TV Recap: FBI – The Enemy of My Enemy …

FBI
“Pilot” (Episode 101)
September 25, 2018

It’s a bright fall day in the South Bronx. Two brothers, Chris and Emmett Grant, raced down the street after school, heading for home. Chris stops when he sees his classmate Ginny.

Chris strikes up a conversation with Ginny, who comments he was babysitting. No, younger brother Emmett refutes. He wasn’t a baby and they were going to play Xbox and have meatball sandwiches.

The older brother hurries Emmett along, promising he’ll just be a minute. “It’s never just a minute,” grumbles Emmett as he goes up the steps into their building.

Alone at last, the teenagers talk about math homework and how Ginny doesn’t get algebra. Ginny asks to come up to Chris’s home so he could show her graphing equations when the windows in the building explode out, knocking the children off their feet.

An FBI SUV arrives; SA Maggie Bell (Missy Peregrym, Rookie Blue) and SA Omar Adom ‘OA’ Zidan (Zeeko Zaki, Valor) are at the scene. Maggie asks one of the firemen what time did the explosion occur. The battalion chief says it was recorded as 4:03pm, nine minutes ago.

Maggie checks her watch and something flickers across her face. She tells the fireman to get everyone out now. The chief protests he has men inside knocking on doors. Maggie says to grab everyone they see.

Photo: Michael Parmelee/CBS

Meanwhile, Chris and Emmett’s mother rushes in past OA’s attempt to block her. Maggie stops her from trying to get in. The mother is worried her two sons are still inside. She won’t listen to Maggie’s assurances.  The mother stops trying to go in when she hears Chris call out to her from where he is strapped to a stretcher. But when she finds out her youngest son Emmett is still inside, she tries again to get into the building. Maggie stops her once more. Maggie tries to reason with the mother, reassuring her FDNY is pulling everyone out now.

All of a sudden, the building explodes for the second time.

Everyone is on the ground. Maggie recovers and turns around in time to see the windows cracking and the bricks crumbling. Someone shouts “It’s coming down” before the building pancakes, sending a cloud of debris over everyone.

Photo: Michael Parmelee/CBS

Maggie’s stunned; everything seems to be moving out of sync with her, the shouting around her sounds far away. The area is now hazy with ash and dust; the buildings and sirens are cloaked under the fog.  Maggie struggles to pick herself up and time snaps back into place. She helps the mother to her feet. Next to them, OA staggers up as well. Maggie leads the mother away to a safer distance. The mother is crying, covered in the debris’s dust, her eyes towards the space where the building once stood.

A convoy of black SUVs cross the Macombs Dam Bridge and arrive on the scene.

In the lead vehicle, SAC (Special Agent in Charge) Ellen Solberg (Connie Nielsen, The Following) steps out. She’s on the phone, ordering someone to freeze a twenty-block perimeter around 142nd St and Stivers. She also orders the shutdown of all subway lines into and out of the Bronx. She slows to a halt as she has a good look of the collapsed building and an overturned car. She comes up to Maggie and OA covered in dust. Solberg asks how many dead. Maggie reports the NYPD is making a tenant list now. There were a lot of people home. No one is taking claim for the bombing. OA informs Solberg they arrived only ninety seconds before the second explosion. They only had time to start evacuations.

NYPD, FDNY and Emergency Management are already on the scene with ATF and Homeland are on their way. However, Solberg determines FBI is the one to take this. Maggie and Zidan own the case now.

Maggie and OA approach the ambulance where the grieving mother is with her older son Chris and a stunned Ginny in the back. She cuts off Maggie’s apology. Maggie tried to convey her condolences, but the mother asks Maggie whether she has kids. When Maggie admits she doesn’t have kids, the mother corrects her: no, Maggie can’t understand. OA tries to defend her, but at Maggie’s look, OA stops. The mother accuses Maggie of thinking she did the mother a favor. She thinks Maggie shouldn’t have stopped her and let her die with her seven-year-old son. Maggie, discomforted, doesn’t know what else to say.

