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In the grande finale of Live Another Day Jack has to choose between Audrey and the rest of the world.

Well, friends, the end of another half-day has come. Yes, it took eleven weeks for that half-day to end, but therein lies the magic of television. In the real world, time flies when you’re having fun, but in the figurative reality of television (or at least 24), a half-day of shoot-em-up antics can last almost three months. In this, the season finale of 24: Live Another Day, our hero Jack wins a showdown with his ultimate enemy, loses the love of his life, and the stage is set for even more possible 24 excitement in the future. Catch last night’s and previous episodes on Fox.com or Hulu.

Last week’s eleventh-hour episode ended with Cheng threatening to kill Audrey who stood in a park having just tried to negotiate a deal with the Chinese government. Remember, Cheng took control of an override device, making it look like America had attacked a Chinese warship. Audrey was trying to smooth that over. Well, things couldn’t be wrinklier for her.

Meanwhile, Jack and Kate are still searching for evidence that will lead them to Cheng. Isn’t it interesting that in each hour it looks like everything is about to fall apart and then within the first ten minutes of the next episode a solution presents itself and the day is saved? Surprise! That’s exactly what happens here. In this, the writers were a tad lazy, but then again, without that, there’d be no show, so who am I to complain? That said, there must be about a billion hidden desk compartments in London alone, filled with top-secret data on covert affairs.

Having discovered this new information, which is a direct lead on where Cheng will soon be, it’s time for Jack to put an end to all of this falderal. The only snag is Audrey. Cheng makes it very clear to Jack — and anyone else within earshot of the speakerphone — that if Cheng is followed, Audrey will be killed. With no other choice, Jack risks Audrey and sets out to find Cheng — only a verified image of Cheng will stop China from retaliating for the strike on their carrier. Poor Jack, this entire series he’s had to make these decisions. What does one choose when presented with saving someone you love or saving the world? I can only imagine it’s how Beyoncé feels when she has to decide between going to a PTA meeting for Blue Ivy and going on a world tour.

Kate is put in charge of rescuing Audrey. I really feel like the show underused Kate — she’s a beautiful actress with what could have been a very interesting storyline, but they didn’t really explore any of the nuances of her character like I’d hoped they would. The same goes for Jack’s sidekick Belchek. A primo twist was missed in not utilizing his character. Of course, with all the other international mishegas taking up so much time, I understand. If they do another season next year, I hope both Kate and Belchek are a part of it and that we get to learn more about them.

Also you’ll remember that last episode, Chloe was at the bottom of a ravine. She makes her way back to the road and calls Jack. They make up, and she’s ready to start helping him find Cheng. I’m glad they got a chance to make up, and I’m glad that she’s back on the good side. Those last two episodes where she was essentially Adrian’s hostage were killing me. She needs to be helping Jack, full stop. As she says, they’re best friends, and in the world they inhabit, friends like that are rare.

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This is where things get sad, folks, but you knew there had to be some tragedies in the season finale. It’s what we’ve been building up to. While having done a bang up job trying to save Audrey from Cheng’s snipers, there was one more gunman Kat hadn’t considered and Audrey takes a bullet during her escape. This is the tough part about being smart and working hard: you can only do so much. It’s obviously not Kate’s fault that Audrey is dead, and yet, had she just done a little more, Audrey would be alive. The show was crafty in killing Audrey — we (and Jack) are led to believe that she made it to safety only to discover that she’s been killed. Cold, 24. Cold.

As you can imagine, when Kate calls to let him know, the news wrecks Jack. He’s on a ship and close to finding Cheng. If there was any adrenaline rush that would help him get to the finish line of this day, it’s the death of his beloved. He’s afforded a moment to internally freak out, but it’s literally just a moment, because instead of wallowing in his own sorrow, he deals with this news in pure Jack Bauer fashion by killing a shit-ton of bad guys. These final scenes on the ship, as he’s getting closer and closer to Cheng, felt like the boss fights in Super Mario Brothers 3. Remember that game? When at the end of every level, Mario or Luigi had to board a ship to kill one of Bowser’s children. Well, it’s time to confront Bowser, and in a spectacular moment Jack beheads Cheng with, yes, a samurai sword he found on the wall. So. Freakin’. Awesome.

With Cheng confirmed dead, the Chinese reluctantly agree to retreat their campaign.

It’s time for President Heller to be told Audrey has passed. It’s a tragic scene, as President Heller — who’s also been through the wringer emotionally and mentally these last twelve hours — collapses when he hears the news. Seeing the leader of the free world crumpled up on the floor of the CIA is heartbreaking.

Soon after, Jack gets a phone call letting him know that the Russians have taken Chloe. The deal is simple. Jack surrenders: Chloe lives. Jack agrees because with Audrey gone and the world saved, what exactly does he have outside of Russian custody? Jack does what none of us would do to protect the world, which is why we love him and need him protecting us.

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Jumping forward in time, we see Audrey’s casket boarding Air Force One. In a more poignant moment of the series, President Heller admits to the British Prime Minister that he saw a photo of a girl on his desk and didn’t know her name. After a moment, he had realized it was his daughter. For the entire season, his impending Alzheimer’s has been a negative, that silent sniper about to keep him from executing his job. In this moment, he’s grateful for the sand trap his mind is becoming, for soon he will no longer remember that his daughter died a horrible death. Soon, he’ll remember nothing. This whole season I’ve been writing a lot about truth and belief, the idea that those who know the truth are burdened by it. In this one admission, President Heller finds the only plausible way to release the burden of truth. He knows his daughter was gunned down by a sniper, but soon he’ll forget, and that’s fine with him.

The final scene of Live Another Day, Jack trades himself for Chloe. As she is released, he tells her to look in on his family from time to time to make sure they’re okay. That said, he boards a helicopter filled with Russians and leaves for tortures unknown.

In conclusion, it’s been a hell of a season. Jack has faced many enemies new and old, one of whom was Lady Catelyn Stark. We saw the return of Chloe and her asymmetrical haircut and kohl-caked eyes. We saw the president begin to mentally degenerate, and we even got to see Jack show a little emotion. It’s been a wild ride, and I’m hoping the season’s success and the possibility of Jack escaping the Russians and more to be revealed about Kate (who turned in her CIA credentials) are enough for Fox to decide to do it all again next year.

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