'24' Showrunners on Chloe's Heartbreak: 'We Asked Ourselves What Could Have Happened to Make Her Turn So Horribly Against the Government'
Not Chloe! As much as "24" fans may enjoy a good Chloe and Jack hug, no one would have wished for these circumstances to bring it about. In Monday's episode, Jack's tech whiz pal tells him about the crushing deaths of her son and husband, events for which she blames herself, and which made her turn her back on the American government.
Because there are many secrets left to be revealed on "24: Live Another Day," producers Evan Katz and Manny Coto can't get too specific on what's to come, but the duo did chat with Yahoo TV about the story behind Chloe's tragic losses, the wonderfully villainous Margot, the frequency of "jaw-dropping" moments ahead, President Heller's illness, and exactly when we'll find out what's been keeping Mr. Bauer busy since he disappeared in the "24" series finale.
Chloe telling Jack about Prescott and Morris... I didn't expect to get teary, especially this early in the "LAD" season.
Manny Coto: Yeah, it's a great scene, between those two. They did a wonderful job.
Was there any hesitation to go there with that storyline? It is always, obviously, such a harsh thing, to kill off a child character, even off-screen.
Coto: Not in the least. We wanted our characters to have grown, and have suffered, and have experienced in the four years… we kind of threw out the idea of Chloe being in this place before. We were developing the season in broad strokes, and we knew we liked the idea of Chloe being in this place, and then, we worked backwards. We asked ourselves what could possibly have happened to make her turn so horribly against the government, which she worked for? And this was a logical answer, and a heartbreaking one, and one that differentiated her a little bit from Jack. I mean, if you really think about it, Chloe is in a worse place than Jack. It is not a secret by Episode 3 that Jack is still fighting for the government, or at least for our country, whereas Chloe kind of largely has turned against it. Even though she doesn't want anyone to die, she is in a darker place, and we felt we needed that contrast between these two characters to make it more poignant.
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And there's really little else that could have gotten her into this extremely different place.
Evan Katz: Another way to look at it is, we really wanted her out on the edge, dark, and if you thought about her being in this place, if she had abandoned her husband and son, you hated her. You would have hated her. So, it was almost part and parcel of the original conception to put her here, on the edge of society.
It brings about a lot of questions: Who really was behind the deaths of Prescott and Morris? Also, we understand now why she would have been vulnerable to someone like Adrian Cross, but what made him pursue her, recruit her?
Coto: Well, you're good. You pose some good questions, and any answers we could give would be spoilers down the road. All we can tell you is that, these questions will factor into the story.
That may cover almost any question I ask then, but, Jack's response to Chloe after she shares this heartbreaking news with him is that the only way you can even attempt to deal with these things is to try to honor the people you've lost, and prevent other deaths. So can we assume that's what Jack has been doing these last few years, while he's been in exile?
Coto: That's another question that's a good one, which will be answered. And quite dramatically, in a not-too-future episode.
Katz: I want to say it's Episode 6.
Coto: Yes, it's in Episode 6 where we unveil what he's actually been doing.
What he said to her, is that how he genuinely feels? Or is this also partly Jack trying to talk Chloe into continuing to help him?
Coto: No, I think that's from the heart. Jack's not… Jack to us is not a manipulator. He could never manipulate… he doesn't really lie that well, I mean, to people he loves. He is not that kind of individual.
Coto: So, yes, it comes straight from the heart.
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We've seen the season preview clip that shows there is some point where Jack and Audrey come face-to-face. How much of a motivation is Audrey for Jack right now?
Coto: You know, we like to leave a little bit up to the viewer's analysis of the characters. You know, Jack's not a guy who emotes. Jack is defined by his actions, so, when Chloe says, "Are you really doing this for Audrey?" and Jack doesn't deny it, he also doesn't affirm it. And we are taking that same position.
On to President Heller. He has this Alzheimer's-like affliction, that has progressed a little further, a little faster, than he thought it would. Since this is all taking place in one day, without some sort of physical stress to his health, it probably isn't going to progress much beyond where it is right now. How big of a factor will that be in general throughout the rest of the season?
Coto: It actually plays a very large part in the season, but probably not in the way you think. That's all we can really say, but it is not something that is not going to be addressed, and it is something that has been meticulously worked into the design for the season.
Was there any special story behind that, behind why you chose to have that be a part of his character?
Coto: We always like to make sure we have some depth in the presidential character and situation. We did the first black president, the first female president, we did an evil president, we did a corrupted president, so, you know, we were just searching for what haven't we seen before. And when we decided we wanted to do President Heller, in part because of the Audrey connection, it was something that obviously has been potentially part of the country's history, and immediately, hopefully, as soon as you realize it in Episode 1, you're like "Oh!" and worried.
"24" has always been very topical, and "Live Another Day" certainly feels very modern, very topical. The drone storyline is especially topical. And Margot has already proven to be one of the great "24" villains, and we haven't even seen that much of her yet. Is she inspired by any real-life figures, like the White Widow?
Coto: I would say [Margot] is inspired by a number of figures, no one in particular, that we've done research on, and we really wouldn't want to point out specifically who they are, but it is a character who's drawn from real life, to a large extent.
Katz: And it's something we hadn't quite seen, you know? And that made it feel fresh. And then the idea that she had corrupted these children was really fascinating to us, too.
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It obviously required a very strong actress who could pull that off. There was a change up in who was originally cast, but you must be happy with Michelle Fairley, who is giving a fantastic performance.
Katz: Oh my God!
Coto: We are delighted, so thrilled with her. She is a wonderful person, and really just loved the role, and nails it. And if you think she is evil now, just wait. Both Michelle and Emily Berrington, who plays Simone, are wonderfully trained, deeply talented, classically trained British actors, and it is such a pleasure to watch them work.
I talked to Mary Lynn Rajskub a couple of weeks ago, and she had just gotten the script for Episode 9, and said she had to email you, because she was so shocked by what happens in the episode. That's saying a lot, by "24" standards, and if Episode 9 is that shocking, I don't even know what to imagine for the finale.
Coto: We don't want you to imagine. It's a pretty shocking season. I can't stand that old cliché, people saying "it's a roller coaster ride," but it really kind of, in this case, it kind of is. There's not an episode that goes by where jaw-dropping things aren't happening. And we're quite happy about it.
"24: Live Another Day" airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox.