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FBI: International - Unburdened - Review

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After seeing some revelations for Scott Forrester regarding his mother in the Season 1 finale, Forrester finally seems to be shedding the weight he had been carrying for a long time related to what he believed to be true about his mother, and the realization that what he believed was not in fact the whole truth. It will be interesting to see how removing the burden and stigma that was associated with this for him this season will allow for his character to develop even more in Season 2. Perhaps this is why the title of this episode is so fitting to start this season.

The episode begins in Paris, where a man assists some tourists from being swindled, and then as he heads up the stairs, he is stopped by a man who stabs him in the neck. His injury initially goes unnoticed as he grabs his neck, and it is not until he falls to the ground that others notice he is injured and rush to his aid.

We then flash to Scott, who is in bed beside his old faithful companion Tank. It is so wonderful to see Tank back, as he is such a wonderful addition to this show. Scott is reflecting back on his recent encounter with this mother, and as he works out, we see flashbacks to last season about his mother working as a double agent and the two brothers they were attempting to capture, how his mother assisted, and that one of them got away. We then see Scott and Tank walking to the office, being followed by Vladislav, the brother who escaped. However before he can catch up to Scott, apparently to murder him, he is stopped by several black vans and several men address him, telling him he failed to keep Novikoff in Russian hands and that he needs to get into the van. He tells them not until he kills the man that killed his brother, but they tell him to do himself a favor and get in the car, and disarm him. Scott hears the vehicles peel away and turns back, seemingly oblivious to what just happened. However knowing Forrester, there is good reason to suspect that he was aware or even perhaps involved in what just occurred, especially considering we know that the FBI was looking for Vladislav.

We then move to the office, with Vo, Raines, Forrester and Tank arriving, and Kellett greets them and they are introduced to Megan Garretson ("Smitty"), who is their new Europol liaison. She tells them that Katrin Jaeger was promoted and is now in charge of half of Europe, and is also her personal hero. Smitty and Forrester have worked together in the past, and seem to have a good relationship. Her personality is bright and cheerful, and she definitely has a different approach than Katrin did, so it will be interesting to see the new dynamic and how she will fit into the team. She says that Katrin thought she should be able to jump in, and she says she knows she has enormous shoes to fill, but she is ready, and the team welcomes her. Raines then breaks the news that her arrival is just in time as they have a case.

The DGSI is requesting their assistance as a police detective was murdered in Paris yesterday. Brandon Davis was on a federal task force, who had teamed up with the DGSI to investigate a Delaware Arms Company. The team packs up and heads right away to France. Once in France, they head to the DGSI headquarters in Paris, where they meet Commander Beaumont, and Scott introduces the team. It is interesting to see the difference already in the knowledge and networking of "Smitty" compared to Katrin, as often Katrin travelled ahead of the team and was already with the local authorities, or she knew many of them as the liaison. Certainly it seems that Garretson may not have quite the same broad network yet that Katrin did and seems to be working much closer to the team. Time will tell how this develops and if she has the same calming effect when smoothing things out with local law enforcement as we saw Katrin do many times.

Commander Beaumont fills them in on the details of the case, and that Detective Davis was investigating a company called Red Grave out of Delaware, and believed it was a shell company for arms dealing, brokering deals between the US and Middle East. He said that Davis had uncovered that what appeared on the surface to be legal sales of arms and massive weapon systems that are illegal in many countries, in fact appeared to be a cover for suspicious and possible illegal sales overseas. They advise Beaumont that the FBI has been monitoring illegal arms sales and Raines tells them that there has been over ten billion in legal arms sales from Europe and Egypt in the last 5 years, and the illegal numbers are much higher. Beaumont says that Davis was a good man and they will do whatever they can to find whomever is responsible, and Forrester and Garretson let him know the FBI and Europol will do everything they can to help find who did this.

Vo asks to see all the texts, phone logs and laptop files and Raines says he would check in with the taskforce to see who Davis was sharing with in the US, and Beaumont lets them know that they believe the last person Davis met with before he died was a new informant named Corine Desroches. He says they have not spoken with her yet as the investigation is moving quickly and Forrester says they will take this lead, and he and Kellett head out to speak with her. On the way, they discuss "Smitty" and Scott tells Jamie she is "their kind of agent". Jamie asks about her nickname and Scott says he never found out where it came from the last time they worked together. During this interaction, there definitely seemed to be a curiosity on Jamie's part about Scott's relationship with Megan and how close it was...which poses the question if Jamie still carries feelings for Scott, or is she happy for them just to be colleagues and friends...only time will tell.

