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SPOILERS - Numb3rs (CBS)


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The show is currently on hiatus. The series was renewed for a 4th season of 24 episodes. Numb3rs will air on Fridays at 10 p.m.

07/19 - Episode 4.01 - Trust Metric [Airing September 28]: Colby is being interrogated by a man named Agent Kirkland, who passes him a handcuff key and gives him escape instructions. Don and his team get information about and from Colby and must figure out if that information is realiable then realizes that everything about Colby being a double agent may not be what it seems. Source: SpoilerFix.com

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Exclusive: Val Kilmer Set to Guest-star on Numbers

It's the perfect equation for success. Val Kilmer is reuniting with Top Gun director Tony Scott for the Season 4 premiere of Numbers, airing Sept. 28. "It

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08/01 - Episode 4.02 - Velocity: When a teenage driver driving a fancied-up car made for street racing crashes, killing one and injuring many other innocent people, Don figures out that the car was made out of stolen parts from around the country. He convinces Charlie to help him figure out why it happened. While the driver lies in a coma in the hospital, the doctor tells them that he has multiple sets of injuries, including sharp blows to the left side of his head. A shoe print shows that someone, probably at the crash scene, kicked him in the head. Colby is back with the team. Source: SpoilerFix.com

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08/15 - Episode 4.03 - Hollywood Homicide: When an amateur video tape showing a dead girl in a bathtub shows up at headquarters, it leads the FBI to an actor's house then a madam's "dating service" house, where they uncover illegal DVD sales as well as blackmail and a past murder. Source: SpoilerFix.com

08/25 - Episode 4.04 - Thirteen: David and Colby rush into an abandoned sweatshop and find a homeless man cowering in fear. He tells them screams came from upstairs. They rush up to find mannequins covered in plastic sheeting, blood on the floor and a cd player playing. The team is looking into a religious cult of some sort, all with very specific tattoos, that is killing the victims. They speak with the sister of one of the dead men who denies that her brother was partners with the leader, finally admitting that the guy did get her brother into all the occult stuff and her brother did whatever he told him to do. She tells them where her brother got his tattoo done, which leads them to the torture chamber and the leader's ultimate goal. Charlie and Larry help Don and his team with maps of the crime scene locations. Source: SpoilerFix.com

09/07 - Episode 4.05 - Robin Hood: The alarm at a fancy bank in Beverly Hills goes off several times in what security and the police believe are false alarms. Two men are secretly breaking into the vault, having forced the alarm each time. Once the FBI is called in, they question a man who admits to having a half million dollars worth of untraceable South African gold coins in his now empty safety deposit box, but he won't talk anymore until he gets a lawyer. They question another man who deals in antiquities who also had his box emptied who tells them he'd rather lose his money then answer their question. The team continues to question others about their now empty boxes and items that were recovered to find the culprits, learning that the thieves may have taken what they believed to be in the wrong hands and returning it to the correct ones. Megan speaks with Larry about leaving the monastery. Source: SpoilerFix.com

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val kilmer isn't looking so hot anymore..............he's let himself go.

soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo glad that colby isn't a bad guy! i KNEW he wasn't a spy (well, in the treasonistic sense!)

i do want to know what's going on with megan though........when will we know about the DOJ job?

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Numbers

by Todd Mason

Episode Recap: Trust Metric

In Numb3rs, to give it its preferred logotype, Cheryl Heuton and Nicholas Falacci have created an almost perfect machine, taking the classic eccentric detective series, whose roots go back at least as far as the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle but which is perhaps best represented on US television by Columbo, and combining that with the ensemble workplace/family drama, which came to its mature form on US tv with such 1980s series as Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere. In addition to good-to-excellent scripts, sly casting and performances and often impressive production design, the two extra strokes of brilliance in the makeup of Numb3rs are the gimmicky but nonetheless enjoyable use of applied mathematics in the characters

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Numbers

by Todd Mason

Episode Recap: "Hollywood Homicide"

This was a consolidating episode for the series. It eased the Colby character back into the team, and it showcased the romances of the Eppes brothers (David Krumholtz

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Numbers

by Todd Mason

Episode Recap: "Velocity"

Series creators Heuton and Falacci wrote this one, perhaps explaining a stronger sense of both the "open" and "closed" mystery aspects of the drama that was present in the previous two episodes, and the greater attention to mathematical detail. So, to get right to the spoilers... I missed the explanation of why the LAPD would ask the FBI to look into a vehicular manslaughter case. I know the team initially saw this as vehicular manslaughter because they didn't see the original suspect stagger out of the trunk of the street-racing car he was suspected of running into a coffeeshop. Hence the first strong "open" mystery thread; we the viewers know that their suspect, lying in a coma in a hospital, was not driving in the illegal race, but no one else does, except perhaps the assailant who stomped his head. So we waited for the FBI and academic investigators to determine this. Then there were the "closed" mystery questions of who assaulted the suspect, and who the actual driver of the crashed car was. We also got a nice rundown of how the team, using various methods of scene recreation and detection, managed to simultaneously narrow the focus and tie the accident to a three-year-old "cold case" hit-and-run.

A nice turn from Chris Bauer as the engineer Ray Galuski; because of his size and appearance, Bauer usually gets to play louts, and frequently dour or self-involved ones at that, so it's nice to see him in a role where his character can be gung-ho but also intelligent and display a certain breadth of spirit.

Tonight's most obvious paralllel-drawing might be between the nature of Charlie Eppes' work on the mathematical measure of friendship relations, and the still-strained attempts by Colby and the other FBI agents, save the empathic Megan, to rebuild their trust.

The mathematics instructors who comment most enthusiastically on the official website for the series no doubt will approve of this episode; I suspect the Scotts, at least, were pretty jazzed to have the show take on illegal street racing as well. All sorts of matrices were exploited simuntaneously.

And thanks, folks, for such a lively discussion in the comments section.

Posted by Todd Mason 10/12/07 11:49 PM

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09/21 - Episode 4.06 - In Security [Airing November 2]: David talks to a mob boss in the Federal Prison when a witness against him is murdered and her son injured. Don is involved with the family from sometime in his past, and makes Liz wonder about his relationship with the dead woman. Charlie has a book published and is embarrassed when first, female undergrads come up asking for his autograph, and second, when his dad buys multiple copies to send to everyone he knows. Source: SpoilerFix.com

10/07 - Episode 4.07 - Primacy: When a man that worked for the Department of Justice dies from falling off a roof, the team follows a trail to an online game called Primacy, which has an "Alternate Reality" (or real life) side as well. They question a 67-year-old female game player about being up on the same roof. They also question a leather-wearing biker and an Asian business woman. Amita and Larry help with the investigation and Amita is threatened because of her involvement with the game. Charlie and Amita are [highlight if you want to be that spoiled... contemplating Amita moving in with Charlie.] Source: SpoilerFix.com

10/16 - Episode 4.08 - Tabu: A young woman, Ella Pierce, the "celebrity" daughter of a famous businessman, is kidnapped by the People's Nationalist Agenda, who leave a DVD for the FBI and LAPD to find. They tell the authorities that her father has to pay his debt to society or his daughter will die. After a young man is shot while trying to rob the house of one of Ella's classmates, the young woman that lived there tells them that Ella was involved and helped do the robbery, leading Don and Megan to assume that the kidnapping is a fake. Source: SpoilerFix.com

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Numbers

by Todd Mason

Episode Recap: "Thirteen"

Quite a packed episode, this. Veteran scriptwriter Don McGill (and whoever else might've had a hand in it) managed to get at least an episode and a half's worth of incident in, wrapped around solving the central case but with plenty of little nudges toward resolving aspects of the longer arcs within the series

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Numbers

by Todd Mason

Episode Recap: "In Security"

Written by Sean Crouch, this might've been the best episode of the season so far.

