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The 8 Ball 7.15.14: Top 8 Moments in 24
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 07.15.2014

Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Movie Zone! I'm your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, we will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You're free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is "wrong" is just silly. With that in mind, let's get right in to it!

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Top 8 Moments on 24

Welcome one and all to the 411 Movie Zone 8 Ball once again! Jeremy Thomas here, your host as always, and on Monday night we said farewell to the revived 24 with the season finale of 24: Live Another Day. The series that gave birth to the great Jack Bauer concludes its "event series" revival tonight and it's been an incredibly successful one on a creative level, returning Jack to the heights he saw during the early and middle parts of the series' run. I certainly hope that the show gets another season, but whether it does or not I'm glad we got one more adventure with him. With that in mind, this week we're going to take a look at the best moments in the show's history. It was a daunting task but I managed to narrow it down; without further ado, let's get to it!

Alert: It must be said, of course, that there are spoilers for the series, including a couple for the current season. There are no spoilers for the season finale however, as I will not yet have seen it by the time this goes live.

Caveat: This one is pretty easy; if it was a moment from any episode of 24, it was eligible. What I was looking for in terms of ranking was essentially the unforgettable, emotionally gutwrenching or shocking moments in the show; the ones that really helped make 24 a must-see television experience. The only caveats I would mention are as follows: first off, what makes for a great moment on a show like 24 is a bit different than what makes a great moment on something like House or even Dexter or Game of Thrones. This is a show that doesn't rely on character development as much as it relies on fast-paced plotting, sudden plot twists and action and this factored into my rankings. This isn't to say there isn't some great acting or character moments, but I was looking for ones that were more the hallmarks of 24. Second, I really should have made this a two-part list but didn't get the chance to and there are a lot of amazing moments that I had to cut. That's just the way it goes, sadly.

Just Missing The Cut

Bill Buchanan's Heroic End (Day 7)
Air Force 1 Taken Down (Day 4)
Jack Defenestrates the Al-Harazis (Day 9)
Jack Lets Paul Die (Day 4)
Tony Turns Up Alive (Day 7)

#8: George Mason's Sacrifice (Day 2)

Let's be honest; I could have easily made this a list of the top eight 24 deaths and still hit a lot of the high notes, but I wanted to look at some variety of moments. Still, the deaths on the show were some of the most emotionally resonant within the entire series and we're starting off with what has to be the single-most heroic death on the show. George Mason was pretty much a complete prick for most of his run on 24 and Xander Berkeley did a fantastic job of portraying that kind of easily hatable "good-guy antagonist" for Jack. But the events of Day 2, or at least his final hours, changed George from the guy we all hated into a hero. After being poisoned with radiation, George tries to make amends for his life and left CTU, heading to the airfield where a nuclear bomb was about to be flown out to the desert. Jack won't let him fly the plane because his health would jeopardize the mission but George sneaks onto the plane anyway and convinces Jack to let him make the sacrifice. Jack parachutes to safety and George gives his own life to ensure Jack's safety as well as others. The power of the scene between George and Jack is a testament to Kiefer Sutherland and Berkeley both and this set a precedent; the writers had the gift of taking adversarial types and turning them into heroes in their final moments. George was given the second "silent clock" in 24 history, an honor he had well and truly deserved.

#7: Chase Loses His Hand (Day 3)

If you're romantically associated with a Bauer, you're doomed or at least in for a lot of suffering. Audrey, Renee, Teri, Barry...it's just not a safe life choice. Chase Edmunds had a double curse, working as Jack's partner and dating Kim so you knew he was going to end up screwed at some point. While he didn't die, he certainly suffered and at no point did he suffer worse than the final hour of the day. With Arthur Rabens still out there and a threat, Jack and Chase went to chase him down and in an ensuing fistfight Rabens managed to clamp the delivery device for the Cordilla virus down on Chase's arm. With no other way to get it off, Jack had to take an ax and literally chop off the hand of his daughter's boyfriend to save his life. Yes, he managed to have his hand reattached later, which blunts a little bit of the moment's impact but it was still one of the best examples of how the show is willing to make it clear: even if the day is over, it's not a happy ending. Final hour tragedies were a regular thing on 24 and this was certainly one of the most stunning of them.

#6: Edgar Dies (Day 5)

Oh Edgar. Poor, poor Edgar. In 24, no one is safe. One of the most engrossing things about the show is how it doesn't only focus on the badasses that are out in the field blazing their guns and shouting things like "Dammit" and "Who do you work for?" It also looks at the command centers, the nervous systems that make up counter-terrorism units and makes those characters real people. Of course the most important of them on the show is the wonderfully snappy Chloe O'Brian, but she's far from the only one and she hasn't even suffered the worst. In Day 4 we were introduced to Edgar Stiles, a competent but somewhat schlubby intelligence analyst at CTU Los Angeles who was close friends with Chloe and ended up sucked into helping Jack in some anti-authoritarian moments. He made it through that full day safely and became a fan favorite, but Day 5 was destined to be his last. When one of Vladimir Bierko's terrorists carried out a Sentex nerve gas attack on CTU, the members of the facility tried to save as many as they could by sealing off the ventilation to one conference room and hide in there. Chloe made it in but as she looked around, she realized Edgar didn't and he made it to the glass window just before he died. 24 couldn't kill off Chloe (at least not then), but they needed to give the attack some real emotional punch. Edgar was the kind of guy you expected to survive, and maybe he'd move on and that's the only reason that he wouldn't be around for the next day. His death was a real gutpunch and he, like George, was honored with a well-deserved silent clock.