Maggie rejoins OA who is talking to the super of the building. The blast came from the first-floor corner apartment.

The super says the apartment was of a Felton Ames. Ames was a “scumbag drug dealer” the super has been trying to evict for a year. Ames was always parading around in his red silk suits, armed men with him, coming and going. OA thinks if Ames held any rank, it could have made him a target.

At the collapsed building, one of the scene techs calls out they found something: a body in the apartment where they suspected the explosion took place. A foot and bottom of red suit pants are under the debris. Based on the super’s description, this could be Ames.  OA lifts debris off so they could have a better look. Maggie is visibly disgusted. Turns out it’s just the leg with a cellphone melted to the limb.

First lick of the ice cream cone always goes to National Security.”

Assistant SAC Jubal Valentine (Jeremy Sisto, Ice; The Long Road Home) is coordinating all the information from the various departments. One of the analysts reports NSA, CIA and Homeland have nothing on the wires or chat rooms in the last seventy-two hours.  Jubal theorizes if a terrorist group was involved, they would have said something by now. He believes someone was targeting Mac Baller Blood member, Felton Ames.

According to NYPD, Felton Arthur Ames was thirty-three years old with lots of priors for criminal possession and sale. Ames had moved up the ranks after the top ones were killed or jailed. Ames was known to be sloppy which Jubal says was a good thing about gang members because a guard at Rikers found a ‘kite’ (a letter received in jail) in a Mac Baller’s cell that listed the hierarchy of the gang. Ames had been rapidly climbing up the ranks.

Maggie and OA check with Tech specialist Ian Lentz (James Chen, The Walking Dead) to see if Ames’s cellphone can be salvaged. Ian thinks if the core memory is intact, they could possibly recover everything by using a process called “chip off” (physical removal of the memory chip and extracting raw data). However, with evidence this damaged, the Bureau prefers to send stuff like this down to their lab at Quantico.

OA asks Ian how good is he at the process. Ian replies he taught the guys in Quantico.  Immediately, OA tells Ian to go for it. Both Ian and Maggie look taken aback.

“What? If we unwind this before anything else explodes, who’s gonna complain?”
“I will.”

Ellen Solberg enters the tech lab. She reminds OA that if their best lead gets destroyed, the blame was going to get passed down to her.  Undeterred, OA asks if he could have a chance to explain to Solberg why they should do it anyway.  Solberg points out OA is no longer undercover tracking terrorists and relying on his own rules.

“If you have a problem, you shag your ass down the hall, you knock on the door, you tell me about it, and then I’ll fix it.”

Solberg tells Ian to now go ahead and leaves the lab.  Ian is optimistic about the process. He tells Maggie and OA if they were familiar with the process, they would be amazed at how fast he is at it.  As they wait, Maggie looks down at herself. She seems to see herself for the first time. She makes a face and fumbles out an excuse and leaves.  Maggie goes to her desk for a change of clothes and a towel. In her drawer, there is a framed photo of a dark-haired man that gives her pause.

She abruptly closes the drawer and goes to change.

Changed into a suit, Maggie returns to the lab where Ian is still working on the cellphone memory core. Jubal walks in to confirm DNA of leg matches Ames. He gets shushed. He remarks he thought even Ian would be done by now.  Ian pulls up a whole screen of data. OA tells Ian if he can turn that into something useful, he’ll buy him a steak dinner. Ian tells OA he’ll take it.

Photo: Michael Parmelee/CBS

Back in the bullpen, they review what they found in Ames’s phone with Jubal. Wayne Clinton was number two in Mac Baller Blood line-up until Felton went over him and took the top spot. Clinton might have been the one who organized the bombing to take over. The phone shows Clinton sent a lot of angry texts to Ames.  OA pulls up a profile of Clinton with three known addresses which Jubal updates the bullpen with and sends them to work on locating the suspect.

