24 showrunners discuss shocking moment

24: Live Another Day key art
24: Live Another Day key art

Is President Heller really dead? It seems clear that he is, but there was no silent clock at the end.
Katz: Do you really want us to ruin an entire week of anticipation for you?

Yes. And no. But what about the lack of a silent clock? If it weren’t for that, people probably would assume he definitely is gone.
Coto: Well, we kind of…

Katz: Not everybody gets a silent clock.

Coto: Yes, not everyone gets a silent clock. It’s for certain characters. We have a new post-[production] team that may not be up to speed on the whole silent clock thing [laughs].

So if there is a chance that President Heller survives, we know Chloe was working fast and furiously on getting into Margot’s computer system with the drones. She told Jack she couldn’t get into one. There were two others that she was working on. Could that have allowed for last-minute control of where the drone was actually aimed?
Coto: I guess. I just don’t know if there was enough time.

Katz: You’re not giving up…

Full Interview: Yahoo TV

TV Guide also spoke with Katz and Coto and got some details on how Heller’s death will play a part in the remainder of the season with Audrey.

You killed the president! Unless you want us to believe he might have survived that missile exploding…
Manny Coto: No, it’s pretty cut and dry.

So what is the fallout of President Heller’s death?
Katz: It informs the Audrey-Jack relationship in a big way, and the Audrey-Boudreau relationship. Because in Audrey’s mind, Jack and Boudreau led her father to his death — they let him give himself up. That’s going to be a huge emotional blow to have to get through.

Do you think knowing how Audrey would feel also led to Jack’s initial hesitation?
Coto: Jack believes that this is the right thing to do. He agrees with Heller that there are no other options. Jack’s not just doing this for the sake of doing it. There are lives to be saved, and they’ve made a calculation. If Margot can be trusted — which is what they’re taking a chance on — then they will have saved thousands of lives.

Full Interview: TV Guide


Comments Closed
so post production team made a mistake not putting the silent clock? or what?

Basically. I don’t think that excuse is actually all that far-fetched.

It was a joke. The whole idea of a silent clock denoting that somebody is “really dead” or that it implies that a certain character is more important than another is entirely a fan invention. The silent clock is simply employed at times when the powers that be feel that it’s a dramatically appropriate/effective device. Reading more into it is silly.

I actually think that’s a pretty poor and a last-minute excuse though, they would have made them aware of it if they wanted a silent clock, and during a test viewing, they’d ask to have the clock silenced if Heller was dead, then again, I don’t think you can make up a viable reason now that he’s alive, really.

For those who want to watch the last scene again, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1S2rmc_Hpc4

I kind of feel the two are hinting us that heller not dead. If he did, they could just give a straight answer.

He is dead.

Manny: “No, it’s pretty cut and dry.”

This is discouraging, but I feel like he would say that if it’s supposed to be a surprise that he didn’t die. I feel like if they wanted it to really be cut and dry, they would have shown the drown hitting the field closer up in color (i.e. not just on Margot’s screen), because all we saw was a field being blown up and we couldn’t see if Heller was still standing there in the color version. They also might have shown Jack reacting to it or had Margot zoom in and find pieces of his body after the explosion. And there would have been a silent clock, because the producers absolutely know at this point that a lot of fans read no silent clock as not really dead.

I’ve learned to never say never with 24, but I think a lot of these “Heller is alive” theories are really reaching and clinging on to the smallest little things.

I don’t see why Margot would feel the need to zoom in and look for body parts – the drone correctly recognized Heller as the POTUS, she hit him directly with a missile, saw a giant crater in the field with smoke and debris everywhere, and the drone told her “target destroyed” afterwards. Margot has no reason to doubt anything, so including a scene like that wouldn’t really make sense.

I also don’t think a Jack reaction shot was needed, too much cutting back and forth between different characters would have diminished the moment. I’m sure we’ll get Jack’s reaction at the start of the next episode.

I am usually not one to insist that characters who die are not really dead, but last night really felt like it was designed to be a fake-out or at least to leave it as an open question. It just seemed weird that they showed the explosion in color from so far away that we couldn’t see if Heller was still standing there, then quickly cut back to the view on Margot’s screen. And I feel like it would have been a much more poignant ending if they had shown Jack react and maybe cry, and then done a silent clock. And after the whole Tony silent clock controversy in season 5 (which I was not a part of – I thought initially that he might not be dead but when they showed his body being covered with a sheet at the beginning of the next episode I accepted that he was), I just can’t believe it was a mere oversight.

The only other times I have thought someone wasn’t dead were Heller in season 5 and Audrey in season 6, and I was right about both. That said, I am so conflicted about whether I think Heller is dead now that I am not sure you could say I am right if he turns out to be alive.

I agree with your sentiment that if Heller is dead (which I’m 99% certain at this point), they should definitely execute the ending better by showing more grief and add a silent clock. Maybe they just feel suspense is better than a give away in this particular moment (which I 100% disagree).

And speaking mostly from personal preference, heroic sacrifice >>>> surprise survival. It would just feel too cheap if Heller survives this next episode. It is a direction I hope and quite believe they won’t take. In other words, making this episodes ending ambiguous is a small mistake, actually make Heller survive after all these? Big mistake.

