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The ‘24’ Absurd-o-Meter: Treason, Sedition, and Breakdowns

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 goodness: Three generations of Bauers! Two whole episodes! One Powers Boothe scene! Good times.

3. Chloe has a total breakdown. For fifteen minutes. It’s understandable that Chloe freaked out a little bit when Morris, her husband (ex-husband? we know they’re a couple again, but are they remarried?) is kidnapped. Less understandable is the way her brief timeout is treated by everyone around her as the gravest situation of the day. “It’s good to have you back,” Jack says to her with undue gravity. Not Jack, I’m glad you’re out of Chinese prison or Jack, that sucked when you killed Curtis. Please, that stuff was hours ago. Absurdity factor: 3 (out of 10)

2. Tom Lennox’s hands will never touch a keyboard. So let’s say you’re the president’s chief of staff. Let’s say you’re sitting at a computer, and one of your aides — possibly your only aide — walks into your office and says that he didn’t write your letter of resignation like you asked him to. Instead he intimated something shocking, something you can only describe as treasonous. It seems he’s allied with a group ready to assassinate the president. (Perhaps more disturbingly, he’s also able to say the line, “I’m not intimating anything. I’m just simply musing” with a straight face.) Needless to say, you send him packing — with orders to write up that letter of resignation, for realsies this time. Huhbuwha?! Tom! Bro! Type it up yourself. Not every menial task needs to be assigned to Mr. Seditious, even if he’s way better at printing on letterhead than you are. Absurdity factor: 5

1. President Palmer argues with his vice-president — in front of a terrorist leader (who may know how to time-travel). As the prez argues with evil veep Powers Boothe, he keeps former terrorist leader Hamri Al-Assad, with whom the U.S. has developed a shaky truce, in the room. Sure, maybe he’s doing it so Assad can see the pressure he’s up against: But why would a president tip his hand like that? Even if Assad is more King Abdullah than Osama, there’s still no good reason to let him witness U.S. intra-executive-branch squabbles. Also: Assad was last seen shaking hands with Bill Buchanan at CTU L.A. a little before 11 a.m. He was in the White House’s underground bunker a little more than two hours later. We already know 24 doesn’t obey traffic laws; now it doesn’t obey air-traffic laws, either. Which means that if Karen Hayes, who left Washington for CTU a bit before 1 p.m., was lucky enough to hop on a westbound rocket, she could well turn up in sunny California next week. Absurdity

Bonus: There were fleeting moments of levity provided by excellent “old” photos in last night’s episodes. Rade Serbedzija’s ex–Russian general is caught on CTU’s computer files wearing a George Costanza–worthy sable hat, and — even better — as Papa Bauer rummages through his dead son’s wallet, he stops at a cheesy photo of the two of them smiling and raising their martini glasses. They were so innocent back then, when they were merely plotting to assassinate an ex-president and start a war in Central Asia. Ah, memories.
Ben Wasserstein

The ‘24’ Absurd-o-Meter: Treason, Sedition, and Breakdowns