Franchise Flashback: 24

With news of 24’s cancellation last week I thought it would be a good time to look back on the last 7.5 years of the show from the first time we saw the split screen and ticking clock to last year’s adventures in DC.

Season One (2001-2002)- The first season featured some growing pains but also some of the most memorable and important events of the series.  CTU gets a tip that an assassination attempt is imminent against Senator David Palmer.  Jack investigates with help from his second in command Nina Myers but things get complicated when his daughter Kim and wife Teri are kidnapped. Major 24 characters like Nina Myers, Aaron Pierce and Tony Almeida were all introduced this season as well.  This season was also still getting used to the split screen as they overused it a tad and there was a weird obsession with indie rock in the beginning of the season.  Time was also more realistic than in later seasons; there’s an entire episode featuring Jack driving somewhere.  Despite his horrible accent, Dennis Hopper was a pretty great choice for the first big bad and the last episode of the season is one of the best of the series as it features Jack wiping out the Drazens after thinking they killed Kim and Teri getting killed by CTU mole Nina Myers, which would have ramifications through the next two seasons.

Season Two (2002-2003)- Brian’s favorite season features Jack at arguably his most bad ass as he returns from inactive duty to help CTU find a nuclear bomb that has been smuggled into LA. The first episode ends with probably one of the best lines in 24 history, “I’m gonna need a hacksaw” and also shows the lengths Jack will go when he fake executes terrorist leader Syed Ali’s family.  Nina also shows back up as she sold plans to CTU to a group Jack went undercover with which resulted in the first, and actually pretty shocking, attack on CTU. We also get the heroic death of George Mason, who was a douche through most of season one and this one but redeems himself by flying the plane carrying the nuke out into the desert to have it detonate away from populated areas instead of Jack. President Palmer also shows why he’s the best fictional president by dealing with, first the nuke, and then a coup attempt by his cabinet when he refuses to retaliate against a group of unnamed Middle Eastern countries who helped Ali.  Both those plots are some of the strongest of the series but this is also the infamous “Kim’s Adventures in Babysitting” season where Kim winds up running from her babysitting client after he kills his wife and beats his daughter and then gets arrested, attacked by a cougar, locked in a bunker with a crazy survivalist and involved in a convenience store robbery.  This is the season that also had one of the biggest cliffhangers as President Palmer collapses after greeting the public following a press conference.  He was attacked by a biological agent by bi-sexual assassin Mandy and it was only resolved what happened in 24: The Game (this is also where we see what happens to the mysterious villain Max, who seemed to be the mastermind of the entire day).

Season 3 (2003-2004)- An interesting season that found Jack addicted to heroin and some massive deaths.  LA was under threat of a deadly biological weapon that seems to be linked to the Mexican drug cartel run by the Salazars, who Jack just finished three years undercover with.  This is also the season that Jack was saddled with partner Chase Edmunds (whose backstory is also explained in the game).  This season also introduced fan favorite computer expert Chloe O’Brien and also saw Kim Bauer working at CTU along with future Spock Zachary Quinto.  We eventually learn that one of Jack’s former Nightfall team members, Stephen Saunders, is behind the biological attacks and he releases it in an office building, trapping a number of people including CTU agent Michelle Dessler (and Tony Almeida’s wife).  Saunders makes a number of demands, one of which is the death of CTU director Ryan Chappelle, which Jack ultimately has to carry out.  Jack also finally gets to kill Nina after she tries to escape CTU and uber-bitch Sherry Palmer, the President’s ex-wife who made his life a living hell for three seasons, is killed by the wife of Alan Milliken, one of Palmer’s supporters who is threatening his presidency because brother Wayne Palmer slept with his wife.  Jack eventually saves the day but has to cut off Chase’s hand with an ax after he grabs the bio-weapon dispersal device and is unable to let it go or else it will go off.

Season Four (2005)- My personal favorite season is like the Michael Bay of 24 seasons, it just keeps ramping up and there’s almost constant action.  Forced to resign from CTU, Jack goes to work for Secretary of Defense James Heller and becomes romantically involved with his daughter Audrey Raines.  Terrorist Habib Marwan launches multiple threats against LA, with the help of the sleeper cell Araz family.  Heller is kidnapped, Nuclear power stations are melted down, Air Force One is shot down, the nuclear football is stolen and a nuclear missile is stolen and launched.  Fortunately the Dream Team of 24 is assembled this season: You have Jack, Tony and Curtis Manning in the field, Michelle and Bill Buchanan in charge, Chloe and Edgar Stiles on the computers and Ex-President Palmer coming back to help the inept Vice President Logan after he becomes president due to President Keeler going into a coma after the Air Force One attack.  Jack and co. manage to stop most of these threats but in the process Jack runs afoul of the Chinese government after one of their officials is killed during a black ops raid led by Jack.  Logan wants to frame Jack so he fakes his death with only Tony, Michelle, Palmer and Chloe knowing he’s alive and then heads off into the sunset.

