FBI moved away from terrorism this week to bust a trafficking ring, but Dick Wolf’s new procedural remained as watchable as ever.
In “Prey”, the third episode of CBS’s FBI, a young girl was raped, stabbed and buried alive. We didn’t see any of this, thankfully, but for Special Agents Maggie Bell (Missy Peregrym) and Omar Adom ‘OA’ Zidan (Zeeko Zaki), the girl represents a new case. Beside the shallow grave that had been dug for her, 18 others lay in neat little rows, occupied by similar girls, all with the same strip of flesh removed from their bodies.
The girls are all sex workers. The flap of skin was removed from each of them to hide a tell-tale brand; they’re all property of a sex-trafficking ring. FBI moved away from terrorism in “Prey”, and it was a welcome change that led to a fine episode and some great sequences, in particular a late interrogation conducted by Maggie that was excellent television.
Maggie is clearly beloved by FBI; the camera scarcely leaves her face. You can tell why – she’s gorgeous, and a sturdy screen presence. But the focus on her character can sometimes lead OA to feel sidelined. “Prey” gave him one or two heroic moments, but his background in undercover work – and his obvious comfort in dangerous situations – feels more interesting than whatever Maggie has going on. Then again, with Maggie’s obvious talents and skills, perhaps her background is much more interesting than we’re being led to believe.
An obvious issue with monster-of-the-week episodic structuring is that those skills – and especially those of Analyst Kristen Chazal (Ebonee Noel) – feel all-too-convenient, and the plot zips from one beat to the next at a pace that can sometimes feel contrived or uninvolving. Luckily FBI seems to know this about itself, and “Prey” made time for some great moments of suspense or comic relief to keep things interesting. Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jubal Valentine (Jeremy Sisto) being sent undercover as a john by Dana (Sela Ward) was a particular highlight.
It isn’t groundbreaking television by any means, but FBI is so slickly constructed that it’s difficult to fault it. The relationship at the show’s core is excellent – if, thus far, a little one-sided and underdeveloped – and the tone within the New York Field Office is an addictive one. After I was worried that the show would linger a little too much on terrorism as a plot point, “Prey” showed that there’s more to the FBI than that, and I hope Dick Wolf’s series continues to expand further.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.