FBI returns for its sophomore season with “Little Egypt”, a surprisingly complex and provocative premiere that puts OA and his beliefs at the forefront.
This recap of FBI (CBS) Season 2, Episode 1, “Little Egypt”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous season by clicking these words.
Dick Wolf’s FBI has always been good but remained overlooked thanks to its unashamedly procedural nature. It’s difficult to stand out in such a crowded market, but FBI Season 2, Episode 1, “Little Egypt”, is the kind of episode that’ll help the show to do so; topical, daring, complex, and also surprisingly character-focused. The inciting incident was the bombing of a restaurant in OA’s (Zeeko Zaki) old neighborhood, but the episode veered into complicated territory quickly, with a Muslim claiming responsibility by the end of Act 2, and an undercover FBI agent radicalizing two young boys as part of a sting operation against a local imam.
That’s tricky material to navigate, and Zeeko Zaki really capably handles a lot of dramatic weight on his shoulders. His reliance on Maggie (Missy Peregrym) not just for backup but also emotional support felt stronger in “Little Egypt” that it perhaps ever has, and the scene they shared on Maggie’s stoop was fine acting, not just for network TV, but period. It’s bold of a mainstream primetime show to tackle these topics and others besides — it isn’t just Islamic terrorism, but contemporary race-relations, male emotional vulnerability, and the sanctity of treasured institutions and how they warp reality for a “greater good” determined by people who don’t necessarily represent those in their own office, let alone the general public.
That’s why it’s intriguing that FBI Season 2, Episode 1 introduced new Special Agent In Charge Isobel Castille (Alana De La Garza) as something of an antagonist. She’s results-driven and unflinching in a way that stands in stark contrast to her predecessor Dana (Sela Ward). Now that Kristen Chazal (Ebonee Noel) is a fully-fledged agent, she looms over the bullpen with a faintly menacing air, and you get the sense that by-the-book Jubal (Jeremy Sisto) would wither under her glare. “Little Egypt” also introduces Kristen’s partner, Stuart Scola (John Boyd), who immediately lies about having had a brother who died during 9/11 — and then reveals he was lying about having lied. These are the people assigned to serve and protect, folks. Get used to it.
As ever, there are infinite places FBI could go in its second season, and if this more daring, confrontational direction is the one they’re taking, I’m more than happy with that.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.