In these four episodes alone, this has become especially evident. On the one hand we have Bauer, counter-terrorism super-agent. He's virtuous in the sense that his ultimate mission is to protect the country, but in kidnapping Nina (Sarah Clarke) and potentially being framed for an attempted assassination on Palmer, it's obvious he's willing to take extreme measures to do so. Yes, he was being manipulated by Gaines (Michael Massee), the apparent mastermind behind this convoluted plot. But note how, from the very beginning, he's been breaking protocol in the name of the mission. He's making progress, but at what cost to those around him?
It's an interesting contrast going forward, and it'll be interesting to see if Palmer's asked to compromise that integrity he prides himself on later.