The following contains spoilers on the eighth and final season of 24.

*********SPOILER ALERT*********

In some ways, the 8th Season of 24 was the most interesting. A weakness of the show, in my opinion, is that the presidents on 24 tended to fall distinctly into two categories: Good and honest presidents (Presidents Palmer, President Taylor) and terrible and dishonest presidents (President Logan, Acting President Daniels). In that sense, President Keeler struck me as the only realistic president. That’s a topic for another time, but what Season 8 did was present a real fall from grace from an erstwhile good president.

One of the things that struck me about President Taylor throughout the course of the season was that, being such a good and wholesome person, she simply didn’t know how to be dishonest. Or rather, because she was so unaccustomed to bending, she couldn’t do it without breaking. I was actually with her at first. I thought that sidelining Jack Bauer, while obviously tactically a bad move (nobody sidelines Jack Bauer), to be a reasonable move under the circumstances. He threatened a peace process that far bigger than the crimes that he wanted to expose. I really thought it was Jack Bauer that was the unreasonable one.

The problem really began not just when Bauer escaped, but when she kept trying to cover everything up afterward. One can forgive her for her misjudgment on Bauer because she doesn’t know that he’s the star of a show in which he is a force of nature. But there came a point where it was obvious that she lost control. Nevermind the morality of the situation, the threat of even an unlikely exposure by Bauer represented a far greater threat than a temporarily derailed peace process. Where the situation became entirely unsustainable was when she had the reporter jailed. At that point, it was nearly impossible to imagine that she could get away with it. Even having her killed would have resulted in too many questions being asked (Bauer’s death would have been easier to cover up).

Taylor’s ultimate problem is that by being an honest person, she couldn’t bend without breaking. She didn’t know where the line was between cutthroat politics and myopathy. Someone with more experience skirting the line would have known when it was time to cut their losses.

Of course, in the end Charles Logan didn’t pull it off, either. Sort of for the opposite problem. Unlike Taylor, Logan would have been willing to do whatever it took to keep it quiet. But without any sort of moral compass beyond expediency, Logan simply didn’t know where to draw the line for practicality’s sake. In his own warped sense of morality, he too was doing the right thing. He had his own myopathy that pushed him to do some pretty bad things not only without regard to basic morality but without a complete understanding of how perceived immorality – even if what he was doing was completely right in his own eyes – could undermine his cause.

Back to Taylor for a moment, the idea struck me somewhere after Bauer escaped and prior to Merideth Reed being jailed that there was a compromise to be struck between Taylor and Bauer. Taylor wanted her peace process and Bauer wanted his justice. Had Taylor simply been willing to look the other way while Bauer extracted justice, they both could have been satisfied. President Suvarov could not have made too many waves for fear of being exposed. Of course, when Suvarov himself was discovered to be behind it all, that would have complicated things. At that point, Taylor could have offered Bauer a plane ticket to Russia and requested that he wait until then and that he cover his tracks.

In the end, neither Taylor nor Bauer would have probably consented to The Truman Plan. It was too far outside of Taylor’s character to be so aggressively amoral for the greater good even if the alternative was to back into something worse. It’s sorta like the young couple that can rationalize having unprotected sex as spur-of-the-moment but believe bringing a condom is a sign of sin because it meant that you had planned it all along and were therefore more morally culpable. She had to be pushed into it one step at a time. And Bauer’s sense of morality would likely have made allowing Suvarov to go down in history as a respectable figure of peace (having signed both Logan’s accords as well as Taylor’s) would have been too much for him to accept. Or maybe not. The guy was a former black ops operative, so he must have had some understanding that some things are best left unexposed. That’s a harder sell when his girlfriend’s body is not yet cold, however.


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12 Responses to The Fall of Allison Taylor

  1. Kirk says:

    I was never a fan of 24, but I’ve been wondering recently how people in real life can justify lying as part of their jobs. Several managers at my plant lie relentlessly. They lie about big things (layoffs and outsourcing),and they lie about small things (reasons behind having our shift changing its hours back and forth.)

    Onbelievably to me, one of my brothers is in management at another company, and he justified lying to workers about outsourcing. The idea is, if workers know about it they’ll grow uncooperative, so that justifies lying to them.

    How do these people look themselves in a mirror?

  2. Maria says:

    w do these people look themselves in a mirror?

    It’s called a mortgage, Kirk.

  3. trumwill says:

    Kirk,

    If you got a new job offer, but it didn’t start for another six months, would you tell your boss immediately even if you had reason to believe that you would be let go immediately?

  4. ? says:

    It’s sorta like the young couple that can rationalize having unprotected sex as spur-of-the-moment but believe bringing a condom is a sign of sin because it meant that you had planned it all along and were therefore more morally culpable.

    Shouldn’t that sentence read “. . . rationalize having unprotected sex in the heat of the moment . . .”?

    Subversive thought of the day: anti-Jack Bauer types, to the extent they behave in good faith, have at least this in common with those hardcore fundamentalists who frown on, say, teenagers holding hands: both impose their restrictions where they see them as relatively easy to follow, rather than where they are harder to follow.

