As devastating as it is for me to accept, 24 is coming to an end this month. To discuss the end of the series (and to answer for some of its most recent mistakes), 24 executive producer Howard Gordon participated in a media call and tried to shed some light on why certain decisions were made this year. Namely: The existence of Dana Walsh. Read the highlights of the call below.
Did you ever consider keeping Renee Walker alive for the duration of the series?
Howard Gordon: Actually, typically we come upon these things as more improvisations, but this was one that we had come up with at the very beginning of the season and stuck with for reasons that I think everybody is seeing right now, which is obviously motivating Jack to this very final, climactic confrontation and taking him to a place he has never been before. I have to say that I'm taking people's outrage as a measure of interest, and their indifference would have been far more hurtful than their outrage. But we have a history of doing that. I remember when that happened with Edgar; we got a fair bit of angry email. But yes, this is something that we've thought about and thought about very carefully, and hopefully did it well. I hope.
Did the cancellation come early enough that you could do any script adjustments, or is this just the way you were going to end it no matter what?
HG: It's a good question, and it was one that the network asked as well. To me, the show was always going to end the way it was going to end, whether there was a ninth season or whether there was a movie because the story has been told. What I think changed, though, was the context of it all. In other words, it really took on a different meaning. I've said this in the past that I think any number of seasons in years past -- season four, season five, I think even last year -- could have been a really, really cool series finale. Only the fact that this was our series finale did it really have the kind of context that, wow, we're really saying goodbye to this character. And there is a final moment that is very, very specific to the series finale. It's not so much a plot moment, but it's a punctuation mark that I think is unique to the series finale. But the answer is really no. We told the story the way it was going to be told and would have no matter what.
Any hints about what will become of Jack Bauer in the finale?
HG: We tried on a couple of very different endings for size and the one we came to at the end is the one that felt just right. One thing we tried and didn't work was happily ever after for Jack. What he has done, forget about the last eight seasons, but in these last episodes or what he'll have done in the episodes which you've not seen yet leaves him once again in a very compromised place morally and ethically and emotionally. This show is a tragedy and so to give Jack a happy ending just didn't feel authentic. We gave him a happy beginning, and I really am very pleased with the way we started and, of course, gave him something to care about with Annie Wersching and his own family. And of course, circumstances and the story dictated a kind of very complex confrontation.
A lot of fans absolutely hated the whole Dana Walsh character and sub-plot. What's your defense of how that whole thing played out?
HG: Yes. Man, every season there is something that people seem to fixate on. You know, I got it and I guess all I kept telling people was to please wait until the story had been told before you commented. To me, I think episode 20 answered that question. I was really, really proud of that episode and what I liked about it, too, was that for the first time, this very complex and admittedly very ... confused and crazy character, this onion of a character, got peeled down to the nub and you finally really understand a little bit, anyway, who she is. Now of course she is a sociopath and of course it's kind of an insane story. But to have seen in that moment that she actually really cared about Cole, that she really had done this all to get out of a situation she got herself into.
Look, it's crazy. There is a girl from Rock Springs who somehow manages to get into CTU as an analyst under an alias, it's crazy. And the fact that it was the Russians, that the Russians had sponsored her and put her in there made it make some sense. And I think it was a pretty wild roller coaster of a character which Katee pulled off, I think, beautifully. What I liked about it was that what felt unnatural or felt weird and maybe what didn't resonate with people at the beginning was that very part, that she wasn't authentic, that she was this counterfeit personality in the midst of our heroes.
I'm happy with the way it resolved. I really haven't gone online and seen how people reacted or whether they are even more pissed off, I don't know. But I think in the end, she acquitted herself pretty well and I think the story turned out to be pretty interesting.
What is the current status of the movie?
HG: The current status of the movie is that Billy Ray has written a draft which Kiefer has read, and we're all working together on the second draft. Now, it's not been shared with Fox or anybody so there is no official status right now. It's very much a work in progress. Honestly, the movie division is on the other side of the lot and I don't know and can't measure their intentions or their timing, and certainly can't measure their reaction to the script because they haven't read it yet. So I think it's all very much speculative at this point. I think our preference would be to do it sooner than later, of course, and get Jack back out in front of people within a year or two, but I don't know. That would be just me speaking.
What moment this season are you most proud of? And conversely, is there anything you wish you had done differently?
HG: The moment I'm most proud of, frankly, is the very last one, which obviously you haven't seen yet. But you'll see it, and when you see it, I really think we found -- it has kind of obsessed me for awhile, what is going to be the last image. What's the last second on a real time show, I think maybe has a little more weight than any other moment of any other season finale. So for me, that was really something I was very, very happy with.
As far as regrets, I have remarkably few regrets, or none. I'd say the only thing was that the budget was rolled back a bit this year as it was across the board for all Fox shows. We've gotten to be a very expensive show so I don't know that you would -- hopefully, it was invisible to the audience, but we didn't have what in years past was a real ability to reshoot or to enhance some of the production. So we had to do a little bit of belt-tightening.
Your hopes for the series finale? Dana Walsh hatred? Discuss whatever you want below!
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