Ok, we’ve got a situation here (in the quasi-realistic world of “24”, that is). We’ve got a nuclear bomb detonation outside of Los Angeles (“at least 12,000 dead”, at last word), 4 more suitcase nukes on the road and being prepped, CTU’s field teams wiped out in death by nuke blast and/or shot by Jack Bauer, a President hamstrung in action and admittedly frightened, and…oh yeah, a former #1 terrorist now in CTU’s hands, pledging to bring an end to violence and a deal for peace.

Such was the menu on our collective viewing plates on last night’s edition of “24”. Still, all of these plot lines take a back seat to more pressing matters: Jack’s family.

Last night, we were reunited with one of last season’s villains: an unnamed baddie played by former “ER” headache Paul McCrane. It was this malcontent who orchestrated things behind the scenes, coercing then-President Logan into various bits of treason involving terrorists hell-bent on killing the Russian President. In the end, it was McCrane’s character that convinced Logan to hand Jack over to the Chinese, a move that led to one of the great cliffhanger endings for the show, that of Bauer being abducted to a Chinese prison to undergo various amounts of torture. So, suffice to say that Jack may have some unfinished business with this mysterious evildoer.

Last night, this evildoer was finally given a name: Graham Bauer. That’s right folks, he’s Jack’s brother.

Jack has paid “Gray” a visit in search of their father, who has had dealings with an associate of terrorist enemy #1 Abu Fayed. Although it seems doubtful that Jack yet knows of Gray’s previous involvement, it seems clear that Jack has got some bad blood for his bro, as evidenced by his knocking out and tying up of his sibling. Further, it looks as though Jack is not above a little torture between brothers, as the episode ended with him giving a little suffocation treatment to Gray, courtesy of a plastic bag.

One of the things I love about “24” is that they don’t always wait until the end of an episode to release a cliffhanger, and this one was a doozy. McCrane’s reveal as Jack’s brother ranks right up there with the Chinese abduction and wife Terri’s murder.

Never disappointing, always thrilling. This year’s “24” just might be the best yet.