24: “6:00 a.m. – 7:00 a.m.” and “7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.” (Episodes 7.23 and 7.24)

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Even as you are reading this, Day 7 of 24 is available on store shelves. The season that ended last night. The DVDs and Blu-rays were released today, which means they were probably shipped to stores sometime last week. Surely something would’ve leaked. There had to be at least a couple of weasels working in the backroom at K-mart willing to risk their jobs to spoil everyone’s hard-earned fun. And there very well may have been. But the thing is, the spoiler never hit the web…at least not where we were looking. Then again, maybe the problem was that there really wasn’t an easy way to sum it all up. Putting it into a few words is impossible.

“Tony was stopped, but…”

“Alan Wilson was caught, but…”

“Olivia was found out, but…”

“Kim is going to try the experimental treatment to save Jack, but…”

More than any other 24 finale, this one really leaves us hanging, almost as if they ran out of time for the story they’d planned. There is the whole Tony revelation, first of all. Turns out, he’s neither good nor bad. At least, bad in the sense that we’re thinking. He is bad, but he has arguably noble intentions, such as spending the last three years of his life searching for the man responsible for his wife’s death. Even as he’s strapping a bomb to poor Jack (we’ll get to him later), you can’t help but sympathize with him. It’s almost kind of sweet in a deranged way how he explains to Jack he has no intention of letting the homegrown terrorists use his body to harvest the pathogen. He’s just going to use his longtime friend to blow up the guy who killed Michelle (as well as ordered the hit on President Palmer. This was the man manipulating President Logan in Day 5.)

When the FBI crashes the party and causes panic, Tony, Cara Bowden and Alan all end up in the same room together. To Cara’s surprise, Tony shoots her. Now, it’s just Tony and Alan. At this point, you’re almost rooting for him. Yeah, he might be killing the only lead they have to uncover all the others involved in the plot. Maybe it was just the fact he actually had a “worthy” reason to enact all the chaos that you hope he gets his vengeance. Then he uses precious time explaining things to Alan. Of course, he has to. This guy is so far up on the food chain he can’t possibly remember everyone’s lives he’s ruined. So, Tony talks and talks and then begins to yell, “You killed my son!” We discover Michelle was pregnant. But Renee and Jack get there just in time, reducing Tony to a neutered puppy dog.

The FBI locating the secret hideout is a whole story in and of itself, stemming from Kim Bauer’s situation at the airport. When we last left the soon-to-be damsel in distress, the two people she befriended were, unbeknownst to her, secretly keeping surveillance on her to use against Jack. Naturally, we thought she’d fully realize that damsel-in-distress role, but when the airport goes to run-for-cover mode, it’s Kim who helps neutralize the female hostile and pursues the long-haired dude. That CTU training years ago must have finally clicked, because Kim was, dare we say, kinda cool. She even recovers the laptop the failed duo used to record her every move. Give that thing to Chloe, and you have Tony’s location. All in a day’s work.

But Kim wasn’t close to being finished. While Jack is making peace with his demise in the hospital bed at FBI headquarters, he has a visitor. Logic says Kim will walk through the door, but it’s actually the priest he nearly roughed up a couple hours earlier. The two obviously had a shared bond after their initial meet-and-greet, but who could’ve guessed? Does this mean Jack will be Muslim when he returns next season? We say “when” because we’re left with Kim coming to the rescue, ready to try the experimental treatment. There’s not a thing Jack can say because he’s comatose. Good for you, Kim. A couple weeks ago, one of our readers accurately predicted Jack would be near death at the close of the day. There was just no time to giftwrap it and put a bow on top.

While you can pretty much guarantee a lapse in time and a renewed Jack, you also have to begin thinking about Renee. She’s ready to get her hands dirty with Alan, handcuffing Janis and leaving her badge outside the interrogation room. Will she be with the FBI next season? Will she have killed Alan? Especially for this show, it’s a strange place to leave the audience in almost every respect. There’s no closure on Jack, Renee, Tony, Kim, the president and her family. From the previews, we all knew the president would find out about Olivia. What we didn’t know is that she would have her daughter arrested. This is a woman who, in one day, discovered her son was murdered when she’d been led to believe it was suicide, wondered if her husband, Henry, would survive an assassination attempt, was almost killed herself, and watched as Olivia was nearly filleted right before her eyes. How easy and tempting it would be to just quietly sweep her daughter’s sleazy political ways under the Oval Office rug. Then, when she puts her oath of office before her family against her ailing husband’s wishes, you see how noble she really is. It’s a decision you can’t imagine any politician making. It’s fiction at its best. But, oh, what great tragic fiction it is. You know it’s the end of her family in every respect. Her son is dead, her daughter is imprisoned and her spouse will probably soon be filing for divorce. And yet, it all makes sense, not just for her image, but for the face of the nation. Four more years? Only if she wants it.