Presumably heading to one of the known addresses, Maggie asks why OA didn’t take the FDR. OA returns that whenever they’re driving around Indiana, she could give directions. Maggie reminds OA she’s lived in New York for three years. Just because OA was from Manhattan—OA interrupts and corrects Maggie: he’s from Queens [Ed. Note: Queens is what’s up! Flushing, represent!!].

Jubal calls and reports NYPD already checked the locations. They spotted Clinton going to a strip club called Maxie’s on 138th Street. But the NYPD didn’t pick up Clinton because he was armed and the club was crowded. Maggie and OA turn sharply to the strip club instead.

Parked outside Maxie’s, Maggie and OA wait for Clinton to leave the club. OA, sensing Maggie’s mood hesitantly offers to talk about it. Maggie returns that there wasn’t anything to say: a seven-year-old boy died and the mother blamed Maggie.

Before Maggie could continue, a man fitting Clinton’s description steps out of the club. They wait for facial confirmation before moving in.

NYPD and FBI close in as Clinton gets into his car to block him off and avoid a car chase. As they approach, Clinton’s car blows up in front of them. The explosion was close enough it cracks their front windshield.

Photo: Michael Parmelee/CBS

Back in the bullpen, they tallied it’s now two attacks with twenty-seven dead. It is looking less like an attempt to go up the ranks and more like a move to take over the Mac Baller gang’s drug business.  Analyst Kristen Chazal (Ebonee Noel, Wrecked) noted there are the G Shine, Bloodhound Brims, and Sex Money Murder who run the South Bronx. However, the gangs aren’t organized or funded enough to try a takeover. A lot of money is needed to take over the drug business. Mac Baller made fifty million in heroin alone. Even if anyone cut costs in the process, it was still one million dollars a month in production costs.

As they contemplate who would want to spend that kind of money on the South Bronx, Jubal is alerted that they found another bomb.

Cut to a community rec center basketball court where the bomb was found in a duffel bag by a few guys setting up the court for a morning game.  As they wait for bomb disposal to clear the center, Maggie and OA meet the rec center’s director Brick Peters, who has been in charge for only a few months. He’d just recently returned from the Army to the area he grew up.

OA jokingly asked if he missed the South Bronx; Brick says he missed Florida more. However, his mother has owned a diner around the area for forty years and refuses to leave even though she gets robbed repeatedly. In fact, he was with her this morning because she was robbed.

Maggie notes Murda Moore Gangsters, Dymes Are Us and various gangs were waiting outside. There were five different gangs here, but no one was fighting. As long as Brick’s in charge, they would respect his rules because he didn’t tolerate “their crap.”

The bomb disposal unit removes the duffel. She reported it was six grenades on a chain with a cellphone trigger; we see an image of the bomb and OA recognized the explosives, but he hasn’t seen these types of grenades since West Point.

Maggie asks if it meant the US Army uses them. OA says they used to but has since moved on to more advanced tech. The old gear was disposed of in El Salvador.

On a hunch, Maggie and OA ask Brick if there were any MS-13 members in the rec.  Brick replies he has enough trouble with only the black gangs. The closest he has was a Mexican kid who is his handyman.  When Maggie and OA ask to join in on NYPD’s questioning of the Mexican, it turns out Wilmer Rivas (the “Mexican”) was from El Salvador.

In interrogation, Wilmer argues he’s not MS-13. He points out he doesn’t have face tats or “crazy eyes” typical of MS.

“No, but then you boys were realizing it made our jobs too easy, so now they look like you, dress like you.”

Wilmer argues he just works all day and Maggie agrees: he sends all his money back home to Metapán. Maggie assures him they’re not looking to deport him; they only want his help trying to figure out how grenades from El Salvador got into the rec center. He insists it must be MS which is why he stays away from them

Solberg interrupts the interrogation and asks Maggie and OA to step out. She shows them security footage that clearly shows Wilmer accepting the duffel bag from a member of MS-13.  Solberg offers to close the questioning, but Maggie wants to do it. She knows what to do with Wilmer.

