**Warning: major spoiler inside. Read at your own risk!!**
The art of tactfully dealing with spoilers is a well-honed craft. Knowing when to reveal hints about important plotlines and character developments can make or break one's enjoyment of watching a television show or movie, reading a book, or even playing a video game.
Apparently someone at Fox didn't get the memo. The latest press release from Rupert Murdoch's network has the skinny on the two-hour season seven premiere of 24, which has now officially been dated for Sunday, January 13. The action will continue the following day--its normal time slot, Mondays at 9 p.m.--with another hour of 24.
According to the release, the premiere will answer one of the show's biggest questions: What was the fate of fan favorite Tony Almeida? Last time viewers saw Jack Bauer's colleague, played by Carlos Bernard, he was left for dead in season five.
It turns out that Almeida is alive and will return to the show in season seven. However, it is unclear if he will return as a regular. The release reads: "Bauer’s day gets off to a shocking start when former colleague Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard), last seen in 'Day 5,' returns after being left for dead by a terrorist conspirator in CTU’s infirmary."
Earlier this year, 24 execs danced around the subject of Almeida's return at Comic-Con, but did hint that a return was certainly a possibility. At the show's panel at the event, producer Evan Katz said, "I think it's fair to say if we haven't definitely portrayed a character as dead, it's a good bet they're probably not dead." David Fury, another producer on the show, answered the question with his own brand of humor: "Keep watching!"
In addition to Almeida's return, several other elements of 24 will be shaken up. Also confirmed at this year's Comic-Con was the show's new setting (Washington D.C.), the dismantling of the CTU and Jack Bauer operating as a lone wolf, and the return of Mary Lynn Rajskub as Chloe O'Brien.
Earlier this year, the producers of Lost faced a similar dilemma with a fan-favorite character, but had a fan-friendly plan on how to reveal the news. Harold Perrineau, who plays Michael Dawson, was supposed to be revealed to be returning to the island during the Lost Comic-Con panel with an unannounced guest appearance. Unfortunately, ABC chiefs spilled the beans a day earlier, ruining the surprise.