We begin with FBI agent Don Eppes (Rob Morrow) out on a date with a woman, Leah Wexford (Jennifer Riker), whom we soon learn is in the witness-protection program. After the chastest of goodnight kisses, Wexford goes into her house and greets her teenage son (Kevin G. Schmidt), who's watching television. Don sits in his car for a moment after she goes in, obviously a bit torn about what to do next (she's made a gesture that suggests that she might be open to his coming in, too, but we haven't heard their dialogue). Then he starts his car and drives away. A moment later, someone knocks and presents an FBI badge at the front door of the Wexford house; Leah opens the door, clearly expecting Don, only to be shot by the man who bursts in, but she's not brought down till after she shepherds her son upstairs (his shoulder is grazed by a bullet, but she takes several to the abdomen before she collapses on the stairwell). The son hides till the assassin flees, spooked by the burglar alarm and the approaching sirens.

With relatively slight asides involving the early promotion of (David Krumholtz's character) Charlie Eppes' new book, and the growing desire of the monks at the monastery where Larry Fleinhardt (Peter MacNicol) resides to be rid of him, the rest of the episode is devoted to working out the interlocking conspiracies that led to Wexford's murder... and how much blame Don deserves for it. Don's subordinate agent and woman friend Liz Warner (Aya Sumika) is understandably less than thrilled with the situation; the U.S. marshal assigned to the Wexfords, Tricia Yaegger (Erika Alexander), is also not too impressed with Don's involvement with Leah Wexford. As she notes, Don dates a lot of FBI agents; it would seem almost inevitable that he might get around to dating a witness. Over the course of the episode, we learn Don had been romantically involved with Wexford just as she and her son had been placed in witness protection several years before, and had faced official reprimand for doing so. Leah's husband had been a mid-level mafioso, killed after he'd turned over evidence, and his ex-boss is the first of the suspects we see interrogated. This leads to the hit man, and his involvement with a sting on a local street gang, masterminded by L.A. cop Chris Frederickson (James Morrison), who seems quite willing to use people as bait to bring down his target. That Wexford was killed strikes Morrison as unfortunate but acceptable, inasmuch as he feels breaking up the gang's drug-running and other criminal activities will save "hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives." Morrison is also savvy enough to see through an attempt at getting him to incriminate himself, set up by Yaegger and Don; however, he's rescued from the street gang in the nick of time by the FBI agents, as the gang is seeking retribution for Morrison's forcing one of their members to testify against the rest. Liz, having worked the case throughout the episode, gets Don to all but admit that he was the one who tipped off the gang about Morrison's manipulation, a bit of underhanded endangerment almost as irresponsible as Morrison's own. She also tries to get him to come clean about his relation with Leah, but he refuses. Their already rocky affair looks like it might be over.

This is a very neatly worked-out and briskly-paced episode; while Charlie is in the majority of the scenes, he is primarily a supporting player in the drama, mostly trying to find ways to prove that Don is not primarily responsible for leading the murderer to Leah... when not helping to work out the chain of events more directly, or dealing with his first book signing, or talking with Larry about the case and Larry's predicament at the monastery. The series is clearly trying to either give a number of its actors a break or not crowd each episode too much. For example, Diane Farr and Navi Rawat are completely absent from this installment, and Krumholtz, who has been the primary focus of most episodes this season, seems like he has to carry a little less of the burden this time out, with Morrow more thoroughly at the center. A small matter of series continuity arises with Larry's seeming regret at being made increasingly unwelcome at the monastery, when he spent much of the previous episode musing about how it was time to leave anyway. But it's a very small lapse, if one at all. Aya Sumika gets to shine here, as Warner is both an acute detective and an increasingly suspicious and alienated lover; Don's refusal to tell anyone, including Liz, the whole story of his involvement with Leah has a nice allusiveness to both his default secrecy and his occasionally demonstrated problems with romance. Erika Alexander gives a good, no-nonsense performance as well, and Judd Hirsch is allowed to be charming and believably paternal without the overlay of shtick he is sometimes encouraged to engage in.

Posted by Todd Mason 11/3/07 7:24 AM

Episode Recap: "Primacy"

Another fine episode, and one that actually builds in part on the last one... a rarity so far this season.

We begin with the investigation of a possible suicide but more probably murder: a middle-aged man, who turns out to be a U.S. attorney from the Midwest, has fallen from a building in a scruffy part of Los Angeles. He's also a team leader, in a real-life scavenger hunt that has grown out of a multi-user online battle game called Primacy. The prize for the winning team in the real-life game is $1 million, which seems motive enough; and certainly there is no lack of suspects, including members of the attorney's team, who have left markers at the murder scene from previous visits. Megan takes the lead on this case, but her secret weapon, she soon learns, is Amita, who has been playing Primacy for years. An obsessed gamer, who has been using fake identities to create his own "team" and who has killed his one actual coconspirator, has been intimidating and harrassing other teams to force them to quit. Having lured him into confrontations in the Primacy environment (which spurs the killer into a botched attempt to mess over Amita, Charlie and Colby), Amita agrees to be the bait to lure the murderer into a real-world encounter (even though Charlie, distracted by his book-promotion obligations, demands that she not be put into any more dangerous situations). They catch the obsessed former designer for the company that hosts Primacy, who hoped to use the prize money as the seed for his own more idealistic virtual environment, and was going to let no one stand in the way of his dream.

Fans of Amita and of Numbers' feminist spirit might be particularly impressed by this episode, since Megan and particularly Amita were the focus tonight. Even as Don seeks counsel from his father about his troubles with Liz, Larry attempts to move back into the academic life and the secular (if still spiritual) world. Julie H

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Numbers

by Todd Mason

Episode Recap: "Tabu"

Another energetic episode that managed to give nearly everyone something to do, even if the writing for the showcasing of Diane Farr's Megan could've been sharpened.

We begin with young, apparently affluent adults clubbing, with the focus hanging on Ella Pierce (Ari Graynor), who at first suggests a Paris Hilton-style tabloid magnet...the Patty Hearst and Symbionese Liberation Army resonances come later. She is apparently abducted by a small group which includes a woman she'd been dancing with (Stephanie Bast), who leave with much gunfire into the air and other theatrics, but no injury to the witnesses. Our FBI unit is called in, even if Don (Rob Morrow) doesn't choose to waken Liz (Aya Sumika), sleeping in bed next to him. Charlie (David Krumholtz) joins them at the scene, immediately suggesting models he could use to track the kidnappers flight, as does private kidnapping consultant Jeff Upchurch (Sean Patrick Flanery), temporarily an employee of Pierce's father, textiles and clothing multimillionaire Warren Pierce (William Atherton). The FBI agents, save a somewhat skeptical Megan, accept Upchurch's advice more readily than Warren does, as he seemingly tries to play cagy with the kidnappers' ransom demands, then refuses to pay anything after Ella is apparently forced to perform a bank robbery with the kidnappers, who comprise a somewhat vaguely liberationist group particularly incensed by Pierce's corporate treatment of workers in Third World countries. The kidnappers communicate via satellite telephone and a website (whose web-host never seems to come into the investigation), while Megan particularly finds Warren Pierce unhelpful and annoying in the attempt to recover his daughter...she is unprofessionally short with him, in a way that we see is meant to suggest issues she has with her own father, as she discusses them with Larry (Peter MacNicol), in the course of the two of them getting more comfortable with each other again. Amita (Navi Rawat) suggests that she has a means of tracking the embedded signals in the kidnappers' video, and builds a improvised electronic decoder for the purpose, much to Charlie's delight. Meanwhile, when they can both spare a moment during the case, Liz asks Don to take some time to discuss their relation; Don consistently half-heartedly agrees. The kidnappers and Ella rob the family estate of one of her friends (Vanessa Britting), and Ella demonstrates that she is working with her apparent captors by being the first to open fire, though Megan still wonders if she's suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, simply identifying with those controlling her. The friend, however, spills the beans: the liberationist cell is led by one their high school classmates (David Rogers), one whom Ella had recently grown close to. Increasingly, it becomes clear to all that Ella has orchestrated all of this, to get back at her father and perhaps even to have him killed to inherit his wealth (and gain control of the money left her by her late mother). Between Amita's code-cracking and a tip from the cell-leader's alienated brother (John Forest), the agents learn of the cell's headquarters, an abandoned house in which they've been squatting, and where they've taken Warren after kidnapping him. As they settle in around the perimeter for the negotiation or assault on the squat, Upchurch and Sinclair (Alimi Ballard) continue their slightly on-edge conversation about the later lives of Special Forces veterans like themselves, even as they wait to see if their sniper rifles will be needed. Eventually Don orders tear gas to be thrown into the house; all the cell members surrender, with the cell-leader freeing Warren, only to be shot dead by Ella, his girlfriend. Warren still seems to think he can buy their way out of the mess they're in, warning his daughter not to say anything till he has her lawyers in place; the foiled patricide responds sardonically, "I love you, too, Daddy." The case closed, Liz and Don finally have a chance to talk, and they end their affair.

Really, quite a good episode, with the usual number of loose ends for Numb3rs (the great episodes tie those off), and, again, the biggest problem with the episode being Megan's unlikely inability to control her temper any better than she does toward the middle of the hour. But her interplay with Larry, as he contructs a small fountain and aftward, and briefly with Liz (about the men in their lives), are much better-conceived. The contrast between Megan and Larry's reigniting relation, Amita and Charlie's flourishing one, and Liz and Don's dying affair is presented well, particularly as all look calm and not unreasonably passionate when compared to our villainess's all-consuming selfishness and hatred. Though perhaps a focus on the fountains gurgling and spurting as Megan and Larry become more intimate was a little too easy a joke.

Posted by Todd Mason 11/17/07 3:40 AM

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Numbers

by Todd Mason

Episode Recap: "Graphic"

A pleasant, if slight, episode... a tribute to comics geekery and a reminder of the shabby way that far too many artists, outside comics as well as within that community, are treated even as their work remains a cash cow for others (perhaps not a coincidence that this theme should arise in a show presumably put together as the WGA strike loomed).

At a comics convention in Los Angeles (but one looking considerably smaller if as diversely attended as Comi-Con), an arrogant artist-turned-mogul, Miles Sklar (Wil Wheaton), displays with much ceremony his newly purchased "ashcan" issue of a (fictional) important superhero comic from the early 1960s. An "ashcan" issue is one produced solely for trademark and/or copyright reasons, never meant for public distribution, and this one is believed to be the only copy extant. A prominent "alternative" comics creator, Seth Marlowe (Ben Feldman), looks on in disgust, until thugs rush in and force Sklar at gunpoint to turn over the comic. In the course of the robbery, a security guard and a bystander are shot. Our FBI unit is called in, to the delight of Agent Sinclair (Alimi Ballard), a comics fan and mildly serious collector since childhood. Although he is also being pursued by a Vanity Fair reporter (Joe Morton) hoping to speak with his friends and family for a profile, Charlie is also soon pulled into the case as well, with assistance as usual from Amita and Larry.

Marlowe soon becomes both a source of information for our heroes and a prime suspect, as he makes no secret of his resentment of Sklar and of his belief that the valuable comic should be given to its creator, comics legend Ross Moore (Christopher Lloyd), now plagued by health problems and running low on funds. Moore, for his part, would like nothing more than to bequeath the issue, worth up to well over a million dollars at auction, to his wife, so that she might be comfortable for the rest of her life. It becomes clear rather early on that Marlowe is indeed involved in the robbery, and the rest of the episode is devoted mostly to tying him to the thugs who actually stole it, and working out the means to tell a series of forgeries Marlowe is circulating from the actual ashcan issue.

At an auction to benefit Ross that Marlowe has proposed, Charlie finds the real ashcan issue, which doesn't have a telltale mark on the cover Marlowe put in his fakes, and is able to outbid Marlowe and his confederate for it, before the actual arrest... and the revelation that Sklar had been shamed into donating the real copy to Ross. Other threads running throughout the episode involve Don's distraction as he mourns the death of his affair with Liz, and Megan's bet with Granger that she could fix him up with a woman who might be to his liking... a bet she wins by introducing him to a Cirque du Soleil acrobat.

A nice bit of backgrounding on Charlie, as we see Larry and Amita and then father Alan answering the questions of the magazine reporter, giving slightly guarded but honest opinions about Charlie and the reasoning behind his book (we don't see brother Don's interview, but we hear a bit of its to-be-published version read aloud at the end). A little bit of recursion, wherein Don and Charlie joke about the unlikelihood of anyone seeing their lives and work together as a fit subject for entertainment, and Sinclair gets the unlikely stunt of the week, jumping on an assailant who threatens to shoot Don from a height of at least 20 feet (allowing Granger to make a Superman joke).