Photo: Michael Parmelee/CBS

Back in interrogation, Maggie tells Wilmer they caught him on camera. She demands to know who gave him the bomb. Wilmer starts to get nervous even as he continues to deny everything. Flustered, he glances over to OA, who has been drawing into his notebook and letting Maggie do the talking. Wilmer asks what OA is drawing.  He shows Wilmer a sketch of Wilmer stabbed in the throat. He tells a frightened Wilmer he’s almost done.

Maggie jumps back in and tells Wilmer if he doesn’t cooperate, she would contact the FBI in El Salvador and confiscate every bit of the money he sent to his home. She would track down his family and take away their home. Then she was going after anyone else he is close to.  Wilmer finally gives up the name Bernardo Funes, but when FBI breached Funes’ home, Bernardo wasn’t home. A woman is sleeping on a bed in the back room filled with tanks of spiders. There are even hairy spiders crawling all over the woman. OA jumps back.  Maggie ribs OA that a phone melted into a leg didn’t bother him, but spiders do?  OA just tells her to drop it. He doesn’t enter the room again.

Maggie and OA go outside for some fresh air. OA wonders if Wilmer held out. Maggie doesn’t think so, but also thinks it’s time to ask Wilmer more about MS-13.  OA asks if Maggie was going to threaten his family again. Maggie counters with a question on whether OA was going to do another drawing? She tells OA that the drawing was really good. His strategy really sold it. OA says he wasn’t trying to sell anything. He only showed it because Wilmer asked.

In Rikers, the agents find out Wilmer was placed into the general population. The guard didn’t know how they got to him so fast. Maggie asks why they didn’t check for gang affiliations. The guard says Wilmer denied he was MS, so he was placed in general pop.  They arrive at a courtyard where Wilmer lies dead. The guard notes they still can’t find Wilmer’s heart.

“There’s nothing the FBI does better than a manhunt.”

Back in the Bureau, they’ve been bringing in MS-13 members. They all deny they’re moving in on the black gangs’ drug business. Bernardo Funes was still at large as well.

“Fortunately, two hundred of New York’s finest and our tech gurus got together to give us a hand,” Jubal explains as he pulled up the collected security and CCTV footage.

The video was pieced together to track Bernardo after he gave Wilmer the bag. Jubal notes Bernardo was on foot, heading north until they lose visual on 145th Street. OA notes it’s close to Bernardo’s home.  Solberg asks if Bernardo would hide in his neighborhood or leave the city?

With public transit down, Bernardo is trapped in the city. However, they can’t keep transit closed too long. The mayor has been continuously calling, asking when they can open the systems again.  Jubal suggests bringing in Counterterror for extra manpower. Solberg has another idea.

“We could go nuclear.”

The FBI could release Bernardo’s photo and info to the media. Jubal worries Bernardo will start feeling cornered and see everyone as a threat and become even more dangerous. Solberg agrees it’s a risk. Kristen says Bernardo’s info is ready and the networks are waiting to spread the word.

Solberg gives the order.

“Make this prick famous.”

As soon as Solberg give the go, the info goes out and almost immediately, the news channels start reporting and showing Bernardo’s photo as the identified bomber.  Tips start pouring in and put on the map and if they are to be believed, it appears Bernardo was still in the South Bronx.

A van is parked around 140th Street with an agent, Maggie and OA inside. They’re watching the monitors as surveillance cars cruise the area.  During all this, Maggie is still thinking about the explosion and the collapsed building.  OA notices but doesn’t say anything. Eventually, Maggie speaks up. She says even though she never saw Emmett Grant, she can’t stop thinking about the boy.  OA reminds Maggie a lot of people survived because of her. He tells her she needs to remember that matters.

