A Day at the Beach:

By Steven Filippi
Guest Contributor

At the Upfronts in April, it was announced that 24 will return after a four-year hiatus in May 2014 as a new twelve-part miniseries titled 24: Live Another Day.

As we enjoy some down time at the beach, our thoughts wonder. How will Jack Bauer, who, for eight years, was played to Emmy-winning perfection by Kiefer Sutherland, be portrayed when he comes back?

Over the course of eight seasons, we watched, half-adulated, half-horrified, as Bauer tortured, killed, and even bit terrorists in the defense of the people of the United States of America. Bauer was the preeminent post–September 11 hero: in a world full of terror, deceit, and corruption, he was dark, morally ambiguous, and totally unafraid to get his hands dirty, which, in 24 terms, meant breaking a few fingers or threatening enucleation (that is, eye removal) with a pocket knife, in order to do his job.

However, with the war on terror, enhanced interrogation methods, and government surveillance—all immediate post–9/11 norms—more controversial today than during the early days of the show’s original run, will Bauer’s no-nonsense, ethically dubious, and often-unlawful “hands-on” approach to interrogating suspects, exposing corruption, and keeping the country safe still resonate with a war-weary American public that is more preoccupied with financial hardship at home than the problems and dangers of the world stage?

Here are 24 moments that defined the character of Jack Bauer during the show's original run. When we last left him, he was on the run from Russian and American agents. . . .

Which moments define Jack Bauer for you?


1. Jack Threatens Torture With a Towel (Day 1: 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.)

“You probably don't think I could force this towel down your throat, but trust me, I can. All the way. Except that I'd hold onto this little bit at the end. When your stomach starts to digest the towel, I pull it out. Taking your stomach lining with it. Most people probably take about a week to die. It's very painful.”

Jack’s wife Teri (Leslie Hope) and daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) have been kidnapped, and businessman Ted Cofell might know where they are. So Jack impersonates his limo driver, takes him to a secluded area, and threatens to torture him in a very creative way. This was the first instance in which Jack’s persuasiveness (and ruthlessness) was demonstrated on 24, and the show never looked back. 


2. Jack Versus the Drazens (Day 1: 11:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.)

In a blind rage, Jack charges the dock-front hideout of the Drazens—the masterminds behind the assassination attempt on Senator David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) and the kidnapping of Jack’s family—after the Drazens’ mole, Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke), had lied to Jack, telling him they had murdered his daughter, in the hope that Jack would do just that and get himself killed. Instead, Jack kills all of the Drazens, including patriarch Victor (Dennis Hopper), who actually surrenders after running out of bullets. Jack unloads a full clip on the man he believes has murdered Kim.



3. Jack Cradles His Wife (Day 1: 11:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.)

“I’m sorry… I’m so sorry…”

Jack returns to CTU and confronts Nina, who is arrested for being a mole. Jack reunites with Kim and then goes looking for his wife… only to find her in a pool of blood in an empty office. He cradles Teri’s lifeless body as scenes between the two of them from the first episode are shown in split screen—the only instance in 24’s history that departs from the show’s real-time format. The death of Teri turns Jack into a shell of the man he once was. And he becomes all the more brutal and tortured because of it.



4. Jack Needs a Hacksaw (Day 2: 8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m.)

“I’m gonna need a hacksaw.”

In his first visit to CTU since Teri’s death, Jack murders sleazeball witness Marshall Goren in cold blood. He then utters perhaps his most famous line of the show, regarding a certain type of saw, so that he can bring Goren’s head as a peace offering to the leader of a terrorist group that knows the location of a nuclear bomb set to detonate in Los Angeles. And he does all of this right in front of CTU boss George Mason (Xander Berkeley).


5. Jack Interrogates Syed Ali (Day 2: 7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.)

“I know what it’s like to lost someone. To watch them get killed right in front of you. I don’t want to hurt your family. But I will order those men to pull that trigger if you don’t give me the information that I need.”

In one of the (seemingly) most ruthless 24 moments ever, Jack interrogates Second Wave terrorist leader Syed Ali (Francesco Quinn), forcing him to watch a live feed of his family being held captive by his home country’s government. President Palmer calls Jack and forbids him from harming the family, but after the call ends, Jack stays on the phone, thanking the president and telling Ali that Palmer gave the go-ahead. Ali still won’t break, so Jack gives the order. The men on the feed shoot one of Ali’s sons. Ali succumbs before Jack can have the other son killed. After Ali is taken away, the feed changes. The kid is still alive; it was all a ruse to get Ali to talk. But for a few crucial minutes, we, just like Ali, believe Jack had ordered the murder of a child in the name of protecting American citizens. 


6. Jack Says Goodbye to Kim (Day 2: 10:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.)

“Honey, I want you to live your life. I want you to be happy; that’s all I’ve ever wanted for you. I want you to try and grow up and be the kind of person…that would’ve made your mom proud.”

Thinking he’s on a suicide mission, Jack says an emotional farewell to his daughter, Kim, over the phone while flying a plane carrying the terrorists’ nuclear bomb into the Mojave Desert. Luckily for Jack, radiation victim and boss George Mason had snuck aboard, and convinces Jack to let him pilot (aka crash) the plane while Jack parachutes to safety. Jack is given a new lease on life thanks to Mason’s sacrifice.


"24 Moments that Define Jack Bauer" Pages 1 | 2 | 3 | 4


About the Author
Paley Center intern, Steven Filippi is currently a senior film student at Ramapo College of New Jersey. 24 kept him sane each week through high school and the intensity of daily rowing practices. Well, except for that one painful year where there was a writers’ strike and no Jack Bauer… He hails from Nutley, NJ, of The Sopranos fame, where he enjoys the company of his 3 cats.