At the end of this episode, the target of the impending terrorist attack is revealed, and yes, the terrorists are using their one last biological-weapon canister to poison the Washington, D.C., subway. Perhaps it’s going to end up at the White House (again), or perhaps it’s only going to take out the sad souls riding around under our capital in the wee hours of the morning. In the meantime, let’s roll out the Absurd-o-Meter!
3. Jack Is More Liberal Than Janeane Garofalo. In the first few minutes, Jack, desperate for a suspect, tells Chloe and Agent Walker to do a full background check on “every Muslim in the area.” Garofalo, playing, as always, Janeane Garofalo if Janeane Garofalo were an intelligence expert, mutters something angry about “racial profiling much?” and Jack, even though he’s going crazy, pauses to say, “No, you’re right.” Rather than stop the racial profiling, though, he simply says, “I don’t like it any more than you do.” That’s right: Jack Bauer claims he doesn’t like racial profiling any more than Janeane Garofalo does. We find this unlikely. Absurdity Factor: 5
2. Worst Chief of Staff Since Haldeman. We knew it was a mistake when President Taylor hired her conniving and clearly stupid daughter as her chief of staff. Now we know just how awful a decision it really was. Angry that Jonas Hodges was pardoned by the president even though he had killed the Taylor-family son, daughter Olivia calls a “fixer” to have Hodges killed. But she gets cold feet at the last minute. Actually, just a little bit past the last minute: By the time she has decided not to transfer her money to the assassin’s account, he has already gone through with it. (Hey, who hasn’t killed on spec?) So now, Jonas Hodges is dead, everyone thinks it’s an inside job, and somewhere there’s an angry assassin who would love to get paid. Well done, Olivia. That went perfectly. Absurdity Factor: 7
1. The Best Possible Way Season Six Could Go. The show still insists that Jack is “dying,” even though we all know he’s going to be just fine because Kiefer Sutherland is coming back for next season and, also, you know, he’s Jack Bauer. But Jack, after realizing the man he’d handcuffed and enlisted to help him find the “Arab terrorist” was innocent (as was the “Arab terrorist” himself), explains, in a rare moment of reflection, that he could never forgive himself for all the terrible things he’s done. The man, a devout cleric, tells him, “It’s never too late to turn toward God, Mr. Bauer.” And WHAMO. We have the greatest ending imaginable: Jack has a spiritual awakening and converts to Islam. That show would be amazing. Absurdity Factor: 10