On Echo Three’s screen, Maggie notices a kid on a bike dressed exactly like Wilmer. OA agrees: MS dresses their members a certain way. OA radios Echo Three to follow the kid. The kid looks like he’s heading towards an abandoned warehouse.  After a few minutes, it appears the kid knew he was being followed. He speeds away from the abandoned warehouse. OA, before Maggie could say anything, bolts out of the van with a shotgun.

“You think that kid felt our surveillance?”
“Yep.”
“Think he’s headed for Bernardo in here?”
“Yep.”
“You realize if we go through this door and Bernardo’s not in there, we’re gonna be explaining ourselves to every lawyer in the Justice Department?”
“Yep.”

Photo: Michael Parmelee/CBS

OA shoots the locks out of the door anyway.  Bernardo doesn’t flee. He stands there in body armor, holding a knife to his throat.  Maggie warns OA they need Bernardo alive.  “That’s his choice,” OA replies.  Maggie tells Bernardo if he messes up cutting his throat, he won’t die but end up “not walking or talking.” She asks if that’s what he wants.  Bernardo hesitates. He starts lowering the knife. He stops again. His eyes shift over to OA.  OA warns Bernardo not to even think about it, but sure enough, Bernardo charges towards OA.  OA fires, but into Bernardo’s body armor. Bernardo’s still alive.

After a quick search of the warehouse, it looks like they also found the bomb lab. The room has various parts similar to the bomb they recovered. Maggie spots on the table a set of wire clippers with blood on it.  In the interrogation room, Maggie tells Bernardo they know there was another man involved. The blood on the tool wasn’t Bernardo’s. Bernardo isn’t swayed by the threats or promises to talk to the courts about cooperation.

“There’s no prison, no special unit they won’t get to me. I’m gonna die in prison no matter what.”

Bernardo says MS would get to him just like they got to Wilmer. Or he could get forty in prison which is still better than what was out there for him. Bernardo won’t talk.

Out in the bullpen, Jubal says even though they couldn’t find a match with the blood from the clippers, there is still a way to use the blood. The FBI recently has been using genomic phenotyping with bioinformatics software that pulls out genetic info to build a composite sketch.

Kristen comes in at that moment with the report from the explosion lab.

The phone attached to the bomb was a Chinese made Handsma 2600, common ten to fifteen years ago in Asia. The phone’s batteries were popular as triggers because they weren’t as stable and ignite more easily. OA notes Kristen has immersed herself into this. Kristen declares once she’s done researching, she’ll be able to make one of them herself. And in fact, she realizes they’ve seen these types of bombs before.

Kristen reminds Jubal of a bombing attempt last year at a synagogue in Riverdale. It didn’t go off because the TATP was bad but the same detonator was used.

Seeing the confusion, Jubal explains before Maggie and OA started with the NY branch of the FBI, they were close to tying the attack to a Robert Lawrence. OA wonders why Lawrence sounds familiar and its because he was the poster child that alt-right groups put on TV to appear presentable. But, Kristen adds, another name for him is Nazi.

“Are you familiar with Godwin’s law?”

Lawrence walks through a conference room, talking conversely with Maggie and OA as they made their way to his wood-paneled office. He doesn’t appear bothered by the idea of the FBI visiting him. He goes on explaining Godwin’s law is the idea that “the end point of any intellectual debate is one party calling the other a Nazi.”

“I’m not a Nazi”
“You prefer white nationalist?”

Lawrence says he prefers “Americanist.”

OA asks if that means it’s okay to blow up Jews and African Americans? Lawrence dismisses the accusation. He claims he doesn’t think violence is the answer to anything.  Lawrence offers Maggie and OA seats. They don’t sit.

Lawrence defends his project, “The Fund for National Greatness.” He describes the project’s goal is to review policy. He complains there are more synagogues in New York than in Israel. Lawrence points out they lost a hospice to the synagogue. He thinks the money is better spent elsewhere

OA is a shade antagonistic and it’s noticeable. Lawrence asks OA if he was having trouble following the conversation. He suggests Maggie and OA can’t handle “uncomfortable truths.” Lawrence challenges OA, asking if he has anything to say.  OA doesn’t take the bait. “Not to you.”

