'24: Legacy' Producers on That Day One Death, What's Next for Eric Carter, and Season 2 Hopes
[Spoiler Alert: This post reveals plot points from the Season 1 finale of 24: Legacy. If you have not watched the episode, turn back now!]
Eric Carter's (Corey Hawkins) no good, very bad day finally ended with the season finale of 24: Legacy—but it came at a cost.
Former CTU director Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto) started the hour in captivity, but Carter was able to successfully free her—in exchange for Naseri's (Oded Fehr) daughter being released. However, they ended up in a shootout, and Rebecca was shot. She was able to stay alive long enough for her husband, John Donovan (Jimmy Smits), to make it to the hospital, but passed shortly after.
Before the season started, Otto acknowledged that the cast was hyperaware that they wouldn't all survive the day. “We sat down for the first reading and it was like the Last Supper,” she said with a laugh at the time. “‘Who is going to get knifed first?’”'
In the aftermath of Rebecca's death, John opted not to drop out of the presidential race...and Carter chose to pursue a career with CTU. 24: Legacy executive producers Manny Coto and Evan Katz dished on what went down in the finale, what could be coming, and what stories they opted to not tell this year.
When did the writers decide that Rebecca was going to die?
Manny Coto: You know, it was something that had been discussed and kind of floated about, but I don’t think the actual decision came until fairly late in the season. It was something that evolved in the way that her story evolved, which was when it became clear that she was involved in the taking of Naseri's daughter. In addition to the other things she had done in the past with Tony Almeida, what-have-you. It felt like she had something to atone for; it felt like her death seemed like something that was necessary. One, we’re telling a story about Carter, learning, seeing what it takes, what it really means to become an agent at CTU. And in a way, what happened with Rebecca, her story, the corruption that kind of set in, and then her ultimate fate, becomes kind of a life lesson for Carter, and, in the end, he ultimately decides to join. But if felt like, her example was something for him to see. It also, was a comment on their marriage and Donovan. And we were also telling a story about Donovan running for president. And paying for these sins and ultimately atoning is something that ultimately helps propel him forward and he decided to go forth.
Donovan was betrayed by his family, lost his wife—how does this, in your mind, shape him going forward?
Evan Katz: He’s really gone on quite a journey. Initially, he’s idealistic and then when he discovers what his wife has been up to, he’s broken-hearted and rejects it. But as the season winds down, he’s willing to take her back, which also coincides with kind of understanding a little bit about what she did. He has an idealistic or an naïve way of assuming his father’s sins have made it impossible for him to run for president. But in the wake of Rebecca’s death, when he agrees to move forward, he’s agreeing essentially to cover things up. So it is a big move for the character and evolution. If he comes back as president, it’s gonna be as a man who understands compromises need to be made.
Coto: In the finale where the FBI agent is questioning about the DNI's death and he lies…
Katz: He lies twice.
Coto: Yeah, he lies. And so again, like Evan said, it depends on where the story goes but definitely his soul is in play for Season 2; it could go in two different directions.
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You certainly had an extraordinarily close cast. What was the reaction like when everyone kind of learned where that was going? Were you guys actually on set when she filmed her final scenes?
Coto: Yes, I was there for the final scene. You know, it was emotional. I think the cast was—I know people were sad, but everybody kind of understood why this was the way it was, and why the story was heading this direction. I mean, they all understood 24. You know, by the way, I think almost every single one of them was waiting to get the phone call about who was going to die. I think this cast was unusually charged to be waiting to get that call, because they know the show, they know what happens, so I don’t think anybody was particularly shocked but I think they were sad because [of losing Miranda]. By the way, I was sad. I really enjoyed working with her and until the last moment, I was like, "Is there any way we can not do this?" But it was great having her on the show and that’s a bummer. But that’s just the way the story takes it.
Carter is someone who has gone through quite a transition throughout this day and he’s now taking the steps to be a part of CTU. Now that you have done this origin story, what are your hopes for him and what we’ll see of him as a full-on CTU agent?
