Oh, goodie. It’s time for our favorite plot twist! You know, the sudden about-face that happens just after the initial set of villains is dismissed and the real evildoing contingent begins to take shape. Before we know what motivates the mastermind behind the curtain, but after we’ve seen enough of his dirty work to be afraid. Yes, around this time, 24’s loyal viewers have come to expect the good guys to get their moral wires crossed and turn on Jack. Bauer, always up until then the only capable defender of the American way, is suddenly cast out into the wilderness. Shunned by those he fought to help! Guided by patriotism against misguided bureaucracy! And so it is at 9 a.m. No sooner do we get confirmation that higher-ups in the Russian government orchestrated the past seventeen terror-filled hours than Jack Bauer is put on lockdown to stop him from exposing the intel and derailing the peace process. Which of our friends has to lose their way in order to propel Jack’s hero’s journey forward? Sorry, President Taylor, looks like you’re it. Look alive, Absurd-o-Meter, shit’s about to get Shakespearean.
The arc of justice — turns out, not so long after all. As we understand it, New York law says that anyone arrested in state has to be arraigned within 24 hours. We’re all for the right to a speedy trial, but it was less than twelve hours ago that Sergei Bazhaev was taken into custody for selling weapons-grade uranium to revenge-seeking terrorists (not to mention repeatedly tasering CTU’s prime operative in the gut). As Chloe tells Jack when she begs him to show restraint, he’s CTU’s main source. So wouldn’t they want to, oh, we don’t know, keep him around for as long as possible in case they had some pressing questions? Nope, CTU decides to hurry him along to Federal Court where Jack has no problem getting into the hearing to threaten the accused’s family. Guess no one was worried someone would take out Bazhaev like they did with Samir. No, in fact, our criminal-justice system is so accommodating, that the entire room clears out so that Jack and Bazhaev can have a heart-to-heart, whereupon he points the finger at the Russians — and Dana.
Absurdity factor: 5
Assorted pack of absurdities. There were too many single-servings of ridiculousness this hour to let them go ignored. Among our favorites: Ethan’s doctor letting the man who had a heart attack four hours ago decide whether it was safe to return to the stress-free environment of negotiating a nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The poor hospital intern who had to sacrifice his clothes and boots for the greater good of a shoeless Jack. The number of times Jack said, “You have my word”: two. The number of times Jack whispered a threat into someone’s ear: three. Dana pretending she didn’t know her head was about to meet the table when she told Jack she was sorry for his loss. (We suspect it was that kind of behavior that got Kiefer escorted out of the Stringfellow’s Gentleman’s Club in a headlock IRL.) And last, but not least, who didn’t reveal that they knew Dana was the Russian government’s man on the ground in CTU? Shouldn’t a mole be, uh, molelike?
Absurdity factor: 6
Et tu, Iago? Can we just say how much we are eating up Gregory Itzin’s return as Charles Logan?! Little flourishes — like the nervous tongue-biting tic (think: serpent in the Garden) or waving away the agent who refused to share his exuberance — are executed with such panache, it’s almost as though he doesn’t realize he’s giving a career performance aboard a sinking ship. In fact, his powers are at such an all-time high that all it takes is one Julius Cesar quote about it being now-or-never and President Taylor’s under his thrall. Between the expert manipulation and ego-stroking, we’d actually peg the play we’re in as Othello. But here’s Logan’s basic argument: Moral fortitude is for those on the sidelines. Taylor must ignore the minor evils of Russia supplying the fuel rods to blow up her citizens for the greater good of signing a treaty that will build a lasting peace, in her name, natch. And poof, just like that, President Taylor, the woman who had her own daughter arrested in the name of justice and refused to sacrifice even one life for the lives of thousands, is now willing to sell Dalia out to her husband’s killers and sign a peace treaty with nuke-happy underminers. We’ll give you that power and prestige are intoxicating. But how much hope is there for lasting peace when Russia just sold the IRK uranium rods under the table the previous afternoon?
Absurity factor: 8
All roads lead to Jack. As far as we see it, once Taylor turned over to the dark side, she had a few options for keeping Jack Bauer in check. She could stall him for the two hours it would take for Dalia to be named her husband’s successor and sign the treaty. She could make up an excuse to get Jack to McGuire Air Force base that would convince him to go willingly. She could order him to pursue a side mission that would keep him occupied, like she did when she re-tasked him to Hassan’s security detail. Or she could realize he isn’t even technically employed by CTU anymore and just ignore the guy. Instead, Taylor speeds over to CTU headquarters in her presidential motorcade (for once, getting from point A to point B takes five minutes instead of ten, which we guess is plausible from 46th and 1st to Roosevelt Island?). It’s almost as though she needs to run her justification by Jack, hoping he’ll agree to play along too. When he doesn’t, she shuts him down like a parent that’s had enough back talk. Jack realizes Taylor can’t handle the truth, which he uses as justification for stealing the company copter.
Absurdity factor: 8
New York on a budget. If you’re going to try to re-create a cityscape on a tight budget, there are probably easier vistas to emulate than the Manhattan skyline. Still, when Jack whispers his final threat of the night — into the ear of the agent who escorts him across the helipad — the backdrop of skyscrapers from CTU headquarters on Roosevelt Island looks about as convincing as the Scarface School Play. Once Jack goes rogue and commandeers the helicopter rather than submit to Taylor’s banishment, poor Chloe has to call in the Air Force to shoot him down with what looks like a photocopied picture of New York behind her and a wind machine offstage blowing her hair. Did it remind anyone else of those pull-down maps above the high-school blackboard? We could almost see it warp from the gale force of the wind machine. In ascending levels of abysmal production values, it would be the 20th Century Fox lamp-post-and-newsstand version of New York in Vancouver, the model airplanes they look to be using for next week’s air fight, and then that poor excuse for our city that closed out the hour.
Absurdity factor: 9
Taylor’s knuckle-headed moves aside, PopWatch thought it was awesome when Jack went freaking airborne, man.
Despite the fact that Chloe’s grown into her role at CTU, CinemaBlend thinks Jack will always be Jack and yell and bully his way into saving the day.
HitFix thinks Logan lays out “a pretty fantastic” moral dilemma for Taylor by tricking Dalia into signing a deal with Hassan’s killers or letting the peace process die.