Back in the FBI, OA is eating cereal while Maggie muses out loud: Lawrence partnering with MS-13 makes sense. MS started out as a way to protect El Salvadoran refugees from black street gangs. Lawrence is most likely tapping into that hate and appealing to their preference for violence with the bombings.

With this alliance, MS would use their payoffs to get into the drug business and start making real money.

As for Lawrence, Kristen reports his fund is losing money. He took out three separate bank loans of five million each, the total enough to buy into the Mac Baller drug business. MS gets cash to horn in on the drug business while Lawrence gets the cash flow he needs.

Plus, OA says, he gets to start a race war.

Maggie and the others present this to Solberg in the conference room. The case has Lawrence’s mark. There are warrants issued for Lawrence’s phones, federal agents in his Scarsdale neighborhood and they’re searching every floor of his office building. A tech comes into the meeting with a sketch from the genomic phenotyping. He warns the technology is still new, but Jubal eagerly dismisses the disclaimers and takes the sketch. He reveals the drawing that looks close enough to Brick Peters.

Brick Peters is in interrogation with Maggie and OA.  Maggie reviews Brick’s record. She notes he was in the Army with the 20th Engineer brigade. He also earned his Sapper tab which OA informed Maggie meant Brick handled explosives. Brick met Robert Lawrence a few years ago in Fort Bragg where Lawrence was Army Intel.

OA remarks luckily it wasn’t his old unit. Brick appears taken aback that OA served. He asks if the FBI paid Maggie extra to partner with an “affirmative action baboon.”

OA says they don’t pay either of them enough to deal with people like Brick.

Maggie informs Brick they have him for building the bombs. Brick offers to tell her everything about Lawrence if they drop all charges against him because he needs to take care of his mother.  Solberg, who was observing the interview the whole time in the other room, enters. She dismisses the offer and tells Maggie and OA to close the case on Lawrence.

In the bullpen, Kristen reports the FBI has searched Brick’s house. They found ten thousand dollars in cash, but no record of him and Lawrence ever contacting each other.  Before they could join Jubal, who is comparing timelines in the conference room, Maggie spots the CBS news report on the bombing victims on one of the many screens. A photo of Emmett Grant comes up on the screen.  OA sees Maggie riveted to the screen. He asks how she is handling it because “swallowing hard isn’t a plan.”  Maggie replies the job doesn’t stop, so she doesn’t.

“Eventually you outrun it.”

OA quietly asks if the strategy worked with Maggie’s husband?  Seeing Maggie’s expression, OA apologizes. He says pretending he didn’t know seems disrespectful. He then asks if it was true Maggie was back at work a few days after his death.

“Guy drove a truck down a sidewalk on Halloween. It was all hands on deck.”

OA once again offers to help. Maggie curtly says she’ll let OA know, brushing him off. But as OA walks away, she thanks him.

In the conference room, the agents, Jubal and Kristen are comparing Brick and Lawrence’s timelines. Lawrence commutes from Scarsdale to midtown Manhattan every day. However, Maggie spots a time difference on September 26th, Wednesday when they caught Bernardo. Lawrence left work at 6:06 but didn’t get back home until 7:35. Even with traffic, it would still only take an hour. It left Lawrence enough time to go to Miss Jilly’s diner to cross paths with Brick, who was at the diner at 6:18.

At Miss Jilly’s, Brick’s mother is uncooperative. She rolls up and down the narrow aisle in her motorized wheelchair and is surly to a table of African Americans. Maggie and OA have to jump out of the way of her wheelchair. She declares she doesn’t know a Robert Lawrence and dismisses their search warrant.  Maggie and OA search anyway with the mother shouting down the stairs at them. She yells at them to not touch the food, or she’ll sue the FBI.  The basement is crammed with boxes of frozen food and bottles. So far they found nothing.

