The ‘24’ Absurd-o-Meter: It's a Scheming Bureaucrat's Prerogative to Change His Mind

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. Two weeks ago, the season's plot pivoted, with Jack finally catching and killing Fayed and then, moments later, receiving a conveniently timed phone call from Chinese nemesis Cheng, who revealed he's holding Audrey Raines. In last night's episode, the characters pivot along with the plot, conveniently forgetting everything they believed in and fought for just a few hours earlier.

4. Lennox will do everything possible to get rid of Karen, or else he'll do whatever he can to keep her around. Just this morning, back before Tom Lennox was held prisoner by his chief of staff, before he planted a secret recording device to entrap Vice-President Daniels, before President Palmer was gravely injured then miraculously recovered then was gravely injured again, Karen Hayes was the only person who stood between Lennox and his plans of Muslim-American incarceration. So he plotted to force Karen to resign, which she'd gladly do to protect her beloved husband, Bill Buchanan. A few hours later, the secret information that will bring down either Bill or Karen — which, we're now told, doesn't actually reveal that either one did anything wrong — resurfaces, and there are no questions. Tom will work with Karen to keep her around, and Karen's happy to cut Bill loose. Absurdity factor: 4

3. Power remains the greatest aphrodisiac. You thought Daniels was pulling all those power-grubbing machinations — invoking the 25th amendment, conspiring to perjure himself to the Supreme Court, presumably rubbing his hands with glee with Palmer collapsed in the press room — just so he could be president? Well, yes, before. Now he just wants to get his hands on that hot blonde aide. Once he's ensconced in the Oval Office, his first move is terminating Jack's plot to get Audrey. Is his second move focused on terrorism? Or reassuring the nation? Or preserving his own power, even? Nope. It's fondling Amelia. "I'm not sure this is appropriate behavior, Mr. Acting President," she coos. "Well, there's the phone," he replies. "Tell them the Acting President is a dirty old man." Indeed. Absurdity factor: 4

2. Nadia, she's the best! First thing in the morning, CTU HQ, against Bill's wishes, lowered Nadia Yassir's security clearance, because, even though she's a loyal CTUer, she's also an Arab. Nadia was pissed. A few hours later, Nadia was suspected of leaking information to Fayed; she was removed from duty, placed in custody, and tortured by Doyle. Turned out it was all a mistake, and she was returned to duty. Nadia was pissed. So when Bill's forced out of CTU, who's put in charge? Nadia, of course, who'd not mad at all about being shat on all day. "I don't know why they would fire you," she tells Bill. "You're the most ethical, dedicated person I've ever known." A line like that from an aide would get Vice-President Daniels in the sack. Absurdity factor: 5

1. Audrey is brainwashed?! Jack comes out of eighteen months in a Chinese prison — eighteen months in which he was brutally, repeatedly tortured and beaten — acting just like his old self. Audrey, however, leaves able to say just a few words. But what a key few words: "Help me, Jack! Don't let them to do this to me!" So how many hours are left for us to have to watch her repeating that? Absurdity factor: 8 —Jesse Oxfeld