I’ve really been trying to hold my tongue with all this “he’s not dead” nonsense, but you are a monumental idiot. He’s dead, get over it. Him not being dead would cheapen the whole thing, the entire 200th episode that was arguably one of the most powerful of the series. Stop being an idiot and grow up. He’s dead.

Looks like there is a possibility for more event series in the future! http://www.tvguide.com/News/24-Live-Another-Day-Postmortem-Evan-Katz-Manny-Coto-1083104.aspx

The way they did the killing was so stupid. It was a really nice moment, I was waiting for just a sniper shot or something to take him out, but the way they did it with the drone just looked really stupid, to me.

Why? It was made abundantly clear in the premiere that Margot wished to use a drone to kill Heller in order to “make a point”.

Then you missed the entire point. Margot wanted to get revenge on Heller the same way her husband died – via the drone.

Except, the CGI looked really shoddy, the fact Margot is able to pilot the drones herself completely nullified the entire Naveed storyline, the fact she took out Wembley Stadium’s pitch went against her “I won’t do anymore attacks on London”. The symbolism of using Heller’s drones against him was not good enough to offset the way it completely ruined the moment for me

Margot didn’t pilot the drone, she just fired it. Ian piloted the drone into Wembley. Margot just “pulled the trigger” so, no, the Naveed story wasn’t nullified. Her agreement was to not kill anyone else after she killed Heller so she has still yet to go against that agreement. A soccer stadium is not a human life. (I cannot believe I just had to write that sentence but, hey, it is World Cup time, so it was probably going to come up at some point.) The symbolism not enough for you? What’s next, the Bible didn’t have enough Jesus in it to satisfy you? *headdesk* I know we’re all entitled to our opinions but your gripes are really petty, IMO.

No, it’s not that there wasn’t enough symbolism, I get why the writers did it, but it was a bad decision and didn’t work. Spoiling a beautiful self-sacrificial moment with a cartoon explosion was really shoddy TV. In the real world terrorists do not use dramatic gestures full of irony, if a terrorist wished to kill the President they would do it the easiest way possible, not the way with the most meaning. It stripped any realism out of it and turned it into a stupid cartoonish moment.

PS the bible is a load of rubbish too, so that argument doesn’t fly with me I’m afraid

Except this isn’t about real-life terrorists. This is fictional.

Real terrorists don’t use irony, huh? They don’t do symbolism? Are you kidding? I guess it was a coincidence that 9/11 happened on 9-1-1. I guess those guys weren’t into symbolism or anything when they decided that driving planes into two enormous literal pillars of America was going to drive home their point.

Oh yes, the september 11 attacks were a great symbolistic blow to the emergency services of America. The terrorists sure struck a blow to the 9-1-1 phone operators! Have fun with the tin foil hat.

And Brad, I suppose if Jack Bauer sprouts wings to escape his next perilous situation that’ll be fine, because this is fictional and not real life.

There are boundaries, of course, but now you’re just shamelessly using hyperbole. You know that Jack Bauer sprouting wings is so far removed from the point I was making so, please, don’t even bother.

Al Qaeda *did* use symbolism. That is controvertible. Attacking on September 11th was no mere coincidence. Furthermore, they targeted the Twin Towers using American planes precisely because they represented American capitalism and globalization.

I agree that the CGI was shoddy in this scene and it kind of detracts from the moment a little bit. Sometimes less is more. Ryan Chapelle’s execution didn’t show us his brains and blood splattering everywhere for example.

The CGI has been kind of horrible all season to be honest, one of my biggest complaints. Aside from just the explosions, they’ve been using (bad) CGI for smaller scenes that seem like they could be easily accomplished with practical effects. The blood splatter from Jack shooting the protester in the leg, the blood splatter from Naveed’s headshot, the blood from Farah’s stab wound, and the blood from Heller’s arm in this episode all looked really bad to me.

I’m sort of hoping Margot keeps her word and destroys the drones so that we can get some good old-fashioned shootouts or a different threat that doesn’t rely on as much CGI explosions.

CGI has often been a downfall of 24 – except I do remember a couple of instance when it was used really subtly and really effectively in the early episodes of Season 7. In some of the LA shots, they added a tiny washington monument or capitol building to the horizon, to the extent that it really confused me as to which shots were LA and which were washington. I thought Season 7 early on really sold the location of DC, which of course could not be said for the CG mess they made of Season 8 NY.

FWIW, there is precedent for Coto lying about a character’s death in a post-episode interview. https://www.24spoilers.com/2007/03/20/manny-coto-24-season-6-episode-14-audio-interview/ around the 6:30 mark.

I am becoming less and less optimistic that Heller is alive, but I don’t think Coto’s “cut and dry” comment definitively answers the question. If at the beginning of the next episode Chloe says something to Jack about how she hacked into the drone feed but wasn’t able to do it in time then we will know for sure that he is dead.

AgentRez, feel free to bitch me out next week if you want if I’m wrong as I’ll deserve it but do you realize you just wrote a sentence where you said that someone saying something was ‘cut and dry’ was not cut and dry enough for you?

