The ‘24’ Absurd-o-Meter: Kim vs. the Cougar, Redux

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's episode was low on absurdity and high on stupidity, featuring what may have been the low point of the season. There was also some CTU smoochin', some uncoma-inducin', and, in fairness, two really good lines. Gredenko: "I'm a soldier. I'm not a martyr; I'm a realist." Sandra Palmer: "What about the swelling in his brain?" Indeed.

3. Still no word on President Logan. Two hours in, we can assume no one in the government cares about the death or life of Ex-President Charles Logan, last seen with his EKG flatlining in an ambulance. The longer no one mentions his fate, the more absurd it gets. Absurdity factor: 4 (of 10)

2. What happened in Denver gets brought up all the time. The writers seem to have overestimated their audience's capacity for caring about a minor character introduced only a few episodes prior and shown to have no character traits aside from hotheadedness, a Luke Skywalker circa Return of the Jedi haircut, and an abiding interest in mentioning his former stay in Denver a minimum of once an episode. Now Ricky Schroeder's Agent Doyle is caught in a simmering feud with Agent Johnson, who, as the audience is didactically twice informed, was brought in from Division. What we're never told, though, is why we should care about either of these two guys. Also, Johnson totally knew Doyle in Denver. Which is where Doyle used to be. Denver. In Colorado. Absurdity factor: 4

1. Everything about the autistic hacker genius guy. Five minutes into the show, Gredenko calls a guy to help him with some access codes he needs. The guy, Mark Hauser (not to be confused with the homonymic, real-life Harvard ethologist Marc Hauser) is making eggs. Nice to see someone on 24 actually eating, you might have thought. Then: Dear God, no. Tell me he's not making eggs for his brother, an autistic/mentally handicapped/Dustin Hoffman impressionist/something sensationalistic-and-dirty-feeling who's a computer-hacker savant. But, oh, he was. And yes, the brother was swiftly put into harm's way, thus providing this lackluster season with its nadir, a Kim-vs.-the-cougar for day six, and it was stupefying in its absurdity. At least Jack was gentle with the guy, though. Was anyone else afraid he'd break out the ole interrogation tools? Absurdity factor: 10 —Ben Wasserstein