FBI Episode 1: Pilot
FBI, CBS’s newest procedural drama comes from the mind of Dick Wolf—well known for his many shows across network television. Shows you know include: Law and Order, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Law and Order: SVU, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med. One might ask: what does a modestly named show such as this have to offer against this fall’s daring and well-received premieres?
The show starts innocently. We see neighborhood children running down a New York City (Bronx) street while fellow neighbors carry on. It is typical… to the point where you know it’s too typical. Two teenagers tease a budding romance, but its cut short.
An explosion rocks the area.
“Its nine minutes ago.”
We see our protagonists, Special Agent Maggie Bell (Missy Peregrym, Rookie Blue), accompanied by her partner, Special Agent Omar Adom “OA” Zidan (Zeeko Zaki, Valor), as we cut to emergency crews in front of the apartment complex where the explosion took place. They heard the call and were in the area. OA asks what were in the bombs, Bell questions about timing. Given the answer, Bell seems worried and requests all personnel leave the building. The two agents seemingly know more, but it isn’t apparent to the audience (that is unless you’re familiar to the usual motives behind terrorist attacks) as a mother comes running up, demanding to see her children who she believes were inside. Bell is attempting to calm the woman down when the unthinkable happens.
A second, much larger and dangerous explosion. Maggie Bell watches in horror as the apartment complex collapses before her, sending debris and shrapnel into the air.
The next scene is eerily reminiscent of Ground Zero following the September 11th attacks. In fact, the entire lead up to the second explosion made a pit appear in my stomach. New Yorkers remember that day – whether they were there in person or saw the aftermath. There is a layer of gray dust and grime on every inch of viable surface, smoke filling the air. We are witnessing the destruction from Bell’s point of view, as she surveys her surroundings. Grief, horror and confusion hang in the air as people get to their feet.
You feel this moment as the viewer.
I know I do. It is one of those scenes you see on the actual news and think, “My god…”
The special effects and the overall tone is very well done. I’m immediately uneasy for everyone involved. That is something important when it comes to crime TV in today’s audience, I feel and something I was curious to how those making the show would handle. We as people aren’t as easily rocked as we used to be. In fact, I would bet if fans of Wolf’s other work went back and watched season one of their respective shows, they might find them underwhelming. Thus far, FBI is both relevant and gritty.
Bell and OA get the case by Ellen Solberg (Connie Nielsen, Law and Order: SVU), FBI Special Agent in Charge who comes onto the scene. [Nielson will only star in episode one of FBI.] Bell attempts to speak with the mother of the young boy who was inside, but she is inconsolable, understandably so. In these moments, we get the feeling there’s something we don’t know as the audience yet. Bell seems to hint she can relate to the mother’s loss, but she doesn’t elude to why.
The two agents discover a cell phone while searching the debris, in albeit a somewhat cringy scenario. Okay, it’s more than cringy. But for the sake of keeping some details a surprise, you should watch this part yourself. Let’s just say our lead suspect’s only location will be the morgue. But, there’s hope for finding more. The phone. It is still somewhat intact, and they bring it to an analyst in hopes that some sort of information can be extracted.
Meet the Team…
Back at the FBI Headquarters, we meet Analyst Kristen Chazal (Ebonee Noel) and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jubal Valentine (Jeremy Sisto) who manage the cases from inside the building. It’s hard to get a gauge on how long this team has worked together from their interactions at this point. There’s some gentle teasing, but we don’t get a family sense as some other CBS shows immediately produce in their pilot episodes.
We also catch up with the analyst, Ian, working on the phone. OA suggests he does whatever necessary to get the information, when Solberg comes into the room, having overheard. She scolds him, telling him he’s no longer undercover and that he works for her. She then says to do it. There’s some power dynamics going on here. Bell leaves the room, wanting to change. She takes clothes out of her desk drawer and a photo of a man is beneath them. Bell stares at him, then closes the drawer. Back in the room, Ian has found more pieces of the puzzle on the phone, and the team is trying to understand how our dead suspect fits in with all of this. Wayne Clinton: the person they now want to see, thanks to the phone.
This is seemingly gang related, but how so?
We get some characterization between Bell and OA. Bell is from Indiana, and OA is from Queens, not Manhattan, as he quickly corrects her during the drive. (Note: this fits a typical New Yorker well. You know what part of New York you’re from, and you don’t take another as the answer.) OA also seems to sense that Bell isn’t okay following the explosion. He tries to ask if she wants to talk, but they’re interrupted by the walkies.