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

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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).

About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), 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 online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charley Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.
  • 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.

  • Victor Lana

    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.

  • Sahar

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

  • Victor Lana

    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………… probably isn’t bad for the show’s budget either.

  • Victor Lana

    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.

  • Dr Dreadful

    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’.

  • Victor Lana

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

  • Victor Lana

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