Review of FBI (CBS) – Green Birds, S1/Ep2

Recap:  After eight people are fatally poisoned at a deli in New York City, agents Maggie Bell and OA Zidan trace the crime to an unlikely culprit and conduct a sting operation to prevent further attacks.

Review:  Here’s where they got it right, got it wrong or used creative license and the applicable 20 FBI Clichés Reality Checklist number:

Another fun and fast-paced show. I spotted a misconception during the first scene. Yellow caution tape isn’t just a barrier to protect the public from danger. The primary goal is to protect the crime scene from cross contamination.  When Maggie entered the crime scene, she could have inadvertently altered the area and the evidence. (#17) She should know better.

I was excited to see Sela Ward in the role of SAC Dana Mosier. She’s almost perfect for the part, but I have to make one delicate observation. The mandatory retirement age for agents is 57, just saying. (#12 Expanded version) In New York Division, as well as the Washington D.C. Office (WFO) and the Los Angeles Division, the head of the office is actually an Assistant Director in Charge (ADIC). I assume the SAC character was inspired by former New York Division ADIC Jan Fedarcyk. Currently, the ADIC of WFO is a woman, and the following FBI Field Offices have female SACs – Cincinnati, Little Rock, Louisville, Minneapolis, and Oklahoma City. That’s 6 out of 56 FBI field offices or approximately 10%.

The scenario of women being enticed via the Internet to join ISIS reminds me of the FBI Jihad Jane investigation. To learn more about Jihad Jane listen to FBI Retired Case File Review – Episode 10. You’ll also have an opportunity to meet a real-life Maggie Bell, retired agent Kathy Lambert, who has a Ph.D. with a concentration in Counter-terrorism.

Audio DNA? Really? Creative license was definitely in use for this scenario.

Analyst Kristen Chazal is a computer whiz. It’s amazing how she can obtain detailed information on suspects with a few keystrokes. In the real world, it’s impossible to type in a person’s name into a database and have everything ever known about that person pop out a few minutes later. (#3)

I thought I heard that the team will be dealing with a serial killer in episode 3. By the way, what squad are Special Agents Bell and Zidan on? More on that topic in my post next week.

Another great episode. However, I’m just keeping it real.

(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. My reality checks should not be confused with criticism. I like this show and believe that it’s free advertising for the real FBI, something that is definitely needed at this time. I’m excited that a new generation is watching and deciding they want to be FBI agents when they grow up. 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.)

If you don’t have the 20 FBI Clichés Reality Checklist, you can join my Reader Team to get it. 


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 300 episodes available on all popular podcast apps and YouTube.


  1. Russ AtkinsonOctober 5, 2018

    I gave up on this series after one episode as I have on nearly every FBI-related series. If others enjoy them, that’s fine but I can’t get past the unrealistic scenarios and characters. I just hope this sort of media does not create a sort of “CSI effect” in juries who might expect the FBI to do all the things in the show (and look like those actors).

    1. Jerri WilliamsOctober 5, 2018

      Russ – Yes, there are certainly scenes were creative license is used to deal with the time constraints involved in completing a complex investigation in less than an hour. In episode 2 they talked about using audio DNA to determine the identity of the person who had recorded a message. I hope juries don’t expect that kind of analysis at a trial. Yes, watching may become a difficult task at times, but the TV show is definitely providing positive promotional benefits for the FBI. That’s 100% a good thing!


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