Review of FBI (CBS) – Invisible, S1 E16 

Recap:  When the daughter of a wealthy family is kidnapped in an attempt to gain notorious internet fame, Maggie and OA discover the kidnapper’s plans go far beyond abduction in order to never be forgotten.

ReviewFor educational purposes, I made a few reality check notes:

This week’s episode was primarily about a kidnapping. On the entertainment scale it hit high, but on the reality scale there were issues. Jurisdictional issues. Yes, the FBI can assume primary jurisdiction on a kidnapping case where a strong interstate nexus has been determined or assumed. Usually, this means that the victim was taken across state lines or there is some other significant interstate aspect to the case, maybe a money wire transfer or the suspects in the case are known to reside across state lines. These aspects establish a clear jurisdiction for the FBI. The kidnapping in this episode did not present any of those interstate scenarios. 

The investigation was confined to New York City, as a matter of fact, as an FBI associate noted, several crime scenes were in the same lower Manhattan geographical area as the actual New York FBI Office. In most kidnapping cases, the FBI will work alongside local police on the premise that, in all likelihood, the matter would eventually be prosecuted locally. That never alters the FBI’s commitment to assisting with efforts to find the victim and apprehend the kidnapper. The problem with the search and rescue for the young woman who had been snatched off the street in this week’s episode was the absence of coordination with the NYPD. I understand why. This show is about the FBI, and the FBI characters are the leads. But perhaps it’s time to introduce an NYPD task force officer to the team to give the JOC a more realistic setup. A Joint Operation Center needs participation from other law enforcement agencies, doesn’t it?

By the way, one of the best FBI Retired Case File Review episodes on a kidnapping case was the two-part episode on the abduction of Polly Klaas, 057 and 058. If you decide to listen to it, keep a box of tissues nearby.

I loved the scenes with Kristen where she wonders if SAC Dana Mosier will support her application to become a special agent. At the end of the show, Dana announces that based on her recommendation, Kristen will be ending to the FBI Academy in June. Yea Kristen! Black females account for less than one percent of FBI agents. Welcome to the sisterhood! Depending on how long she’s been an analyst, Kristen may have already trained at Quantico. Starting in 2015, analysts are in class with agent trainees for 10 of the 21 weeks of new agent training. It’s an opportunity for each to learn the skill sets of both positions. Analysts don’t conduct investigations in the field and are not authorized or trained to carry a weapon.

In real life, as an FBI employee hoping to become an agent, she’s on her own. No one, not even a SAC can make a recommendation and get someone into the Academy. Once an employee reaches the final background stage, the fact that their FBI superiors know of their work ethic and work product will be helpful. However, the FBI employee candidate must pass all of the preceding phases, testing, meet and greet, interview, fitness test, polygraph, and security clearance first.

To learn more about the application process, listen to FBI Retired Case File Review episodes 041 and 153.

 (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 a powerful promo for the real FBI. I’m excited that a new generation is watching and perhaps 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.)

Join my Reader Team to get the FBI Reality Checklist, and discover 20 clichés and misconceptions about FBI in books, TV, and movies.  


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.

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