Ending With A Whimper

The last, two-hour episode of 24 aired last night, and with the episode the storied Death Pool also came to an end. I did pretty well — ending up tied for first — but it was a bit of a choke job, because I had a big lead that got frittered away as the characters on my team remained disgustingly healthy over the last few episodes. Unfortunately, the President’s daughter, the hardball political operative she consulted to find a contract killer for Jonas Hodges, and Kim Bauer and her husband all survived the last two hours of the day, too.

I thought 24 was decent this year, but it ended with a whimper, not a bang. It seems like the show has consciously tried to be a bit more sensitive. So, Jack Bauer, after being infected by some toxic gas, is comforted by an Imam. Agent Renee Walker (known to Death Pool participants as “Freckles”) decides to torture the ultimate bad guy, and we don’t even get to see it. The hardball political operative lets the President’s daughter live on, even though she is an obvious loose cannon who will spill her guts to the authorities at the first opportunity. Tony Almeida turns out to be both good and bad, sacrificing dozens of people’s lives for a chance at revenge on the ultimate guy who was responsible for the death of his wife and unborn son — and when he gets caught, he doesn’t even get the courtesy of a heroic death.

Part of the enormous appeal of 24, to me, is its promise (usually fulfilled) or unbridled mayhem. When a show like that gets reflective, it starts to lose its moorings. I don’t mind Jack Bauer having a crisis of conscience now and then, or even seeking solace from a Muslim cleric — but I want him to promptly follow that up with a few dead bodies.

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