Monday, September 28, 2020

REVIEW: 'Manhunt: Deadly Games' - The FBI and the Media Go After Richard Jewell as the Prime Suspect in 'Unabubba'

Spectrum's Manhunt: Deadly Games - Episode 2.02 "Unabubba"

When the media gets wind of the FBI's "hero-bomber" theory, a media firestorm erupts, engulfing Richard and his family. Meanwhile, ATF agents raise doubts as bombings continue.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Spectrum's Manhunt: Deadly Games.

"Unabubba" was written by Andrew Sodroski and directed by Michael Dinner

The FBI quickly ascribes to the hero bomber theory. Everyone feels the pressure to comply to that narrative because of the urgency to solve this case as quickly as possible. The Olympic games are happening right now. Atlanta demands all the attention should be on that great sporting event. The politicians in charge want their city to feel safe and secure. As such, Brennan and Knox's theory about Richard Jewell suddenly gains a lot of traction. It's the only lead they actively explore. They pursue it because it makes for a good story. There is a precedent for it as well. They can look at past patterns and hope to deduce something of meaning. But they never really look at the evidence. They just hope they can coerce Jewell into making a confession. Brennan is more than willing to trick Richard into signing away his rights in order to get the approval he so desperately needs. The narrative plays into that as well. It states that the FBI agents believe Richard Jewell is guilty because Jack Brennan needs to impress his boss and get a promotion. He eventually succeeds in that too. He is moved up to the Whitewater team, which may be the best posting an FBI agent can have in 1996. But this bombing hasn't been solved. Brennan and Knox had a profile done of Richard Jewell in the abstract. It was a tainted profile because it needed to ultimately point towards him being the culprit. That's the only evidence they want to see. Sure, they weren't the agents who made the decision to leak it to the press. Instead, that came from their superior officer who needed to appease the Atlanta mayor's need to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. And yet, things aren't normal. Richard's life is completely destroyed. Kathy Scruggs is the Atlanta-based journalist who breaks this story. She feels the incentive to be the first to report this bombshell news. She has a disagreement with her editor about that. She fights for the necessity of more sources to come forward and paint a damning picture of Richard Jewell. Right now, her story states that Richard is being looked at as a suspect by the FBI. That is still a damning accusation. It makes all of this into a firestorm for the Jewell family. Even Bobi doubts her son's innocence because she believes that the government wouldn't do this to someone without a just cause. The FBI doesn't have that though. Nor does the press. They only have speculation and a sensationalized theory. Embry and Holliwell are pursuing the evidence. They are quickly able to rule out Richard as a suspect. They see that it doesn't make sense when pursuing the logistics of it all. The FBI just doesn't want to hear it. Knox pushes the ATF agents away because they may contradict her narrative and the demand to get this right. In the process though, she embodies the superiority complex that is all too frequent in stories of abuse of power. The FBI walks away as if they are the best government agency in the country. Meanwhile, Embry and Holliwell are the ones carrying forward the actual investigation. Richard has to find a lawyer in the hopes of navigating this all-consuming minefield. He doesn't deserve any of this. Embry can advocate on his behalf. But the FBI and the press have already made up their mind. That's what makes it so much more devastating when more bombs go off and the world seems to have moved on from this entirely. The bomber is still out there and the public has convicted Richard based on nothing but circumstantial evidence. He was a hero and he has quickly become vilified simply because it makes a good story. That doesn't make it the truth though. Again, Embry sees that right away. He knows not to trust any outside pressure in his investigation. He will let the evidence tell him what he needs to know. He may quickly be consumed with more cases. He may be in harm's way because of his own proximity to a bomb as well. But this story is so much larger than what has already been told. That will be difficult for some to accept. This is a story fundamentally with contempt against a broken system. That may not make things better though. Five months pass by the end of the episode. It's unclear how any of that changes things beyond the peril Embry currently finds himself in.