Biggest improbability of the week would be an elderly persons' assisted-living community with a multi-flight stairwell but no apparent elevator (at least, one would hope it was an improbability). And, of course, not only were comics geeks stroked, but cult television and sf fans were given representatives among the Con-goers, in addition to the participation of Morton, Wheaton and Lloyd... even if none was truly at the heart of the episode.

Posted by Todd Mason 11/24/07 12:10 AM

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11/18 - Episode 4.10 - Chinese Box [Airing December 14]: David is being held hostage in an elevator car by a man named Ben Blakely, a man who has worked with the FBI before and who threatens to blow it up if the fiber optic video cable isn't removed. Don tells Colby to pull the camera out. Charlie uses thermal imaging to try and help figure out which of the two men in the elevator is David so snipers can take out Blakely, but he can't be certain. Because of that and the lack of demands or negotiations on Blakely's part, Don and the negotiator decide to drop the elevator they have rigged. Colby argues that David is his partner and he wants to make a move and go in. Source: SpoilerFix.com

11/29 - Episode 4.11 - Breaking Point [Airing in January 2008]: An investigative reporter named Bonnie Priest goes missing and the FBI is finally called in to help. On his way into the building, Charlie is stopped by a reporter and when asked how he and math can help find the missing woman, he spills lots of things that Don thinks he should not have. Don, Colby and David watch videos of Bonnie's stories and Colby makes a list of 28 companies or individuals that she reported on that may have reason for revenge. Someone tries to kill Charlie but they fail and when Don figures out who it was, he threatens one of the men and the man laughs him off. Charlie has trouble focusing after that and Colby talks to him, trying to get him to realize that Colby understands what he is going through and is trying to help. Source: SpoilerFix.com

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Numbers

by Todd Mason

Episode Recap: "Chinese Box"

The last new episode scheduled for 2007 reminded me of a couple of early 1970s films, the brilliant The Conversation and the more obscure (and not as good, if still interesting) Report to the Commissioner (which was based on a novel)...as well as seeming to mark the end of Aya Sumika's role on the series (though we can hope otherwise).

It begins with a fairly unexceptional morning's business at the FBI offices, as Agents Reeves (Diane Farr) and Sinclair (Alimi Ballard) prepare to go pick up a suspect; less routinely, Liz Warner (Sumika) informs her boss and ex, Don Eppes (Rob Morrow), that she's taking the opportunity to be temporarily reassigned to another unit in the Los Angeles office. Eppes is surprised and conflicted, but has little time to deal with that, since in the lobby of the FBI building a man has charged in, brandishing a gun and shooting an agent before charging into an elevator and taking a civilian hostage. Sinclair exchanges himself for the hostage, over Reeves's objection; Sinclair and the shooter, who turns out to be an FBI contractor, are at a standoff in the elevator car, each with a handgun trained on the other.

The contractor, Ben Blakely (Enrico Colantoli, most recently of Veronica Mars), is a seemingly paranoid electronic surveillance expert (paranoia might come with the territory). Blakely claims the man he shot when he broke into the building, Max Devane (Clifton Powell), the FBI agent he'd been working for, had put spies on Blakely and was threatening his life. As Sinclair attempts to talk Blakely into surrendering himself, Don supervises, rather frantically, the deployment of a SWAT team to see how best to storm the elevator if necessary, and details Warner and Reeves to investigate Blakely's claims, which they discover to have merit. Charlie Eppes (David Krumholtz) attempts to offer advice that will help minimize the potential bloodshed, but Don preremtorily dismisses it, upsetting Charlie and eventually convincing the head of the SWAT team (Chris Bruno, brother of series regular Dylan Bruno) that perhaps Charlie's suggestions might be useful and that Don is losing perspective, or at least vacillating dangerously in his response to the hostage-taking. Meanwhile, Alan Eppes (Judd Hirsch), having had some civil engineering experience with the model of elevator in question, finds himself in the rare situation of being able to offer direct advice to his sons in a criminal matter.

An attempt to storm the elevator goes badly, with Sinclair shot, then disarmed by Blakely; luckily, Sinclair is wearing a bulletproof vest for the morning's task. The SWAT team withdraws. Reeves and Warner return with the supporting evidence, and between them, Don and more importantly Sinclair convince Blakely to surrender.

Afterward, Warner and Don have an awkward conversation that makes it very clear their affair is over, and that Warner might seek to make her temporary reassigment permanent.

The electronic spying aspect of the story, and the paranoia such work tends to engender, was almost inevitably going to remind viewers of The Conversation; the corruption of Devane's character, his exploitation and then hired surveillance of Blakely, who is then driven to a standoff with an innocent officer reminded me of Report..., though of course such films as [The Neogtiator have mined similar veins. This episode was neatly done, I'd say, and can stand these comparisons without shame. As one of the commentors has noted earlier this season, Numb3rs regularly displays its female characters as deftly competent or better, and Reeves and Warner's investigation is nicely contrasted in its cool level-headedness to the often frantic activity back at the FBI building (though Sinclair notably also keeps his cool while being reasonably honest at all times with his adversary). One writer's grace note comes when Charlie, rebuffed by Don and not yet convincing the SWAT leader, expresses his frustration at not being able to put into words all that he can imagine or envision; this is the complaint, certainly, of every writer...never quite getting everything down on the page, but happiest when getting nearly everything, or a very close approximation.

And it's remarkable how much more pleasant it is to see the show with the limited commercial interruption of On-Demand.

Posted by Todd Mason 12/18/07 2:05 PM

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Numbers

by Todd Mason

Episode Recap: "Breaking Point"

This was one of those Numb3rs episodes that felt as if it had been cut down from perhaps a seventy-minute running time, or would've been more comfortable if it could've run a bit longer than 48 minutes or so. Everything was just a bit too compressed, giving most of the more intense moments a slightly over-the-top feeling, and even the more laid-back sequences could've used more room to breathe.

Synopsis: It begins with intercutting, between Don Eppes running down with his FBI team the known specifics of an apparent kidnapping of a television news reporter, and a television news interview with Charlie Eppes, wherein he allows that he tries to help his brother's FBI unit solve crimes, and lets slip a few more facts about the case than Don's bosses are comfortable with. Don chews Charlie out; Charlie, perhaps excessively miffed, showily takes off to his university office to do the academic work he isn't doing when consulting on FBI cases. As Charlie drives to the CalTech analog where he teaches, a pickup truck with floodlights above the cab tailgates him and otherwise seems to be at least trying to shake him up; Charlie takes a sharp turn and loses the pickup, but is sufficiently rattled to sleep in his office. Meanwhile, Ray Galuski (Chris Bauer, returning to the series), in the course of helping fix a koi pond pump in the Eppes's yard, makes some suggestions about modernizing the house that discomfit paterfamilias Alan Eppes (Judd Hirsch).

