The ‘24’ Absurd-o-Meter: Josh Bauer Lacks the Family's Flair for Drama

In Daily Intel's 24 Absurd-o-Meter, we each week count down the most incredibly ridiculous (ridiculously incredible?) plot points in the last hour of Jack Bauer's crappy day. Last night the absurdity kicked into high gear as viewers were treated to a return to the boiler room of doom, Papa Bauer's strange drama-queen flourishes, and Morris's surprise alcoholism. If Phillip Bauer is revealed to be his AA sponsor, we're done here.

3. Marilyn Bauer's Rain Man moment. Jack's sister-in-law has emerged as the most annoying character on the show, at least until Sandra Palmer returns. She manages to appear both credulous and tremulous at all times; she led Jack to an exploding house, and when instructed to run "as fast and as far away from here as you can" while hiding behind a Dumpster, she managed to run as far as the other end of the Dumpster. Still, once the whole fake-address-that-almost-killed-Jack thing is settled, she's able to perfectly recall the address of a house she passed fleetingly on their way to the murder house, while she was credibly trembling with fear. Absurdity factor: 3 (out of 10)

2. Chad Lowe can hear through a steel door. Traitorous rat Chad Lowe managed to hear Tom Lennox's entire sotto voce phone conversation within the boiler room of doom, including the accurate pronunciation of Secret Service Agent Hollister's last name. Given his apparent superpowers, why this guy needs any help for a li'l ol' assassination is beyond us. Also, for such a mousey guy, he wields a hell of a flashlight. Absurdity factor: 4

1. Papa Bauer: Why do something right when you can do it dramatically? When his suspicious grandson tries to escape the hotel room, Jack's dad waits until the kid has his hand on the door handle before pulling out his gun and making him stay inside. Could he have done that two steps sooner? Sure, but it wouldn't have been as cool. (Personal to Josh Bauer: When you overhear your psycho grandpa threatening, just go. Don't wait for him to hang up and then attempt a soda-machine-run gambit. It won't work.) Moments later, when Papa B figures out the jig is up, rather than escape with his hostage (and his freedom), he decides to get himself cornered on a roof across the street. And then, rather than execute his son, he disappears, Keyser Söze–style, but leaving with enough time to type out a text message. He'll be back — with a contrived flourish, no doubt — by morning. Absurdity factor: 6

Bonus universe-crunching absurdity: The real-time watch never stops. Last week Assad made it from L.A. to Washington in a little more than two hours. This week, it takes Jack, Marilyn, and cannon-fodder bad guy twelve minutes to walk up some hotel stairs. Sure, the room wasn't on the second floor, but come on, people, show a little hustle. Don't they know lives are at risk? —Ben Wasserstein