The final countdown on ’24’

Pat McMahon Contributor
Font Size:

Tonight marks the end of a television era: 24 airs its eighth season finale. The impact of the show on the country has been profound; in the way subjects on the show have been brought into the public spectrum and how Jack Bauer, the protagonist, has become an icon – the man that will do anything to stop evil. While many mourn the loss of Law and Order or Lost, 24 has had a greater impact on America in our post-9/11 era.

24 captured its audience with an extremely accessible plot line that has impacted – directly and indirectly – the United States over the past nine years. The most obvious is the use of torture. Bauer is often forced to use ghastly methods to locate the person, evidence, bomb, or whatever it is he’s looking for. The ‘ticking bomb scenario’ has entered political discussions as to what tactics are appropriate when presented with a dire situation. In addition, the show is responsible for revealing the intricacies behind the scenes of both government and law enforcement, that has helped (or hurt) how they are viewed by the general public. Finally, many credit the portrayal of Dennis Haysbert, who played the fictional President David Palmer, with helping with the election of President Obama. This was the first time that the concept of an African-American president was presented to such a large audience.

Jack Bauer, the stereotypical flawed hero, has never quite caught a break. He’s been tortured more times than anyone in Guantanamo Bay, his wife Teri was taken away from him in Season 1, his girlfriend Audrey had her mind broken by months of torture at the hands of the Chinese in season 6, and his lover Renee murdered in Season 8. And these are just some of the events that have plagued 24‘s hero. Not taken into account are the incompetent and corrupt government officials, numerous terrorists and villains, and the plots against America.

Its impact on the real world aside, 24 has earned a place in the hearts of fans and critics alike. The show has enjoyed solid ratings and numerous awards, including Emmy and Golden Globe honors over the past eight seasons. Season 8, while getting off to a slow start, has taken off over the past few episodes and appears poised for an exciting finale. Prior to the second half of this season, Jack was a stalwart for the law, committed to ameliorating the crisis’ endangering innocent people. The end of this season, however, portrays Jack going off the deep end, no longer bound by the law. He is acting out of grief of losing a loved one and has let nothing, and we mean NOTHING, come in his way. Thus the scene is set for tonight’s two-hour send-off and a final act that will take place at the United Nations, as Jack aims to bring people to justice (in his own way) for the crimes that they have committed. Tune in tonight at 8 pm on FOX to see the explosive finale.

Here’s the trailer for tonight’s final episode: