The Unreal Life: “Why Eight is Enough” (and Why Jack Bauer Deserved a Much Better Finale)


So I drew this before I watched last night’s series finale, but as it turns out, theoretically this could be possibly given what happened last night. If he wasn’t going to die, the man certainly has earned a vacation.

I’m not going to do a formal review of the episode, but I do want to talk about it briefly, so join me after the jump if you want to discuss perhaps one of the weakest series finales I’ve ever seen.

24’s finale suffered from two main problems somewhat beyond its control. First, this season wasn’t originally set up to be the last one, and it seemed possible Jack would be back for another year. There was only word mid-season that this would be Jack’s last hurrah on TV, so they were forced to cobble together some sort of arc that was a suitable send off for him. But is it? No, not really.

The other problem is that the 24 movie is happening. That may be a good thing to some of you, but for the show’s sake, I think it hurts it. 24 needed a truly epic TV series finale, and because the need to keep things moving for a later film, Jack didn’t get the end he deserved. He needed an entire season specifically engineering to build up to a sendoff, not just some two hour movie.

I’ve imagined the season finale of 24 since I started watching it years ago. Jack always had to die. There would be some impossible choice that would require Jack to make the ultimate sacrifice for his family, his friends, the president or millions of innocent lives, and for once he wouldn’t be able to get out of it. He would at long last be the martyr he should have been a hundred times over for his country.

But no, this last episode had nothing like that, but really, this entire arc didn’t lead Jack to a position where that kind of ending would have made sense. What, he shoots the Russian president and gets gunned down by a tac team? Chloe was right, starting a war wasn’t in his constitution and these entire last few episodes, though awesome in parts, have made Jack very un-Jack-like, willing to destroy nations to get revenge for one woman.

Jack had very little to do during his own series finale, which was the most disappointing part of it all. He kidnapped Pillar, hung out in a building, almost killed Logan and/or Subarov, but changed his mind and spent the rest of the episode in a gurney after forcing Chloe to shoot him. That’s how we want Jack’s last hour to be? With him shot in the shoulder and strapped to a gurney, his last act of defiance biting some douchebag’s ear off? I mean it’s one thing when he’s trying to escape capture or something, but that was just animalistic.

Worse yet, nothing he had been doing for half this season made a difference to the end result of the peace treaty. I guess it was his plea that really got to the president, but ultimately it was her decision that unraveled the peace process and got the truth out there. Not Jack’s video files and digital recordings, just her deciding to come clean based on moral grounds. So everything he had been doing the past few episodes was actually pretty pointless, though I guess it did prod President Taylor in the right direction.

This would have been pretty weak for a series finale, with Jack killing no bad guys and spending half of the two hours on his back. This had better be one hell of a movie to make up for a lackluster finale that Jack Bauer didn’t deserve.

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  1. A sson as I saw jack setting up the rifle I thought to myself “YYYEEEEEAAAAAHHHH!” but I knew he couldnt just ace a foreign leader because he wants revenge.

    So yeah, it sucked, but meh, this whole season was pretty weak. The worst part about last night? Freddie Prinze Jr lived.

    Oh and I plan on opening every phone call I have now with “I have a 5.56mm rifle aimed at your head right now.” That shit was awesome.

  2. Just a Movie? I expect them to franchise this into 3 or 4 movies with each one grossing several times the $$ that the whole series produced since the first episode of the first season. Just like Sex & The City, 24 has a built in fan base who are loyal and who so far haven’t had to pony up one cent for their show. Now the producers and such get to side step the middleman (the commercial advertisers) and collect $$ from their fans directly. Killing Jack Bauer might satisfy some dramatic need for closure but it would essentially kill Keifers biggest payday ever.

  3. Better ending:

    Whole show runs as per “normal” episode; seems like a set-up for season cliffhanger.

    [final ten minuites, season/series climax]

    Jack is doing something mundane. Dunno, standing at a curb at an airport next to his luggage, looking at his ticket. In the background, a cab pulls up and a woman and her ten year old daughter get out and head into the airport.

    Two men bump into Jack, tasering him and wrapping a cloth over his mouth as they stuff him into the cab. It drives away as two or three people begin to shout/react.

    [cut scene]

    Jack wakes up in a nightmare-looking location, walls & tables displaying lots of medical-looking instrumentation. Bright lights, fuzzy, strapped tight, naked & inverted to an inclined table, two or three men we’ve never seen before, all normal-looking all-American types. One, very friendly, says “Well, Jack. We’ve been wanting to ask you some questions. Fortunately, for us, we have all the uninterrupted quality time we will ever need.”

    [cut scene]

    Scary-looking high-level Agent approaches the President, in the Oval Office. “We’ve confirmed it. Jack’s been compromised.”

    [insert/overlay scene of Special Ops team on the move]

    President: “I assume you’re sure?”

    [insert/overlay scene of agent setting booby trap]

    “Beyond all doubt.”

    [insert/overlay scene of random agent sighting a rifle]

    President: “We’ll need to invoke contingencies.”

    [insert/overlay another scene, as above]

    “It’s already done, sir.”

    [insert/overlay another scene, as above]

    *sigh* “Just how bad is it?”

    [insert/overlay another scene, as above]

    “Hard to tell. Not as many as the Plame Incident, but a few of the contacts are more irreplacable.”

    [insert/overlay another scene, as above]

    “Damn.” *pause* “Is he daed?”

    [insert/overlay another scene, as above]

    Agent *pause*: “I hope so, sir.”

    [insert/overlay another scene, as above]


    [several of the setup scenes start to play out; a slew of contacts and agents take a bullet, knife, poison, bomb, etc. No sound, no soundtrack.]

    [President, voiceover] “Was it worth it?”

    [Agent, voiceover as mahem continues] “I hope so. Sir.”

    Black screen.

    Roll credits.

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