Jack Bauer Must Stop President in Season Finale

It's hard to believe there are too many more we-never-saw-it-coming plot twists, but that’s just what producer Evan Katz is promising in the adrenaline-pumped, two-hour season finale of "24."

“Confrontations that have needed to take place that haven’t yet happened will happen in a really explosive way,” teases the producer.

“There are three characters in conflict: Jack, Henderson (Peter Weller) and President Logan (Gregory Itzin). In the last two hours that’s all going to explode. I think people’s faith in the show will pay off. It has a serious climax in every way. The action is bigger, the surprises are bigger. I know it sounds obnoxious, but it’s really going to be a mindblower.”

We’ve heard that kind of hype before from television producers. Our questions are more direct: who lives, who dies and who gets what’s coming to them?

Katz wouldn’t spill, but Jean Smart, who plays nutty First Lady Martha Logan, offered up some intriguing clues.

“You’ll see a helicopter, a flag and a coffin,” said Smart.

The actress won’t say if she survives the show. “All I can say is I’m extremely sore head to foot from one of the scenes I shot. I hope people are happy that [Martha] gets to do what she gets to do.”

Will the mystery coffin have the American flag draped over it and contain the body of a politician? And what about President Logan— will he get caught?

“We went very far down the road on whether Logan gets his comeuppance — very far,” said Katz. “We didn’t decide until a couple of weeks before we shot [the finale].”

Itzin, whose transformation from whimpy whiner to the demonic villain made him one of the show’s most compulsively watchable characters, offers his own wishful thinking version of Logan’s fate.

“I would love to have him be the solution to Jack’s problem. If I’m going to go out, I would love there to be a redemption for him,” Itzin says. “To have him help Jack or die in his arms.”

But whatever viewers are guessing — or hoping — will happen on this episode, warns Itzin, probably won’t: “These writers are too smart. No matter what you think, ‘24’ will mess you up,” he says.

Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe O’Brian) describes a pivotal scene in the finale as “heartbreaking” and “complicated,” saying: “It was gut-wrenching to film. You think things are going to turn out one way and it goes the other way. I was totally surprised and amazed with what they came up with.”

Don’t expect all the season’s loose ends to be tied up, though, said Katz. Case in point: When Martha’s assistant Evelyn (Sandrine Holt) and her young daughter were left in Henderson’s evil clutches viewers were left to wonder if the pair made it out of their hotel room alive.

“We purposely left it indistinct because the idea of killing Evelyn and her young daughter was too much,” admits Katz. “A couple of people on our staff think they’re dead and a couple of people think they’re alive, but we don’t find out. Some questions are best left unanswered.”

It’s a safe bet, though, to assume Jack lives to fight another day since Sutherland has signed on to stay with the show for three more seasons and is scheduled to begin filming the movie version in London during next season’s hiatus.

Still, says Katz: “Anything can happen. The truth is Jack is a tragic character — he’s a tragic hero. A pat ending would be the worst thing we could do.”