Season Five (2006)- This season started off with a bang, literally.  Palmer is assassinated, Michelle is killed by a car bomb (with Tony seriously injured) and Chloe would have been killed as well if she didn’t call Jack, who arrives just in time but is then framed for Palmer’s murder.  Season Five probably has one of the most complex plots in 24 history that didn’t completely become clear until the end of Season 7 but a massive conspiracy is created by President Logan, Jack’s mentor and now defense contractor Christopher Henderson and a group of shadowy men with bluetooth headsets led by a man named Graem.  They help Russian terrorists, led by Vladimir Bierko, attack an airport and then seize control of a cache of Centox nerve gas, which they release in a mall and also at CTU, killing Edgar and new director of CTU Lynn McGill.  The ultimate goal is to kill the visiting Russian president, killing a peace agreement and in return the US will be given access to a huge oil reserve.  Henderson, who was captured by Jack and was seemingly unconscious in the medical bay, escapes during the CTU attack, seemingly killing Tony in the process.  Henderson is eventually cornered again and agrees to help Jack stop Bierko from taking over a submarine armed with nuclear warheads.  Bierko and his men are killed and Jack kills Henderson as revenge for Michelle, Tony and Palmer.  Jack’s has also been trying to take down President Logan.  He tries to track down an incriminating recording, following it to a passenger jet that Jack hijacks.  He gets it but it is erased by weasel Miles Papazian so Jack and Co. devise a plot to plant a listening device on Logan, which pays off and he’s arrested by US Marshals.  Jack can’t celebrate for too long however as the Chinese return and kidnap him.

Season Six (2007)-  Easily the worst season of 24, I barely remember anything that happened.  Jack was returned to the US after a series of suicide bombings over the last 11 weeks can be halted if he is turned over the Abu Fayed, who in turn will give the location of terrorist mastermind Hamri Al-Assad.  Fayed is the true mastermind and Al-Assad is in the US to try and make a peace agreement and stop Fayed.  Wayne Palmer somehow became president but is so terrible that he’s exploded into a coma halfway through the season and Vice President Powers Boothe takes over.  We also learned that Graem is Jack’s brother and he and his father Phillip are behind the Season Five events and are hatching even more schemes this season.  Some things happen involving Russia, China, Audrey turns up insane and Ricky Schroeder runs around as CTU head of field ops until he gets his face blasted off by a bomb.  It all ends on an oil rig that Jack leaves his father to die on and then Jack winds up actually looking over a cliff outside of Audrey’s house.

24: Redemption (2008)- Because of the writer’s strike there was a large gap Season Six and Seven.  To make up for the wait, Fox released this two hour TV movie which found Jack in Africa helping his friend Carl Benton defend his school from the evil General Juma’s men.  Second best President Allison Taylor is also sworn in and baddie Jonas Hodges (Jon Voight) acts shifty.  Jack leads the boys of the school to the US embassy after Carl is killed by a mine and must turn himself in for the boys to get passage out of the country.  Jack is given a subpoena to appear before a Senate commission investigating CTU, which has been disbanded.  Redemption was like Citizen Kane compared to season six and featured some great Jack action, especially in a sequence where Jack defends the school.

Season Seven (2009)- The last season of our retrospective finds Jack under investigation by the Senate for his controversial investigation methods but the hearing is interrupted by FBI agent Renee Walker, who informs Jack that a series of thefts have been carried out by Tony Almeida.  Jack reluctantly agrees to help and unravels a conspiracy led by Jonas Hodges and featuring elements of President Taylor’s administration.  Hodges agreed to help dictator General Juma attack the US and in exchange Juma would give Hodges free reign to create biological weapons in his country of Sangala.  Hodges ultimate goal is for his defense company to take control of the US government.  Jack teams back up with Tony, along with Bill and Chloe and they attempt to unravel the conspiracy.  One of the set piece episodes was the attack on the White House where Aaron Pierce showed back up and Bill sacrificed himself so Jack could protect the President.  Tony flip flopped back to evil and stole a canister of the nerve gas.  He ultimately wanted to meet with the mastermind behind almost everything that happened since Season Five, Alan Wilson, and then kill him as revenge for Michelle and his unborn child.  Jack and Renee stop him and then Jack resigns himself to dying due to his exposure to the nerve gas.  Kim, who came back at Renee’s request, decides to undergo an operation to extract some of her bone marrow to save Jack.  Renee, who kind of becoming a protege of Jack, decides to do a Jack style interrogation on Wilson and, we learn in Season Eight, almost kills him.  This season benifitted from the change of scenery and the return of Tony and, with no CTU, didn’t fall pray to some of the cliches of the past seasons.  Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case for Season Eight, which is moving along OK but things are definitely feeling tired.

Well I’m exhausted after writing that and I’m positive there’s moments and details that I missed so feel free to comment about your favorite 24 moments and what your favorite season was and check back every Tuesday for our recaps of the final season in The Jack Attack.

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