It was a bad day for a lot of people: Jack Bauer comes out of hiding and everyone is after him, London was hit by drone attacks and the President of the United States nearly gave his life to try and stop them. CIA Agent Kate Morgan learned that her deceased husband wasn’t a traitor, but was set up by her boss. Chloe found out that her super hacker boyfriend wasn’t so altruistic. The U.S. ended up on the brink of war with China, and yet things still manage to get worse.
The season finale of 24: Live Another Day brought about a rousing conclusion to the 12-episode show. Some ended the day in safety. Others, well, they didn’t make it to morning.
Cheng Zhi has Audrey trapped on a park bench. If she moves, his sniper will kill her. Still, Audrey is compelled to jump up and save her friend, who lies on the ground bleeding. The sniper takes out her friend. Meanwhile, Jack is rummaging through Anatol Stolnavich’s office with Mark and Kate. He finds a cellphone and uses the dead man’s fingerprint to unlock it and spy on some emails.
The situation is precarious. If they make a move on Cheng, the sniper will hit Audrey. Cheng is using Jack’s ex-girlfriend as bait, so they must take a different approach. Jack will go after Cheng, and Kate will go after the sniper.
Thanks to Cheng’s actions, China is about to unleash an attack on the U.S. They’re heading towards Okinawa and have ordered the ascent of nuclear head subs. President Heller raises the alert on subs and silos.
Chloe is bloody and bruised as she wanders down a dark road. A couple stops and she uses their phone to call Jack. She is apologetic. “Adrian lied to me,” she says. “The only thing I did wrong was to believe him.” Jack agrees to pick up Chloe.
President Heller is trying to avert war, but President Wei is insistent that they have to respond to an attack that appears to have come from the U.S. “Our military must respond,” Wei says. Blaming Cheng does nothing to help Heller, as the Chinese insist that the villain was killed ages ago. President Heller takes a last resort step. “Once your forces cross the 12-mile limit outside of Okinawa,” he says, “we will fight.” Cheng has arrived at a port and is talking to the captain to try and get the heck out of the U.K. Jack picks up Chloe, who fills him in on the ordeal with Adrian Cross. Chloe feels remorse for her relationship with Cross, who used her because she knew how to make the device. Now, she must accept responsibility for all the damage that has caused. This, she says, is her way of making amends. Jack explains that they have to work without the CIA in order to keep Audrey safe. With some help from Belcheck and Chloe, he can make it through the mission.
Kate is talking Audrey through the ordeal. She asks Audrey to make a sudden move. The sniper shoots and Kate figures out where he’s located. She tells Kate to run behind the tree as soon as she hears gunfire. Kate and her team are ready to take action.
Chloe guides Jack and Belcheck through the maze of the docks. They shoot one guard after the next as they quickly cut around corners and duck behind containers. Inside, Cheng has figured out that someone is watching them, and Chloe figures out that Cheng is watching them, too. She calls Kate and tells her to get Audrey immediately. Cheng orders Audrey’s death. Kate and her team move in and start shooting. They hit the sniper. She calls Eric at the office and tells him to send a team to the docks. Cheng pulls out a gun to demand that they leave now. Kate leads Audrey and the crew out of the park, but a second shooter appears. Several people are shot, including Audrey. She falls back, sheds a tear and slowly loses consciousness. Kate tries to revive her, but it’s no use. Audrey is dead.
The President, Audrey’s father, is preparing for war when his people quietly walk out of the room and whisper. We cannot hear what is discussed, but it’s obviously about Audrey. Kate calls Jack, tears in her voice, and tells him that Audrey was killed.
Jack is stunned. His face is caught somewhere between sadness, anger and madness. He pulls out a small gun and it looks like he might turn it on himself, but he quickly put is away. Jack picks up the big gun and lets loose. Bullets are flying, but that’s not all. He throws a butcher knife. He isn’t protecting himself at this point, his killing everyone in his way. It’s the most intense, manically vengeful Jack Bauer we’ve seen this season. Jack stabs a guard and he and Cheng engage in hand-to-hand combat. Jack bends Cheng’s arm back to the point where we can hear the snap. He knees his nemesis in the face. It’s brutal.
This all might be too little, too late. The Chinese have gotten too close to Okinawa. The President gives the go ahead to fight. That, of course, is when Jack Bauer pops up on the screen with Cheng. They use facial recognition to help identify him. Jack notices a samurai-style sword behind him. He grabs the sword and presses it up against Cheng’s neck before commanding him to say his name. Between the face and voice recognition technology, they were able to confirm Cheng’s identity. War with China could now be averted. Jack isn’t done with Cheng, though. He growls, “This is for Audrey, you son of a bitch!” and beheads him.
President Wei will tell his ships to retreat, leaving China and the U.S. to discuss reparations. President Heller is fine with this. War will not happen. They should rejoice, but the President gets news that his daughter is dead and collapses.
Jack and Belchek return to the office where Chloe was stationed. She’s gone and there are drops of blood on the floor. Jack gets a phone call, and his side of the conversation is brief: “What? Where? Understood.”
In the final minutes of 24, the show jumps ahead 12 hours, rounding out the day for a season that’s only 12 episodes long. Over at the CIA office, Eric tells Kate that Audrey’s death wasn’t her fault. Kate understands that, but she’s done. She leaves her badge and her gun on her desk.
Mark Boudreau, whose petty jealousy and complete incompetence ultimately led to his wife’s death, is crying as he awaits transportation back to the States. President Heller stands with Prime Minister Davies as Audrey’s casket is carried onto Air Force One. The Prime Minster offers his condolences and asks how he can help. President Heller says that nothing can be done. He mentions that right before they left for the U.K., he stared at a photo of a woman on his desk. He knew her, but couldn’t think of her name. It was Audrey. “I won’t remember anything that happens today,” says the President. “I won’t remember anything that happens. Period. I won’t remember that I had a daughter that died in such a horrible fashion.”
Outside of London, a helicopter lands and an SUV pulls into the lot. Jack and Belcheck emerge from the car. They are surrounded by people with guns. “Are you sure you want to do this?” Belcheck asks. Jack is positive that he’s making the right choice.
Chloe is pulled out of the helicopter. Jack insists that she walk first. We’ve seen this many times on 24, the people-swap, and yet it’s always a tenuous scene. When Jack and Chloe meet in the center, they clutch hands. Jack asks her to check in on his family. Jack reaches the other side. He tells the man, “I’ve taken you at your word.” These guys must make good on their promise to leave Chloe and Jack’s family unharmed. “We just want you, Mr. Bauer,” the man responds. “That’s all we ever wanted.” Jack gets into the helicopter and they take off. The hero of 24 will now be facing punishment in Russia.
Overall, it was a satisfying end to a relatively short season. Sure, there were flaws. Like, why on earth would CIA agents assume that there is just one sniper? Jack’s response to Audrey’s death was gripping and President Heller’s closing words to Prime Minister Davies were perhaps the saddest uttered on television in recent memory. And that grand finale, when Jack and Chloe clutch hands at the trade-off, is gold. It’s not giving into any sort of romantic tension between the two, but it’s a gesture that acknowledges how close Jack and Chloe are and how much they rely on each other.