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'24: Live Another Day' recap: Milestone episode delivers tragic end

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Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer on '24,' which marked its 200th episode Monday. (Courtesy Fox Broadcasting)

Primetime TV series are rarely on the air long enough to air 200 episodes, but when one does, it's on the showrunners to deliver. The 200th episode of "24" featured all of its signature moves. There were shootings, fist fights, betrayal, an array of characters working against the clock, and the assumption that it's only a matter of time before Jack Bauer saves the day. 

The episode's biggest twist, however, was that there was no twist at all. Last week, President Heller made a deal with terrorist Margot Al-Harazi, offering his life to save others. Many assumed Jack would find another way and rescue Heller at the last minute, but this wasn't the case. Margot pulled the trigger, firing a missile that killed the president and destroyed much of Wembley Stadium.

Jack had spent the first half hour arguing with Heller, insisting the United States doesn't negotiate with terrorists, but there was no use. With his health in decline and innocent lives having already been lost due to Margot's vendetta against him, Heller sees surrender as his only choice. Even when Simone tells Kate about a disc Naveed left behind that Chloe may be able to use to track the Al-Harazis' whereabouts, Heller makes it clear he's not counting on a miracle.

Heller forces Mark to work with Jack to facilitate his escape from the embassy without the Secret Service's knowledge, but not before having a final conversation with his daughter Audrey. They briefly reminisce, but she hurries him away, telling him she has to work. He takes one final look at her while she plugs away at her desk before making his exit.

This makes it all the more devastating when she shows up at his office and finds the note he left behind. Mark doesn't bother to feign surprise and Audrey immediately realizes her husband was part of the plan.

“I'll never trust you again,” Audrey cries, before Mark makes his exit.

Will she be more forgiving to Jack?

Before Heller enters the stadium, he gives Jack another important piece of information: He's pardoned him for the crimes he committed four years ago, as well as anything he's done today. He'll be able to return to the United States a free man.

Still, the big questions remain. Will Margot stick to her word and destroy the drones like she promised if Heller sacrificed himself? Even if she does, her son Ian may complicate matters. He's put a lot of work into blowing up London and doesn't want to see his plans go up in (figurative) smoke. There's also Simone, who is still alive, but in bad shape. Will she survive long enough to bring down the rest of her family?

Or is there an even bigger bad guy waiting in the wings?

Jordan survived the failed hit Navarro put on him, but his attacker is hot on his trail. It doesn't take him long to realize his boss was behind the hit, but that's about all the smarts he's afforded in the episode. While Jordan does manage to knock out the hit man and even get his gun away from him, he's tripped up by the hit man mentioning the gun's safety. His hesitation gets him stabbed and while he fatally shoots the assassin, it doesn't look likely that Jordan will recover.

Luckily, Kate has much more sense than her fellow agent. She's beginning to get suspicious about her colleague's disappearance. It won't be long before she connects it to Navarro, but it's Adrian Cross who may prove to be a more diabolical adversary. He's the one pulling Navarro's strings and he's also trying to get Chloe back on his team. While she may have rejected the offer, she's also got the goods on Naveed's drone program which could mean big trouble if it falls into the wrong hands.

Ultimately, it was a strong episode and a bold choice by the writers to allow Heller to sacrifice himself for the greater good. While plenty of characters have been killed off this season, this is the first of the series' original characters to meet their maker and the show didn't treat it lightly. Audrey is distraught, as is Mark, and before long an entire country will be grieving the loss of their leader. Only Margot seems to have found peace, but she shouldn't get too comfortable. Jack Bauer will never let her get away.

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