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Jack Bauer fights on in '24' series finale

Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer in

Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer in "24." Photo Credit: Fox

THE SHOW "24"

WHEN | WHERE Monday from 8 to 10 on Fox/5

REASON TO WATCH The end

CATCHING UP Thanks to the bug he planted on former President Logan (Gregory Itzin), Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) now knows that the plot to derail the peace treaty goes right up to the Russian president. He also knows the Russian ordered the hit on beloved Renee Walker (Annie Wersching).

WHAT THE EPISODE'S ABOUT Last week, Jack donned full body armor along with a black mask just before he ambushed Logan. It was a sly reference to "Friday the 13th's" Jason Voorhees, and the implication was obvious: Can anything kill this guy?

Like Jason and several generations of unfortunate camp counselors, Jack continues to burn his way through the elite of the Secret Service, but at the risk of giving away any more plot details, let's ask the questions: Will President Taylor (Cherry Jones) realize that she's been duped by the vainglorious Logan? Will Jason Pillar (Reed Diamond, one of the many fabulous supporting roles this season) ever catch Jack? Will Dalia Hassan (Necar Zadegan), widow of President Hassan, learn of Taylor's near-betrayal? Will Jack live or die?

MY SAY The following took place between 2001 and 2010; events occurred in real time. Immediately following a singular tragedy in American history, a TV show on Fox emerged from the Zeitgeist, as if on cue. "24" was a dazzling tour de force, and soldered state-of-the-art production techniques to a national mood of anxiety and revenge. Jack had just 24 hours each season (why not 25, or 28? no matter) to take care of business, and he had to break a lot of eggs to make his omelet. He tortured bad guys because (hey!) there was no time for due process.

Critics would later accuse the Bush administration of emulating Jack; notably cultural observers would later cite "24" for prepping the nation for the first black president. "24" had no fewer than two, one of them beloved.

But by season four, something happened. Plausibility began to be sacrificed along with the terrorists. Conundrums emerged: How many times could L.A. be destroyed? How many enemies could Jack vanquish? He burned through the Middle East, Russia, the Eastern Bloc, one or two countries in South America and Africa, China and a couple of evil U.S. administrations. Then, there was always a mole inside CTU. Didn't they check resumés there? Critics and viewers started to hoot, and suspected that the smoke wafting out of the "24" writers' room was not of the tobacco variety. Yet most still loved this show and love it to this day.

BOTTOM LINE The eighth day, and final season, was a very good day. Sure, logic got shredded in a few places - OK, a lot of places. But we're so used to that by now. Next January - when "24" would usually return to the schedule - will feel empty and cold. A hugely enjoyable part of our TV life is over forever.

GRADE A

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