Amita and Larry find Charlie in his office, and discover that he's in a jumpy mood, after the argument and the road incident; Charlie leaves abruptly, running late for a meeting at the FBI offices. From the offices, Charlie and the agents take on various tasks in the investigation of the probable kidnapping; Charlie offers to do some statistical analyses that might narrow the large field of suspects who might hold a criminal grudge against the reporter. Meanwhile, a visit to the reporter's television station doesn't turn up much, other than that among the stories she's been pursuing is one involving a local real estate developer and his underhanded business dealings, including a photograph of him with a tough-looking character. That night, Charlie is pursued again by the same pickup, which actually bumps his car off the road; at least one man, the one in the photograph with the real estate developer, emerges from the pickup and starts shooting at Charlie, who manages to scramble away, and scares his would-be assassins by remotely setting off his car alarm, drawing attention from other drivers and a nearby house. Charlie now tells Don and the other agents about being tailgated the previous evening by the same thugs; Amita starts demanding that Charlie get off the case, and Don starts to wonder if that isn't a good idea.

Don and Colby (Dylan Bruno) explore the reporter's apartment, where after a brief examination Don decides he's seen enough; Colby suggests that he'd like to do a more thorough search. Colby begins going through her papers and watching her raw-footage videotapes, and clearly becomes somewhat smitten with her. When two power company bills come in through the apartment's mailslot, one of them is for her office, away from her television station's campus. Colby calls the address in and goes to meet Don and the other agents there. Colby arrives first, to find the shooter and two accomplices stealing materials from the repoter's office; a gun battle leaves one of the thugs dead and one seriously wounded; he and the third get awayin the pickup.

A shaken Charlie has difficulty getting his mind to work on breaking the reporter's apparent code, while Colby, particularly, attempts to be helpful while also stressing how little time they might have to find the reporter alive. Having Sinclair (Alimi Ballard) assigned to Charlie as a bodyguard, while Don confronts the developer, does little to help rising tensions. Eventually, Colby gets Charlie to talk about his trauma, which helps the mathematician clear his head; with the help of Amita and Larry (and Colby at least standing by), they crack the codes, which turn out to describe lots the developer has purchased. The last surviving thug having been arrested but refusing to reveal where the reporter is being held, the team has to figure it out on their own...happily, the coded properties include three lots aside from the developement area, only one of which has a house on it. Colby is disappointed that the reporter, whom we've learned is rather a loner even when not traumatized, is ungracious when rescued. Finally, Don, who's been worrying throughout the episode that involving Charlie in FBI cases, even when not dangerous, might be a waste of his brother's precious time and intellectual energy, asks Charlie if he sees it that way. Charlie bluntly says no, he doesn't, and invites Don in for a beer.

At certain points, particularly early on, it seemed to me that Charlie's guilt and irritation, with himself and with Don, seemed too quickly wound up into more than pique; I also had to wonder how the thugs in the pickup were able to predict which road Charlie was going to be riding down the first night, and how they recognized his car. I certainly didn't buy Colby being as wrapped up in a woman he didn't know as he seemed to be, even if charmed by her demeanor in the unguarded moments on the unedited tapes, and even with his somewhat romantic (in every sense) notions of rescue and its rewards. Certainly, while referring to his own hostage experience in coaxing Charlie to spill his anxieties made sense, expecting the reporter to have the same reaction to rescue as he did made no sense; unlike Colby, she had no reason to assume that anyone would be working feverishly to find her. So, this episode had a lot of little bits and pieces that could've used a bit more foreshadowing or expansion, had there been time, even if the interaction between Larry and Ray, and Ray's assumption that Larry's relation with Megan could only be a joke (something skeptical viewers have suggested from time to time), was very well done. Some of David Krumholtz's slightly odd reactions as Charlie in this episode seem just right in a somewhat alienated former child prodigy; others, as noted, seem excessive (even given his disturbing experiences here). So, more than most episodes of the series, this one could've used another run-through. I have to wonder if the strike might've affected post-production. Still, a fun-enough episode, even with the flaws.

Posted by Todd Mason 01/12/08 2:24 AM

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, TV SHOW BLOGS

Numbers

by Todd Mason

Episode Recap: "Power"

A very well-done episode dealing with several sensitive issues (including some backstory on Diane Farr's character Megan Reeves) as well as balancing the criminal investigation and the personal drama (and the math, and this time a bit of physics) better than perhaps any other episode this season. And it just might be the last episode of the season...it seems to be the last completed episode. Co-executive producer Julie H

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Courtesy of: SPOILERFIX

02/28 - Episode 4.13 - Black Swan [Airing April 4]: Colby and David interrogate a man who was found with duct tape, plastic cable ties, soundproofing insulation and multiple handguns because the FBI believes he is involved with some terroristic activity. He stonewalls them even after he learns that his partner in crime is not following the plan about killing innocent people. Charlie, Amita and Larry help Don and his team figure out where the man is going to strike. Megan and Larry talk about whether her job is still right for her. Source: SpoilerFix.com

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03/19 - Episode 4.14 - Checkmate [Airing April 11]: Charlie goes through FBI boot camp, at first nervous and unsure of himself, not doing very well, ending confident and capable. Charlie, Megan, Amita, Larry and David work together to help figure out a case involving gangbangers, a young boy and games of chess. Don gets involved with a protected witness and an agent is stabbed trying to protect her when a woman with a knife enters the hotel room after Don leaves. Source: SpoilerFix.com

03/25 - Episode 4.15 - End Game [Airing April 18]: A young woman is at home with her sister and father when three men, who she later identifies at least 2 as Marines, break in with shotguns and kidnap her sister and father as she hides in the ceiling in the kitchen. Her brother was a person of interest for the FBI after two murders a few years before, until he ran off to Mexico. The young man comes back to try and help find his sister and father, along with Don and his team, including Liz. Charlie helps figure out the plan of the kidnappers as well as working with Amita to help his father "green" the house. Source: SpoilerFix.com

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yeahhhhhh it's baaaaaaaaaaack!!!

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, TV SHOW BLOGS

Numbers

by Todd Mason

Episode Recap: "Black Swan"

An excellent return from hiatus, "Black Swan" did most of what Numb3rs does best.

The opening montage, contrasting the FBI agents taking down a meth lab (probably not but possibly a slight nod to the most Numb3rs-like of the new series to begin since the strike, Breaking Bad) with the introductory lecture by the academics to a new class of teaching assistants, was typically clever and mutually reinforcing, even down the usual color-coding (blues for the FBI, sepias for academe).

