Home / Film / Season 8 of 24: The Unbearable Darkness of Being Jack Bauer

Season 8 of 24: The Unbearable Darkness of Being Jack Bauer

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

If you have been faithfully watching 24 since the very beginning, in those crazy and scary days of uncertainty after 9/11, you probably have been caught up in the increasingly arduous and uncertain life of Jack Bauer (played by Keifer Sutherland). As we have been given windows into eight days in that life, we have seen Jack unravel, spiral to the depths of despair, and yet always rebound in sheer perseverance and determination to save the day (and the people he is sworn to protect) against all obstacles.

Watching episode 18 of season 8, I (like many of the rest of you I am sure) was temporarily lulled into a false sense of happiness for Jack. He tells CTU and the world that “It is over,” and he takes former FBI Agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) by the hand and makes his way back to the life he hopes to construct with her. They go to his apartment and make love, and after all this time we are happy to see Jack attain some human connection, one that he so desperately needs.

Alas, this is not to be for more than a few fleeting moments. While we suspect Jack and Renee are thinking of a life together, a sniper named Pavel is sitting in a window across the street with other plans. He spotted Renee at the crime scene where President Hassan had been murdered, and the one surviving henchman Samir would have too much information, so Pavel gives him a lethal dose of something. In keeping with the infuriating 24 tradition, no one sees him and he gets away, but Renee notices him, causing his antennae pop-up.

We learn in this episode that the Russians are behind the whole plot, or at least Russian delegate Novakovich at the U.N., when Pavel calls him just as he happens to be going into a conference with US President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones). Obviously, the plot thickens as Pavel waits to take out Renee and Jack Bauer as well.

Meanwhile, back at the U.N. President Taylor meets with assassinated President Hassan’s widow Dalia, and she presents a plan to keep the IRK in the peace process by getting the IRK government to install her as its provisionary leader. While at first taken back by the offer, Dalia recognizes the importance of her husband’s work (and his legacy). Dalia has the inner fortitude to try this (against her daughter’s wishes), and she accepts Taylor’s offer. Needless to say when Novakovich finds out about this, he is not pleased and says the Russians are pulling out of the conference.

This sets the stage for the return of one of 24’s most slitheringly delicious villains, former President Charles Logan (played with icky delight by Gregory Itzen). This most Shakespearean moment is a dramatic delight as the disgraced, but pardoned, ex-President meets face-to-face with the current one. President Taylor knows she has to deal with Chucky, but she doubts he will be her friend to the end.

Back at CTU, Brian (No Neck) Hastings has been given a pink slip. He, of course, recruited Dana Walsh (now a known terrorist) and mishandled other events of the day, so Hastings is relieved of his duties and our girl Chloe O’Brian gets elevated to temporary head of the agency. No, this is not like a mistake or any typo; Chloe has finally received the recognition she richly deserves. Chalk one up for the good guys (and gals).

Hastings says “Bye-bye” to the troops and then slinks off, presumably to return to Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and perhaps to eventually have an operation to restore his neck. Chloe, flustered by being given authority, has to deal with the immediate crisis of Samir dying in CTU Medical (the list is endless of people who died there, including Tony Almeida who then came back to life, but that’s another story).

Once Samir kicks the bucket and Chloe understands that someone injected him with something a lot worse than steroids, who is she going to call? Since The Ghostbusters are not available, she calls her best bud Jack Bauer. This is exactly what Chloe would always do, but she picks the worst possible time.

Jack and Renee have finished making whoopee, and they lay in a passionate embrace briefly. Thoughts are no doubt of good things to come for them as a couple, reestablishing the domesticity Jack lost long ago but has always wanted. Jack has to get up and make some coffee (we have been waiting seven seasons to see Jack ingest something since season 1). Renee runs her hand gently along the scars on his back, knowing she can’t erase his pain but perhaps can create a new happiness for him.

Sniper Pavel sees Jack emerge from the love den, but he doesn’t shoot him because Renee is his main target. The phone rings and, though Jack tells her not to answer, Renee does and talks to Chloe. When Renee learns of Samir’s death, she remembers the guy she saw at the crime scene and puts two and two sadly together. As she runs out of the room to tell Jack, Pavel shoots her and then tries to get Jack but fails. Big mistake, Pavel!

Jack rushes Renee to the ER in a taxi, as Pavel slithers back into a hole somewhere to await instructions. The taxi driver makes a wild rush to the hospital, and Jack carries Renee in and the doctors push her into the OR. Jack gets yet another call from Chloe, and she updates him on all that has happened. Jack is trying to keep it together, hoping that all will go well, but the doctors come out with grim faces and one tells him Renee is gone.

