Warning: This post contains spoilers from Monday’s 24: Legacy season finale. Read at your own risk!
The silent clock made its unfortunate return in the season finale of 24: Legacy.
In case you didn’t watch the original 24 series, the silent clock is used whenever an important character has died. It’s the show’s way of honoring the fallen. Tonight, viewers were treated to the death knell after Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto) died from the injuries she sustained from throwing herself in front of a bullet for Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins). In the wake of her death, her husband John Donovan (Jimmy Smits) decides to stay in the presidential race, and Eric reconciles with Nicole (Anna Diop), who supports his decision to become a CTU agent. (For our full recap, click here).
Both of those developments at the end of the hour put the show in a position to continue past season 1, though a second season has yet to be ordered. That hasn’t stopped executive producers Manny Coto and Evan Katz from considering possible stories for a sophomore season. Below, the EPs open up about the reasoning behind Rebecca’s death, the brutal fight between Carter and Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard), the season’s parallels with 24 season 1, and which original character they’d love bring back in season 2.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Before talking about the big death, I want to talk about the fight between Carter and Tony. When you guys decided to bring Tony back, did you know it would culminate in them fighting?
MANNY COTO: No, actually it was the opposite. The original idea was for them to end up working together in a fairly different ending. This is just the way 24 works is these stories just kind of evolve organically. When the final twist of learning that Simms had been conducting this illegal targeting of terrorists’ families, that we realized it would be great if he was also working with Almeida, because Almeida was doing covert work with Rebecca. That naturally put him in a position to clash, which I think, personally, is more interesting than just a buddy comedy.
What was the original ending?
EVAN KATZ: There are several.
COTO: There was the musical version. [Laughs]
KATZ: [Laughs] I think what we were counting on for four-fifths of the time was that Carter, with Tony — we’d do a time jump before the last two or even the last three episodes —would return to Yemen once he found out Bin-Khalid was alive [and would] would finish the job. We didn’t end up doing that. In the first iteration of what’s there, it wasn’t Tony who ended up [at the farmhouse]. Then, Manny had kind of a last-minute save where he realized that was a perfect place for Tony. We just gave Tony a little cover in that he wasn’t going to kill this little girl. He was going to rendition her, where yes, she might be killed but the blood would not be directly on his hands. It feeds into that wonderful mercenary quality of that character where you’re never quite sure where he’s coming from.
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Were you attracted to this fight also because of the symbolism, Past 24 vs. New 24?
COTO: Yeah, absolutely. When the idea hit, that was certainly all in the mix. The mythic quality of it was just perfect. That’s why we grafted onto it so quickly. It was Tony, who represents not only the past but possibly the worst of the past, clashing with Eric, who is the face of the future. It was too good not to do.
What’s interesting is that once Tony tells him to go save Rebecca, that’s the last time we see him in the season. I expected to check in on him before the clock ran out. Was that just due to the time constraints of the episode, or did you want to end with Tony there?
KATZ: It was twofold. One: By definition, the story has to end up focusing on Carter and Rebecca and Donovan. But we also did have some scheduling issues with Carlos, who also has a directing career. So, he is in the 12th episode and what he ends up doing feels right. We also sort of had to craft the solution around how much time we had with him. But, again, we were very cognizant all the way through that this had to be just a series about these new characters. That’s why we waited to bring Tony in. It wouldn’t have been right to make him more integral to the ending than he is. It has to be about Carter and Rebecca and Donovan.
That’s interesting because I know I was expecting some kind of redemption arc for Tony, but we don’t get that here because that’s not his purpose in the story.
COTO: No, there wasn’t enough runway for a complete redemption arc in the season. It was really something to bring him in and kind of have him and Carter meet and see where Tony was and understand that he had a past. With Rebecca’s death — God willing there’s a season 2 — it will be interesting to see how Rebecca’s death affects him. I think season 2, our plans would be to have him play a much larger role, because I just think he plays so well off of Eric as well. You could even see him doing for Eric what he did for Rebecca — off-book stuff. So, it’s interesting. There’s a whole host of fascinating possibilities for Tony.
Did you know the season was going to end with Rebecca dying when the season began?
KATZ: No, we definitely did not. It became a possibility once we realized she had done these things in her past. It does seem sort of like the character needed to pay. We still fought it because we really like Miranda, and we fought it all the way to the very end. But it became clear that it was the right thing to do not only for her character but for what her death does to Carter and Donovan.
