Tuesday, September 25, 2018

REVIEW: 'FBI' - The Destruction of an Apartment Building Sends Maggie and OA Chasing After Many Leads in 'Pilot'

CBS' FBI - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

After a bomb explosion devastates a residential apartment building, special agents Maggie Bell and Omar Adom "OA" Zidan of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigate a possible war between rival gangs - that is, until their prime suspects are discovered brutally murdered.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of CBS' FBI.

"Pilot" was written by Craig Turk and directed by Niels Arden Oplev

Sometimes a great guest star is all it takes in order to invigorate an episode of a procedural. There is really nothing special about this premiere for FBI until Dallas Roberts shows up. He is just a one-off villain though. And yet, he elevates the material and actually provides the story with a solid hook to it. That shouldn't be surprising. His casting comes after previously working with Dick Wolf on a crossover event between Chicago P.D. and Law & Order: SVU. His character was so creepy and sinister there as well. However, he doesn't appear in this premiere until it is two thirds over with. Before that point, it's all about this potential gang war in the city. The FBI agents are pursuing leads that could prove that another player is trying to enter into the game or that MS-13 is making their presence known in New York. There is some considerable whiplash going on here in regards to the politics and the message that the show is trying to send though. As such, the final result is mostly just a garbled mess. It wants the viewer to live in far that the new version of terrorists are people from Central America with face tattoos that literal say "Kill" on their foreheads. That is just broad and ridiculous. It's the show really trying to play things seriously while amping up the severity of the situation through visual clues. But then, it goes on the attack against a white nationalist who is trying to stir up this conflict in order to point to it as evidence that people of color can't stop blowing each other up. It's all absolutely despicable. The show uses violence to show that every facet of this conversation is bad and deplorable. But again, it makes it all seem like it is a performance as well. One witness dies when he is transferred to prison. And yet, that twist doesn't have any weight behind it. It feels like it comes out of nowhere and doesn't impact the case afterwards either. Meanwhile, Robert Lawrence orchestrated all of this just so he could go on television, make his argument and raise even more money for his cause. So, he must not believe in all of this if he was also willing to work with these people in order to plant the bombs. The show just gets too lost in its own message here. As such, it doesn't really offer a strong perspective on the main characters who will be called on to investigate these cases on a weekly basis. There is nothing really defining Maggie, OA and their bond at the moment. Right now, Missy Peregrym brings some heft to her performance but that's only because she has those beats where she has remorse for the death of a child when she had absolutely nothing to do with his tragic passing. As such, it just doesn't seem like this show has itself fully together at this point - which may become even more apparent with Connie Nielsen being replaced after this premiere and a new showrunner coming in after production had started.