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The ‘24’ Absurd-o-Meter: Your Source for Tortured, Horny Pauses

In Vulture'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. This week, the absurdities started in the pre-show "previously on 24" segment and ratcheted up from there. Thrill to the spectacle of Nadia growing a spine (eventually)! Shiver in horror at the most oddly self-aware line of dialogue ever spoken on the show! Laugh and laugh as acting president Noah Daniels's ass gets served! Just another week at good ole CTU Los Angeles.

3. That is harsh, Nadia. When Morris asked to be transferred to a new division of CTU because of an annoying fight with his ex-wife, Chloe, Nadia, the new boss, sensibly says no. "You're asking me to indulge your personal melodrama while we're in the middle of an international crisis," she explains, and that ain't gonna happen. But then why do 24's writers ask the same thing of its audience, week after week? We want to see the Chinese and Ruskies and the shooting and the kicking — we don't want to indulge Morris's personal melodrama any more than Nadia does. But then there's another scene of it, with Chloe and Morris breaking up, a mere four hours before their inevitable end of season, possibly-while-one-is-gravely-injured rapprochement. Nadia doesn't have time for that, and neither do we. Also on the Nadia tip, it was nice to see her eventually come around to the show's definition of responsible public service and sound judgment at CTU: Ignoring orders from her supervisor and doing whatever Jack tells her. That's the spirit! Absurdity factor: 3 (of a possible 10)

2. Not that we're not happy to see you, but … Look, we like William Devane as much as anyone, but wouldn't the barest effort toward an explanation have been nice to justify the sudden appearance of former Secretary of Defense James Heller who happens to be wide awake, in Los Angeles, and dressed in an impeccable suit and tie, at two in the morning? But, hey, nice to see him looking hale and hearty and out of intensive care, after driving his car into a lake eighteen months ago. Absurdity factor: 4.

1. So, wow, there really isn't any kind of basic comprehension test involved in becoming vice-president. Huh. Good old Noah Daniels. You can count on him for gravel-voiced intensity, batshit crazy foreign policy, and unrepentant horndoggery. But who knew he had no idea how many people live in America? You'd think the whole being-vice-president thing would mean that he'd be able to ballpark it, but apparently not. In the scene so nice 24 producers decided to play it twice, the "previously on 24" wrap-up included a clip from last week's show in which Daniels says to his lobbyist-lovin' aide Lisa, "I have the fate of the Western World and the lives of billions of Americans hanging in the balance and I can't [tortured, horny pause] stop thinking about you." Billions of Americans? Billions? There are less than 300 million people in America today. So the show ran this goof; no biggie they've done worse — but then they ran it again. Yikes. We look forward to seeing American flags with fifteen stripes and 40-odd stars in future episodes. Absurdity factor: 7. —Ben Wasserstein