At this point, dear readers, we have seen Jack plummet from a hopeful pinnacle to a nadir of frustration and anger. He goes into the OR and stares at Renee’s lifeless body. As he stands there helplessly, we are with him, thinking that even the trials and tribulations of the Biblical Job weren’t this bad. Jack walks over and gives Renee one final kiss, and we know from this that there is going to be hell to pay and Jack is taking no prisoners.

It is safe to say that Jack Bauer is the most long-suffering dramatic character in TV history. Some may think of Andy Sipowciz (Dennis Franz) from NYPD Blue, but even he had a chance for more happiness. Jack Bauer has lost so many people, but during the course of it all he has never lost his desire to do what is right, no matter what the personal cost. In doing so he has set himself up to be more than damaged and, as Secretary of State Heller (father of his now comatose former lover Audrey) once told him, to be a man who is “cursed” and that everything he loves seems to crumble in his path.

We don’t know for sure what will happen in the last six episodes, but I recall that the most dangerous Jack Bauer is the one who thinks he has nothing to lose. I remember the scene from the last episode of season 1, when Nina Meyers lied to him about his daughter Kim being dead, and Jack went on an explosive tear and single-handedly killed Victor Drazen, his son, and all their men.

Judging from next week’s preview, Jack is ready to do whatever it takes to get justice. Since he seems to not be able to find happiness, it may be the only way he can make some kind of peace for himself. In doing so, he may descend to even darker depths, but in the end the rest of the world will be a safer place, even though Jack Bauer will continue suffering, probably for the rest of his life.

Until next time, Klaatu Barada Nikto!

Powered by

About Victor Lana

Victor Lana's stories, articles, and poems have been published in literary magazines and online. His books 'A Death in Prague' (2002), 'Move' (2003), 'The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories' (2005), and 'Like a Passing Shadow' (2009) are available in print, online, and as e-books. His latest books 'If the Fates Allow: New York Christmas Stories,' 'Garden of Ghosts,' and 'Flashes in the Pan' are available exclusively on Amazon. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated on writing mostly fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as a faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with 'Blogcritics Magazine' since July 2005 and has written well over 500 articles; previously co-head sports editor, he now is a Culture and Society editor. Having traveled extensively, Victor has visited six continents and intends to get to Antarctica someday where he figures a few ideas for new stories await him.
  • Brock

    Living in Ireland, just caught this episode online and in a wee bit of shock about it all. No one character has been through so much in TV land and though we knew the season had 6 or more to play, we maybe glimpsed a bit of hope for Jack and Renee. To see it ripped away like this broke my spirit just watching it, I don’t know if the human soul could actually take that much without falling to pieces. We know the end of 24 TV is coming to an end soon and while I will shed a tear for it’s departure, it might leave me a bit of hope that Jack might finally be left be. The tagline for season 7 was priceless, “On the seventh day, he will not rest”, maybe he will after the 8th.
    I know the movie is planned, but as a fan of the show and of Jack, I’m just not sure about it all.

  • Brock, what I hear as of now is that Jack will be back in the film. It also seems that the movie will be filmed on location in Prague.

    We’ll have to see what the last six hours bring, but I have a feeling Logan has more tricks up his sleeve and this show will go out with a bang.

  • Victor, great recap! But HORRIBLE plot. I haven’t started watching this season of 24 yet, and now I think I won’t 😉

  • Well, Sahar, I have to say that it seems that sometimes this season that they’ve been making it up as they go along, especially with the Dana Walsh storyline.

    There have been some good moments too, so it’s not the worst season but far from the best.

  • JohnG

    Victor, have we ever seen a silent clock, two weeks in a row? Was this a first?

  • Deidre

    Victor, I’m new to this site but wanted to say what a talented writer you are (based on your 24 recap.) I am a big fan of Jack Bauer and wasn’t aware that there was a movie in the works. Cool!!! Anyway, I was surprised to see back-to-back deaths of two very important characters, but I guess that’s what it takes to keep Jack in that constant state of pain, frustration, and the relentless pursuit of justice…………..it probably isn’t bad for the show’s budget either.

  • Yes, I do believe this is a first (back to back episodes ending with the silent clock).

    Michael, I have argued that 24 should drop the “real time” gimmick because I think it has run its course. Needless to say, this is the last season so it doesn’t matter anymore, and I doubt it will be employed in the film.

  • Last I heard, the plan was for the first half of the film was to be shot conventionally and then the last hour would run in ‘real time’.

  • That sounds like it could work, Dr. D. Thanks.

  • Author’s note: This was episode 17 of the season. I apologize for the error.