The last new episode scheduled for 2007 reminded me of a couple of early 1970s films, the brilliant
The Conversation and the more obscure (and not as good, if still interesting)
Report to the Commissioner (which was based on a novel)...as well as seeming to mark the end of Aya Sumika's role on the series (though we can hope otherwise).
It begins with a fairly unexceptional morning's business at the FBI offices, as Agents Reeves (Diane Farr) and Sinclair (Alimi Ballard) prepare to go pick up a suspect; less routinely, Liz Warner (Sumika) informs her boss and ex, Don Eppes (Rob Morrow), that she's taking the opportunity to be temporarily reassigned to another unit in the Los Angeles office. Eppes is surprised and conflicted, but has little time to deal with that, since in the lobby of the FBI building a man has charged in, brandishing a gun and shooting an agent before charging into an elevator and taking a civilian hostage. Sinclair exchanges himself for the hostage, over Reeves's objection; Sinclair and the shooter, who turns out to be an FBI contractor, are at a standoff in the elevator car, each with a handgun trained on the other.
The contractor, Ben Blakely (Enrico Colantoli, most recently of
Veronica Mars), is a seemingly paranoid electronic surveillance expert (paranoia might come with the territory). Blakely claims the man he shot when he broke into the building, Max Devane (Clifton Powell), the FBI agent he'd been working for, had put spies on Blakely and was threatening his life. As Sinclair attempts to talk Blakely into surrendering himself, Don supervises, rather frantically, the deployment of a SWAT team to see how best to storm the elevator if necessary, and details Warner and Reeves to investigate Blakely's claims, which they discover to have merit. Charlie Eppes (David Krumholtz) attempts to offer advice that will help minimize the potential bloodshed, but Don preremtorily dismisses it, upsetting Charlie and eventually convincing the head of the SWAT team (Chris Bruno, brother of series regular Dylan Bruno) that perhaps Charlie's suggestions might be useful and that Don is losing perspective, or at least vacillating dangerously in his response to the hostage-taking. Meanwhile, Alan Eppes (Judd Hirsch), having had some civil engineering experience with the model of elevator in question, finds himself in the rare situation of being able to offer direct advice to his sons in a criminal matter.
An attempt to storm the elevator goes badly, with Sinclair shot, then disarmed by Blakely; luckily, Sinclair is wearing a bulletproof vest for the morning's task. The SWAT team withdraws. Reeves and Warner return with the supporting evidence, and between them, Don and more importantly Sinclair convince Blakely to surrender.
Afterward, Warner and Don have an awkward conversation that makes it very clear their affair is over, and that Warner might seek to make her temporary reassigment permanent.
The electronic spying aspect of the story, and the paranoia such work tends to engender, was almost inevitably going to remind viewers of
The Conversation; the corruption of Devane's character, his exploitation and then hired surveillance of Blakely, who is then driven to a standoff with an innocent officer reminded me of
Report..., though of course such films as
[The Neogtiator have mined similar veins. This episode was neatly done, I'd say, and can stand these comparisons without shame. As one of the commentors has noted earlier this season,
Numb3rs regularly displays its female characters as deftly competent or better, and Reeves and Warner's investigation is nicely contrasted in its cool level-headedness to the often frantic activity back at the FBI building (though Sinclair notably also keeps his cool while being reasonably honest at all times with his adversary). One writer's grace note comes when Charlie, rebuffed by Don and not yet convincing the SWAT leader, expresses his frustration at not being able to put into words all that he can imagine or envision; this is the complaint, certainly, of every writer...never quite getting everything down on the page, but happiest when getting nearly everything, or a very close approximation.
And it's remarkable how much more pleasant it is to see the show with the limited commercial interruption of On-Demand.
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The last new episode scheduled for 2007 reminded me of a couple of early 1970s films the brilliant The Conversation and the more obscure and not as good if still interesting Report to the Commissioner which was based on a novelas well as seeming to mark the end of Aya Sumikas role on the series though we can hope otherwiseIt begins with a fairly unexceptional mornings business at the FBI offices as Agents Reeves Diane Farr and Sinclair Alimi Ballard prepare to go pick up a suspect less routinely Liz Warner Sumika informs her boss and ex Don Eppes Rob Morrow that shes taking the opportunity to be temporarily reassigned to another unit in the Los Angeles office Eppes is surprised and conflicted but has little time to deal with that since in the lobby of the FBI building a man has charged in brandishing a gun and shooting an agent before charging into an elevator and taking a civilian hostage Sinclair exchanges himself for the hostage over Reevess ob