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The Return of Jack Bauer

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Jack Bauer’s back, baby! In a cold, cruel world, one man stands up to fight the good fight, to rid the world of terrorists, and to live out another one of the longest day’s of his life…

Jack Bauer!

FOX got the series off to what has become it’s standard method, two nights in a row, two hours a night. And, sure, it’s exciting, but it may have seen better days too. Every season 24 ends with some incredibly fantastic ending, something that makes me want to know what happens next. But, I never really find that out. Sure, they’ve started to put out little shorts with the DVD sets, but that doesn’t really cover it. The prime example of this is the end of season two: David Palmer is attacked with some sort of virus at a rally and goes down. Is he dead? Is he alive? What was the virus? What’s going on? The series picks up two years later and it turns out that there’s no problem at all, he’s just fine, his hand is a little disfigured but that’s it. Huge letdown.

And what about last season? Jack is taken to China. What happens there? What was the torture like? Who knows, he’s back within five minutes of the beginning of season six. Some would argue that it’s okay, because clearly what happened to Jack was terrible. Look at his hand, it’s scarred (just like David Palmer, surely they could’ve chosen some other part of his anatomy), and his hair is long, and he refuses to speak. He’s clearly been affected mentally by this horrible turn of events. He should be affected mentally, it should be a huge problem, and something really, really difficult to come back from. He’s practically catatonic at the beginning of the episode. 

But by the end of the first hour, Jack’s completely back and totally fine. He’s walking, talking, running, yelling, and doing all of those cool Jack Bauer things we want him to do. What happened? Can we really forget that quickly about his being held captive for such a long time? This worries me immensely as it harkens back to the weakest of the 24 seasons, number three, in which we are introduced to a Jack Bauer with a heroin problem that magically disappears a few hours in. In short, it’s problematic.

Of course, I’ll suspend disbelief. The show has good bits too. I’m thrilled to see that the President is at the White House and not, somehow, back in Los Angeles so that there can be another attempted assassination of a President. There may be an assassination attempt, and there’s almost certainly a mole in the White House, but at least he’s not in L.A. for the episode. 

So, with a certain amount of trepidation and excitement I’ve reentered the world of Jack Bauer. 

I just wish that after every time he did something ridiculously over the top he’d look at the camera and really intensely say, “Jack Bauer!” That would make the show truly fantastic. 

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • 24 is a fiction and we can never forget it. In fiction Odysseus can swim the seas and fight sea monsters. Anything is possible and we suspend our natural disbelief.

    With that said, Jack Bauer is an iconic figure much like these other fictional heroes. He is more John McCLane (Die Hard) than Superman. He bleeds, suffers, and makes mistakes. But when the chips are down, you want Jack Bauer in the mix.

    Over six seasons we’ve seen Jack take a great deal. Some of it is over the top, but much is in keeping with his character history. His training included withstanding all sorts of pain and torture. Thus, those 20 months in China are not necessarily unbelievable.