It’s getting so you can’t trust anyone. Right, Yelena?
That may be how 24 fans feel after seeing Nina Myers, the lovelorn, hardworking CIA operative, revealed as Yelena the mole in Tuesday’s heavily promoted unmasking.
Although viewers now know of Nina’s treachery, whether and how her colleagues learn about her is being saved for the season-ending 24th hour of the Fox drama (Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET/PT).
Betrayal may seem unlike Nina, who is so loyal to her boss and former lover Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), but it fits in with a cloak-and-dagger plot where people often aren’t who they seem to be, says Sarah Clarke, who plays Nina.
Clarke says she was thrilled to get the chance to play the second turncoat in the counterterrorism unit run by Jack, who is trying to thwart a presidential candidate’s assassination.
However, she knows some fans may not like Nina’s change in character.
“It gave me something exciting to play besides waiting around and asking ‘Where’s Jack?,’ ” she says. But “I think a lot of people are going to be bummed. She was sort of becoming a role model.”
Clarke, a 30-year-old St. Louis native, didn’t learn of Nina’s treachery until just six or seven episodes — or hours, according to 24‘s real-time structure — remained. After Jamey was exposed as the counterterrorism unit’s first mole, the actors realized anything could happen to their characters, she says.
Clarke says not knowing Nina’s treachery for so long helped her make the stalwart deputy convincing, something a real double agent would have had to do.
“I think I might have been a neurotic mess,” knowing Nina’s double-dealing background, she says.
Clarke says Nina’s character turn tracks well with earlier plot developments, although producers didn’t decide to make her the mole until Christmas. In an early episode, Jack received a computerized key card that pointed to Nina as the traitor, but she quelled that suspicion. Later, she leaves a safe house before assassins try to kill Jack’s wife and daughter, but her departure is explained as resulting from tension with Jack’s wife, Teri (Leslie Hope).
At one point, one of the assassination plotters, Gaines, orders Jack to shoot Nina (who is protected by a bulletproof vest), but he apparently did not know of her connection to the assassination masterminds, the Drazen family.
In a behind-the-scenes plot development, Clarke recently became engaged to 24 co-star Xander Berkeley, who plays George Mason, the CIA boss who briefly appeared to be the agency mole. They plan to marry in September.
The two met during the filming of the first episode. Clarke, who will appear in the upcoming Emmett’s Mark, and Berkeley both will act in two films this summer, a dark comedy called Below the Belt and a short film about a Coney Island love story.
Although Clarke’s plans are defined, she’s less forthright about Nina’s immediate future and the outcome of Tuesday’s finale. (Whether 24 gets a second season won’t be revealed until Fox announces its fall schedule Thursday, but its return is expected.)
Producers filmed three conclusions, “so we don’t know the exact ending,” she says. “It’ll be very interesting to see what happens.”