When Don sees a possibly innocent bystander to the meth-lab bust as just a little to conveniently nearby, and has the agents take him into custody as well, the agents discover that he's part of a neo-Nazi group responsible for at least one IRS-building bombing. But, of course, being a determined enemy of the state, the would-be domestic terrorist isn't going to open up and tell what's being planned, nor who or where his confederates are. Happily for our team, searching his van turns up a cheap navigation device; unhappily, it features only his last several destinations. One of those turns out to be the safe house where the fellow radical rightists are holed up; the academics, in this case Charlie, Amita and Larry, work on a program and model that will, they hope, tell them about the intended target of the group from the few locations the device gave them. Meanwhile, Don, feeling frustrated at usually only being able to arrest criminals after the fact, worries Megan and the other agents, and Charlie, with his willingness to bend the rules regarding their suspect's Constitutional protections...not least because to some extent doing so actually strengthen's the terrorist's case, and his resolve. The title of the episode, referring to a process in which a certain worldview is taken for granted until new data forces revision--such as the discovery in Australia by Europeans that black swans exist along with the exclusivley white ones the Europeans were familiar with--comes into play particularly as the team realizes that the black swan in this case wasn't so much the appearance of neo-Nazis at a meth lab, but the arrest of the meth makers before the radicals could obtain bomb-making materials from them. The team determines that the probable target is a bank that partially foiled the radicals' activities in the past, and in the course of catching the last member of the group who'd escaped a raid on their safehouse, manage to convince that lone bomber that his ultimate goal of "propaganda by the deed" would be utterly overshadowed by the damage to innocents if he killed them, or utterly dismissed as just a lone nut's sacrifice if he merely allowed himself to die.

Counterpointed to this in the episode is Amita's disappointment at her Indian government-official parents' continuing delay of a second visit to her at the CalTech analog where the academics teach; Charlie eventually suggests that they try a visit to Delhi, instead, an offer she declines, but gratefully...like her parents, both she and Charlie are too wrapped up in their work to leave. Megan, troubled by several aspects of her work at the FBI, moots the possibility of finding other work with Larry, at his gentle suggestion. And Colby, still easing his way back into friendship with Sinclair, is also starting to pick up one some of the approaches to problem-solving the academics use.

Again, a fine episode to ease viewers back into the series, if not one of extraordinary distinction, so much as a good representative example of the series' strengths. Now, let's see if we can get by the threat of the actors' unions going on strike, as well...and if the uncharitable placement of the fine and intelligent NBC police drama Life also on Fridays at 10p ET/PT next season will do more than force the use of recorders or other delayed views of both series.

Posted by Todd Mason 04/5/08 6:59 PM

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Numbers

by Todd Mason

Episode Recap: "Checkmate"

This was (Alimi Ballard's) Sinclair's episode, and a mostly (if not subtly) comic episode for Charlie (David Krumholtz), in rougly equal measures, and falls to the middle range for the series, despite some nice setpieces in Sinclair's attempts to encourage a bright young man to reconsider becoming a bright young thug. And this episode marks the (temporary?) return of Robin Brooks (Michelle Nolden), Don's short-term flame in the US Attorney's office.

The episode begins with three attempts at murder of witnesses, two essentially successful (albeit one victim survives long enough to give a dying declaration to Robin, who's prosceuting the case in question, against a resourceful gang lord). In the third, the would-be hit man is killed instead. (In the one immediately successful case, the hitwoman makes a point of explaining that she's pulling on gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints in a car that she's already handled without gloves; avoiding gunpowder residues on her hands would make more sense, but, onward.) Megan, in briefing Don on the case, asks if she should take the lead, if working with Robin will be awkward for him; he demurs, but the interaction between Robin and Don is indeed immediately awkward. It becomes moreso when the search for an information leak, using an algorithm Charlie suggests to Amita and Larry in a break from failing the various physical tests he's put to in the sampling of FBI training he's going through, shows Robin's computer is the probable source of leaks to the gang. Don gets a warrant, much to Robin's disgust, but the team soon determines that the ex-wife of a gang member, working as a computer repair technician, has been responsible for the leaks; while the technician had managed to save her ex-husband at first, soon after, both he and she were executed by the gang. Meanwhile, the gang leader has been visited weekly in prison by a figure with no ID in the system, a Levi Holt; he turns out to be a 14-year-old chess hustler, who does business out of the recreation center where Sinclair has volunteered in the past. Sinclair approaches him, and becomes impressed against his better judgement by the boy's intelligence and potential, despite his devotion to the gang leader, who's been grooming Holt as a protoge of sorts; their weekly meetings are all about chess games, which Levi notates in standard chess code in a small notebook.

Further investigation into the witness murders suggests that Robin is the next likely target, so she's relocated to an expensive but improbably insecure hotel. Robin and Don discuss why their romance was so shortlived, and decide that they are both afraid of commitment. Round-the-clock FBI details don't discourage the Albanian hitwoman from entering the apartment and successfully stabbing the agent in the living room, but he's able to warn Robin and call for help while the assassin chases Robin out onto the docks near the hotel. Just as the killer is about to stab Robin (holding her knife incorrectly while she's about to do so, when she had held her knife correctly in stabbing the agent a few minutes before), Don shoots the attacker. Asked how he knew where to find her, Don reveals the nostalgic gift of a hairclip he'd given her earlier had a tracking device within; the assassin had likewise located Robin through tracking her GPS signal in her Crackberry.

The academics, even with Charlie's distractions in his training session, manage to determine that the chess game notations are a code instructing the gang leader's underlings who needs to be killed next; they also determine that Levi is the other next target along with Robin. They determine this last while Sinclair is standing next to Levi at the rec center, having just convinced the boy to turn over the notebook. Just as they determine this, the gang lieutenants arrive to retrieve the notebook, and presumably to kill Levi, who is late in delivering this week's instructions. They face off with Sinclair, who threatens them with the consequences of killing an FBI agent, since he is woefully outnumbered and outgunned; Levi, meanwhile, takes the point that he is now utterly expendable, and worse, to the gang he thought of as friends and mentors. FBI reinforcements arrive and arrest the gangsters as they begin to leave.

Charlie, having proven that at least he can shoot at least as well any of the FBI agents in the training session, returns bruised but mildly triumphant to his usual haunts, Robin and Don take advantage of the room that had been rented for her protection to consummate their restarted affair, and Sinclair begins to bond with Levi, asking him to teach him how not to be fools'-mated so easily. And there's a last little joke at everyone's terror at the notion of Charlie brandishing a gun.

Darryl Theirse as the driving instructor does a good job grounding that bit of slapstick, early in Charlie's training scenes. Producer Robert Port's script has some bugs that could've been worked out (particularly involving the hitwoman) and, again, not the lightest touch in the comic segments, but again wasn't either the best nor the worst I've seen in the series.