#5: "I'm Gonna Need A Hacksaw" (Day 2)

There are four phrases that Jack Bauer is known for. Three of them he says quite regularly: "Who do you work for?," "Son of a bitch" and of course "Dammit!" The fourth phrase is one that he's only uttered once but it's considered one of the most memorable Bauer lines of all-time. The events of Day 1 turned Jack into a different man and at the beginning of Day 2, we saw the genesis of the Jack Bauer we all know and love to this day. Jack needed credibility in order to fully infiltrate Joseph Wald's gang and when Marshall Goren is given immunity from his hideous crimes in order to testify against Wald, Jack has him brought into CTU. Then, right out of nowhere, Jack shoots and kills Goren right in front of George Mason and everyone else before turning to George and Michelle and saying, "I'm gonna need a hacksaw." The hacksaw, of course, was so he could deliver Goren's head and prove his loyalty. Not only was this a huge "what the hell just happened" moment, but it also successfully showed what Day 1 had done to Jack and was the coming out party for the Jack Bauer that we would come to know through the next eight days.

#4: Nina Myers Revealed as a Mole (Day 1)

If there is one trope that has become tired on 24, it is that there must always be a mole--or at least someone doing something very wrong--within CTU. When CIA station head Steve Navarro turns out to be dirty in 24: Live Another Day we aren't surprised because we know it's going to happen with someone, and it's only the performance of Benjamin Bratt that makes it work as well as it does. And to be frank, even then it is one of the weaker aspects of an otherwise strong season. But the first mole, and a few that followed, were truly great. (I know that Jamey Farrell is the true first mole, but Nina's the first great one.) No one ever would have suspected in the first day that Jack's partner Nina Myers was a double agent, which makes the moment when she contacts Andre Drazen one of the most shocking moments of that first day. Nina's reveal would, in a large part, change everything about 24. Of course her being a turncoat set the stage for many other deeply important moments and it would result in a huge change to Jack as a character, not to mention turning Nina into one of the show's greatest villains of all-time. It was one of the greatest early plot twists in the show's history.

#3: Ryan Chappelle's Execution (Day 3)

If George Mason and Edgar's deaths were sad, Ryan Chappelle's was absolutely tragic. Much like George, Ryan was a pain in the side to Jack Bauer throughout his run on the show. He stuck hard and fast to regulations and almost never backed our hero up when he had a goal in mind. He was quite possibly the most hated character on the show, and I mean that in a good way. And yet his demise was one of the most powerful moments in the history of the series, when Stephen Saunders gave an ultimatum to kill Chappelle or he would release more of the Cordilla virus on the world. Try as they might, they weren't able to find a way to stop Saunders and President Palmer reluctantly found his hand forced, ordering Jack to carry out the dead. What made this one hurt so much more than George's is that while Chappelle went out with the same sort of acceptance of his fate, he wasn't already doomed by radiation poisoning. He even tried to protect Jack by putting the gun to his own head but couldn't pull the trigger. When he was offered the chance to call someone before he died, he revealed that he had no family or loved ones to talk to and Jack was forced to do the deed. It was a brutal and tragic moment that everyone felt and to this day Chappelle is lionized as one of the best characters in the show's history, in large part thanks to his last moment.

#2: David Palmer's Assassination (Day 5)

Jack Bauer. Chloe O'Brian. Aaron Pierce. Tony Almeida. These are some of the most beloved characters on 24, but President David Palmer may just top them all. He's easily the third-highest fan favorite and it's arguable whether even Chloe or Jack can best him in that category. Palmer had survived so much throughout the first four seasons of the show: assassination attempts, impossible moral decisions, being forced out of office, the machinations of his unscrupulous ex-wife and more. But he wouldn't live to see the end of the fifth. At the end of season four, he was one of only four people who knew that Jack was still alive after he fakes his death along with Tony, Michelle and Chloe. And by the end of the first hour, there were only two. Michelle's car bombing death was tragic but it paled in comparison to the assassination of Palmer. 24 watchers were used to tragedy hitting in the later hours of each day; the last-hour shocks were commonplace. Killing off a character like Palmer right off the bat was completely stunning and kicked off the start of what is commonly believed to be the show's best season. It set up the great Charles Logan to be the big villain of the season and put out the only person who, aside from Jack, had appeared in every episode of the show all the way through season three. It was a game-changer and a sign that even four-plus years in, the show could still take viewers' breaths away.

#1: Teri Dies (Day 1)

There is no more memorable moment in 24 than the final ones of the first season. Everything seemed to be resolved at the end of the last hour of day one. The assassination of David Palmer had been stopped and both Teri and Kim were safe; everything seemed to be at a resolution point. And then the show pulled the rug completely out from under its viewers by killing off Teri at Nina Myers' hands. Nina was getting ready to escape when Teri stumbled onto her. Since she was told that she had to eliminate all evidence of her involvement, that meant that Teri had to go and Jack's wife takes a bullet to the chest. While Jack caught Nina, he had no idea that Teri had been shot until the very last moments of the episode when he finds her with just the last vestiges of life slipping away. Thus began the tradition of the silent clock, and the moment that we learned that no one, no matter who, was ever safe on 24. It's a high point not only for the series but for action-oriented television in general and set Jack into the spiral that truly created the character he would become.

Disguise of the Episode

Current Series/Season: Season One (2001 - 2002)
Episodes Watched: 18
Last Serial Completed: Masquerade - While on a case to track the activities of Khasinau, Sydney runs into her ex-lover, Noah Hicks, who broke her heart and left without saying goodbye five years earlier. Meanwhile, Sydney tells Sloane that she wants to find her mother; Jack is ordered to see a CIA psychiatrist to help him deal with his churning emotions after discovering that his wife may still be alive. Will and Francie become suspicious of Sydney's activities after finding one of her airline ticket stubs.
Episodes Remaining: 87

And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.


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