Idol Chatter

keifersutherland24.jpgAfter a day or two to reflect–and allow all you TiVO-ers to see the final show–I hope “24” will be back, though I didn’t expect to be thinking this as the show entered its final few weeks. You can watch the finale on Fox’s website.
Day Seven wrapped up as more a cliffhanger than a conclusion. It just as well could have been another episode, what with all of the loose ends it left. Will the medical sacrifice of Jack Bauer’s daughter end up saving his life? Is Tony Almeida the good guy for finding The Big Fish who was responsible for most of what went wrong in almost all of the previous seasons, or a bad guy for what he wanted to do about it? Is the President’s marriage over? Will the charges she’s brought against her daughter hold up? What did an FBI agent do to the mastermind who was about to get away? And how did Jack end up on the side of enforcing the laws so the bad guy could go free? Who will the next terrorist enemy be? And, who will Jack have on his team to fight them? Heck, the only difference between the season finale and a normal episode is that there’ll be a seven month wait between shows and a new day will dawn. Who knows? Maybe Fox will give us a sneak peak in November as they did last year!
But I was glad for the cliffhanger ending, because perhaps it renewed interest in a show that many felt was as dead as Jack Bauer was going to be. Or so we (spoiler alert here!) thought, as “24” continues to inspire at a deeper level than typical television.
“It’s time,” Jack Bauer said with 16 minutes to go in this year’s season. This sure looked like a wind down coming. And then–in a move typical of today’s pluralistic approach to spirituality on television–he entered into a form of confession with a Muslim cleric about his sins on earth and his readiness for death.

“Let us both forgive ourselves for all the wrongs that we have done,” responded the cleric, in a way that sounded like a prayer but was really just a sentiment. Their reconciliation was beautiful, although my faith says that it’s not up to us to do the kind of forgiving that brings peace on the other side. Anyway, one can’t help but appreciate the irony of the American Hero having only the Muslim accused of harboring terrorists to be the only one he could reach out to in his final moments.
As a dramatic television offering, “24” will struggle from here on out in coming up with original and refreshing plot twists. There’s just no getting around it after seven seasons. “24” is challenged in much the same way as the James Bond franchise–there are the good guys, the bad guys, the ones that pose as one and turn out as the other, and interpersonal relationships that effect the whole thing.
But “24” has always been deeper than Bond or any other dramatic series for its ability to paint unbelievably difficult and nuanced character considerations and ethical conundrums which is where the show has always been at its most inspiring. I think more of us understand the panorama of complexity on the horizon of all those in the terrorist-fighting business on our behalf. And, of course, we’ve come to understand that unbelievable pain and drama associated with family life among those who risk and sacrifice in service to our country.
In the end, Day Seven left us hanging more than another other “Day” of the past seven seasons. The country ‘s safety is still at risk. The enemy has weapons we can neither acquire nor neutralize. Those in leadership can’t be trusted. Americans seem to be helping and our rule of law can’t seem to stop them. The President’s family is still in disarray. Jack’s daughter is still hoping to have a relationship with her father. Tony Almeida is still the sympathetic co-anti-hero (is that even a term?!) who never dies, never goes away, and never seems to find the success or peace he seeks. And as an audience, we’re still left to grope with questions that seem a tad more compelling than yesterday’s sermon or tomorrow’s talk show.
So in the meantime, I’ll open up Day Two on DVD, a gift from my kids and one of the three seasons I haven’t seen yet!
Kiefer Sutherland at

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