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FBI: Most Wanted - Silkworm - Review

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As we make our way to the season 1 double finale tonight, let’s look back on the latest episode. Silkworm was most notable for a huge twist that I did not see coming, which is unusual in a crime procedural. It was written by Dwain Worrell, who also wrote episode 1.05 (Invisible). Ken Girottil made his FBI franchise directorial debut but was slated to also helm 1.14 (Getaway) until the coronavirus halted production. (Trivia Tidbit - He also directed the Supernatural episode, Home.) SIlkworm starts off typically with the bad guy acting shifty. Paul Hayden, played by Johsua Malina of Scandal and The West Wing fame, is shortly arrested by the FBI for treason and accused of selling information to the Chinese government. In most procedurals, this would mean that he was an innocent fall guy, but since FBI: Most Wanted is more concerned with the why than the who, he proves his guilt by deliberately killing an agent in his escape and critically injuring another. Now on the run with a $5 million dollar price tag on his head, Jess and crew are called in.

After some exposition on how Hayden used to be a superstar in the FBI for bringing down a Russian spy, the crew heads to Hayden’s house to interview the wife. I love how this show spends time letting viewers know more about the fugitives. Here it is particularly a plus because there is nothing sympathetic about a man willing to get other people killed for money or killing to escape. I don’t necessarily feel for Hayden but learning that he lost his only son in a bike accident humanizes him, especially after his wife describes his earlier suicide attempt. Much of the first half of the episode is the team tracking down leads, only to find that Hayden is smart. He leaves clues to distract them, sending them chasing after threads that lead nowhere.

This actually allows us time to get to know the main characters better. One of my favorite moments is when they talk about what they plan to do when they leave the FBI. It’s a small conversation that yields big insights into the characters. Kenny wants kids and a lakeside cabin, while Clinton prefers the mountains. Hana wants to sail but Sheryll and her wife want to open a clinic for at-risk youth and, of course, have grandkids. It’s not until they are on a stakeout that Jess confesses to Sheryll that his plans got derailed when Angelyne died. Still, he takes inspiration from his daughter and realizes that he needs to put himself out there more. I’m not sure what direction that will lead him in but it was a great, quiet scene.

Chasing one of the false leads, Jess ends up getting shot in the vest by a drug dealer. He’s badly bruised but fine and there’s a nice moment when Clinton asks Jess how he’s going to explain his injuries to their family. I love that they are both co-workers and family because it brings more heft to their relationship. Being shot also leads to my favorite laugh of the episode. As they are questioning the drug dealer, he tries to play innocent but then he smirks about shooting Jess in Mandarin, thinking no one knows. When Kenny responds back with his own Mandarin threat, the look on the drug dealer's face is priceless. I laughed out loud. I love how we are getting to know these characters’ pasts in an organic way through the cases instead of an overabundance of exposition.

In the end though, the biggest twist of the episode is Cassie. I knew from the beginning that Hayden had a mistress and it was easy to guess that he had a child with her. Originally, I liked how Jess kept questioning Hayden’s motivation, but it felt like they dragged this part of the episode out too long. Just when I was bored with that mystery, they completely threw me for a loop. It wasn’t until they mentioned that Cassie got a new identity in Hong Kong that I even suspected that she was transgendered. The fact that Hayden had no idea either added depth to the second half of the episode. Jess quickly realizes that the best way to capture Hayden is through Cassie and their son. However, unlike in most procedurals, Jess doesn’t immediately begin threatening her with prison. Instead, he reminds her that China is not a friendly place for transgendered people. She’s already having second thoughts because she’s scared that her son might be taken away from her. As the episode races to a close, she agrees to a sting to get Hayden to reveal where they are meeting. In a stalemate at the airport, Hayden decides that a life in prison near Cassie and their son is better than a life in China without them and viola, it’s another successful capture for the crew.

Grade: B+


Best Continuation - The episode starts and ends with Tali showing her dad a video she posted about being detained in the previous episode. While not going into depth about it, Marilou mentions that she is having nightmares about the experience. I’m glad they haven’t dropped this storyline. Any child would be traumatized by what happened and it’s nice to see that they have incorporated Tali trying to process it into this episode.

The “Job Well Done” Award - While each of them played a vital role in capturing the suspect, Hana is particularly on point in this episode. I love how she went undercover on the fly by striking up a conversation with Cassie in the laundromat. Pretending she was having an asthma attack was brilliant. If we do not get a case that focuses on Hana in this shortened season, I hope we open with one in season 2. She’s the character we know least about and I am anxious to know more.

Best Scene / Best Character Interaction - I tend to like the quiet moments in this show and this episode was no exception. The scene where Sheryll and Jess are in the car during the stakeout showed the bond between them. Jess trusts Sheryll with his innermost self, sharing about his future when he doesn’t want the rest of the team to hear, and that makes them great partners.

Most Fun Interaction - The Hana and Kenny dynamic is a whole lot of fun to watch. I like how they trade quips evenly, but none of it feels mean spirited. They have that easy brother-sister teasing quality that often leads to my favorite light moments.

Best News - There will be a season 2.
Best Moment - the team talks exit plans
Best Surprise - when Kenny starts speaking Mandarin
Best Action - Clinton taking down the Chinese spy
Most Persuasive - Jess talking Hayden into surrendering even though he just learned that his mistress is transgendered
Most Patriotic - Cassie for, choosing to do what helps America (and her son) over what helps the love of her life

Best Quotes -
1. Jess: “There’s nothing more precious than watching your child grow up.”
2. Zhu: “I love him more than anything, but I chose this country for me, for our son. I couldn’t turn my back on it.”
3. Jess: “Does it seem thin to you? Considering the grief over his son, his job dissatisfaction, money and romance just don’t seem enough.” Sheryll: “Maybe for you.”  Sheryll: “By the way, you never told us what your exit plan was.” Jess: “Yeah, I had a plan once. Then I lost Angelyne. I made a new plan, safe and predictable, and then a drug dealer put a slug in my chest. I don’t know. I don’t know about any plans. Tali made a video about her experience in the detention center. She posted it. Some of the reactions made my hair stand on end. I thought, ‘Take it down. Don’t put yourself out there,’ but I don’t know. Maybe Tali’s right. Maybe it’s about putting yourself out there, you know. Doing the best you can, just taking it one day at a time.”
4. Kenny: “Hey boss, you gave us a good scare there. How you feeling?” Jess: “I’m fine. My vest worked.” Hana: “That’s too bad cause you know I’m next in line to run the team. (Team laughs.) No seriously.” Jess: “One day, Hana. One day.”
5. Kenny: “If I was running off to China, doing my laundry wouldn’t be at the top of my list.”

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