My point was that Manny Coto has lied before about a character being dead in order to preserve a surprise. Cut and dry is not so cut and dry if the person saying it is lying.

That said, I think it’s more likely than not that Heller is dead, because even though the end of the episode felt like a fakeout, him being alive doesn’t make sense with the story at this point, I don’t think. I honestly can see it going either way. If he is dead then I think they really messed up the execution by leaving so many holes that cause us to debate whether he is really dead instead of letting us mourn.

I’m pretty convinced he’s still gonna be alive – but it might not be revealed for an episode or two. We’ll see though I guess. Personally think Chloe added some fancy delay on the camera feed to the drone or something giving him time to get out of the way.

I certainly don’t buy the “its a different crew” excuse regarding the silent clock anyway. Jon Cassar would have been heavily involved in the editing process. If he wanted a silent clock he’d have got one ;)

Not just director Jon Cassar but also co-showrunners Evan Katz and Manny Coto, who would supervise all stages of editing and would almost certainly have to sign off on the final cut for broadcast before it’s delivered to the studio. Coto was more than likely joking with that “not up to speed” comment (even thought the fact he laughed after saying it is acknowledged), at least I hope so, it would be somewhat discouraging to think such an important emotional beat would be so sloppily mishandled, which makes me think it was indeed just a touch of humour on Coto’s part that just didn’t translate well in print as in person. But theoretically speaking, if it WAS indeed a mistake on the post-production part, there’s no reason they couldn’t correct it for the ancillary release later in the year.

Or it could be/likely was that they fully intended the ticking clock sound effect to be there all along, the silent clock motif is not used exclusively for a character death (Season 2 with George Mason, Season 6 with Jack, Season 7 with Renee) but rather to reflect a somber and ominous mood whereby a ticking clock sound effect might be intrusive to the intended atmosphere. This week’s episode was essentially one long goodbye to Heller, his very real and possible (if not probable) death permeated every aspect of the 43 minutes, so when it happened it wasn’t a sudden and unexpected occurrence, it was more of a “I can’t believe they actually went through with it” feel, it didn’t really have a somber and ominous mood that a ticking clock would (and indeed didn’t) feel intrusive following after, it was Margot’s defeat through her phyrric victory of killing Heller; she has nowhere left to go but destroy the drones as she promised, plus she has a vengeful and pull-no-punches Jack Bauer on her tail now… either way, she’s toast and she knows it; with Heller now out of the equation, she becomes the main focal point, hence the last shot of the episode being not of Jack’s emotional response to the death of a noble public servant who laid down his life so others may live but of Margot herself… hence no need for a silent clock.

Or did I misread the situation…?

My friend just pointed out something that I think really deserves attention. She noted that the drone itself was silent. There is no music or anything, no sound of the explosion, no clock, nothing in the moment that Heller dies. Silence like that has rarely existed on 24.

She also pointed out that since the last shot is of Margot, a silent clock at the end of the episode would have therefore seemed to be for a very alive Margot sighing over having gotten her justice. That? Would have been really inappropriate.

Indeed it would, and it shows the ’24’ writing team are often thinking in three dimensions with regards to what appears onscreen… your friend is completely correct and highly perceptive, kudos to her!

Alas, it might all be in vain if what someone on the Episode 8 commentary thread said is in a South American promo for Episode 9 (and I won’t spoil it here)… and if it is, I’ll never doubt the ’24’ writers ever again, and I mean EVER… if it’s true and IF they pull it off.

Guess we’ll know soon enough…

Correction; the spoiler for Episode 9 in the alleged South American promo – and at this point it is just that, alleged (until someone posts said promo in question) – is not on the this site’s Episode 8 commentary thread as I erroneously stated above, it’s on the Episode 9 promo thread if you’re so inclined.

Sorry about that.

As you were…

On the IMDb website they show President James Heller playing in all 12 episodes. Other cast members that were killed off already show the correct number of episodes that they played in. So maybe he is alive.

IMDB can be updated by anyone so it is usually wrong.

President Heller
July 1, 2014 at 12:45 am
Exactly. Giles Matthey was listed as Jordan for all 12 episodes, but died in episode 8.

Anyone notice the terrorist’s monitor? it shows the movement that heller took off his glasses and put his hands into pokect, twice!! In fact, even one time, it’s enough to indicate that chloe hacked the video stream, because heller’s movement is PAST TIME.

reasons why heller is not dead
1. no silent clock
2. fox has a policy of killing presidents in past seasons of 24
3. the promos for next week show that chloe hacked the drone
4. twitter pictures from jon cassar show devane
5. there will be a “shocking moment” when heller is revealed to be alive (rajskub’s statement about episode 9 a few weeks back)
6. there’s still 4 episodes left!
7. there has not been a VP cast and they are already done filming
8. comments by the producers in an interview on tv guide are suspiciously pointing to heller being alive
9. there’s one more piece but I won’t spoil it. ill give a hint- south america
10. jack should have have had a reaction to the explosion. they didnt even show him (because he rescued him!)

Heller is so alive