CSI: Cyber Season 1 Episode 1 Review: “Kidnapping 2.0”

CSI: Cyber

After watching the pilot episode and countless promos, CSI: Cyber is finally here. It’s the fourth spin-off series in the CSI franchise after a 15-year run and the challenge of battling audience fatigue is imminent. However, the show has an all-star cast and a unique take on this long-running franchise in its favor.

Special Agent Avery Ryan (Patricia Arquette) is a former behavioral psychologist assigned to the FBI’s Cyber Crime Division when one of her patients is killed after her computer got hacked into which led to the disappearance of all the information that she had on her patients (and thus the said murder of one of her patients). She and her team are based out of Quantico and travel all around the country investigating cyber crimes, which means we are going to get to see a lot of different settings over the course of the series.

We will also see a lot of Washington, D.C., as Agent Avery’s choice of place to go and think is the Lincoln Memorial. I like the idea of an FBI team that travels around the country to specifically investigate cyber crimes. It reminds me of Agents Mulder and Scully from the science-fiction series X-Files, who traveled everywhere on the FBI’s dime to investigate cases involving the paranormal.

On the CSI: Cyber team we have James Van Der Beek from Dawson’s Creek as Special Agent Elijah Mundol; a grown up Bow Wow, from the film Like Mike, now known as Shad Moss, plays Brody Nelson, a young hacker who gets caught and assigned to Agent Ryan’s team to redeem himself; and Peter MacNicol, known for his work on the show Numb3rs, plays Assistant Deputy Director Simon Sifter.

This week’s premiere episode dives into the terrifying world of online baby auctions and everything cyber. The idea of solving cyber crimes is fresh and relevant to what goes on in today’s society, except that this week’s case is more along the lines of traditional crime-solving that contains elements of cyber crime.

In recent years, numerous organizations like Sony and the U.S. Government have been hacked, which makes our fear about online safety and privacy in terms of technology very real. I thought the idea of the baby kidnappings were related to a baby monitor company’s security issues were on point and it addressed our fears about what hacking and exposure of our personal information and lives can lead to if we were to throw all caution to the wind.

The employee who discovered the issue at the baby monitor company should’ve said something instead of keeping it to himself. Though the fact that the baby monitor company didn’t say anything was understandable, to an extent, because it might be that they didn’t know what to do in situations like this. Should they have shut down? Made their privacy concerns public and potentially let hackers know that they are vulnerable or work on the problem internally? The point is, CSI: Cyber has the potential to embody some very real concerns about technology and the Dark Net.

The scene with Brody Nelson and Raven Ramirez (Hayley Kiyoko) pulling Vicky, one of the kidnapper’s online presence, basically meant researching her on social media networks to see who she hangs out with, can be quite unnerving to most people. Think about what you do when you view people’s profiles on Facebook or Twitter and think about how easy it is to find out who people’s friends or significant other are and imagine if you did this in a targeted information seeking manner and how much you could learn about someone from the information that they have posted online.

Taking a page out of the Criminal Minds book, the more you post, the more you give away and now that this is being used in a CSI series as method to find evidence and catch criminals, you know that it has become mainstream in our culture. Speaking of Brody Nelson, I am not sure if I like his character quite yet. He was pretty bold at the beginning of the episode for someone who is avoiding jail time because he got caught hacking. I guess we’ll see how his character develops in later episodes.

The case moved along very quickly and I can’t say that I expected the reveal to involve an international online baby auction. This is definitely a crime that needs to be reported to the authorities overseas. I liked the intensity of the hour, especially when Ricky and Vicky, the first two kidnappers were shot and when we weren’t sure if baby Caleb was going to survive the car crash. The moments were intense and unexpected. The one thing I had a small issue with is that when Agent Mundo dived into the lake to save baby Caleb, he was wearing his bulletproof vest, but when he came out of the lake, his vest was gone. It could be that he had taken the vest off after getting out of the lake, but the camera didn’t show that.

I also liked the scene where Agent Mundo was interviewing a neighbor kid about the kidnappings and it was interesting that they both share a common interest in MMORPG games, and when I heard the name Detective Cho in the beginning of the episode, I immediately thought of Kimball Cho from The Mentalist and was thinking how did he go from an FBI Agent to a police detective? It turned out to be a different Cho so everything’s cleared up.

I was a bit confused when Agent Daniel Krumitz (Charley Koontz) was trying to figure out the password to the computer at the warehouse where the cyber criminals were. It was interesting that the lead criminal tattooed the password on his body, it’s an interesting way to remember a very long password, but how did Nelson know to arrange it by year? There was no indication of that unless the criminals like to have things in chronological order.

At the end of the hour, I felt like I had watched an episode of CSI. Guess you can’t take the “CSI” out of CSI: Cyber. I enjoyed watching the premiere episode and I think it could offer up some interesting cases involving cyber issues. Though the pace of it could use some work given that things were going a little bit too fast compared to episodes of the original CSI or it’s two other spin-offs, CSI: Miami and CSI: New York. The scenes were bouncing all over the place and did not allow the viewers to take a moment to catch up. Maybe the later episodes will improve as the series goes on.

What did you think of CSI: Cyber? Can it survive as a series or will it get axed after the first season? Did CSI ever manage to break the world record for “Largest Ever TV Drama Simulcast” for #WorldCSIDay?

[Photo via CBS]

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