Here's the article. See this page for the original with pics. Some minor casting spoilers (already released) as well as timing spoiler can be found below. '24's' Time Travel Wed, Jun 25, 2003 01:39 PM PDT by Kate O'Hare Zap2it LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - In its season finale, ABC's espionage romp "Alias" appeared to leap ahead two years in time. When it returns this fall for its third season, FOX's espionage thriller "24" plans a fast-forward of its own. In the final moments of season two -- during which anti-terrorist agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) had 24 hours (and 24 episodes) to prevent a nuclear-bomb attack on Los Angeles -- Mandy (Mia Kirshner), an assassin from the beginning of season one, suddenly reappeared. Pushing her way through a cheering crowd, she gave President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) a seemingly innocent handshake. Within moments, a substance transferred via a plastic sheet on Mandy's palm caused Palmer to drop to the ground in pain, apparently poisoned or infected. Meanwhile, Bauer, whose heart had stopped while he was being tortured a few episodes earlier, was being wheeled off to the hospital himself, clutching his chest. All this medical melodrama, though, will be long in the past by the time the show returns. "It's going to be about two, two-and-a-half years later," says executive producer Howard Gordon. "Many things may have changed. It's a fair amount of time for old wounds to have healed and new ones to have been inflicted." It has been previously reported that neither Penny Johnson Jerald, who played Mrs. Sherry Palmer, nor Sarah Wynter, who played Kate, a civilian caught up in Jack's adventures, have been signed as a regular for the coming season. Gordon emphasizes that this doesn't necessarily preclude appearances, citing the example of season-one regular Sarah Clarke, who made guest appearances in season two, reprising her role of turncoat agent Nina. "Nothing is impossible," Gordon says. "In fact, Kate does make an appearance, but she's not been cast as a regular. The same goes for Penny. This is real fluid. They are characters that live in our universe, and it's entirely possible that they'll be back." Sharp-eyed viewers from season one were no doubt surprised to see the return of Mandy, who managed to romance a photographer (Rudolf Martin), steal his identity and blow up an airliner in the show's pilot. Over the next few episodes, she got naked in the desert, reunited with a lesbian lover (who got shot) and disappeared -- to reappear in the short-lived CBS series "Wolf Lake." "We flirted with the idea all season," says Gordon of Mandy's return. "It was more a function of a deal than anything else -- would she come back? I've been looking for her myself." Meanwhile, "24" has come under criticism from various corners about its depiction of American and world politics. In season one, a plot to assassinate Palmer involved Eastern European and American terrorists and mercenaries. In season two, Islamic fundamentalists were behind the bomb, along with an international cartel with financial motivations. "What's so funny about it is," Gordon says, "we're trumpeted by the left and the right. I find it really encouraging that it's stimulated debate. This show is politics-neutral. It's about a guy whose unequivocal mission is to stop people from being killed by extreme bad guys or extreme good guys." "Jack is a deeply moral individualist who inflicts his own personal sense of what's right, which hopefully coincides with our sense of what's right and what we hope we would do, faced with certain extreme situations."