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24: Jack — Exposed!

Amusingly, 24, with eight episodes left in this image-mending seventh season, is still hanging on to the idea that Jack Bauer is going to die from the biological weapon he inhaled part of a week ago. Even though this is the episode in which we learn that Jack is Really Infected and Dying, allowing every character to look all forlorn and Jack to do his I’m Having Feelings But I Am Too Proud to Show Them thing, the show doesn’t even take it seriously enough to give Jack — you know, the main character on the show for seven seasons — the final scene in his Death Episode. (It’s about another governmental standoff with Starkwood.) You know, somehow we think Jack’s gonna figure out a way to make it through. And other ridiculousness, in the Absurd-o-Meter!

3. Jack gets nude! Because everyone thinks Jack might be infected, the CDC people make him strip naked and hose him down. And man, Jack could use some skin-care products: We haven’t seen him shirtless in a while, and he’s basically one big scar. (Uncharacteristically sheepish, he mutters, “It’s not a reaction to the weapon. I already had these scars.”) Just to be fun, 24 gives us a faraway shot of Jack being sprayed down, allowing us the patented Austin Powers shot of an object in the foreground strategically blocking a penis in the background. We don’t know what kinds of scars that thing has. Absurdity Factor: 4

2. Tony Almeida got SERVED. In an effort to stop Starkwood’s plans to release the weapon, Tony teams up with a seemingly slimy assistant to cut a deal with the Feds and give up the weapon. So Tony calls in Agent Moss and company, claiming the weapons are in a warehouse, but then when everyone arrives, they’re gone. We cut to Slimy Assistant, who’s smirking: He set up Almedia — supposedly a supersmart superagent who knows everything about everyone — just to bring the Feds to the wrong place and set up a showdown. This makes the slimy assistant the most recent character to pull a fast one on Tony. Absurdity Factor: 5

1. Northern Virginia is the new Waco. As it turns out, the “failed” invasion of Starkwood’s compound ends with Moss, Almeida and a bunch of agents in an empty building … until Starkwood troops show up, guns blazing, screaming about the unprovoked government invasion of their private property. Hello, Waco! The FBI and the Starkwoods are this close to a fight, and considering Jack isn’t in there with them (he was too busy “dying”), you’ve got to think it’ll happen. If they can have a fire fight in the West Wing, they can have one at the Starkwood compound in Northern Virginia. Jon Voight is the new David Koresh. Adjust accordingly. Absurdity Factor: 6

Photo: Courtesy of Fox