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How do you mourn the passing of a beloved fictional character? The loss of someone who was never real to begin with?

Some would say it is at best silly and at worst obscene to grieve over someone who never existed in the first place. That we should expend our emotional energy mourning the real people in our lives who have passed on or even all the people we don’t know who have died in wars and natural disasters.

And yet…

Is there some part of our brain that doesn’t distinguish between the two? Between real and fictional?

Bill Buchanan was part of our lives. He ment something to us. We spent a lot of time with this (fictional) person. He wasn’t perfect, but he had many admirable qualities. Bill was the Yin to Jack's Yang (or it is the other way around?). Bill's death was very heroic, although the most beautiful death in 24 history still belongs to George Mason. And nobody has time to mourn Bill for more than five minutes, at least not yet.

I had clinged to the hope that TPTB would have learned from Tony’s ridiculous non-death and would stop killing off beloved characters. TPTB hire great actors to portray interesting and likable characters, and then they kill them. But if they didn’t, then were would the jeopardy and tension be? The show would have much less emotional weight if it just stuck to killing unknown bystanders.

Jack slumped in the doorway next to Bill’s body shows us how the death of one special person can effect us far more then the death of hundreds or thousands of strangers.

There is a wonderful memoir by Allyson Beatrice called Will The Vampire People Please Leave The Lobby?about the Buffy The Vampire Slayer fandom. As fans of Buffy will recall, there was one episode where a beloved character named Amber died. The fans all but declared a Jihad against the Buffy Powers That Be, demanding that Amber be brought back and accusing her death as hatred towards gays, as Amber was the lesbian lover of another character named Willow.

Silly, perhaps, but the emotion was coming from a real place.

We 24 fans are, of course, much more sensible *coughs*. So what do we want? For Undead Zombie Bill to return in Day 8, wearing all black and with white hair? (no, wait….)

This one time. I’m glad I took a peek at the trailer. Usually I don’t like being spoiled, but in this case I’m glad I was just a little prepared. I also suspected something as James Morrsion has been wierdly evasive in his interviews. I do hope he gets another good acting gig.

I’ve contemplated making a bloddy!Bill icon, but I prefer to remember him as he was.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 10th, 2009 01:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, we TOTALLY want zombie Bill!
Mar. 10th, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)
Hyperthermic injection.(whatever the hell THAT is) Cyrogenic suspecion. Adult cloning. I don't care.

* is in denial *
Mar. 10th, 2009 03:23 pm (UTC)
Zombie!Tony kind of cheapened Bill's death for me, by making it seem even less real.

I think it's okay to mourn a fictional character. I mean, I won't be wearing black or crying for weeks or anything, but a moment of sadness is okay. I wasn't that attached to Bill. Jack, on the other hand, I will mourn even if he doesn't die at the end of the series.
Mar. 10th, 2009 03:54 pm (UTC)
Oh I know, Bill is a...wait for it...CYLON!

I am still in denial. This hasn't sunk in for it.

I was never that attached to Tony. I'm still not.

Like your new icon. Must make my own.

I read that they won't kill Jack beacuse TPTB can't handle the loss. *clings*
Mar. 10th, 2009 07:10 pm (UTC)
*clings* Oh God, please let that be true, considering I've read a couple things where Howard Gordon hinted that Jack very well might.

I'm not sure I'd be able to watch that episode. I just...he lives in my brain! I have too much of a bond with the character to be able to deal with that!
Mar. 10th, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
There was a hiccup in my digital cable and I MISSED the conversation between Jack and Renee. I am downloading that ep now. I don’t think I can re-watch Bill’s death. It’s one of those scenes that ranks up there with Jack being hauled away by Cheng.
Mar. 10th, 2009 09:22 pm (UTC)

I kinda wasn't expecting that to happen, you know?

TPTB hire great actors to portray interesting and likable characters, and then they kill them.

WORD. And here I was just getting over Assad's death by explosion in S6. ><;;; Damnation.
Mar. 10th, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC)
And here I was just getting over Assad's death by explosion in S6

I know, sweetie, It's so hard to let go. *passes kleenex*
Mar. 10th, 2009 09:23 pm (UTC)
I was comparing notes from when Palmer and Michelle died, and looking back on my reaction to their deaths in S5. And after reflecting on it, I think I am okay with Bill's death. Because it's not just because he was a fan favorite that they did it for shock value. His death shows an important side in the Great Debate this season over the question of "How far is too far in regards to the anthem, 'Whatever it takes'?"

