Two weeks, two silent countdowns to end an episode of “24.” You could take that to mean the show’s going out with a bang, literally. Or, you could take that to mean that we could quickly get desensitized to all the death about to come our way in the final few hours of the series’ run. I’m all for ramping things up to go out in a blaze of glory, but there’s a chance that we might be too numb to care by that point. As numb as Jack at episode’s end.

But we’ll get there eventually. Onto the rest of the recap! Let’s take a look at what happened in three major locations this week.

At the U.N.

President Taylor starts the hour out on a down note, still reeling from Hassan’s death. Upon talking with Jack, she notes that she’ll be soon telling the delegates that the peace process is over. Jack insists that means Hassan’s death was in vein, but she sees no other choice.

Luckily, recently released IRK ambassador Jamot does. An early victim of Hassan’s post-Farhad paranoia, he returns with an intriguing proposition, one many “24” fans predicted last season: installing Dalia as the new head of state. Dalia’s initially shocked and terrified by the prospect, noting that she’s no politician. “You are a martyr’s wife,” notes Jamot, and soon Taylor is taking point on insisting that Dalia take up her husband’s mantle. The two women then empathize over the personal costs that their political lives have yielded. By the end, Dalia agrees to take Omar’s place. Great scene between two intelligent, strong women. More of these two together, please.

Taylor’s thrilled, but the Russian ambassador, Novakovic, isn’t too hot on the concept. Looks like he’s had a stake in the insurgency against Hassan for some time, through diplomatic channels as well as a connection to the season’s previous big bad: Red Square. He dodges and waves upon learning that Dalia will be taking over Hassan’s role. Calling into question its legality doesn’t work (Jamot’s already arranged for an emergency parliamentary proceeding to nominate her), but Russia’s absence at the table will cripple the peace process. Taylor threatens to go over Novakovic’s head, but he insists he speaks for the state, not merely himself.

In her desperation, Taylor turns to a recovering Ethan for advice. His ace in the hole? Former, disgraced President Charles Logan. Seems Logan has been calling Ethan’s office for the past hour, with intimate knowledge of supposedly secret political maneuverings. Taylor reluctantly agrees to meet with Logan, who looks more Nixonian than ever. She’s unsure of his true agenda, but Logan insists that he has “leverage” that will guarantee Russian involvement in the treaty. Awesome seeing Logan back on my television, as it reminds me of the show’s acme: Season 5. But speaking of high points, looks like someone has reached a milestone over at CTU…

AT CTU

Tim Woods calls Chloe. He’s impressed upon reading the CTU logs over the past day, and tells her that she’s the next acting CTU agent. First thought: yes! Second thought: no! First thought: because Chloe’s awesome and deserves it. Second thought: being the head of CTU is a little like being the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwart’s. Things tend to not go well. But maybe an office run by a snarky, socially awkward woman could be just the type of shakeup CTU needs to stop hiring moles and erecting faulty perimeters around crime scenes.

Within seconds of officially getting the reins from Hastings (who notes that he might still have a job had he listened to Chloe from the outset), a crisis springs up in CTU’s medical area. Samir, previously wounded but stable thanks to Jack’s incursion, dies of cardiac arrest thirty minutes after initial diagnosis. Chloe orders a toxicology scan, which Cole scoffs at. Dude, Chloe’s in charge for a reason. Don’t make me bust out a “She’s All That” reference on you. I’ve been good all year about that. Chloe’s instincts are correct: Samir was indeed given an unknown toxin. So who does she call? No, not the Ghostbusters. That would be silly…

At Jack’s apartment

In light of Hassan’s death, Jack mentally checks out of the case. Broken by his inability to have fulfilled Taylor’s request, he takes Renee back to his apartment. Just before they leave, she walks past the EMT that secretly delivered the lethal injection to Samir. He calls Novakovic to say Renee might have made him from her time with Vlad, so he’s tailing them to cut off the only possible connection anyone could make to Russian involvement in Hassan’s death.

Once back at Jack’s apartment, Renee reminds Jack of what he had said earlier in the day about the two being together when all was said and done. She tries to let him off the hook, but he’s more interested in her against the wall. I had a whole bunch of snarky jokes ready to go about their lovemaking session, but then “24” went and punched me in the gut by allowing Random Russian sniper to plug Renee with several shots after the pair achieve their first moments of happiness in years. As Jack would say, had he not just seen his world shattered before him, “DAMNIT.”

Jack rushes a barely conscious Renee down the stairs, and manages to make it into a cab before the Russian can reestablish a shot. The cab reaches the hospital quickly, at which point I thought, “Whew, OK, well, she’ll be in a coma, maybe, and that will give Jack something to fight for in the final six hours.” During Renee’s operation, Chloe tells Jack of her conversation with Renee about the EMT moments before shots were fired. But Jack’s not really listening to the end of the conversation: the doctors come out within minutes and tell Jack that that couldn’t save Renee. RIP, Renee Walker. Cue the aforementioned silent clock.

A few bullets about tonight’s episode:

*** Last week, I noted how infrequently the show uses the silent countdown. Now? It’s been used in back-to-back episodes. I’m not saying Renee’s death didn’t earn it, but from a pacing perspective, was her death as impactful as it could have been? I understand that having it follow Hassan’s death so closely gave it a shock value that maybe wouldn’t have been there in three weeks time, but shock for shock’s sake tends to get less…well, shocking after a while.

*** Logan’s personal assistant, Jason Pillar, is played by Reed Diamond. You might remember him as Laurence Dominic on “Dollhouse.” And if you DO remember him from that show, then you’ll know Taylor made a damn good decision in kicking him out of the room before her conversation with Logan.

*** I’m trying to remember a more female-centric episode of “24.” Like, ever. Taylor regains her footing, Dalia/Chloe shone as they ascended into new roles, and Renee’s death will haunt Jack’s mind for the reminder of the show. Even though Renee ultimately died, it was still an entire hour filled where women served as the driving force in each plot. Not sure this exactly makes up for the show’s less-than-stellar record when it comes to their female characters, but I’ll take this where I can get it.

*** It’s clear Jack saw Renee as an equal, both as a partner in the field and a partner in the home. I wonder how the show will deal with Jack’s habitual loss of women that he loves to the job that defines him: Teri, Audrey, and now Renee. Much like the scars that still remain on his back from his time in China, the scars from these failed relationships, and his guilt over their fates, will stay with him forever.

What did you think of tonight’s episode: too much, too soon? Or has the show gained steam as it approaches its final finish line? Leave your thoughts below!