Sunday, August 13, 2017

Round Two: Manhunt: Unabomber

Manhunt: Unabomber: Season 1, Episode 3 “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” (B+)

I’m impressed with the pacing of this show, which allows its characters to make some fantastic discoveries while superiors refuse to even entertain the possibility of their being valid while interweaving further complications that present themselves after Ted has already been caught. Opening with Fitz presenting a whole mountain of evidence on Ted that proves that he’s the Unabomber seemed like an incontrovertible argument, and Ted ripped that to shreds with his assertion that the search warrant wasn’t valid, using the term that serves as the episode’s title. Later, Fitz tried another tactic, telling him he wouldn’t get recognized if he gets off, before Ted turned it on him and said that a lack of a conviction would mean that Fitz’s life’s work would be meaningless. It’s clear that Fitz came a long, long way from having his comments selectively heard and his profile literally thrown away by his superiors. Bringing in a whole panel of intellectuals and determining that he learned his strange spellings from a Chicago Tribune style guide from half a century ago were smart advances, and I’m especially intrigued about the origins of the unexpected phrase “eat your cake and have it too.” The coolest bit of forensic analysis was the science of nachos, which helped get Fitz’s mind racing so that he could figure out all the things that the Unabomber didn’t know about to contribute to his next profile. The whole field of forensic linguistics is pretty fascinating, and while I’m sure plenty of this is dramatized, it’s still awesome.