Tonight my heart was racing. This was a feeling so familiar with 24, a feeling I hadn't felt all season until now. I applaud "5:00 A.M.-6:00 A.M." because of its display of character continuity and it's role as exposition in the hour before the potential explosion of a nuclear rod in NYC. What this episode did nicely was it placed characters, based on their beliefs that we've seen all season, into three teams: the patriots, the rogues and the terrorists. We know who the patriots are and we know who the terrorists are. What I did not expect were the rogues. I applaud the writers for introducing this group because when we as viewers are watching a battle of black versus white, we often forget about the shade of gray.
At the start of the season, I noticed the disagreements in the presidential cabin but I never thought these disagreements would amount to a rogue act. But this rogue act brought on a really intense battle with Jack Bauer where I honestly had no idea what would happen. I found my heart pounding because I had no idea whether they would capture Hassan and hand him over to the terrorists or be defeated by Bauer. That element of unpredictability makes for classic 24 material. When Jack defeated all but the last rogue agent, I felt my heart pound even more knowing what may or may not come.
In terms of individual characters, the viewer was reminded the core beliefs of each character. We were reminded that Jack Bauer and President Taylor believe in finding and defeating the terrorists without means of negotiation. We were reminded of Jack's loyalty to Chloe, and Chloe's loyalty to Jack, one which they've held for each other since season 3. We were reminded that despite President Hassan's marital and leadership shortcomings, he is a man of family and an honorable man who realizes how important the signing of this peace treaty is. We were reminded of Renee's burning desire to prove herself and to Jack and for the sake of her country. Going into the final hours of 24, we were reminded of who the heroes of season 8 really are at heart.
I have no idea whether the bomb will go off or not. After all, we saw a bomb kill thousands of people in season 6. I have faith that the writers can write an equally compelling storyline for either scenario or maybe introduce another scenario that we have never even considered. In it's later seasons, 24 has had it's share of surprises and disappointments. It's had it's cliches. But I have faith for these final ten episodes, we will be reminded of what 24 is all about and why we came to love it in the first place.