OA hears dripping and spots a stack of plastic crates against a wall. Moving the top layer aside, he discovers there’s an elongated box marked for the M23 grenades underneath. The problem is, the box holds typically thirty; they have accounted for twenty-four. But the box is completely empty. There is still a bomb out there.

In the car, Maggie calls Jubal to report it. Lawrence is currently at CBS studios, which makes the perfect alibi when the next bomb goes off. The agents head there to pick him up. Jubal asks them not to arrest Lawrence on live TV.

Solberg enters Brick’s interrogation room and left the door slightly ajar. She tells him the one thing people like Brick all have in common: they love their mothers.  Through the cracked opening, Brick spies his mother handcuffed to her wheelchair, rolling down the hallway and complaining loudly she needs a drink of water. He asks Solberg not to arrest his mother; Solberg wants to know where the bomb is. Now.

Brick confesses he gave the last bomb to a runner after Bernardo was arrested.  Lawrence has a list of housing projects under gang control however Brick doesn’t think Lawrence is interested in bringing down another building. Brick had packed the bomb with shrapnel. Lawrence was looking for a crowd of people.

Brick also told Lawrence the cell batteries were only good for a day, which was about this time yesterday. Solberg realizes the bomb will go off at any moment.

Out in the bullpen, Jubal and Solberg turn on the TV interview for possible clues to where Lawrence made have planted the bomb.

Lawrence is interviewed on Pope’s Corner with Carter Pope about what he thinks is actually wrong with the country. He claims the bombings were a symptom of a bigger dysfunction. One of the interviewers points out attempts to fix the problem: people in Motthaven are out in the streets in protest for change, prayer service is happening at the site of the destroyed building and community leaders are congregating for a summit.

All three are possibilities; Jubal orders people to the mentioned sites.

Maggie, at the studios, calls. She and OA are waiting in the back, listening to the interview. She thinks Lawrence would hit the summit. It was planned yesterday, indoors and filled with minority leaders. Solberg informs them Kristen is speaking there. Maggie and OA go to distract and delay Lawrence.

Jubal calls Kristen at the summit. The bomb could be there. Solberg tells her it’s either clear the area or find the bomb.  Kristen flags down a police officer and they start evacuating the hall.

Back in the studios, Lawrence pauses during the interview when he spots Maggie and OA waiting behind the cameras. He continues on but clearly distracted now. The CBS interviewer then interrupts Lawrence to go live to the summit because there is an evacuation happening.

People are leaving the hall, but the area is not completely cleared yet. Kristen scans the crowds. She spots a youth dressed similarly to Wilmer smirking and walking away. She rushes over to where he stood before; she discovers a dark duffel bag under a seat.

Someone shouts there is a bomb and people began panicking and shoving to get out.  Kristen slowly opens the duffel bag. She takes a deep breath as she takes in the cluster of six grenades chained together like the previous bomb.

Lawrence asks Maggie and OA what they’re here for this time. Maggie informs Lawrence the charges are conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit a hate crime.  Lawrence tells them conspiracy just means there’s no proof he did anything.

Meanwhile, Kristen frantically pulls up the bomb specs on her tablet. Slowly, Kristen reaches for the wires.

Lawrence says he wants to call his lawyer. He asks snidely if they’ll shoot him if he gets his cell phone from his bag.

Maggie gets a text on her phone and she tosses OA a look. She lets Lawrence reach for his cell phone.

They don’t stop Lawrence when he also reaches inside his jacket for the business card with the number. He shows the agents the dialed number as he hits Send. His smirk fades though when Kristen answers the phone.

In the emptied hall, Kristen is still crouched by the now disarmed bomb, the MS boy on the ground, getting handcuffed by NYPD.

Photo: Michael Parmelee/CBS

Lawrence is speechless.

“You know, the most pathetic part about this wasn’t you think you outsmarted us.  It was the joy in your face imagining all those people dying.”

