The seventh season — possibly the penultimate, depending, as Kiefer Sutherland has said, on what “the writers can give and what they can do” — ends with an oddly action-free episode. Usually the finales are heavy on pyrotechnics and violence, but here we just have a limp shoot-out and a lot of family drama. It’s a pseudo-cliff-hanger because we’re supposed to wonder if Jack is going to survive, but, of course, there will be a season eight. That we’re actually looking forward to it shows how many wounds this one healed. Once again: To the Absurd-o-Meter!
3. It’s Not Easy Being President. Olivia Taylor, First Daughter and chief of staff, ends up getting busted for having Jonas Hodges murdered (those damned audiotapes took her down), and she confesses her crime to her mother and father. Dad wants Mom to cover everything up, but, in a legitimately affecting scene, President Taylor says she can’t — she has a higher duty to her office; she loves her daughter, but must respect the Constitution. So: Off to jail with Olivia! The writers seem to think President Taylor is absolved by being honest enough to turn her own daughter in, but one suspects Politico would have a field day with the story of a president who hires her own daughter as chief of staff, only to have the daughter murder a guy hours later. Absurdity Factor: 7
2. Jack Lives! Immediately after Jack has been given last rites (confessing his sins to a Muslim cleric, of course), Kim Bauer shows up and offers to try the Super Risky Dangerous Stem Cell Surgery to save her father’s life. (This is an hour after Kim evades her captors and helps discover a computer that saves Jack in the first place. This is surprising, because Kim Bauer is a moron.) Jack is ready to die: He has just told Agent Walker that “laws were written by men smarter than me” and that he has to respect them. Good timing, Jack! It’s not clear whether Agent Walker is listening, though, because the episode ends with her about to do some serious torturing herself. Absurdity Factor: 8
1. Wait, Who Is Alan Wilson? You know how it was 100 percent clear that Tony Almeida was out to destroy America? Not so! Tony had actually been tracking down a supervillain — with the decidedly non-supervillain name “Alan Wilson” — for years, because he had learned that not only was Wilson responsible for the majority of the world’s terrorism, he was actually responsible for everything on 24. Though we only met this guy four hours ago, it turns out that he ordered the hit on David Palmer, supported the corrupt regime of Charles Logan, and orchestrated the death of Tony’s wife, Michelle. Unfortunately, just as he’s about to kill Wilson, Tony goes all Fallacy of the Talking Killer on us, giving exposition just long enough for Jack to shoot him (in the shoulder, because Tony Almeida is indestructible).
So that explains why Tony helped release a bioweapon, crashed planes into each other, and shot up the White House: He wanted revenge for his wife’s death. (Sleeping with the evil hot redhead? Another diversion!) He even convinced Alan Wilson that he was going to harvest Jack’s organs to “extract the bioweapon,” which is some nifty biology. That’s how season seven ends: With the discovery that everything has been arranged by this shady-looking corporate dude. Wait: Alan Wilson wasn’t torturing Jack with the Chinese too, was he? Are we sure he isn’t Jacob from Lost? Next year, everyone will be coming to New York City: Jack, Tony, Kim, Agent Walker, Chloe, maybe even Janeane Garofalo. But everything will rest on the shoulders of Alan Wilson. Whoever he is, exactly. Absurdity Factor: 10