Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jack Bauer

He left not with a whimper but with a bang, many bangs to be exact. Jack Bauer had spent most of a decade in our homes asking the same basic questions about our moral compass in moments of extraordinary stress. In the end, he may have outstayed his welcome, but the questions he posed unfortunately never lost their relevance.

It proved almost impossible for the show to be a one trick pony for 192 hours (24 x8). Plot lines became repetitive, often outlandish, and cartoonish. Who knew that one afternoon of good sex could prove to be the Kryptonite for Jack's fragile psyche? After years of teetering on the brink of madness, once Renee Walker was ripped from his arms, Jack went into a killing frenzy worthy of the best, or worst, of the vigilante sprees of old. "Make my day" had nothing on the final hours of the final year.

In a world where "R" ratings may well attach to movies for showing characters smoking cigarettes, it is hard to fathom how the gutting of an enemy is not deemed just a wee bit excessive for viewing in prime time. The television universe that made a national crisis over the half- second exposure of a breast, had no trouble reconciling this with its acceptance of the depiction of this level of violence. But that is a story for another day. For now, let me get back to Jack.

Like other stories that have left the small screen, what remains is an uncertain future for our protagonist. Tony Soprano faded to a blank screen, his life hanging in limbo. Jack Bauer was seen fleeing from virtually the entire world, given a head start on a movie version of himself. Much like the Fugitive, he will now make a run and try to lay low, likely to appear in some future world with long hair a beard and a fierce determination to leave the stewardship of the world to others.

But, we won't let Jack alone. Like the Godfather, we will drag him back to confront his demons and ours. I did not say goodbye to Jack Bauer last night, only "until we meet again". I will be waiting for you in the theater, with my bag of popcorn and my soda. 24 will soon become 2, and I will one day settle into my seat to welcome an old acquaintance back into my life. Until then, get a little rest. You need it.

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