COTO: For Carter, her arc in the season becomes kind of a cautionary tale. It’s Carter learning what [the job] entails, what kind of a rabbit hole you can fall into in CTU —that it’s easy to turn to the dark side — and what can ultimately happen. Like Evan said, it felt important for Carter but also for Donovan and ultimately him deciding to go forward.
This finale comes back to the lesson we learned several times with Jack in the original series: Doing this job comes with a price. What is so attractive about that theme?
COTO: To me, it’s the classic hero’s journey. At least in my mind, doing the heroic thing always involves some form of sacrifice. There’s something inherent fascinating, which we find fascinating, about the people who fight these wars and who have to do the dirty work. Does it leave a scar on them or not? What kind of a scar does it leave? There are people in our government who do bad things. We can argue about whether they’re necessary or not, but it’s an interesting question to ask what it does to the people who are charged with this work.
At the beginning of the season, did you know that Carter and Nicole’s marriage would survive after this hellish day?
COTO: No, we didn’t. There were various versions where they broke up, and we, early on, thought it was very possible that they do not end up together. But it’s just the way the story evolved. It felt right for them to give it a shot. It’s really her arc — they have two different arcs. Carter is deciding that, despite all of this, he’s going to go on with CTU. She’s deciding if she can live with this. It felt like, given the tragedy of Rebecca’s death and what happened with that relationship with her husband and the secrets that were revealed there, Carter’s relationship should go in a different direction. It just naturally [seemed] to us that this is where it had to end up.
Does Donovan decide to stay in the race because he views it as an opportunity to use the power of the presidency to protect himself from his involvement in Simms’ death?
KATZ: Oh no. Donovan has definitely made some compromises in the last two hours of the season, but I think we believe Donovan wants to do good. Donovan is still patriotic. What’s more interesting to us is that he has made these compromises, that he’s essentially agreed to a cover-up in order to stay in it. His dad is very clear about what he believes is best for the country, and on some level, Donovan believes that.
Obviously, this decision to stay in the race and go along with the cover-up opens up the door for this to become an issue further down the road in a potential season 2, right?
COTO: Certainly. I think that’s what’s interesting. He is gonna be able to do good and become president, but he has compromised himself. That’s going to come back in some way or another to hurt him. For us, Donovan’s soul is now in play. In the last act of episode 12, he told an outright lie to the FBI agent. So, he is taking a dark path and where he will end up going is something we’ll explore hopefully in season 2.
The show still hasn’t been renewed for season 2. Have you already started tossing out ideas about what season 2 could look like — apart from more Tony — or talking about which aspect of national security and terrorism you want to dive into next?
COTO: We have. It’s impossible to do a season 1 without throwing out ideas for season 2 in the room. There’s definitely some cool ideas for season 2 on the table and where we’d like to go — a totally different direction from season 1 and finding Eric in a different place and definitely with a role for Tony Almeida, possibly even playing the same role for Eric that he played for Rebecca or even on Donovan. We definitely want to see Tony back. I, personally, would love to see Chloe, because it would be fun to start bringing these characters back in.
Now that you’ve established the show, are you more willing to bring back other original characters in season 2?
COTO: That was always the plan: Let’s just get this season going and then slowly introduce people from the past, have Carter kind of meet these individuals one-by-one.
You said that Tony represents the darkest path of past CTU. Do you view introducing other characters like Chloe as a way to further Carter’s understanding of agent?
COTO: Certainly, all of these people have their battle scars and know what the CTU life can do to you and what it entails. I think Carter can learn from them, but hopefully at the same time, spin off in a new direction from them. Part of the Tony thing at the end is interesting: Carter decides to rescue the girl and use her as a way to free Rebecca. We definitely want to do that and I think there’s an interesting list of characters we’d love to touch on.
Can you tease what has inspired your ideas for season 2? I know this season was inspired by the stuff you read about the team that took out Osama bin Laden.
COTO: Listen, we haven’t gotten far enough into season 2 to really tell you. All I would throw out is that there is a general feeling that 24 is best when it’s reflecting what’s going on in the world, but at the same time not doing a ripped-from-the-headlines story. There is a feeling of unease and unsettledness in the country: Is the government functioning the way it should be? Is the world going off a cliff? I think that would be something to really explore in season 2. I personally would lobby for larger stakes and literally the future of the country at stake, but taking advantage of this idea that there is something wrong with the government from the inside and that the world is reacting to this and Carter’s in the middle of it. There’s something there to be done, without getting into plot. Personally, a larger world crisis would be the way to go and would be really fascinating.