Posted by Todd Mason 04/12/08 12:21 PM

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, TV SHOW BLOGS

Numbers

by Todd Mason

Episode Recap: "End Game"

A good episode, with a lot of reunions in it, and only one heavily telegraphed goof on the part of our agents. Aya Sumika returns as Liz Warner, Bil Nye as Bill Waldie, Sharif Atkins as fugitive Clay Porter, and the continuing presence of Michelle Nolden as Robin Brooks...and Don is even showing that he might've finally learned something about balancing work and love lives with a partner. We also get to see the still slightly shaggy, more irascible than usual paterfamilias, Alan Eppes, attempting to force some environmentally-friendly but irritating upgrades on the house, only to have Charlie return the favor by counterproposing upgrades that would incovenience Alan, instead. I suspect that this thread, of restless and slightly snappish and unshaven Alan, is likely to make itself more important by season's end.

One could also see the groundwork being laid for Larry's eventual departure...he has a slightly underexplicated crisis of faith in his project seeking the Higgs boson, and a scuffle with one of his brothers at the monastery where he resides part of the time. Charlie's diagnosis, however, that the problem Larry's facing being that the Higgs boson might not be any more revelatory than *merely* a world-class breakthrough in physics, was one of the highlights of the episode.

The primary storyline in this episode is of the kidnapping of the father and one of the sisters of fugitive ex-Marine Clay Porter, Jr., by ex-Marines who'd served with him, including a commanding officer Porter had testified against in a court martial proceeding, for torture of an Iraqi prisoner. Porter's other sister manages to hide and identify two of the kidnappers, but the thugs waste no time contacting their ex-comrade and demanding that he come to them. It's eventually revealed that the commanding officer was torturing his prisoner to find out where the latter had stashed stolen cash, to the tune of $15 million dollars; he thinks that Porter might have that information, and to keep his father and sister alive, Porter allows him to keep thinking that, and sneaks back across the border from his hiding place in Mexico.

Liz Warner is among the first agents to the kidnapping scene, and calls Don into the case, interrupting a tryst with Robin, who only half-teases him about leaving her to go to Liz's side. Robin is even less thrilled when the FBI captures Porter, who's wanted in the vigilante murders of two serial killers, but lets him go on Don's say-so, as an attempt to find the kidnappers through tailing Porter. Porter takes an opportunity to chat up his tail of Sinclair and Granger and, somewhat too easily, disable their car and slip away. Meanwhile, Warner finds one of the kidnappers dead in his apartment, and sees Porter flee the scene, but forensics suggests that the dead man had been killed while Porter was in custody. Don initially stonewalls Robin about his reasons for letting Porter go, but Warner gently suggests that he might want to rethink that approach. Unfortunately, the kidnappers, growing impatient, kill Clay Porter, Sr. and threaten on video to do the same to the sister. Porter, Jr., comes in to the FBI, to see his father's corpse and to volunteer to cooperate in setting up the kidnappers.

Charlie and Amita, and a distracted Larry, have been working on models that hope to predict the actions of opponents in a game or battle, both while Porter is at large and while he's cooperating, and manage to use the ambient noise of commercial jetliners overhead to narrow down the location of the hideout.

Don discovers that Robin is willing to bend the law in ways similar to his, if it will bring about a good result, after coming in to confess. She unofficially okays the use of Porter to get at the kidnappers. The FBI does so, with Porter going in first and pretending to be willing to trade information for his sister's safety. The FBI team comes in after, saving the sister and killing most of the kidnappers; the leader manages temporarily to use Porter as a shield, but between them Don and Porter put a couple of non-lethal bullets in him.

Otherwise, matters end on a mostly happy note.

The episode moves along at a good clip, has only the one very egregious bit of foolishness (the agents wouldn't be expecting Porter to try to lose them by fiddling with their car in some way?) and while it doesn't quite give us enough of what's actually bothering Larry or Alan, it's pretty clear we're meant to watch for both to continue to stew. Those who suspect that Larry and Megan will leave the series together are probably right...though, as this episode proves, few have to leave the series permanently.

Posted by Todd Mason 04/26/08 12:13 AM

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, TV SHOW BLOGS

Numbers

by Todd Mason

Episode Recap: "Atomic No. 33"

An episode that was more of a straightforward mystery than usual, with multiple suspects in the murders of various members of a Christian-offshoot sect that could very easily be called a cult, and indeed is classified that way by state and Federal authorities. Also, an episode which gave a little space for Don and Robin to be playful with each other, and for Larry to begin to articulate the discontent which is starting to color his life. The title refers to the place in the chemist's Periodic Table of arsenic.

In the compound of the sect, which like Christian Science and some other faiths prefers to avoid standard allopathic medicine, a social event is disrupted by what turns out to be poisoned coffee, laced with enough arsenic to sicken the assembled...and just a little too much more. It turns out that the recently installed minister and his son have ulterior motives in their involvement with the church--they are con men, playing, as Megan notes, a "life con" to exploit the congregation for their money, and to move the church closer to the mainstream so as to get it off government radar and to get it tax exemption...and therefore more money to play with. But this is not immediately clear, for the minister's son was one of the arsenic victims, though not one of the two fatalities...shortly thereafter, the minister is killed in a suspicious explosion. The obvious suspects are the church's founding minister's wife, who had been shunted from power through the new minister's stratagems, and her daughter, who is in a semi-secret affair with the son.

However, while the mother and widow (a good turn by Jill Eikenberry, whom we don't see often enough these years) makes an excellent suspect, it soon becomes clear that the explosion was the work of the son, in part as payback for the excessive poisoning (which was supposed to be just enough to get the congregation to accept medical help) and in part so as to cash in, since the fake minister was trying to break up the kids' affair.

While helping with the investigation, Larry completely loses his cool when facing Eikenberry's Susan Doran, who tends to equate science with Satan and Nazism. Larry, himself a spiritual seeker as well as a significant scientist, can't stomach her resentment at all, and gives her back as much hostility as she presents, leading Megan and Charlie to pull him aside. Discussing the matter later with Alan, he realizes just how thoroughly he fell into a knee-jerk response, driven in part by his own spiritual doubts and lack of joy in the material world of late. When Alan teases him, pretending to take Doran's view that all scientists want to take over the world, Larry delivers the episode's best line, noting that if he was to conquer the world, "all I'd have to show for it would be...the world."

When not focusing on the case, Don and Robin seek to dig out facts about each other, and give each other playful surprises. It turns out, to everyone's surprise, that Don's favorite film isn't Heat, but Sullivan's Travels...and that Robin loves watermelon candy.

And by episode's end, the successful demonstration of how one can run across water with just enough starch in it seems to help lift Larry's spirits.

Another nugget...I wasn't aware that arsenic dust was explosive. But I'll buy it.

And many apologies to anyone who's been missing this entry...tiresome ISP and computer problems, then the crush of work, delayed the post till now.

Posted by Todd Mason 05/6/08 10:37 PM

Episode Recap: "Pay to Play"

This was a very solid episode of Numb3rs, for all that it does take for granted a number of things that one might question, such as the gangster-wannabe nature of many rappers going as far as to spray bullets into a rival's house, or the quantifiability of pop-music success, either theoretically or via payola.

