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Monday, June 17, 2024
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A stopped clock

Fans of the hit television show 24 were shocked last Monday as former FBI agent Renee Walker was killed off in the shows final season. A Russian operative shot Walker, played by Annie Wersching, after a passionate love-making scene with Jack Bauer. She later died in the hospital.
Walker, who was introduced into the world of 24 in Day Seven, was a by-the-book character when first established to the audience. As her relationship with Bauer began to blossom, she, too, evolved into an entirely different character.
Walker was a different type of character on the show for a variety of reasons, specifically because she was nearly a mirror image of Bauer. Because of this, many people would refer to her as "Jacqueline Bauer."
"Obviously, that's quite an honor to share that title," Wersching said. "I got that a lot last year when [Walker] first came on the scene. It wasn't something we thought about or said when we were filming [Day Seven], so it was interesting to hear that it was the fan reaction. Again, he's a tragic hero, and, obviously, that's sort of ended up happening to her."
While a lead character's death from the show isn't new to anyone, in the past, some stars have actually complained to Executive Producer Howard Gordon after reading the script and seeing their character's dying off. While Wersching initially wanted to plead for a chance for survival, the reasoning behind her character's death held her back.
"At the top of the season they don't usually know all that much of what they want to do, so the fact that the one big thing they knew they wanted to do was to bring her back damaged, to have Jack have to sort of save her in more ways than one and have them finally get together and then have her be taken away from him, which leads to his path for the end of the series. I knew that that was pretty set in stone, a big thing that they wanted to do overall for the season," Wersching said. "I didn't beg too much. Obviously, they knew that I was very sad about it and upset, but those are the moments that make 24 so great."
In Walker's final episode, both actors and actresses, along with producers from the show, wanted to make her final moments as strong as possible. For Wersching, Walker's death felt right, but it still brought about many questions in her mind.
"Simply because I love the character so much, you always think of other ways that things could have happened. I kind of wish that the Jack/Renee love story-making would have maybe had its own episode to resonate and then maybe she got shot because that was a pretty huge deal," Wersching said. "There's a little part of me that was like bummed that those both happened in the same episode because that's really kind of getting overshadowed by the fact that she died. That was a huge moment for the show."
According to Wersching, one major question was how long Walker and Bauer would spend in bed making love. Because the show is in a real-time format, decisions such as this have to be considered carefully, unlike many shows on the air today, because of the assumptions people could make simply due to a timing error.
"Because he's Jack Bauer, there can't be like an eight-minute adventure, but we went through many different ways that it was going to be. We weren't even sure if were able to actually get them to the place where they were actually making love because of the real-time," Wersching said. " But they figured out finally sort of a way to do it, and it was interesting trying to see to, like, because they knew she was going to get shot right afterwards, so Jack couldn't be naked when he was carrying her to the hospital, so there had to be a way for him to sort of get a little bit of clothes on, but yet make it look like they were still going to go back and have more fun. The specifics were very interesting to figure out, but we were very aware that it needed to have the right amount of time."
While the timing was a serious issue for those involved, the lovemaking scene itself was somewhat tough for Wersching and Kiefer Sutherland, who plays Bauer, because of the relationship they built throughout the past two seasons. But Walker's death made the scene somewhat easier to act.
"Since I knew it was coming, I knew that I was pretty prepared for all of this," Wersching said. "However, we shot the lovemaking and the death, sort of both of those things, together over the two days, so it actually helped take away – Kiefer and I were so nervous about the love scene – that it sort of helped tame down the ‘oh, that Renee was getting shot' part. The whole thing was bittersweet. It was bittersweet to be able to shoot scenes with Kiefer where they finally get close and then straight into covered in blood. It was all pretty bittersweet."
Throughout the entire series, episodes end with a clock ticking from the end of the 59th minute to the beginning of the next hour. In a majority of the episodes, beeping occurs in unison with the time changing. In few episodes, however, there is silence, which producers do in honor of lives lost by a main character, or if some other powerful moment occurs. Walker's character is the only character in the history of 24 to receive two silent clocks – other than Jack Bauer.
The first clock occurred once in Day Seven after she was buried alive, and in Day Eight when she died from her gunshot wounds in the hospital. Wersching believes that this is a big deal for anyone who has acted on the set of 24.
"It was a great honor, obviously," Wersching said. "Besides Jack, she was actually the only one to ever get two silent clocks, because there was a silent clock, with a little bit of breathing for Renee after she was buried alive in Episode 5 of Season 7, and I didn't even think about that. A complete honor, because I'm a fan of the show and I know the significance of the silent clock – a complete honor."
Wersching was sucked into 24 for a variety of reasons prior to getting the opportunity to be a part of the show's universe. Specifically, how the show is presented to viewers is one reason why Wersching feels that it has succeeded for so long.
"Well, definitely in the beginning, it was such a groundbreaking show, and there was nothing else like it on television. It's really like a little feature film every week with the ticking clock and the real-time aspect," Wersching said. "There's such an intensity to the show that at the end of the episode, it just leaves you wanting more which is how I think every television show should be."
While most fans are upset following March 26's announcement that the series was officially ending, Wersching felt that all is not lost.
"There were always sort of rumors going around through the crew," Wersching said. "We knew it wasn't necessarily looking great, but everybody had high hopes. I think the fact that the movie is sort of lurking out there in the future was something that at least was something sort of to look forward to, knowing that you will at least see Jack again."

E-mail: arts@ubsepctrum.com


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