They arrive at Corine's apartment and she initially denies knowing Davis until they tell her he was killed, and then she lets them in. She says she worked for Shamik, a subsidiary company of Red Grave in Paris. She said she would hear things from her clients about illegal arms and chemical weapons, so she called the police and that is when Detective Davis came to see her. He listened to her stories and had asked her to record her conversations, but she was afraid she could not, as these were horrible and dangerous men. She said her boss was an American named Keith Panzarasa, and he did not take it well when she said she needed to quit and had lined up a different job. Scott asks how many employees there were and Corine tells him just herself, Keith and a few other men that would come and go that she was told not to ask about. They see her bags are packed and so Scott tells her not to leave Paris until they hear from Keith. Scott and Jamie discuss how companies like Red Grave hire women like her all the time as eye candy for the scum they are doing deals with, and Jamie comments that she looked genuinely scared and Scott tells her to call Raines and Vo and have them check out Shamik.

Raines and Vo break into the office of Shamik, and it is cleared out, but they just missed whoever was there. They find a cell phone in the microwave, and they find the router. They hear something and a man emerges from a closet and fights with them both. He escapes after smashing the Wi-Fi hub, and Vo notes that the car he leaves in has diplomatic plates. Fortunately, Raines is such a technical wizard that the smashed device does not slow him down in being able to recover the needed information, and as he works, they fill in Megan on the prowess of his technical skills in recovering things from damaged devices. This was a great interaction to help acquaint Megan with the skills and strengths of the team, but it is a reminder also that Raines had said himself last season that he did not want to be pigeon-holed as the "tech guy" and that he had lots of other skills. There are many sides to Raines, and I truly hope we get to see more of all sides of this character this season.

Raines is able to recover all the web traffic from the office over the last two months, and they find a lot of web traffic related to Fontainebleau, which the Commander tells them is a small suburb with not much there but a Chateau. Vo asks if they could possibly be working out of the Chateau but Beaumont says it is a museum so it is unlikely. The team digs in to the area to find out what Keith's interest is there and the Commander says he will alert the local authorities. Megan receives a delivery of Davis's belongings which include keys to an apartment that has not been checked out yet, and Jamie goes with her to check it out while Vo and Raines continue on the Fontainebleau angle with Forrester.

At the apartment, Jamie asks Megan about her past work with Scott and she tells her about them working together for 14 months in Stockholm on a narcotics case, with a lot of surveillance. She says it was her first year at Interpol and she says that she feels everything she learned about determination and bravery she learned from Scott. This interaction lets us find out a bit more about Megan's backstory and it was a nice moment to see her perhaps begin to bond with Jamie too. As they search through Davis's files, Jamie finds a file about Dechets, and Megan tells her it is a waste management company, and when reviewing the files Megan shares with Jamie that 78% of France's power is nuclear and Dechets recycles the spent plutonium fuel rods. They call Scott and realize that a truck carrying the fuel rods is travelling through Fontainebleau, and the team heads out.

They arrive on a bridge at the site of a crash with local police trying to assist people away from the damaged vehicles, and are immediately fired upon with automatic weapons. By the time the team manages to get to the damaged transport vehicle, when the assailants are fleeing, they have already taken off with a case full of rods. As they regroup, Jamie fills them in from Davis's research on Keith Panzarasa, who is an arms merchant who uses legitimate companies as fronts to filter weapons from the US through Europe to the Middle East. He sells small arms legally through shell companies while taking order for larger illegal weapons under the table. Scott says he now has enough material in the case to explode a dirty bomb in any city in the world, and Raines confirms it would only take a few sticks of dynamite to explode the case and make a city unlivable for the next half century. The team agrees that Keith will likely be looking to offload the Plutonium quickly and they need to figure out to who and where right away. It is so commendable to the writers and researchers of this show how they not only are able to dramatically demonstrate the real terror threats that could exist, but the research they do to ensure the accuracy of the facts also. This is a classic Dick Wolf series move, which is what makes his shows so compelling and enjoyable to watch. It also makes the fear of knowing these threats do really exist to make the show that much more exciting and scary, which is always one of the best parts of a good crime drama.

Megan discovers that Panzarasa is a diplomat of the country of Dondi in West Africa, which is why the car that picked him up had diplomatic plates. Apparently West African Dondi sells diplomatic passports to anyone with enough money, allowing them to skip customs examination when travelling. Forrester is upset that they were not advised of this earlier, and Beaumont tells the team there are thousands of diplomats in Paris and he is sorry it was not flagged earlier. Scott's reaction of telling the Commander he is right and sorry shows so much growth in the Forrester character from the beginning of season one, where he likely would not have had such a reserved and collegial response. It is wonderful to see how his leadership skills and diplomacy have only continued to grow as the weeks have progressed, and it will be exciting to see how this evolves in season two. Kellett suggests using this information to draw Panzarasa out, and the team heads out to the Embassy. When they arrive, Vo stays in the vehicle on her laptop, while Forrester, Raines and Kellett go inside and ask to speak to the Ambassador Akin Dogo. While Kellett and Forrester speak to the Ambassador, Raines asks the receptionist to use the washroom and she buzzes him upstairs. Raines plants a device on Dogo's computer to allow Vo access, and they send Panzarasa an email pretending to be Dogo. As they are leaving, Forrester gets a phone call.

