Situation so far: Peter Kingsley (Tobin Bell) is officially confirmed as the man responsible for every bad thing that has happened since the season began, although we have been shown he has at least one associate, a terrorist named Max (Thomas Kretschmann), whose role in the story is, however, unknown to the government. In fact, President elect Jim Prescott (Alan Dale) still believes his cause to be just, hence Jack's idea to organize a meeting between Kingsley and Sherry Palmer, who was in on the whole thing, to prove the Cyprus recording was bogus and attacking three Middle-Eastern countries would be a huge mistake.
Season One attracted most of the attention it got for the real-time format, even though praise was also due (and duly granted) for the sharp writing, swift technical execution and astounding acting (Kiefer Sutherland even won a Golden Globe for his work on the first series). Season Two raised the stakes with a more elaborate story, and therefore it was almost impossible not to cherish the narrative first and the timing gimmick later. Of course, it's not so hard to laud something when it's better than its predecessor: as near perfect as it could be, Day 1 had one slight defect plot-wise (the amnesia digression), whereas Day 2 is flawless. If one really has to nag about details, it could be pointed out that Kim Bauer's portion of the script had virtually no ties whatsoever to the main tale, but hey, why complain when it's all pulled off so well?
Another commendable aspect of the second series is the cast, both old and new: Sutherland, Haysbert and Carlos Bernard (not to mention Xander Berkeley and Penny Johnson) improved on their already superb work in Day 1, while good support came in the form of Sarah Wynter, JOhn Terry, Alan Dale and Tobin Bell. It's this seamless combination of well established and unseen, which can sometimes "kill" a show (see how much ER has benefited from continuous cast changes), that makes 24 - Season 2 a superior television product.
Oh, and by the way: how many people can watch the last minutes of this episode and not develop an uncontrollable urge to see Day 3 right away? Now that's what I call an effective cliffhanger.