24 Live Another Day wrapped up Monday night. It was a pretty good season in my view — I also happily ended up tied for first in our 24 Death Pool at work — and now the question is whether Jack Bauer will be back for another season.
(Spoiler alert!) The writers and producers of 24 have a love-hate relationship with Jack Bauer. They love to let him kill bad guys, but they put him through hell. Over the years, Jack has lost countless family members, friends, romantic interests, and supporters to death or estrangement. At one point in the finale, Chloe O’Brian aptly remarks that she’s just about the last friend Jack has. This season continued that trend — Jack’s former lover, Audrey, is killed by an assassin and her father, President Heller, one of the few people in the U.S. government who doesn’t view Jack as a rogue quasi-terrorist, has rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s and will soon forget all about him. After Jack hears about Audrey, he pulls out a revolver and briefly considers suicide; fortunately, he decides instead to use it to kill dozens of bad guys before beheading this year’s uber-villain.
This year’s season shows that 24 still has legs. The ratings have been solid if not spectacular, and the plot line was action-packed and appropriately pushed the envelope on the plot twist believability scale without venturing into the absurdly incredible developments of past seasons, when cougars roamed the wilds of southern California and a nuclear bomb detonated over the Mojave Desert. Chloe continued to explore new technological frontiers, this year being able to turn a small satellite dish antenna into a device that could detect the heat signatures of every human on a ship, display them in a nifty color graphic, and direct Jack on where and when to shoot them. True 24 fans watch the show as much to chuckle at Chloe’s technological awesomeness as to watch Jack knock out, hoodwink, and cold-bloodedly murder scores of terrorists and henchmen.
The season’s storyline ended well-positioned for another season, if the network and creative team want to do it. Jack trades himself to the Russians to free Chloe and ends up in a helicopter, bound for Moscow and the gentle ministrations of Russians who was revenge for Jack’s past actions. A new season of the show therefore could go just about anywhere. If they make it, I’ll watch it.