cultural capital

The ‘24’ Absurd-o-Meter: They Learned It From Watching You, Dad

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: Too much White House annoyingness, not enough Jack. But still 

3. Karen Hayes immediately gives in to evil Peter MacNicol. The Homeland Security chief (who, if we remember correctly, was sort of a bad guy last season, right?) realizes that the chief of staff is starting personal, civil-liberties-violating projects that go directly against presidential orders. But she tells no one except the chief of staff himself. And then allows herself to be easily blackmailed. And won’t tell the president why, even when he asks. This is the best bureaucratic infighting she can give? How’d she ever get so far? Absurdity factor: 2 (out of a possible 10, which presumably only Kim Bauer could achieve)

2. Walid A-Rezani, master pickpocket. The nebbishy head of the Islamic American Alliance turns out to be a regular Artful Dodger, filching a cell phone out of another man’s pocket through a totally intricate, totally foolproof con. That con? He “trips,” and the other guy helps him up. Genius. Absurdity factor: 3
1. The entire Bauer family is psychotic. Yes, we already knew Graem is an evil psycho. And, yes, we already knew — we’ve known forever — that Jack is our psycho. But Dad — kindly old James Cromwell — is just as bad. He’s in on the conspiracy with Graem, too, but then he calls off his hired goons to keep them from killing Jack, but then he has the goons turn on him because they actually work for Graem, not him, and now it looks like they’re going to kill Dad, too. Oh, and the goons — Graem’s goons — are even good enough to have killed two CTU guys out in the parking lot, without a drop of struggle. We’ll say it again: We can’t imagine Thanksgiving in that house. Absurdity factor: 5

Plus a bonus: Bill Buchanan performs Audrey Raines’s signature move, dramatically removing his reading glasses at a suitably grave junction. Nice job, Bill. [Removes glasses.] Very nice job. — Ben Wasserstein

The ‘24’ Absurd-o-Meter: They Learned It From Watching You, Dad