Spoiler Warning: If you have not watched episode 8 of '24: Live Another Day', stop reading now…
From a franchise known for its twists and turns, back-stabbings and betrayals, the greatest episodes are those where the characters face an unyielding, unsettling reality and no one, even Jack Bauer, has enough power to prevent it. The eighth episode of 24: Live Another Day, and the 200th episode of the series, was easily the best of the season and a tour-de-force level drama.
Simone is in really rough shape after escaping the hospital, so much so that the doctor says waking her for information will kill her. Jack insists Kate “wake the b*tch up.” Kate complies in a very Bauer-esque way and they find the old safe house Margot had left a half hour before. The CIA does find the disk Navid planted for Simone that contains a highly encrypted way to hack in and stop the drones.
There’s yet more with the worst assassin in 24 history. The man sent to kill Jordan tracks him with the help of Navaro, but the lowly techie has some combat skills and confronts the hired gun. But a fool’s error with his weapon results in both he and the assassin dying in the warehouse.
But, that plot was secondary to the unreal request President Heller had for Jack: Get him to Wembly Stadium to deliver himself to Margot. In the process, Heller tells Jack about his illness and his plan to resign at the top of the hour. Jack reluctantly accepts and with Mark’s similarly reluctant help, sneaks the President of the United States out of the London residence.
As Jack and Heller march toward the inevitable, Chloe is trying desperately to crack the encryption, giving viewers a glimmer of hope that the counter-terrorism dream team will again work miracles and save the President.
Jack and Heller reach Wembley as he receives another call from Chloe. She’s frantic but probably isn’t going to be able to stop the drones in time. Heller quips, “End of the road, Jack,” as he tells Jack he granted him a Presidential pardon for everything he’s done from four years ago through today. Heller makes a slow walk to the middle of the stadium as Jack looks on. Margot positions the drone over the stadium and is stunned to actually see Heller there. With the lights on bright, Heller gazes skyward and Margot personally fires a single missile, obliterating the field and Heller.
Heller’s sacrifice is a fusion of two of the most memorable deaths in 24 history. First, CTU head George Mason in season two, dying from radiation poisoning, flew a nuclear bomb into the Mojave Desert, saving Los Angeles. Second, the heartbreaking episode in the third season where Jack is forced to personally execute the head of CTU, Ryan Chappelle, and deliver his body to a terrorist. Both were monumental sacrifices. Both were presented as a slow trudge toward a grim conclusion. To those that malign 24’s realism on the grounds Jack Bauer always saves the day, I’d submit this episode as the ultimate rebuttal.
The questions after this episode are season-altering. Will Margot keep up her end of the bargain and destroy the drones like she promised? Who are Cross and Navarro really working for? Will Mark ignore that Presidential pardon and still try to hand Jack over to the Russians? So many questions linger for the remainder of the season. The 24 thrill ride isn’t over yet.-- R.I.P. James Heller: Defense Secretary, President of the United States, '24' Legend --