At a rap-label's promotion party, it's two most successful artists are highlighted, when a self-recording/promoting rapper who resents the label-owner, at least, crashes and demands to be heard. He's rushed offstage, but the most popular artist on the label seems less than thrilled with how things are happening around him...he steps out, gets in his car, and is cut down by gunfire in front of a number of witnesses. Since the FBI was already working a case against the record label for drug distribution, Liz Warner is on-scene, and invites Don's unit in to poke around as well (albeit they seem to have left the corpse in his car an improbably long time at that point).

The disgruntled crasher seems the likely suspect, so Warner and Sinclair go to question him...and find the aggrieved widow of the murdered rapper also visiting. It turns out that the murdered man and the crasher were old friends, and that the dead man had something that was troubling him about his label's business. Which seems to dovetail with what was on two iPods found in the murdered man's car, which turn out to be programs to analyze the likely popularity of any given pop song or rap. While the agents are at the crasher's house, bullets spray in through the front window; one seriously wounds the crasher.

The second-most popular rapper at the label, a Caucasian who affects the look and sound of his colleagues, had bragged of his intentions to revenge his labelmate's death the previous day, so he now becomes the primary suspect in both shootings. When the agents come to arrest him, he begs, in a whisper, for protective custody, while still bragging of his essential Badness; after being brought in, he admits to repsonsibility for the shooting at the independent rapper's house. But when the widow of his labelmate is killed with car bomb, he denies any responsibility, as well as for the death of her husband, despite having military explosives training...he suggests that the label's owner's primary assistant, a mountain of a man who follows orders to the letter, is responsible. Meanwhile, while Liz Warner blames herself for not gaining the trust of the widow before her own murder, the agents are able to gather from her husband's laptop, which the widow had with her at the time of her death, just what the label-owner's scam was...he was skimming profits from his biggest star to help promote, via payola, his Great White Hope and No. 2 artist, and meanwhile muddying the waters of his use of company funds in dope dealing.

The independent rapper, having learned of the murder of the widow as well, takes matters into his own hands and takes the label-owner hostage at gunpoint...which turns out to be a ploy to get the label-owner to incriminate himself on tape, via the microcassette reocorder the rapper carries with him at all times.

Aside from some funny, if a bit overdone, by-play between Charlie and Larry and the rap-label engineers and other staff, the notable side issues in this episode were the apparent sudden and mysterious absence of Megan, of which Larry is sworn to say little other than she asked to take a few days off to go to New York, and the budding cameraderie, at least, between Liz and Colby, encouraged by Don. And, most tellingly, the long-delayed meeting of Charlie with Amita's parents...which goes very badly, particularly for Charlie and his father Alan, when Amita's parents also invite a childhood friend of Amita's, now a successful international businessman, along to the dinner, clearly in hopes of luring Amita away from Charlie. The mathematician is thoroughly depressed, by Amita's apparent inability to tell her parents about the seriousness of their relation, and by her parents blatant rejection of him thus. Amita eventually explains and apologizes, noting that her childhood friend is gay, and that no one her parents could come up with could pull her away; happily, Amita's parents also apologize, and note that they hadn't realized till meeting Charlie how well Amita had chosen for herself.

Thus, one crisis is averted, the potential tearing of Amita between family and lover/life-partner...while another, the departure of Megan, is (however abruptly) set up.

(And further delay apologies...happily, the problems I've been having have been now fixed, just in time for the season finale next week....)

Posted by Todd Mason 05/12/08 12:56 AM

Episode Recap: "When Worlds Collide"

A season finale, a swan song for Diane Farr's Megan Reeves, and not quite a cliffhanger when in comes to Charlie's future involvement with the FBI.

Even given this is a show about an FBI unit and the CalTech-style academics who work with them, this series only infrequently runs head-on into political matters, but producers and episode-writers Cheryl Heuton and Nicholas Falacci have something to say about the National Security State and its sometimes blind disruption of scientists' work and sometimes of innocent peoples' lives. And so this scenario...a DC-based FBI counterterrorism expert is called out to the LA offices when two Pakistani-immigrant professionals are kidnapped by unknown assailants. The two are part of a Pakistani charity agency, which is under scrutiny by the FBI as a potential money-launderer for terrorist activity. The two kidnap victims are found, tortured before they were murdered, but not before one of faculty at the CalTech analog, another Pakistani immigrant, is arrested. Charlie and his fellow professors, who are at least friendly acquaintances of the arrested biologist, are less than convinced of the justice in the arrest, not least because he has been arrested for forwarding genetics research to improve food-crop yields; at the time of his arrest, the biologist asks how he was to know the sharing of such data was embargoed by the government, and the arresting agents reply, The list of forbidden, classified subjects about which information can't be shared is itself classified. Mr. Kafka, you're in violation of Catch 22, so please come along with us quietly.

While dubious, Charlie continues to aid in the investigation, albeit with some eagerness to prove his colleague innocent, even as the counterterrorism expert is determined to prove the charity organization and all the involved Pakistanis to either be conspirators with or dupes for terrorists, Al Qaeda or otherwise. The truth turns out to be a bit less expected: the kidnappers work for a rogue, and very mercenary, ex-Irish Republican Army operative who now specializes in simple arms deals, no longer adulterating his interest in cash with any ideological claims. The killing of the merchant at his arrest helps to clear up the lingering doubts about Charlie's colleague, but he still isn't being released, since there's still a case, however weak, to be made that he shared sensitive biotech with potentially hostile forces...or, as he and Charlie see it, attempted to help alleviate hunger in both Pakistan and its old rival and former constituent Bangladesh. Charlie risks arrest by sending the balance of the relevant research along via e-mail, is arrested, but having already convincingly argued that the technical assessment made by FBI's in-house staff was driven by political rather than scientific concerns, is released soon after...with his security clearance revoked, meaning he'll face some restrictions at work and even more in any aid he might give his brother with his work.

This isn't even the most significant change on the horizon, perhaps, since we also learn that Megan is officially resigning from the FBI, to work with institutionalized women while finishing her PhD on the East Coast. Larry seems philosophical, suggesting that a continent between them won't end their affair, and perhaps reassuring us viewers that Peter MacNicol won't be leaving the series.

A good episode, albeit one which seemed to be carrying a lot of series-plot development weight that might have somewhat impeded its episode storytelling.

And at least we know that Kathy Najimy's Mildred French isn't coming back this season...no word yet about next...

And if that episode title sounds familiar, it was also the title of a best-selling sf novel by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer, and of the film made from that novel...

Posted by Todd Mason 05/17/08 3:55 AM

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After the season finale, I'm wondering if they'll bring in another bean counter or will Charlie be working on the sly. I do love Peter MacNicol, he's very talented playing the really good...and the really bad.

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