OA steps into Lawrence’s space.  “Do you know what you made possible that is good for our country? This.”  OA turns Lawrence around and cuffs him.

Back in the bullpen, the agents reunite with Kristen and Solberg. Maggie reports Lawrence was processed and in a prison jumpsuit. Kristen asks what Lawrence has to say. OA grins and replies that for once, Robert Lawrence has nothing to say.  “Tough forty-eight hours but the right result,” Solberg sums up the case.  At that moment, Jubal cuts in and passes Solberg a phone:  kidnapping in Battery Park.  Solberg tells the team good work and walks away with the phone in hand. The work is never done.

It’s a bright morning when Maggie and OA drive up to the Fort Motte Baptist Services. There are people, dressed in dark clothing, entering the building for what looks to be a funeral.

Inside the vehicle, OA reminds Maggie he offered to help, which she accepted, but it was just for a ride to here. All she needed was a ride, Maggie says.

“For now,” Maggie adds.

OA smiles. It’s a start.

Maggie enters and stares at Emmett’s smiling photo on the reception’s table. She declines to sign the guestbook and leaving a note for the family.  The room is crowded. There is a small closed casket in the front. Chris Grant with his crutches and their mother are seated by the coffin. Maggie doesn’t go up front like other visitors do. She sits in the back.

The reverend starts his sermon. The mother glances around and hesitates. The mother and Maggie’s eyes meet and for a moment, neither reacts. Just stares. The mother not quite nods, averts her gaze and closes her eyes in prayer, her hand lingering on her surviving son’s back.  Maggie swallows hard, her eyes sliding away and she looks on.

And scene.

Thoughts.

FBI is off to a good start. There was a balance of procedural and personal, enough to prevent the episode from falling into the stale and overused ‘ripped-from-the-headlines’ feel. The details we get about Maggie Bell and OA Zidan were enough to humanize the main characters and keep them intriguing.

We’re invited to get invested into Maggie Bell, OA Zidan and the rest of the ensemble. Instead of focusing on just the process of the investigation; we are taken through each step with the characters. The moment the building collapsed, we get the lingering moment to witness Maggie’s reaction, how everything seemed to slow and sounded strange and hint this is much more than a shock to the events, but something more personal. Other details like the photo in Maggie’s drawer or OA’s amusing fear of spiders add a nice dimension to the characters.

The Pilot had more of a Maggie leaning feel, understandably due to the episode’s contents and how it may have rung too similar to the death of her husband. But OA wasn’t left in the shadows either; we get hints of his military experience and his current struggles from being the undercover loose cannon to an agent who needs to go by the book. The fact he is also Muslim fortunately wasn’t used as a trope in the episode, aside from a veiled comment from Robert Lawrence and Brick Peters.

It’s a great pairing: Maggie, a veteran FBI agent and OA, fresh out of his undercover stint. Maggie is caring externally but reserved internally. OA seems determined to chip away at her cool exterior. In the end, Maggie appears to be thawing. It’s a partnership that promises excellent moments and some conflict down the road.

However, the thing that worries me about FBI is it still relies on Dick Wolf’s signature: quick paced, orderly, with stories grounded from current events and fears. There are a few extra explosions and more action, but it’s still hard to disguise the fact it comes off as another crime-of-the-week drama, just with an elevated body count due to it being a federal crime drama, not a police drama.

What saved FBI from drama mediocrity were the characters. The diverse ensemble cast was a joy to watch as they worked together. But with the rapid pace forty-two minutes demand, the plot could potentially overwhelm future character development. If FBI can maintain the same balance as they did with the Pilot, great. They would have succeeded in making tried-and-true into something fresher.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for FBI. With the recent announcement of a full season order, the show now has the luxury to develop their characters and not just concentrate on the crime alone. However, it’s easy to fall back on what has worked for decades for certain shows on certain networks we will not name. Falling back on the old ways means FBI runs the risk of becoming just another procedural.

Author: YYB

I watch TV. Then make you read all about it.

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