CSI: Cyber Season 1 Episode 4 Review: “Fire Code”

CSI: Cyber

The beginning of this week’s episode of CSI: Cyber involved various household electronic devices going haywire within a young woman’s apartment and a printer suddenly bursting into flames. It sort of reminded me of the quirky and strange occurrences on the popular science fiction series The X-Files (which is coming back for six episodes on FOX) but with a cyber-ish twist instead of a supernatural one. Even the victim thought that her devices were possessed. Though I am starting to get more into the storylines of CSI: Cyber, I still think that they are just traditional crimes with a pinch of cyber elements thrown in for good measure.

We then see a chase scene where Agent Mundo was chasing down a Black Hat informant named Rusty (his alias is RU5TYN41L which translates to RUSTYNAIL in leet speak). Rusty eventually got caught, or in this case, ran into Agent Ryan’s car door and fell to the ground in a heap. I didn’t quite understand why Rusty had to run from the FBI when he’s technically working for them. Agent Ryan even said to him that part of being a criminal informant is taking calls from the FBI and providing them with useful information that would help them with an on-going case. I also don’t get why criminals on television seem to think that they can get away from law enforcement officers if they run. They’re going to get caught anyway, so why bother wasting all that energy running? Rusty then handed over what he called “a hot new piece of code” (a black USB drive) to Agent Mundo and warned them to be careful where they stick it. When I heard Rusty say that, I had a minor mind-in-gutter moment.

When the USB was brought back to the lab to be tested, I saw something familiar as Agent Krumitz was using it to upgrade the lab printer’s firmware to find out what it does (which is set printers on fire) that the firmware source code was just very basic HTML code, which all web pages on the Internet are made with. That’s the Wikipedia entry for the concept of firmware. Way to copy and paste, CSI: Cyber! #ShakeMyHead

I was a bit confused about the aspect of using WiFi signals to hack into the various devices in the female victim’s home. How did the cyber criminal manage to get into both? Was the code designed to target these devices and to make the printer spark and combust into flames? If that’s true, then the world just got a lot scarier.

Confusion aside, this episode gave us some good character development in the case of Brody Nelson. I had a hunch that Nelson knew the person who wrote the printer hacking code by the way he was acting throughout the first half of the episode, but what I didn’t see coming was that he was actually the author of the code during his days as a Black Hat hacker and that someone else, who I assume is also a Black Hat hacker, was using Nelson’s code to create all the fiery havoc. The FBI is very lucky to have Nelson on their side so that they can track down the person that’s hacking and burning people’s devices.

It was admirable on Nelson’s part that he did not want to give up his hacker friend Aaron, the person who committed the printer fire and the college fire from his past. I think that Agent Ryan saw this and respected Nelson more for it. It was intriguing to hear about another hacker that Agent Ryan tried to reform but who ended up betraying the team. Hopefully, Nelson won’t go down the same path as that person. In the end, Nelson had to make a choice between going back to his old life as a Black Hat hacker or continuing to work for the FBI. I’m glad that he decided that his new life at the FBI was the one that he wanted to keep, because let’s be honest here, if he were to go back to his old life, he would be caught all over again so there’s no point in turning back. Though it really wasn’t much of a choice, given that it would be very risky to take the two million dollars and attempt to leave the country on a whim. If the same situation were to be less risky, I wonder what Nelson’s choice would have been. It’s definitely something that’s worth considering.

My favorite scenes from the episode were Agent Ryan being the boss-lady to Agent Mundo and the epic hacking session that Agent Krumitz and Nelson had. It was awesome that Agent Ryan called out Agent Mundo for snapping at Agent Krumitz. He was completely out of line, and it was unfair of him to bring his personal feelings to work and unleash it on someone who didn’t deserve it in the first place. The scene where Agent Krumitz and Nelson were hacking away for hours was hilarious to watch, although there was not nearly enough Red Bull energy drink cans or bags of potato chips or Cheetos scattered about on the tables for the kind of hours that these two were putting in.

It was also extremely sweet to see Agent Mundo with his ex-wife at the end, trying to convince her to give their marriage another try. Since this is the first time that we have met his ex-wife, it seemed a little sudden on the show’s part, but I am willing to see where the story takes us. He better make her happy, since I assume that she won’t be taking that sweet job as a flight instructor in San Diego.

What did y’all think of the case this week? So far, we have learned about almost everyone’s past except for Raven’s. Do you have any predictions as to what her story will be? Oh, just a little tidbit: my favorite character so far is Raven because my nickname is her name and that I also liked the character Raven from the show Teen Titans.

[Photo via CBS]


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