or so of last night's hour pretty much confirmed suspicions. After Jack and Cole recover Dana Walsh from the private security firm, they proceed to track down the supposed evidence she has damning the Russians. She leads them to a bank, where a private security box holds the key to blow the lid off the president's agenda. Unfortunately for Cole, after the lid on the box is opened, it triggers and blows up a small explosive device, rendering him unconscious. Dana splurges on the box full of goodies (including the evidence and a silencer handgun), splits and calls the police on Jack, who's patiently waiting in the lobby, which ultimately leads to an inevitable one-on-one duel. I got the feeling once Jack chased her into the warehouse, Dana's minutes were numbered. But with Jack playing it by the book so often this season, I can honestly say I was not expecting what unfolded. Out of ammo and out of options, Dana surrenders the evidence and asks Jack what else she can do. Jack, pointing a gun at her cryptically replies, "Nothing... nothing." He fires. She hits the ground. He fires again.
Quite shocking. Immediately, I was met with mixed emotions, first trying to remember if Jack ever executed a prisoner after extracting from him or her whatever he needed. I couldn't recall such a moment, but correct me if I'm wrong. Yes, it's Dana and she deserved it. However now, we call into question his motives. Up until this point, I ignored the warnings from other characters saying Jack's actions were all about revenge. Now, it's pretty difficult to dispute. Even if he ultimately has good intentions in uncovering the truth (which I think most viewers believe), him coldly killing Dana does make him appear even more unstable. From a mere storytelling standpoint, it's a great move because, like I mention above, we've been focused in on the president's side of the story. Now, we see Jack's side. We weigh the pros and cons and understand this isn't a simple right-or-wrong, black-and-white decision on either side. Instead, we are left to determine how much gray area Jack and President Taylor are covering in their quest to achieve the moral high ground.
And while we're on the subject of the president, this hour wasn't without her playing Logan's seemingly endless game of do-whatever-it-takes-to-hide-the-truth. To help locate Jack, the president allows Logan to enlist his aide, Jason Piller, as head of the operation at CTU. Chloe is still acting director, but she's now more of a figurehead. (Gotta love those annoyed glares and responses directed at Piller when he breaks the news.) Once Piller has a bead on Jack, he relays the information to the Russians, who will then attempt to take him down.
Just one last note: Did you notice the scene where Logan was on the phone with the president while making his pitch for Piller to go to CTU? After she agrees, she cuts the call short and hangs up on him mid-sentence. Apparently not wanting to look silly in front of Piller, he keeps talking for a couple seconds before finally "ending" the conversation. It's a cool little detail that might mean something down the line. Or maybe it's just a character quirk. Either way, after seeing it I now wish the show's writers would've incorporated more of that. 24 was never as much about the characters as a show like Lost, mainly because each episode has to move in real time and doesn't have the luxury of dwelling on the finer points of characters' backgrounds. But those little things that they do have time to incorporate, like last night's funny-but-insightful phone call, leaves me wanting more from the characters—a good thing—instead of the idea that they're simply a vehicle moving along the bigger story.