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24: Legacy - 11:00pm - 12:00pm - Review: "Finality to an extent"



That finale was weird.

For all intents and purposes, it played out just like a standard 24 finale would: big plot cliffhanger from the penultimate hour is wrapped up within the first two-thirds, before an epilogue of sorts concludes any loose ends - or, at least, that was the idea. So Eric traded Naseri’s daughter for Rebecca, who was shot and killed before John decided not to withdraw from the race and Eric and Nicole patched up their relationship.

But like so much of this season, that is all there was to it. There was very little in the way of fluidity, no real sense that all of these events were happening within the 24 world and instead were just being ticked off a checklist of things that needed to happen. And it did not help that director Stephen Hopkins, who has helmed two prior episodes this season and 12 in the show’s first season, was uncharacteristically bland in his choices throughout.

That was no more apparent than Rebecca’s death, which was both entirely predictable and mundane, and also slightly illogical - Bin-Khalid did initially appear to be in a position quite well hidden with no sight line to Eric. It seemed unlikely that Legacy would conclude its season without a major death to announce itself, but the route ultimately taken did not come off as well as it might have done. It was inconsistent: one minute, Rebecca was almost fully lucid; the next, she was dead. Given that she was hit in the abdomen, it was perhaps a contrivance too far to enable her to have some final words. Her sacrifice to save Eric is noble, certainly, and it may even tie in slightly to that “something” inside both of them - their self-preservation instincts are lessened when it comes to saving someone else - but the way it ended up was just lazy.

Still, the trade itself was different, which was nice, and although there was likely very little option but for it to appear as rigidly edited as it did because of the complexities surrounding Naseri’s terms, it is at least worth commending the show for not taking everything word-for-word from the old playbook. That is not to say certain aspects of the finale were not carbon copies of earlier seasons - Rebecca’s execution, the manner of her death, Simms committing suicide instead of being prosecuted - and, in fact, it is what made the newer approach to the trade more appreciated.

Part of the problem with the season has been, aside from its recycling of plots, the plotholes and conveniences, frequent lack of material actively engaging enough to overlook those plotholes and conveniences, and a desire to make the minor characters feel wanted rather than simply necessary. By the time the finale is through, all of those issues have arisen to lessen all the impact of the hour.

The use of minor characters was a particularly notable one here, with Simms and Tony being treated in very different ways, both to a lack of success. Simms had barely been named before last week, and he was in a total of half the season. So the idea that we should care when he commits suicide is outlandish, with the only saving grace being that John is not being accused of murder as it seemed as though he would - but that is clutching at straws, slightly. His demise is not sad or tragic because the show, in exploring the story of him kidnapping a ten-year-old girl, denied him sympathy; it might have been a more appropriate reaction to cheer than to be sad for him.

Tony’s departure from the show, meanwhile, was unceremonious and bizarre. For a character who is so widely loved and was so heavily hyped, he has become something of an afterthought for long stretches of the back half of this season, virtually excluded from two episodes and exiting before the first act break in the finale. And he absconded, free from any legal repercussions - again, he should technically be a fugitive, even if there was no effort made to explain that - with a broken arm and was not seen again. It is one thing to bring back an old character and just use them for one episode. It is another entirely to bring back an old character for half of the season and waste them completely. Even his fight with Eric was uninspiring with far too many quick cuts that it did a potentially very strong bout a disservice.

Spare a thought too for Thomas Locke, who appeared in the background of the shots with Mullins on the helicopter and said nothing, having missed the previous two episodes completely. Aside from being Andy’s love interest, he has added no value to the run, and that is far from ideal.

Oh, and how about Daniel Pang, who was incapacitated by Mullins last week but disregarded altogether in the finale, even after the time jump. Did he ever wake up? Did Mullins just leave him in his office to come around and cause problems? The idea of wrapping up loose threads was very much an idea rather than something actually well executed. Certainly, leaving some things open-ended for a potential second season is fine, but there was a real selective amnesia taken at times here.