Katz: He’s not going to be Jack Bauer, still. He's not going have that amount of damage. But [Eric] and Nicole make this truce at the end of Season 1, and one of the premises of 24 is how difficult it is to balance your personal life and the amount of sacrifice that needs to be made to do the job correctly. And that’s something that’s on the table. The other thing, I think we feel that because of what happened, Carter knows himself better, and knows what he needs, and that’s going to inform choices he makes. More difficult dilemmas and harder, excruciating choices and things that he’s willing to do that he wouldn’t have done.
Carter has a relationship with John now. If John does become president, how will you play with that?
Coto: Certainly we set it up for a reason and we want there to definitely be a relationship between the two characters to develop further. But what the nature of that is, what that will look like in Season 2, we have yet to really establish. It really depends on what Season 2 becomes.
CTU is a little bit in disarray at points in the finale and Keith got a little physical with his potential replacement, Pang. Are there going to be repercussions for Keith’s actions? What can you say about the future of CTU?
Katz: I think our mind, Keith was already a little bit of a political creature who’s struggling with this brand new job. What he did was very much the right thing to do.
Coto: If you really think about it, Pang has got to cover his own ass. He’s going to be implicated in possibly in the DNI Simms treachery. So you can very easily see Pang saying, "We’ll just forget about this whole choke-out thing while I cover my own ass.” No one is gonna be worrying about what Keith did to subdue Pang if Pang is under suspicion for treason. So it could go both ways: Keith could really be in trouble, but that could all quickly go away because the focus is on Pang. Although I really like Pang’s character and I like that actor so I would be lobbying to try to keep Pang alive so that we can have him on the show some more. I worked with on Dexter, tremendous guy, very funny and he’s just got a great presence that I really love.
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Looking to the time jump, at what point did you guys land on it falling here? And was there ever any kind of earlier version that you played with the time jump coming elsewhere?
Katz: We did almost exactly the same thing in the London series [24: Live Another Day], where we took the last two acts for the time jumps. We slated several places for the time jump here: two, maybe three episodes from the end, and then taking the climax overseas. But the way the story laid out, this was just the right way to do it. There’s also the sense that if you do something like that, and twelve hours go by three episodes from the end—the characters have traveled somewhere—that in some way your audience feels they’ve missed something. Whereas putting it at the very end, in a real clear pause in the action, people understand your grief, you kind of feel a little better about the audience stepping away there.
Beyond Isaac's (Ashley Thomas) planned death?
Coto: Might as well say it because it's fun to muse on, but we were going to end the season with Carter, and possibly Tony and Rebecca, going back to Yemen to take out Bin-Khalid. That was going to be the time jump. We didn't have the full story worked out there, but Carter and Almeida were going to work together. Maybe Rebecca didn't make it back, but that was the original plan for the last three episodes. But this idea with the DNI seemed much more interesting to us; much more powerful and emotional. Whereas the other one was a giant action set piece, and having to reset a lot. This felt more interesting and touched on more current events and was suggested by the presidential campaign: whether we could target terrorists' families. That seemed like too interesting a topic not to attack. And it allowed for Carter and Almeida to clash in a more interesting way. And it allowed Carter to see the other side of how elements of the government work.
Now that Tony (Carlos Bernard) has been introduced into the Legacy world, is the plan to bring him back?
Katz: We have hopes for more.
Coto: We love Carlos and I thought he was great on the show.
Katz: He survived many, many versions of him dying over the years of the original series.
Coto: It's safe to say we'd have to blow him up with a nuke for anyone to believe it. He would have to be holding on to the bomb for anyone to buy it. But aside from Tony, there are now other characters we'd love to [bring in].
Coto: Chloe [Mary Lynn Rajskub], we'd love to see again. There's a lot of fun to be had with other characters.
How hopeful are you the show will return for a Season 2 and when do you think we'll know?
Katz: I think we'll know in May.
Coto: I think we're hopeful, but you never know. I wish the ratings were stronger. I'm just so creatively pleased with the way the show turned out and the reaction from the people who are watching the show. I think it would be a crime to not renew it and give it one more shot. But you never know.