All season long we've gotten the hamfisted torture debate over how far we should let people (Jack) terrorize others for the sake of preventing the death of thousands. So it stands to reason that they should also explore the other side of the question- how much is it permissible for one person to willingly give up his or her life? They built up to that through Marika, who was half collateral damage, half hero- but for them to fully show the other side, it had to be a major player who was a total good guy- which leaves either Bill or Jack (since Tony is tainted by his association with Emerson).

Because what's interesting about Bill's death is not just that it was supposed to be Jack's death (more on that later), but that the suicide mission only came into play as a way to save Olivia, and Olivia alone. President Taylor was not about to back down and lose her last healthy family member, and it was the only way Jack was going to let the President out of lockdown.

And the fact that it was Jack's idea, and that he was not only okay with it, but upset that somoene else took his place? This is the closest we've seen Jack come to admitting that he's okay with suicide without actually saying it.

Renee is clearly supposed to be the audience's eyes this season, so it's important that he confessed that to her. Because it tells her that that even though he's kind of insane with how far he'll push others to the brink of death, he's willing to put on himself if the need may be. (Neither hero, nor monster, nor a killing machine. Merely a solider and weapon to use in the war).

Edited at 2009-03-10 09:24 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 10th, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
I'm surprised she hasn't asked after Jack, unless she doesn't know that he's still alive and that it was Bill, not Jack who died. Ethan didn't inform her about Jack questioning Burnett, and she was expecting the explosion. So for all we know, she might think that Jack is dead.
Mar. 10th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
Remember when Bill said that he couldn’t do what Jack did.? That’s part of why he scarificed himself.

Not that Bill had ANY time to think about it, but I think he felt guilty for how he sacrificed Jack at the beginning of Day 6. Jack did escape, but the damage to Bill’s soul was done. Earlier in Day 7, When Jack goes undercover, Bill knows that Jack might be killed, it is a “sacrifice”. In the White House, Bill knew that it was HIS turn to make the sacrifice.

Poor Jack. What he wants is a good, Redemptive death. Not this time.

What I want to see now is the scene where Jack and Chloe hug each other and cry. I’ll right it myself if I have to, dammit…

Like you, I am relatively “Okay” with Bill’s death under the circumstances. Strange how Taylor didn’t acknowledge that. Maybe she disn’t know?
Mar. 10th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC)
Taylor should TOTALLY grant Jack a pardon after this...
Mar. 10th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
This is the closest we've seen Jack come to admitting that he's okay with suicide without actually saying it.

I think just as close is his comment to Bill at the beginning of S6 that being handed over to Fayed meant he could die on his own terms and his added "it'll be a relief". Even though he wasn't going to take his own life, he knew he was walking into his death and was totally fine with it, which is coming close to the same thing.

That bit broke me SO BADLY, and I still kinda find it hard to watch--especially with the Chappelle death music in the background and Jack in my head thanks to RP.

Edited at 2009-03-10 11:07 pm (UTC)
Mar. 10th, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC)

I kinda knew it was coming up, I just knew he wouldn't survive - didn't expect him to die so early in the season- but it was the time for a heroic sacrificial death.

I was in X-Files fandom at that time and thought those fans couldn't handle death.

I think that if you feel they're real, that you've lost them when they die, then they are in a way real (this is very velveteen rabbit of me).

I got spoiled for this Sunday night and really had an inkling that it was coming for a week or two. He was a moral center, a calmness in the storm, and will be missed.

I also uh, completely mourned Nina and Tony when they died - especially Tony OMG that broke me. But not enough to not easily accept him back.
Mar. 10th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
HOW many times did Fox Muldner “Die”? Once he was in the ground for Six months…Alias had the same problem, Sydney’s Mom died so many times I stopped counting.

That is one of the things I admire about 24: The show strains all credibility, but at least the dead STAY dead. Tony ruined all that. Of course, Jack was “dead” a couple of times as well.

* hugs back *
Mar. 11th, 2009 02:18 am (UTC)
I just want to say I completely understand this post. It's pathetic but I was just heartbroken all day. I became a "24" fan in the 4th season but fell in love with Bill right from the start.

For those interested, James is going to be guest starring in the last two eps of Private Practice this season. I'm not sure of the airdates, but I'm sure you can find them on IMDb.com.

And he was assured Bill was not coming back. Sorry to disappoint. :(
Mar. 11th, 2009 10:26 am (UTC)
Well, the whole "I wasn't really dead" ploy can't be used too much. I'm looking at YOU, TONY. Jack "dies" twiceso far.

Nope. Bill is gone *tear*

thanks for your comment, it's good to know that I'm, not alone in my sadness.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )