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FBI - Pilot - Review - "Eventually You Outrun It"

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In my preview of the pilot, I noted that FBI kicks things off with promise that it won’t end up being a mediocre show. The premiere did enough to make a good case for viewers to try more episodes. Let’s see what worked and what needs more work.

The only two characters that matter in this pilot are Special Agents Maggie Bell and “OA” Zidan. The show rests on their shoulders. Missy Peregrym is Bell, a seasoned agent who has some walls up but not so much she become the silent “I’ve seen things” type. Bell is task-oriented and doesn’t like to play nice cop. We find out that her husband died, when OA brings it up, noting he thought it would be more respectful to be up front about it. This is a brief but important conversation between the two partners. OA recently came in from the cold, working as a DEA undercover agent for a few years. He’s used to having to make decisions on the fly, without time to consult superiors, but he yields most decision-making to Bell in the episode. Typically, OA’s character type would be a rebellious go-getter. But he is a team player instead, acutely sensitive to the needs of the people around him. Zeeko Zaki projects this calm power. OA is soft-spoken, so much so he might be overlooked were it not for the simmering intensity that lies just below the surface. In one scene, they question a bigot who is all-around awful in the most obvious of ways. He sneers at OA (who is also Muslim and of non-Iowan descent), asking if he has anything to say.

Without so much as blinking, OA quietly but directly says “Not to you.” There’s controlled anger held very in check but also superiority without patronization. He’s not stooping to engage on this man’s level. And Zaki’s eyes are all you see: angry but patient and tolerant.

Bell we learn went back to work very soon after her husband’s death.

“A guy drove a truck down the sidewalk on Halloween. It was all hands-on deck.” 

As she tells OA, eventually it’s just a matter of outrunning the darkness the encounter. She doesn’t pretend that she’s fine though and thanks OA for offering to help if she needs it. Their character traits complement each other well, in ways that the show can use more going forward.

The promising leads are supplemented by a couple other characters: Jeremy Sisto’s Special Agent Valentine, Ebonée Noel’s Analyst Kristen, and possibly James Chen’s Tech Guy Ian (not a series regular at this point). Sela Ward joins the show next week. It’s too soon to have much of anything to observe about them.

The “case of the week” is simply bland. A building collapses, a child dies, a cellphone is found melted into a leg, things explode, and a throwaway moment touches on how a murder victim’s heart was missing. And there are big fuzzy spiders. Don’t ask me why. Despite these alternately grotesque and dramatic events, there’s little meat on its bones. A sense of urgency is lacking that one usually associates with searching for bombs. There’s definitely suspense, but it passes quickly. Zaki and Peregrym  create most of that with their tense facial expressions. Any TV watcher worth their salt knows that Notable Guest Star Guilt Syndrome is. But even amateurs will realize ten minutes before the characters do in this episode. The mastermind is a cartoonish dweeb who checks all the boxes: monologue, pudding face, wants to build hospices so bombs synagogues, etc. Your heroes are only as strong as your villains, and a case this devoid of intrigue or nuance is a crime. Also, the wardrobe on the show was likely borrowed from Blindspot, because everyone wears the same dark black, blue, and purple palette. The episode is also a bit washed out, and there is so much brick. I can’t even tell you how much brick there is. There’s almost as much brick as there are black SUVs.

Next week: Sela Ward joins the show, and people die. Those aren’t necessarily related events.

Your turn now: What are your hopes for this show? And what will it have to do to stand out from the pack?

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