Warning: Major spoilers for last week's "24: Live Another Day" are ahead.
During the most recent hour of "24: Live Another Day," the legendary real-time thriller did the unthinkable and killed off…
No, not Jack Bauer. He's invincible. Instead, the show killed off…
No, not Audrey, either. She's been through enough — including the apparent demise of…
…her father, President James Heller.
Last week's hour, set between 6 and 7PM, saw Heller make the ultimate sacrifice: In order to prevent further drone strikes on London, he offered himself up to terrorist Margot Al-Harazi, a move intended to stop the bloodshed. Margot (played by Michelle Fairley, best known to "Game of Thrones" fans as Catelyn Stark) swore she would honor the agreement if Heller arrived at Wembley Stadium alone, ready to die. Heller held up his end of the deal (albeit with Jack in tow, unknown to Margot), Margot locked onto Heller's position from a miles-high drone, and dropped a bomb right on his head.
Or did she?
The viewing public at large believes Heller is gone. It certainly wouldn't be the first time "24" killed off a main character. Heck, it wouldn't be the first time "24" killed off the President of the United States. (Pour one out for the Palmer brothers and John Keeler.) But there are enough reasons to believe that Heller's still alive:
There Was No Silent Clock: Always the tell-tale sign. If a major "24" character dies at the end of an episode or the start of a commercial break, the signature "tick-tock" takes a seat on the bench. Folks like Teri Bauer, Edgar Stiles and more all received the "silent clock" treatment. Tony Almeida, a fan-favorite character, did not receive a "silent clock" at the time of his "death" in season five, and then he showed up very alive (and kind of evil) two seasons later. It's not a blanket rule — David Palmer and Michelle Dessler, two of the show's greatest characters, weren't played out with silent clocks — but its absence in the Heller "death," especially at the climax of such an emotional moment, is very suspicious.
There Was No Bauer: Jack was feet away from Heller when the drone strike occurred. But we never saw his reaction to Heller's sacrifice. The President simply walked off to the middle of the field, and the camera lingered on him, cutting occasionally to Margot's headquarters. No sign of Jack, and no sign of Chloe (who was helping to crack some drone codes off-site), should raise a few red flags. If Heller was truly dead, we would have watched him die from Bauer's perspective.
Jack Didn't Like Heller's Plan: He told him as much before Heller marched off to his death. "I think what you're doing is wrong," Jack said. If Bauer doesn't like something, he'll do whatever he can to find another way out of it. It's hard to imagine that Jack would feel so strongly against Heller's plan of action, and not have some sort of ace up his sleeve. This isn't just the President of the United States we're talking about here, after all; he's also the father of Jack's great love, and a father figure of sorts to Jack as well. There's simply no way Bauer lets this happen.
Heller Loves Cheating Death: Drones, schmones. If James Heller wants to throw himself into harm's way, he'll make it out the other side virtually unscathed. In season four, he tried to gas himself to death rather than allow terrorists to execute him on a live broadcast. Later, with Jack's help, he shot his way out of the situation — his second time wielding a gun against his captives that same day. In season five, rather than allow himself to be used as a pawn to get Jack to hand over crucial evidence, Heller decided to drive his car off into a ravine to remove himself from the equation.
He survived driving off a cliff. So what's one drone strike going to do, especially with Jack Bauer only a few paces away?
It's certainly possible, perhaps even likely, that Heller died in last week's "24." But there are plenty of reasons to believe that he's still alive. His continued survival isn't outside of the realm of possibility (plausibility is another story), especially where "24" is concerned. We'll see if Heller made it out alive or not when "24" returns with another new episode tonight.
Do you think Heller survived the drone strike?