24 Recap: Holy Crap, They Just Did That

PREVIOUSLY ON 24:

Simone gets hit by a bus; her mom tries to blow her up; Jack outruns a drone in a car; Steve Navarro tries to get one of his analysts killed; Heller's chief-of-staff talks to a Russian guy with ridiculous facial hair; Heller agrees to surrender himself to Lady Stark; Jason goes to E3 and misses a week of 24 recapping.

Spoilers, obviously.

HOLY MOTHER OF HELL DID THAT REALLY JUST HAPPEN? DID JACK BAUER REALLY JUST WATCH THE PRESIDENT GET KILLED BY A DRONE?

Look, I could go on and on about last night's fantastic episode of 24—and it was fantastic, packed with tension until the very last second—but I think it's important we take a second to remember President James Heller, the man who just got blown to little pieces on national TV.

Heller, introduced in season four, has always been one of the show's most fascinating characters, someone who Bauer could trust implicitly, but also someone who wasn't afraid to deck Bauer in the head and take away audio recordings in the interest of preventing an international PR disaster. (Though disagreeing with Bauer is the wrong move 99% of the time, in hindsight that one might have actually been a smart decision.)

Secretary of Defense-turned-President Heller had a smart, loyal daughter and a weird super-liberal son who allowed himself to be tortured rather than admit he was gay. Heller was smart and tenacious, with a nasty anger streak and the balls to sacrifice himself to save what needed to be save, like his daughter... or London. He had attitude, gravitas, and some killer lines—"Spare me your sixth-grade Michael Moore logic."

In London, we found out Heller had developed Alzheimer's, and though there could be something compelling about watching a sitting president have to make the tough choices coupled with a disease like that, there's no room for that kind of drawn-out drama here. This is 24, not The West Wing. Maybe that's why the writers decided he had to go.

Before this season, the last time we saw Jack Bauer interact with James Heller was at the end of Day Six, when Heller delivered an Ice Cold Smackdown:

You're cursed, Jack. Everything you touch, one way or another, ends up dead... Simply getting your life back, Jack, isn't going to change who you are. And you can't walk away from it, you know that. You've tried it. Sooner or later you're going to get back into the game, and my daughter is going to pay the price, like your wife did.

Damn. R.I.P. James Heller. You will be missed.

Stray observations:

  • I do believe that Heller is dead for real, and that there was no last-minute Chloe trickery, but seriously, where the hell was the silent clock? HMM.
  • At the beginning of the episode, when the doctor was telling Kate that Simone's recovery might take an hour or two, I wrote in my notes: "JACK WOULD NOT STAND FOR THIS." Sure enough, Jack did not stand for it.
  • We've got just four episodes left, and we already know next week's will take place right after this one. 24's Howard Gordon is still promising that there are time skips coming, though. Just how the hell are they going to pull that off?
  • "We need Simone awake. If she dies, so be it." COLD, BAUER.
  • Kate Morgan sure continues to talk and act exactly like Jack Bauer. It's almost like they have the same writers.
  • Mark: "She is never going to forgive me for this." Jack: *stare*
  • Do all U.S. presidents really have transponders in their arms or is this some sort of weird 24 fetish thing?
  • "YIKES!"
  • It sure is rad that the terrorists set up a joystick for their drones so they have a nice dramatic trigger to pull.
  • The facial recognition program that somehow captures a snapshot of Heller's moving face and identifies him as "James Heller, U.S. President" is ridiculous and will never be spoken of again.
  • Seriously, how did Heller not get a silent clock? George Mason got a silent clock. Ryan Chappelle got a silent clock. Even fucking Edgar got a silent clock. Damn.
  • Maybe he's still alive? NO. Could it be? NO. But could it... ?

By the way, a reader sent me this Japanese commercial for 24 and I don't think there's anything better on the web today:

Mole Count: 0 tonight, but Steve Navarro is still skulking around. Dude sure likes skulking.

Jack Bauer Kill Count: 0, unless you count THE MOTHERFUCKING PRESIDENT.

Jack Bauer "Dammit" Count: 0, but he did sneak in a "bitch."

Ridiculous Jack Bauer Quote of the Week: "The only way we can stop this from happening is if we find Margot fast, so wake the bitch up."