Twenty-two hours down, two to go.
"24" (search) plans to end its fourth heart-stopping season with a bang Monday night — a two-hour finale filled with suspense and surprises.
"It's my favorite season-ender — it's just been the most fun and, I think, the most surprising end. I'm not gonna tell you who dies, or if someone dies. But I will say it's a surprise," Howard Gordon, executive producer of "24," told FOX News.
What we do know about Monday's episode: There's still a stolen nuclear missile out there somewhere. And just because anti-terrorist agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland (search)) and his team have captured terrorist mastermind Habib Marwan (Arnold Vosloo), there's no guarantee that the feds can stop the missile Marwan has already launched.
Aside from the finale, one of the biggest mysteries about the show is whether Sutherland will be back next season.
"I'm actually not gonna answer that. That's how — it's actually a very relevant question and it's one that I think people will be surprised at," Gordon said.
So how does "24" remain one of TV's hottest shows, four seasons later? By keeping fans on the edge of their seats, one hour at a time.
"If you're not a little rattled at the end of the hour, it's not been a good show," Gordon said.
Indeed, it's hard not to be alarmed: the terrorist threats confronting Bauer and the rest of L.A.'s Counterterrorism Unit resemble real U.S. concerns.
"We find ourselves, really, in this weird place of anticipating the headlines," Gordon said.
Even the nation's real defenders have noticed the parallels.
"Some of our military contacts have told me, 'You don't know how close to reality you guys are,' and it's stuff we've made up. And to hear that, I mean, on one hand, that's great. On the other hand, it's spooky," "24" producer Tim Iacofano told FOX News.
As for Sutherland, he would prefer it if the show were a little less realistic.
"I long for the day when it goes back to being a fantastical work of fiction, as opposed to something that is actually mirroring events that are taking place in the world," he told FOX News.
"24" airs Monday at 8 p.m EDT on FOX Network, a property of News Corp. News Corp. is the parent company of FOX News Channel, which operates FOXNews.com.
FOX News' Mike Waco and Anita Vogel and the New York Post contributed to this report.