In Vulture's 24 Absurd-o-Meter, we each week count down the most incredibly ridiculous (ridiculously incredible?) plot points in the last hour(s) of Jack Bauer's crappy day. In the two-hour season finale, Bill Buchanan returned (yay!), Chloe fainted (wha?), then found out that she's pregnant (awww!), Jack got wet (brrr!), and Russia and the United States didn't go to war (yay!). This was a less-than-thrilling end to a less-than-thrilling season. 24's going to be a radically different show next year, reports say, with an all-new cast (except for Kiefer) and location. CTU Los Angeles, we hardly knew ye — though we knew enough to know that ye could've improved your security. Still, before we head off into the sunrise and wish 24's producers better luck tomorrow, there's one last Absurd-o-Meter to be done.
3. Vice-President Daniels is contrite. Powers Boothe has pulled off a lot of silly things this year, from his character's nonsensical warmongering to his kooky horndoggery. But even Boothe couldn't pull off Daniels's reappraisal of comatose President Wayne Palmer: "I judged his performance as president unfairly," he growled without looking like he was reading dialogue taped to the Oval Office coffee table. And if Daniels's belated support was meant to wrap up Palmer's story, mission not accomplished: We still don't know if the guy's alive! (Or, for that matter, if President Logan is still alive either.) Absurdity factor: 5.
2. Time is broken, yet again. As though to pay tribute to the numerous previous occasions on which the show this season has flouted its real-time structure, this episode sets up Jack's final scene with a ludicrously short car ride. It takes him ten minutes to get from the hostage-exchange offshore-oil-rig-adjacent beach to the Heller estate. Even from 5:36 a.m. to 5:46 a.m., nothing is just ten minutes away in L.A., and establishing that the Heller house is on the coast doesn't change that. There's a lot of coast over there. Absurdity factor: 6.
1. Wasn't this the dumbest plan in the world? In the show's defense, they did a thorough job explaining that it was only Crazy VP Daniels who thought giving a 16-year-old boy over to a totally untrustworthy man would make for a good hostage exchange. And yet the scheme still went forward, and having it blow up in everyone's face drove the action of the episodes. Once again, it was up to Jack Bauer to make a little bit of sense in the face of cockamamy idiocy from the top. This familiar scenario led to the best bit of dialogue on last night's show. White House Chief of Staff Tom Lennox: "Do you think Jack's concerns are warranted?" National Security Adviser Karen Hayes: "Absolutely. He's Philip Bauer's son, and he's been more right than we have today." Lennox: "Well, point taken there." Let us tell you a little something about Jack Bauer: He's more right than anyone else. Every day. Oh, 24, we miss you already. Absurdity factor: 9. —Ben Wasserstein