Review of FBI (CBS) – Doomsday, S1/Ep5

Recap:  Special Agents Maggie Bell and OA Zidan investigate the death of a safety inspector and its possible connection to a leak at a nuclear power plant.

Review:  The preview clip for this episode of FBI CBS made me very nervous, two FBI agents investigating a nuclear plant meltdown that threatens New York? I wondered if the episode would be too over-the-top and implausible. The meltdown of the nuclear reactor teased during the preview ended up being a drill, but moments later the alarm bells started ringing again, and Maggie and OA arrived to determine who was responsible for sabotaging the plant. Then a dead body showed up on the grounds. The episode had me searching the Internet and the FBI website regarding jurisdiction. Did you know that almost all of the reactors in the US are owned by private companies? That means that the murder did not occur on federal property, but it would have been part of the sabotage and terrorism investigation if shown to be part of the conspiracy.

I’ve conducted two podcast interviews (Episodes 48, 49, and 81) with agents who investigated espionage cases involving nuclear material and/or facilities, so I was aware that the FBI was responsible for enforcement. However, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would also play a major role in an incident of sabotage. Here’s a news article I found describing the FBI’s involvement in a sabotage case: San Onofre Nuclear Plant Investigating Possible Sabotage Of Safety System

From the FBI website: Each FBI Field Office has a Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Coordinator whose primary function is to coordinate the assessment of and response to incidents involving the use or threatened use of chemical, biological, and radiological/nuclear materials. Each WMD Coordinator is tasked with establishing appropriate liaison with regional, state and local emergency response personnel as well as with critical facilities within each Field Office’s jurisdiction in order to facilitate notification and response to WMD incidents.

Most FBI Divisions also sponsor a chapter of InfraGard, a partnership between the FBI and the private sector where members share information to mitigate threats to our nation’s critical infrastructures and key resources.

So, episode 5 of FBI CBS featured nuclear sabotage, murder, and don’t forget a Top Ten fugitive, aka whistle-blower or Snowden-like suspect, and a shootout inside a nuclear facility. Did any shark jumping occur? It depends on the beholder, but plenty of creative licenses were issued. I wonder if a more realistic portrayal of an FBI investigation would still please and satisfy the viewers. I know I would watch that show.

(Disclaimer: If you are watching FBI simply to be entertained, don’t read this review. I’m here to educate and provide a reality check for those who want to learn about the real FBI. Attempting to create an accurate portrayal of an FBI investigation is an impossible task if the investigation must be solved within less than an hour. Corners must be cut, and creative license must be used to move matters along quickly. I get it. I really do. However, to counteract the “CSI Effect” this sometimes creates, I’m going to, respectfully, point out a few issues.)

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Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 200 episodes available for free subscription on all popular podcast apps.


  1. ChristopherOctober 29, 2018

    I’m going to back-walk what I just posted on the previous episode. On one hand, I would like to see an episode where they at least acknowledge the jurisdictional issues, simply because I like accuracy. On the other hand, it seems like that would make it difficult for them to write any future episodes that push that boundary without seeming blatantly contradictory. Also, excluding all of those jurisdiction-boundary-pushing episodes seems like it might limit the creative fodder quite a bit.

    1. Jerri WilliamsOctober 29, 2018

      I understand what you’re saying. We want to be entertained, but at the same time have the episodes reflect reality. I think they can do both. Your FBI – Blue Blood crossover episode is an excellent idea.


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