The team meets with Megan at rural site, where she tells them they found the hijackers, who did not make it far as they did not properly secure the radioactive material, and we see two men that have severe radiation burns laying on the ground dead outside of their vehicle. The hazmat team and fire department are also on scene. Vo is able to confirm with traffic cameras that Panzarasa met with the two men and left with the silver case, presumably with the spent Plutonium rods. Raines gets a reply indicating the deal is imminent and the team heads out to intercept the deal.

The team covers all sides of the location, and Forrester spots Panzarasa, but he turns and runs and Forrester has to pursue. This is a good example of why we saw Scott do all of that physical prep and workout at home, as Forrester is able to catch him and an exciting and physical fight on the edge of a rooftop ensues, ultimately ending in Scott making the arrest. Scott and Jamie interrogate him, and they show him pictures of the hijackers and tell him if he took the case he may need to see a doctor. He tells them he was filling an order, and tells them he will only identify who has the rods if he has immunity. Commander Beaumont says France will not offer immunity and Vo says he killed a police officer, but Raines points out that if they don't find the buyer the whole world could be in danger. Garretson tells them she has an idea. She tells Panzarasa that immunity is off the table but France will waive expedition to the US, and he could go to the VIP section of the prison in Paris, or she can let them take him back to a supermax prison in the US. She tells him the full weight of the damage of the dirty bomb will come down on his head, or he can go to the Paris prison and live with some degree of comfort and security if he tells them who purchased the rods. By their reactions, the team is all impressed with her work, and she definitely shows she has some great skills to add to this teams mix moving forward. It was another great opportunity for us to get to know this new character, and so far, I like what I see.

They discover that the rods were sold to Omar Fane, who is a Dondi government enforcer who has been fighting off radical attacks in the capital. Raines has an address in Paris, and Vo finds his manifesto, and they discover that he plans to set off the bomb in Paris. Vo speaks to his young neighbor and they narrow down where he is. They are able to get eyes on him, and are able to disarm him and clear the area quickly and safely. The police hazmat and bomb squad are able to disarm the device and they check the team out and let them know their exposure was minimal and they are not in danger from radiation.

DGSI is so thankful for the help the team provided and Commander Beaumont says he would be happy to have them back any time. Scott again shows his growth and leadership by letting him know they enjoy working with dedicated law enforcement in other regions, and that they will make sure that Detective Davis's family and department at home know he died in action and will assist any way they can. They shake hands and the team heads out.

When they return to Budapest, Scott tells Andre that he knows he is set on the management route at the Bureau that he wants to fully support him and that there is a leadership course available in Washington in the fall, and he will clear his schedule from October to November so that he can attend. He jokingly says he just has to agree that when he becomes the director of the FBI he will remember him and let him head up any task force of his choosing. Scott is surprised when Andre says "No Thank You", and Andre tells him that he has spent a long time looking for the next strategic move that would be best for his career but he has realized while working with Scott and Jamie for the last few years racing to stop real terror from occurring that he likes being in the field, having to make split second decisions that save lives, and he doesn't want to be behind a desk. He says he wants to be in the field taking down the bad guys. This really shows not only a huge growth in Raines compared to early last season when he talked with Vo about being head of the FBI, through his time wanting to not be the "tech guy" and spend more time in the action to now, seeing the effect that Scott's leadership and working with strong agents like him and Jamie have had in transforming his vision of what he wants his future to be. We can only hope that we get more of this kind of growth with perhaps another Raines-centric episode this season. Raines shows his appreciation by thanking Scott for backing him.

We end the episode with Megan, Jamie and Scott walking together, and Megan asking if it will always be non-stop action like this and Jamie saying yes, and Megan saying to count her in. Scott offers to take them out for drinks, and they both agree, and Megan comments that Scott seems unburdened since they last worked together, and he shares that he got some clarity since they last worked together and that his mother was not who he thought she was, and that she is a hero and reached out to him. Jamie asks where she is and he says that is a conversation that they can have once he has a beer in front of him.

This was definitely an exciting episode to start off the season. We were able to be introduced in a strategic way to our new team member, able to see the definitive growth from season one in many of our characters, and able to toss in some exciting chase scenes and world terror threats for good measure. With a strong start to the season, I know I am looking forward to what our next episode will about you?

Let us know what you thought about this episode in the comments below.

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