I had a bizarre disagreement with someone last week about 24. We’re both fans, but while I believe the show is having its best year, she said she’s ready to sign off on it.

Her reason? Character development. Or, more precisely, character assassination, in the form of killing off beloved people like Edgar, Tony, Michelle .?.?. maybe she felt something for the defense secretary, too, although we did find out this week that he’s alive. (While he was apparently discovered in the water, I like to imagine him rolling out of his car before it sailed off the cliff — always the preferred explanation in ’40s movie serials.)

In any case, I’m blown away that there are fans of this superbly preposterous series who follow it for human growth, or the likability of its key personalities. The only way I can explain my nearly consistent enjoyment of “Day 5” is growth, too, but the kind that comes from producers who realize that the best way to keep viewers is to just hurl bizarre shit at us week after week, whether it makes sense or not.

I’ve come to cherish what is most implausible — no one eats, CTU’s hiring practices blow, and Jack only speaks in hushed tones but never puts his cell phone on vibrate, even when he’s trying to stay hidden. To my mind, these elements make the series timeless. For example, I’m obsessed with the fact that everyone on the show is willing to kill for that audio tape of the president, when what anybody in their right mind should be after is Jack’s PDA, arguably the most powerful electronic device in the free world. (I’m waiting for it to turn into HAL.) And my favorite single moment from Monday’s episode? Chloe being hauled into the CTU conference room and being nervously asked — because of course it’s life-or-death — “Can you open up a socket with the ATC radar tracking plot?” Chloe, eyebrows furrowing in that perfectly are-you-all-idiots demeanor, replies like a bored teenager: “Yeah, I think so.” BECAUSE SHE CAN DO ANYTHING AND I LOVE IT. Uh-oh, wait. Is that character development? Maybe I’m wrong. Please don’t kill Chloe.

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