I watched another episode that I haven’t seen from Season 1 last night. It was Episode 5 titled “Crowd Sourced” and I have to say that so far this is my favorite episode from Season 1. Season 1 for me was hit and miss in terms of the quality of the episodes. Sure there were issues I had with this episode. But there were also so many seeds in this episode of things that are playing out in season 2 that it made the episode more enjoyable for me. The back story was also great in this episode. It showed us the beginnings of the cyber division and the team.
The episode was about a suspect who wanted to show society how dependent we are on technology. He did it by planting bombs that were detonated using the presence of phones or by the view count of an online video. While the team investigates the case it leads Avery to visiting a man she knows in jail. The man, Tobin, was the first blackhat that Avery ever invited to join the cyber division. She wanted to rehabilitate him but instead Tobin used the position to steal FBI information and sell it to criminals. We get flashbacks to when Avery met with Tobin to offer him a chance to join the team. We also get a flashback of the space that would become CTOC. When Avery arrests Tobin after showing him where he could have worked. The tension and rivalry between Tobin and Avery really added to the episode for me and made it enjoyable. At one point Avery brings Brody with her to see Tobin. Tobin asks Brody for his hacker handle before he helps them. We find out that it was “Quest” and then Tobin goes through Brody’s most famous hacks and seems impressed. Brody is one of my favorite characters so this backstory on his exploits as a blackhat really added to his cred for me.
As I said this episode really planted a lot of the seeds for things we see now in season 2. In the episode we get to see how Avery’s character has evolved since inviting Tobin, continuing to add blackhats to the team, even though he betrayed her. At one point during the episode Brody and Raven hug and maybe it’s just me but I feel like that was a small hint at them eventually developing a relationship. The closeness of the team is highlighted when Brody is shouting asking Daniel if he’s still alive. After the bomb Daniel and Elijah were trying to diffuse was supposed to have gone off. Again when Elijah told Daniel to jump out of the SUV and leave him with the bomb and Daniel refused because “we are in this together”. I enjoyed seeing Sifter played by Peter MacNicol again. I feel like he was such a good fit for the show. One thing I absolutely loved was the card that Avery sent to Tobin with binary that deciphered meant “Good Bye”. It was an excellent example of great use of special effects to enhance the show.
Were there things in the episode I didn’t like or thought could have been better. There were quite a few but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the episode at all. One instance when the suspect logs in to the site and updates the code to detonate the bomb at 750K views instead of 1 million the code they show has the IP beside the change. The suspect didn’t expect the cyber team to gain access to the site so the IP wasn’t annonymized and that is what leads the team to his physical location. I just don’t know if the IP would be displayed beside the changes to the code. Then near the end when Elijah and Daniel were riding in the SUV with the bomb rigged up to a tablet. They prevented the detonation of the bomb by wiring up the tablet to the car’s starter. The idea was that turning the car on would result in the starter drawing power from the tablet’s battery killing it in a few seconds. Once the tablet was dead the bomb would no longer detonate. Beyond the fact that they wired up the tablet to the starter in only a few minutes from the wires inside the car. The bomber was so smart that his code on the site included a dead man’s switch. Yet simply killing the battery on the tablet prevented the detonation of the bomb? I feel like this should have been thought through a little more to make it more believable. Finally this episode made me feel even more strongly that the episode with Raven’s 5k1 hearing was such a lost oppurtunity. Now knowing this Raven could have talked to Brody about how Avery threw her under the bus in the hearing and that the cyber division still doesn’t trust them. Brody would tell Raven about what happened with Tobin and it could have lead to an argument between them because Raven thinks Brody is just taking Avery’s side.
As I said this episode sowed some seeds that will have implications in future episodes. My hopes are that they use the character of Tobin again and also add a new member to the team. I’d love to see a case where at the scene there was a card with a message written in binary. It just has the words “Avery” and “Rebirth” or “Round Two” or something similar that would lead to a flashback of this episode. After following different leads the team finally comes up with the realization that it was left behind by Tobin. But how could that be he’s still in jail without any computer access. It’s also hard to believe that the gang Tobin pays to protect him in jail wouldn’t tap his hacker skills to make serious money on the outside. So they arrange for someone to smuggle a smartphone or tablet in to him that he uses to hack the wifi router in the prison. Tobin meets up with Prodigy who is in the same jail and they decide to become a hacker duo. Tobin knows the FBI’s procedures and Prodigy knows how Raven operates and both have crazy hacker skills. While the gang members try to force Tobin and Prodigy to use his access to the prison system to create a breakout attempt. Tobin persuades them that on the outside they would be on the run and probably get caught quickly. While in jail they have deniability for any crimes outside and with the proceeds of the crimes they would run the jail. The next thing I’d love to see is the addition of another ex-blackhat to the group. The show can’t continue seasons with the same team members as if Brody and Raven will be the only two ex-blackhats ever offered the chance to join the cyber division. This is the oppurtunity to add a younger hacker to continue the cycle of making Raven, Brody and Daniel feel old with pop culture references and jokes they don’t understand. The new member could either a) be impressed by Brody and Raven having heard about their past hacking exploits or b) drive the point of them being old home by having never heard of them in the hacker world.