The long scene at the morgue after Rebecca’s death was a similarly frustrating one, with the show trying desperately to have its cake and eat it too, an implausibility that bordered on hilarious. Henry’s intermittently appearing spine (*) is far from clever, and having him only realise the damage he did after seeing his daughter-in-law’s dead body reinforces how poor that whole arc was. “I told myself I was protecting you,” he says, a lie that has been apparent since the moment it was first uttered, and having him only realise it now is a turn of events garnering sympathy from nobody, because his stupidity and short-sightedness was too pathetic.

(*) To harken back to the lack of closure, where is Luis? We saw him run away from Henry’s house in the antepenultimate hour and did not hear from or about him after that. So much for his involvement.

John’s decision to remain in the race is another odd one. It is one that could have been seen coming a number of episodes ago when he suggested pulling out of it, but the motivation behind his choice does somewhat undermine him as a character. Doing it to honour Rebecca’s life? Sure. Doing it to honour Rebecca’s life after being told to do so by your father, who essentially got her killed? Nope. A second season where a John Donovan presidency may be haunted by the sins of both his father and himself sounds intriguing, but that impact is lessened when this is how it comes to fruition.

The only thing that was wrapped up well was the final scene between Eric and Nicole. Given circumstances, it might have been very easy for her to decide she could not be a part of Eric’s life if this is his life, or for him to push her away for fear of her getting hurt again. And while that may have worked, there is a far greater chance that it would not have rung true with anything the series has shown in prior episodes. So for them to reunite and make up and reiterate their commitment to one another is a strong way to end things, and with Eric presumably going to work for CTU in the aftermath of this day, it sets a solid platform for any future seasons.

But do we really need anything more from 24? And, more importantly, did we really need this?

Because amidst all of the reused plotlines and questionable writing, there was very little added to the series by Legacy. Despite several major problems, it was not monstrously bad and did not, as is often feared when something like this comes along, taint the original run, but it also failed to enhance it. It may have intrigued non-24 fans to contemplate sampling the original run. But if that is the extent of its influence, then it is a little difficult to see why this was worth making.

So while more of Eric Carter’s story would not be a bad thing - assuming there was a greater sense of cohesion and more consistently intelligent writing and filmmaking - it is not something worth clamouring to see. Characters could be further fleshed out and utilised, and if a second season is greenlit, fine. But 24: Legacy’s first season proved that more stories in this universe simply are not needed to be shown.

How does this finale rate in the collection of season-enders? Pretty low. It technically did the job of concluding the run, but was far from thorough in doing so and was both unimaginative and, at times, dull - and that could be the tagline for the season as a whole.

And that says it all.

From the CTU Archives (connections to 24’s original run not outlined above):

The staging of Rebecca’s execution is almost exactly how Secretary Heller was set to be punished for his crimes in season four.

Simms killing himself was very similar to Charles Logan’s near-suicide in season five. (Only, with Logan, I was actually invested in the character and so it meant something. Not so with Simms.)

When Henry tried to convince John not to pull out of the race, the music was a slight variation on the theme used in Live Another Day as Heller is about to walk onto the pitch at Wembley, and then in the finale when seeing Audrey’s casket to the plane.

Notes:

My ears still hurt from the high pitched beep that accompanied the silent clock.

Ara remembered her father’s phone number after all that time? That seems highly unrealistic, both for her memory capabilities and the idea that Naseri kept the same phone for over a year.

It did not help the fight between Eric and Tony that the whole opening act was so chaotic.

Yes, he was badly scarred by the Rangers’ attack, and he did kill Naseri and Rebecca, but Bin-Khalid was truly pathetic. His desperate plea of “Asim, the woman must be punished” having been handcuffed was laughable. I see now where his son got his inadequacies.

I really disliked the way the technicalities of the time jump were handled. Not only did it look quite ridiculous to have the clock fast forward as it did, we did not even see what time it jumped to.

What did everyone think of the finale? Do you want another season? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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