Within the first ten minutes of this episode, the Disaster at the White House is entirely resolved: Jack Bauer kills the bad guys, the president is freed, and only a couple of Americans have to die. (Unfortunately, one of them is a close friend … but more on him in a moment.) So, that’s over — let’s all go play Flick Fishing on our phones. But wait! The conspiracy is still not resolved. Fortunately, Jack’s alive, and man, he’s pissed. Hello, Absurd-o-Meter!
3. Good-bye, sweet Bill. We should have known Bill Buchanan — who has appeared in more episodes of 24 than all but five other characters (Jack, Tony, Chloe, President David Palmer, and the hated Kim Bauer, if you’re curious) — was in trouble when he showed up this season looking all trim, ripped, and pretty. Sure enough, Bill gets his Dying for Your Country moment by blowing himself up with the gas leak Jack clandestinely unleashed in the last episode. He distracts General Juma and the terrorists, allowing Jack and whatever was left of the Secret Service to blow them away and save the president. Jack mourns for Bill, as does the show, giving him its highest honor, the Silent Clock, as we go into commercial. (It’s the ninth Silent Clock in the show’s history, though it’s the third in 2009.) Good-bye, Bill: May you grow more youthful into eternity. Absurdity Factor: 4
2. Never mix politics and family. Apparently, during President Taylor’s difficult election campaign, her estranged daughter leaked damaging information about
Mommy to her opponent her mother’s opponent. The backlash wasn’t enough to cost her mother the election, but, as you might expect, Mom’s chief of staff wasn’t exactly ecstatic about it. Now that president and First Daughter are buddy-buddy again, Mom wants her kid to be her adviser and, to smooth over any conflicts, asks the chief of staff to offer the job personally. He begrudgingly obliges, but the First Daughter throws it in his face, saying she’ll take the job, but only so she can expose how incompetent and potentially corrupt said chief of staff is. Hello, Palace Intrigue! The First Daughter is prickly, a little nutty, and an instant hit. But if it turns out that she’s in on the conspiracy, we give up. Absurdity Factor: 5
1. Jon Voight rules all. Voight’s Head of the Murky Conspiracy, Jonas Hodges, is a worthy adversary to Jack Bauer, and he proved his mettle again, somehow killing the last witness to the conspiracy, framing Jack, and targeting a nuclear weapon at Washington, D.C. All this within minutes of his last major plan failing. You cannot say that Jonas Hodges does not respond well to adversity, particularly when all it took was breezing through typically limp hospital security. Now Jack’s on the run and the next attack is already in motion … and Hodges hasn’t even had a chance to pour himself a second bourbon yet. Well done. Absurdity Factor: 8