The last two hours started with Tony held captive by Mandy, the profesional terrorist who has been in the background through all four series, right from the early episodes of series one currently reshowing on BBC, and including her assasination attempt on President Palmer at the end of series 2. Needless to say, it was slightly predictable Tony getting caught as in the previous episode he and Michelle had just got back together, however the writers were nice, and although at one point you thought Tony was dead, ultimately the two of them got together.
Jack was not so lucky. As with previous series, the main series plotline was tied up within a few minutes of the start of episode 24, when CTU managed to locate the missile and it was shot down. This left Jack to come back to base to be dumped by his girlfriend, and then to discover that the Chinese wanted him arrested for the slightly botched raid on their consulate earlier in the series. The current presidential security adviser decided that Jack was too much of a risk to fall into Chinese hands, and arranged for him to be arrested and then killed. However, Jack got a warning from ex-President Palmer, and with the help of Tony, Michelle and Chloe, made his escape, after faking his own death. Of course as Tony and Michelle dropped him off, they left him with a handy secure mobile phone, ready for series five next year.
To some extent, what was promised with series four, with it being a different show without the regular cast didn’t materialise, by the middle of the series, about the only regular who hadn’t appeared was Kim, and then by the end we even had ex-President Palmer coming along too, in many cases almost replacing new characters that had appeared at the beginning of the series. There have also been criticisms that much of series four was a rehash of series two, and also concerns about the focus on arab terrorists. Another area of concern was the more extensive use of torture, with some commentators speculating whether the show was attempting to legitimise torture in the War on Terror.
Series five may well have to be different, with Jack having to go on the run. However it seems apparent that the writers have decided that they need a group of familiar characters, hence why many of the regulars were brought back in during this run. One positive note is that, following the demise of Enterprise, 24 has gained the services of Manny Coto, widely credited with having produced some of the best episodes of Enterprise during it’s final year. Since 24 has already been given a sixth season, hopefully he’ll have a better run at this show than he got with Enterprise!