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Kiefer Sutherland as Jack BauerFox

When Fox announced the return of 24 the decision was met with some trepidation after a successful and thoroughly satisfying final run of episodes during Day 8 in 2010.

Jack Bauer's (Kiefer Sutherland) rampage in New York four years ago was a great way for the show to go out, but after a tricky start the new shorter season has proven that there is plenty of life in the show yet.

WARNING: The following takes place after the 24: Live Another Day finale - which has aired in the US - and so contains major spoilers as well as speculation regarding a potential follow-up season.


Where does the end of Day 9 leave us?

The final episode of Live Another Day began with the US and China on the brink of war after Cheng Zhi (Tzi Ma) manipulated US defence networks and ordered a US sub to sink a Chinese carrier. With the Chinese military heading toward US territory, both sides start swinging their nuclear arsenals about in front of the other in a dangerous test of wills. 

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Mary Lynn Rajskub as Chloe O'BrienFox

President James Heller (William Devane) has promised the Chinese evidence that Cheng is alive, sending Bauer to track him down. To prevent this and give him time to make an escape, Cheng has placed a sniper on the President's daughter and Jack's former flame Audrey (Kim Raver).

At the end of the episode Jack has succeeded but Audrey has died in the process. Jack beheads Cheng with a GODAMN SAMURAI SWORD in revenge before discovering that hacker friend Chloe O'Brien (Mary Lynn Rajskub) has been captured. At the end of the episode we find that the Russians took her to lure Jack out and finally apprehend the man they've sought since Day 8 came to a close.

Jack is heading to prison in Russia, or more precisely Moscow according to Kevin McNally's Russian agent. Chloe O'Brien is alive and on her way back to America, with Jack asking her to contact his family. Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) meanwhile has handed in her badge, and President James Heller is heading back to the US distraught after the death of his daughter, and likely to resign as Commander in Chief due to that and his escalating Alzheimer's.


Will there even be a Day 10? What format will it take?

The end of Day 9 was less final than the end of Day 8, which paired with the success of this season makes another fairly likely. The format as well has proved successful despite early protestations from sceptical fans.

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Fox

Live Another Day still took place over a 24 hour period, and all occurred in real time as we're accustomed to. It was only with 15 minutes to go that the day skipped ahead 12 hours, bringing us full circle.

Another 12 episode season seems the safest best, as on the evidence of Live Another Day it allows a tighter, more focused season with plenty of action without having to worry about budget. When exactly the time jump takes place in a potential future season can also change, it could happen half way through or even at the end of the first episode.

The point is we know it can work, and be used to greater effect. It works in Live Another Day, but it could easily not have been.


What should we expect?

That's trickier to predict. The natural assumption is that it will take place in Russia, but the scope for that is quite limited and makes it a case of Jack Buaer versus an entire country. It'll be a stretch to also include American characters and an American president that Bauer can interact with.

The door is open for Kate Morgan to return, and perhaps even take over as lead character should Bauer's story come to a close and 24 continue. There are also unanswered questions regarding Bauer's associate Belcheck, could he aid Bauer in escaping from Russia?

A return to the states could work, but then there's the matter of how Bauer actually gets there and what happens next. 

After 13 years, nine seasons and 204 episodes, Jack Bauer surely can't have much more in him. His character has little left, losing yet another loved one and finding himself increasingly desperate and alone despite having a sole friend in Chloe.

Day 10 should mark the end of Jack Bauer and be all about redeeming himself in his own eyes. Perhaps Bauer could escape Russia and head to America in an effort to see his family one final time. Put him on the run, but of course, find a reason for him to save the day one last time.