"Day 6: 5AM - 6AM"
Written by Robert Cochran, Manny Coto, and David Fury
Directed by Brad Turner
In which Vice President Daniels sets in motion a plan to stop Philip Bauer, which puts Jack on a short timetable for rescuing Josh...
Status Report - Final Analysis
(This review covers the second half of the sixth season finale; the first half was covered under a separate review.)
The penultimate hour of the sixth season ended with Chloe collapsing as a final showdown between Jack and Philip Bauer approached. It was practically the perfect mixture for the end of the sixth season: the combination of squandered potential and unnecessary drama. That said, the producers chose three of the best writers on staff to bring the season to a close. The question is whether or not the effort is too little, too late.
Right from the beginning, a timetable is set: Jack has less than 30 minutes to rescue his nephew and defeat his father. Despite the urgency of the situation with Jack, Morris has more than enough time to worry over Chloe. As far as the Daniels' administration is concerned, taking out the oil platform with an air strike is the best option, because the Russians expect nothing less. It puts Jack in a high pressure situation without Chloe to provide him the usual backup.
Jack's only assistance comes from Bill Buchanan, who fulfills the role filled by Tony Almeida and Wayne Palmer before him: Jack's right-hand man in the final struggle. Nadia gives Jack nominal support from CTU, but it's not the same as having Chloe leading the technical charge. If nothing else, Jack's assault on the oil platform is explosive, and it gives him the chance to take some measure of revenge from Cheng.
After setting up the confrontation between Jack and his father, it's unexpected for Josh to be the one to shoot Philip and bring the whole mess to an end. Jack doesn't have to face down his father to restore himself; he simply has to walk away. It's a pitiful ending that apparently eliminates any chance of satisfactory answers to several key questions. (Of course, it must be noted that Philip was sitting right next to an operable boat, and he could have conceivably escaped.)
With most of the action done and over with, attention turns to giving the season a semi-dignified ending. Tom pleads for Karen Hayes' release from custody, which probably extends to Bill Buchanan. Chloe predictably reveals her pregnancy, which is a moment that will live in series infamy and will probably bring about more than its share of "jump the shark" claims. And after all he's been through, Jack is given the chance to determine his own fate.
Jack's confrontation with Heller was interesting, because it was completely unexpected. That said, it's a bit too much given how little setup was involved. Jack is absolutely right: he's become what people like Heller needed him to be, and it's unfair of them to act with less loyalty than they demanded. All that said, Heller is also right: Jack cannot protect Audrey the way he wants to, and it will tear him up inside when he fails. And ultimately, Jack makes the right call for Audrey, if not necessarily for himself. With that decision, the realization that he cannot be with someone while doing what he does best, Jack's personal journey back to himself comes to a conclusion.
The stage is set for the series to take a different direction in the next season, and if this finale is any indication, it will be absolutely necessary. This brings Jack to a point not unlike his personal crisis at the end of the third season, which is actually rather appropriate, considering how similar the seasons were. The writers took a good swing at a satisfying ending, but with so much left unresolved and inexplicable plot twists right up until the final hour, this was, in fact, too little, too late.
Overall, this season finale is as disappointing as most of the season that came before it. Because so little time remains to bring resolution to the laundry list of lingering plot threads, what is covered seems all the more important. Because most of that falls flat, the episode fails on both levels. By the end of this installment, it's more obvious than ever that the series needs a fresh approach.
Final Rating: 5/10
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