... it's going to be, as promised, a whole new playing field. Say goodbye to CTU, terrorists, nuclear weapons, and only God knows what else. At this point, only the producers are fully aware of exactly what these so-called "changes" are that will go into effect starting in Day 7, but all we know for now is ... the only constants and guarantees are that the show will still follow an hour-by-hour, realtime format and that Keifer Sutherland will reprise his role as Jack Bauer.
Byline: Tommy S.
As for the two-hour finale itself, the show did, at the very least, a great job in closing out not only the major storylines, but a few long-term story archs as well, as the majority of these characters will NOT be returning next season.
Day 6, Hours 23-24: "4:00 AM - 6:00 AM"
Part one of the finale continues (well, of course) from where the last hour left off, with Jack being detained by CTU agents, as Agent Doyle leaves in a helicopter with Josh, ready to be exchanged for the circuit board now in the possession of Phillip Bauer. Karen Hayes, realizing the moral ambiguities involved with giving Josh up, works behind Vice President Daniels' back to obtain Jack's position from CTU. She then relays the information to Bill Buchanan, who despite being subpoenaed thanks to Karen herself, agrees to Jack because it's the right thing to do. Karen is arrested shortly after the discovery of her act of treason, and Buchanan intercepts the CTU vehicle transporting Jack, rescuing him so that the two of them can get to the exchange before it happens. Meanwhile, Phillip Bauer orders CTU to shut down their satellite surveillance before sending men via boat to make the exchange. However, when Doyle takes the circuit board and proceeds to verify its authenticity, the device self-destructs in Doyle's face, blinding him instantly and severely injuring him. Bauer's men then forcefully take Josh away, just as Jack and Buchanan arrive to tend to Doyle, who has now lost his sight permanently thanks to the detonation of the fake circuit board. Jack contacts Nadia back at CTU, realizing that his father may be using one of his oil rigs out at sea. Chloe, after starting to feel fatigued, tries to tell Morris something but collapses on the floor before she can ...
CTU confirms that Phillip Bauer is currently in possession of both the real circuit board as well as Josh onboard an offshore oil rig. Back at the White House, Vice President Daniels convinces President Suvarov to hold off his generals and Russia's prepared attack on the U.S. military base so that they can launch a military air strike on the oil rig, with the intention of destroying everything and everyone, in order to ensure the destruction of the circuit board. After Jack finds out, he refuses to allow Josh to be killed in this attack and, with Buchanan's help, takes control of a CTU helicopter. The two of them make their way to the oil rig, where Jack and Buchanan kill the last of Cheng's men before finally capturing Cheng himself. Meanwhile, Phillip Bauer tries to escape with Josh, but Josh clocks him from behind with a wrench and then holds a gun to his chest. When Phillip tries to take it from him, Josh shoots him once, and before he can shoot him again, Jack intervenes and convinces his nephew not to take revenge. Josh runs off to the helicopter, while Jack tries to convince his father to give himself up. After realizing that he would rather die in the air strike, Jack leaves his father to his grave.
As fighter jets arrive and prepare to lock-on with their missiles, Buchanan, Cheng, and Josh board the helicopter and meet Jack elsewhere on the ship, as Jack jumps on and grabs the rope ladder literally moments before a wave of missiles hit the oil rig, creating a massive explosion. As the helicopter reaches the shore, Jack intentionally lets go of the rope, going off on his own instead of going back to CTU. Back at the White House, Suvarov informs Daniels that he will call off Russia's military attack and stand down, allowing war between the two nations to be averted. Tom Lennox convinces Vice President Daniels to pardon Karen Hayes and Bill Buchanan in light of what transpired, instead of prosecuting them. He agrees, provided that the pair officially resign and retire to live out their lives. Back at CTU, Buchanan arrives with Cheng in custody, as Josh is finally reunited with his mother. Morris tends to Chloe in her hospital bed, and after he tells her that despite what's happened between them, he can't lose her, Chloe tells Morris that the reason she fainted ... is because she's pregnant. Jack shows up at the house of Secretary of Defense Heller, pulling a gun on him and for the first time in the show's history, puts his own interests before the country's, blaming Heller for not getting him out of China as well as having no right to keep Audrey away from him. Heller reminds Jack that no matter what he tries to do to get his life back, the Jack Bauer "curse" will never go away. After Jack goes to see Audrey, who is sound asleep, he realizes that what Heller said was the truth, and he bids farewell to the woman he loves. The final moments of Day 6 and of the "24" series to date has Jack looking out into the distance from a cliff overlooking the beach, just before sunrise and therefore symbolic of the end of an era and the changes that both Jack and the show itself are about to undergo. The hour closes out with a silent clock, marking the end of the day, the season, and an era of "24."