  5. trumwill says:

    I’m not sure I follow, Phi. How do anti-Bauer types (which I read to mostly be anti-torture folks) not seek to impose their restrictions when they are hard to follow? For that matter, how do fundamentalists?

  6. DaveinHackensack says:

    Given how the Russians seem to have been neck-deep in all of our problems for the last few seasons, it’s a wonder why we aren’t in a new Cold War with them in the 24 universe. Season 8 was definitely a good one though.

    It would have been more satisfying if Jack & Co. had been able to expose Taylor themselves, but this season was realistic in the way nothing really tied up neatly: Jack failing to save the president of the IRK; Rene dying, despite Jack’s efforts to save her; the peace process collapsing; Jack not getting so much as a pardon for his efforts at the end, just a measly head start to get out of the country for a guy who’s been beaten, shot, stabbed, and shocked over the last 24 hours, etc.

    For what it’s worth Taylor was wrong in not listening to Jack. She should have known that big lies never stay hidden forever, and any peace based on lies won’t last.

    I also wonder if your characterization of Taylor as inherently good is accurate. Or, at least, her goodness was complicated by a certain impulsiveness and inattention to possible consequences. Once her chief of staff resigned, that should have been a huge wake-up call.

    Give the 24 writers credit though for creating a complex character in Taylor. Last season, her daughter went to jail for acting as if the ends justified the means; this season may have shown that the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree.

  7. ? says:

    Sorry, my implication was that the easy restriction would necessarily be violated before the harder restrictions would be approached. Thus, for instance, the children forbidden to hold hands (easy) will never be confronted — in the clutch, as it were — with the decision to fornicate. Likewise (the logic goes) the interrogators forbidden to use harsh language will never be tempted to get out the plastic shredders.

  8. trumwill says:

    Dave, that’s why I called the post “The Fall of Allison Taylor”… it’s in this season that she denied her innate goodness. She was terrible at that and failed miserably. It’s not so much that the show ended with her resignation as it is her fall from grace, as it were.

    When it was just Jack Bauer, I think that there was a decent chance of keeping it covered up. Once Jack escaped, however, it was iffier. However, she just had to keep it covered up until the treaty was signed. I don’t consider the peace to be “based on a lie.” The lies were pretty tangential. The original crime was not to make a peace but rather to thwart it. Afterward, the only cover-up is what she knew and when. There was not, early on, much proof that she knew anything. Charles Logan knew that she knew and Suvarov knew that Logan knew, but Logan could deny knowing and Taylor could deny having been told.

  9. trumwill says:

    Phi,

    Gotcha. And that’s a very good point. On the one hand, allowing minor transgressions can make major transgressions easier. On the other hand, how allowing for any transgressions means that, once somebody has committed one transgression, it’s easier to go hogwild. No reason to bother with the law once you’re operating outside of it. If you’re going to break God’s Commandment and have sex, why worry about condoms? Or for that matter aborting?

    It actually goes back to my posts on Henry Granju and drugs. One of the questions is how seriously to take a kid admitting to marijuana use. Mama Granju regrets not responding more forcefully. The result of which could have been that Henry would never have touched anything else. Or it could have been that he would make damn sure to operate as far out of her view (and protection) as possible.

    Tell a kid that he can drink but he can’t drink or drive, you increase the chances of his drinking. Forbid drinking entirely, however, you increase the likelihood that if they do drink that they will drink and drive because they can’t call home and tell you that they won’t be coming home tonight or to request a ride because they’re too drunk to drive. Had Henry Granju not been trying to hide his drug use, he might not have waited nearly so long to get medical attention. It’s a really tough question.

    I realize that all of this is tangential to your main point which is one about consistency and parallels, but it’s what comes to mind. Your original point is a good one.

  10. DaveinHackensack says:

    Truman,

    As long as the Russians were essential to the peace (for reasons unexplained) and were actively working to sabotage it, in conjunction with IRK terrorists, the treaty was worthless. Think about it. In 24-world, we have a huge problem with the Russians, who essentially committed acts of war on us that day, and only agreed to sign the treaty after being blackmailed about it by Logan. What’s to stop them from sabotaging it after they signed it?

  11. trumwill says:

    Continued blackmail (if never exposed), an internationally disgraced Russian government (if exposed), and possibly a new regime (ditto). It may not have worked, but it may have. Good points, though. The thought occurs to me that Bauer (or Kanin) would have been more successful if they had put it in practical rather than moral terms.

  12. DaveinHackensack says:

    I’ve had an idea for a 25th hour of 24, but it wouldn’t have worked given this season’s ending. My idea was that the good guys at CTU would go out for drinks and share their thoughts on the previous 24 hours. I would have the writers outline it in broad terms, but let the actors improv the actual dialog. In previous seasons, they could have gone out for breakfast.

    Have you been watching Justified? That is a great show. Everything’s just a little orthogonal to what you might expect, the dialog, the characters and their arcs, etc.

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