After the 4-episode overload last week, it was nice to only have one episode of “24” this week to push the bounds of plausibility. Last week featured so much farfetched plot that it didn’t even register that Renee’s horror last season over Jack’s techniques makes absolutely no sense now that we know she was undercover with a Russian mob for several years prior to that. Took Hitfix’s Daniel Fienberg to point out that little nugget of inconsistency after I posted my recap. But hey, it’s hard to see the forest from the trees in the Shenanigans Forest that is this show.

But enough about the past, what happened tonight? Let’s get down to it.

[Full recap of Monday's (Jan. 25) "24" after the break...]

Kicking things off: we finally learn the name of President Hassan’s homeland: The Islamic Republic of Kamistan. Throughout the capital city, members of Hassan’s military are capturing would-be usurpers. The head of the uprising gets a call from Farhad, who insists that once he obtains the uranium from the Russians, the failed assassination attempt will not matter.

While Farhad is on the phone, Sergi Bazhaev converses with his son Josef. (This is turning into a Tom Clancy novel with all these names.) Josef insists that he knows a doctor that can help his ailing brother in the back. Sergi thinks that any medical treatment would arouse suspicion, now that Davros’s body tipped off the feds to the potential threat. Nevertheless, Josef’s appeal works, meaning that someone from CTU will find his body by Hour 8. Meanwhile, before the money transfer goes through for the uranium rods, Farhad receives two prostitutes to massage his Kamistanian…well, you get the point. By episode’s end, Josef defies his father’s orders and holds a doctor and his family in New Rochelle hostage in order to secure treatment for his ailing brother.

Back in the electronics store, Jack is still shocked and awed by Renee’s Bauer-esque removal of the low-level Red Square member. He threatens to call Hastings to call the whole mission off, but on some level Jack feels responsible for the monster he’s created, and gives her a bit more time to make her plan pay off. She thinks that the thought of money will cure this man’s ills, and sure enough, she’s right: the thought of a $3 million dollar pay day is enough for him to no longer miss the ability to ever hold a utensil again, and the two of them are off to look for Vladimir.

At CTU, Dana gets another call from her ex, Kevin Exposition. That’s what I’m calling him from now on, as every time he calls her he does nothing but reiterate this ridiculous plot. He wants her to come to her apartment in thirty minutes, or else he gets the pizza for free. I dunno, I don’t write this stuff. She gets Arlo to cover for her, and heads out in the middle of a serious operation with national/global implications. Sigh. That’s a high-level CTU agent for you.

President Taylor learns about both the uranium plot and the Kamistanian crackdowns. Worried about the human rights implications of the latter, she calls in Hassan to find what she calls a “middle way.” Hassan replies by…essentially giving her the middle finger, arguing that power is the only thing his citizens recognize. Well, that and the power of “Pants on the Ground.”

Hassan tries to mend his marriage in the wake of the affair with Reed. Hassan seeks his wife’s counsel in light of Taylor’s demands, the first time he’s done so in years. While she enjoys the detour into nostalgia, she insists that it’s too late, and she’s returning. The Hassans are like the anti-Logans. Whereas they were the First Couple of Crazy, these two are just too earnest and drippy. Good actors, bad dialogue. There’s five minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

On the way to the Vladimir meet, Ziya talks cryptically about what he did to Renee last time. She’s not having any trips down this particular memory lane. Ziya shrugs, and “After all, what is there to say about such a man? Nothing good.” Well, he was pretty damn good on “Battlestar: Galactica,” but that’s neither here nor there right now.

Once at the site, Renee convinces Ziya to go on ahead, giving Jack and her time to develop their cover story. (He’s a deep sea fisherman, she’s the newest “American Idol” judge. OK, I made that up. They met in Mexico City. I like my story better.) Inside, Ziya gets a faceful of gun for his intrusion, but Vlad’s associates don’t believe he’s smart enough to lie. But Renee? Well, Vlad’s right-hand man points out that faceful o’ freckles just HAPPENED to be around just before the feds came down on them a few years ago.

Cole learns that Dana went home suddenly, and for the first time in my life I’m rooting for Freddie Prinze Jr. Help me end this plot, Freddie Prinze Jr. You’re my only hope. Back at her apartment, Dana finds Kevin and one of his bunk buddies from prison coating the well-appointed pad in sleaze. Here comes the download of backstory: both Kevin and “Dana” were arrested for a stick-up job, but Kevin thinks Dana testified against him in order to secure early release. She insists that her jail time stemmed from starting her sentence while underage. A lot of fun male-on-female choking ensues, with Kevin insisting that she use her CTU access to help him score a six-figure job. Honestly, it’s just swell to see Starbuck acting like she’s in a Lifetime movie, honestly. Sigh.

On the other side of town, it’s even more male-on-female violence: we learn Vlad developed a stalker-ish crush on Renee back in the day, sending her to the E.R. on more than one occasion. Just ridiculous to have these storylines back to back. You’re telling me there isn’t a more compelling way to use women on this show other than to show them broken by their past interactions with the wrong man? Ugh. Anyways, using Jack’s intel through her earpiece, Renee’s cover story seems to hold up under Vlad’s scrutiny, but he can tell something’s afoot. He sticks both her and Ziya in the back of his armored car, with Jack in hot pursuit.

On the verge of intercepting the car with two CTU tactical squads, they realize they have been following a dummy car all along. That leaves them all 10 minutes out with no chance to save Renee’s life. That yields one of the great “DAMNIT”s in Bauer history. Full-throated and terse. Excellent. After shooting Ziya, Vlad notices that Renee didn’t even blink when he pulled the trigger. It’s speechifying time: “You were right. I am sick. I am so sick of living like this. The truth is, even if you let me walk right now, I have nowhere to go and no one to go to. You don’t wanna do this deal? Fine. Then you might as well kill me. Because this deal is all I have. Besides, you wouldn’t be doing anything I haven’t already tired myself.” Vlad thinks, “Ah, yes, this is the woman whose collar bone I loved to crush. Let us welcome her back into the fold.” Renee’s cover is set, Jack breathes a sigh of relief, and the clock counts down another episode of “24.”

Into the season so far? Or are you already looking at your watch?