The UNABOM case might be the most exciting investigation of all time for those interested in the English language.
As someone whose primary function relies on the written word, Manhunt: UNABOMBER Season 1 Episode 7 made my knowledge feel powerful and heroic.
Instead of guns and ammo bringing down the bad guy, it was Fitz's use of his newly minted forensic linguistics that saved the day.
It's too bad, then, that Fitz didn't have time to feel like a hero when the man whose works he had examined so
It's never a favorite plot of mine when the boss steals your work, but the FBI was working overtime to steal the work Fitz did so diligently right out from under his nose.
Not only did they continually chop him off at the ankles in their attempts to get him to focus on other avenues early in his tenure on the UNABOM case, but they thought what progress he made amounted to little more than, well, nothing.
They were never duly impressed with his work nor were they even sufficiently supportive, yet they counted on him, again and again, to secure evidence from his work for the approval of Janet Reno to move forward or in the cast of "Lincoln," to get a search warrant so they could save face and not be usurped by CBS.
If CBS hadn't forced the issue of Ted Kaczynski with them, we are to assume, the case would have gone on for another six months at least, and it's quite possible Ted could have ridden out of his little cul-de-sac with a mail bomb strapped onto his back and successfully mailed it to another unwitting victim.
Let's be serious here, if the FBI couldn't see the importance and significance of the words written by the man who was asking above everything else to be heard, then why would we expect them to see a bomb?
When it comes down to it, evidence is evidence.
You either take the time to see it, or you're too damn distracted with your own thoughts of what can and should be evidence that you're unable to see it for what the criminal believes it is, and you miss it entirely.
That's what the FBI was doing by ignoring the work Fitz was doing. They were blatantly looking past what Ted, the suspect, believed to be important and determining what they thought he should think was important so they could find evidence to support their case.
Meanwhile, Ted was ensconced in his little cabin in the woods barely setting sight on the open sky he once loved so much.
He's a brilliant man. It's not as if six months of FBI agents stalking him in the woods would have gone unnoticed, but that was the route the FBI was willing to take in order to overlook what Fitz had right in front of him: evidence connecting the Unabomber and Ted Kaczynski.
To save their arses, though, the FBI will go to extraordinary lengths to get their man. They'll even use evidence they'd otherwise not consider evidence at all.
The smoking gun went all the way back Manhunt: UNABOMBER Season 1 Episode 3 when Fitz discovered Ted used a phrase most of us use wrong correctly. He eats his cake and has it, too.
You said you wanted a smoking gun. How about a smoking proverb?Fitz
Making the story even better was the judge they woke up in the middle of the night to sign the warrant using his own recollections from WWII, although a little time consuming when you think of CBS waiting to rush Ted's cabin, to warm up to forensic linguistics.
The importance of language is key on every level, and the judge recalled just how much it meant to him and his fellow soldiers awaiting confirmation of who was coming toward them in the dark by way of a secret password.
Their fellow soldiers would have said "liberty," but the enemy said, "wiberty," which was their indication the enemy learned information they shouldn't have and to start shooting. That was his justification to sign the warrant and get the bastard.
It was fun when Jerry, who was the closest friend Ted in the area and was ready for his big moment helping to trap him, also understood what was going on, much to Stan Cole's dismay.
Cole: Lead on, McDuff.
Jerry: Actually, it's 'Lay on, McDuff,' not lead on. People often misquote that line.
Cole: Don't you start with that language shit.
When Ted was finally pulled out of his cabin by Jerry and thrown to the ground, a part of him looked almost resigned to his fate.
He must have been torn between the anxiety of the wait for capture being off of his shoulders and the new reality of awaiting his further fate beginning.
It was sickening that Cole's name was on the congratulatory cake, and Janet Reno gave kudos to Ackerman and Genelli, the latter who took full credit for forensic linguistics. While Fitz is a real man, his character is a composite. The others (sans Reno) are likely composites, as well.
I wonder how hard Fitz had to fight for his claim to forensic linguistics and who took the credit initially if anyone. It's hard to swallow that level of incompetence and arrogance, but if it happens to us out here in civilian life, there's no reason to believe it wouldn't happen in the FBI.
If you have been reading after you watch Manhunt: UNABOMBER online, you know that it's been hard for me to swallow the notion that this true story has been portrayed with such dramatic license. However, if that's how it went down, I understand the necessity of the portrayal.
Nobody who didn't get on board with the idea of forensic linguistics would want to admit to it by name years later. Who wouldn't want the English language to be the hero of an investigation of this caliber?
To then take credit for it after having such reservations certainly wouldn't paint anyone in a positive light. And on Fitz's side, too many characters involved with the project might be unwieldy, and Hollywood loves a romance, so why not introduce a Natalie to the picture?
I get it. I'm just a little bit ornery when it comes to a true story and one of this magnitude.
I think you're going to pleased with Manhunt: UNABOMBER Season 1 Episode 8, and I'm giving it my pre-viewing stamp of approval (not MY pre-view, yours). It's a perfect wrap-up, and I hope I can do it justice in my review.
What did you think of this one? Are you as excited about the part language plays in the investigation as I am? Go ahead, make my day and jot your thoughts in the comments below.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.