In the second half of the four-hour season opener — Jack’s day is already one-sixth over! — our hero meets some old friends from CTU, breaks Tony Almeida out of federal custody, and becomes a bad guy (kind of) in less time than it takes to watch a basketball game. Our Absurd-o-Meter was there to take measure of the wackiest moments.
2. Recession-era CTU. While Jack’s torturing Tony Almeida for information — there are two torture sessions this episode, led by two different characters: Back to business! — Tony whispers “Deep Sky.” That’s apparently an old CTU code, so Jack calls the corresponding Super-Secret CTU Code Phone Number and gets … Bill Buchanan! The former CTU head has banded with a rather un-pregnant Chloe O’Brien to take down some sort of government conspiracy, and, it turns out, Tony was undercover for them all along. So Jack breaks Tony out to continue his work. They could really use the extra help; when your crack team has three people, and one sits at a computer all day twitching her nose, it’s no surprise that you’re “just starting to scratch the surface.” Absurdity Factor: 7
1. “Sengala” brings U.S. to its knees. 24: Redemption’s fictional African country, Sengala, war-torn and poverty-stricken, apparently uses its “diamond wealth” to employ the world’s best terrorists. They take control of the United States’ infrastructure and threaten the country with annihilation. Not only that, but Sengala — which is dodging an invasion ordered by President Cherry Jones on humanitarian grounds — actually has powerful advocates within the United States government … including people close to the President herself! Used to be, Russians (or the Chinese, or “unnamed Middle Eastern countries”) were secretly conspiring against the United States. In 24, the standing of America has fallen so far that it’s freaking Sengala that’s taking us down. And we only have four people left from CTU to stop them. Absurdity Factor: 8