Whoo! Probably the most satisfying and best all-round finale that 24 has yet had! (The last handful of season 1's episodes began to lose focus up until and including its finale, which was thus anti-climactic; season 2's finale was quite good save for its awful, pointless cliffhanger ending, about which allow me to digress in order to explain. To recap the scenario, a would-be assassin poisons Palmer by shaking his hand, and we're left with that until the start of season 3. We see the POTUS up and about with no more than a scarred hand.
Obviously, not the perfect finale -- Chase's announcement that he was leaving the field and retiring to a sort of normalcy with Kim (a contradiction in terms, surely!) after this last mission was clearly a wanted ad for abuse to come his way (though I thought it was going to of a more fatal nature, 24 actually went the less expected route and only mutilated him); Elisha Cuthbert is still a horrendous actress, with Carlos Bernard (Tony) close behind; the course of action remaining predictably within not just the confines of Los Angeles but close enough to Jack so that he can be involved in its resolution; and perhaps worst of all, Gael's wife shooting Saunders just as he's about to ID Arthur Rabens (come on, at least wait for his usefulness in preventing the deaths of 4 million people to expire before capping him, you stupid broad!).
But the good outweighed these complaints -- and taken by themselves, the problems are significant, but I'm willing to overlook them if it means I can get caught up in the intensity of Chase wrestling with Rabens on broken glass (no homoeroticism there, no siree). Tony's boring underbite thrown in jail for good (i.e. not reprieve at the last moment, you know, consequences rendered for stupid actions (speaking of which, I hope that he and Gael's wife end up as cellmates)). When Chase asked for Jack's opinion of what he should do for a more normal and attached life, Jack just replying, "I'm the last guy you should ask." A not-ludicrous (and consequential!) resolution to the silly President story. Oh, and the little part about lopping Chase's hand off. (It's entirely possible that tv has desensitizing me to violence, because that was what I called the Cool Part.)
The most noteworthy thing, though: in the end Jack breaking down in tears, which, remarkably, was done in an understated manner. (I have to admit that I briefly entertained thoughts that Jack was getting ready to drive off to a Methadone clinic.) I was taken aback at the use of subtlety! Rather than explain with a heavy hand why tears overcame his usually stoic-to-angry emotional palette, 24 went with a naturalistic portrayal (good acting job by the Kief too). Contrasted against Chase's claim that he and Kim are going to be more grounded, the scene underscores Jack's emotionally barren life, especially since Jack answers the call to return to CTU work. Things will always be the same for him, but his immovable gravity drastically throws off the orbits of everyone around him. (And if reports are true that quite a number of the actors won't be returning next year (and it's going to be nearly a full year too!) -- things are going to remain the same for Kief, but not for the rest of the cast -- then the scene also serves as a goodbye to them.)