Not everybody is going to remember the manhunt for the Unabomber, but everybody should understand the impact the case had on our country as it is today.
For over 17 years, a bomber was terrorizing the United States by way of mailing explosives through the US Mail.
It was his way of sending a message. Manhunt: UNABOMBER Season 1 Episode 1 picks up in 1995 after two such bombs brutally kill, upping the ante from maiming to a new level of terror.
The scale of the investigation was unprecedented. The urgency with which it was addressed in the mid-90s isn't exaggerated, although I don't know the truth behind the expediency of bringing Fitz on board.
For dramatic purposes, it seems like a great story to pluck him out of his house on the night of his celebratory party from profiler training.
Graduates at the time were being sent en masse to San Francisco to be a part of the investigation. But it was unclear in the series if they were portraying Fitz as a recent graduate (he was not) or a recent grad of the profiling course.
Either way, it's highly unlikely he wouldn't have already had his assignment. His particular set of skills would not have gone unnoticed until his grad party.
I want to send you. It's one month. You go out there, build a profile and come back to the BAU with a big gold star.McAlpine
My point is, even if this is the Discovery Channel, they're still going to glam it up for the purposes of excitement, so do your homework if you're interested in the reality of the situation. (If he's reading this, maybe he'll comment. Who knows with technology these days?)
Because this story was a big deal. It changed the way our country handled the mail, something we once took for granted.
At the very beginning of the premiere, the Unabomber was saying in his voiceover that we were idiots for becoming so comfortable with something like the US Mail, for allowing ourselves to become sheep to the processes set up by the government.
I'd like to think we just enjoyed the freedom to innocently mail a package without someone trying to kill us. That among a decent society, there was an unwritten rule we would all treat each other as we'd like to be treated. That wars were fought to allow those simplicities to continue.
Kaczynski's message is that as a part of a socialization we have lost some of our simplest freedoms to maintain order and, in some cases, escape feelings of guilt. That an industrial/technological society must always move forward, and the freedoms lost cannot be recovered outside a revolution.
Still, a lot of what FC had to say struck a nerve. That's embarrassing to say out loud. He's a madman. There's no doubt about that, but when his manifesto was finally delivered to the FBI, it didn't contain the words of a lunatic. It contained well thought out points and areas for discussion.
Fitz: I just don't know when I started to feel so powerless.
Natalie: We all feel that way, everyone does.
Fitz: Yeah, we all feel like that, but what do we do about it? Nothing. We like it. We like feeling trapped, crushed. I guess freedom is far more terrifying than slavery.
Natalie: There's nothing to do. That's life. We suck it up, and we live.
Fitz: But that's not life. That's sleepwalking. Watching TV, eating trash, working to become something for someone else. Nobody doesn't something, nobody even tries. Nobody except for Ted!
Natalie: Yeah, but Fitz, he's the Unabomber. He's evil.
What do you do when the madman isn't a lunatic?
It's hard to imagine what his message might have been if he had either waited another 20 years to begin his analysis of the human condition by way of technology and its disruption of life or Fitz hadn't come in and saved the day when he did.
If Ted Kaczynski was mad with the efforts technology had made by the point he began sending his messages, try considering what today's technological achievements (?) would do to a man with his considerable opinions on the issue.
It's too bad a man of his intelligence didn't see the irony in making the moves he did to get his messages to the public. Maybe he could have made an impact if he'd taken the time to think of a better way. Then again, that's what makes a madman mad, I guess.
What really strikes me about the series is how little I know about the case, Kaczynski and the man who brought him down. This is such an important piece of our history that I should know more. And it didn't just affect the US, but the world because when the US Postal system changes, the world follows suit.
When I mentioned to a youngin' this series, they had no idea what I was talking about by mentioning the Unabomber. Without knowledge of history, we're doomed to repeat it. If ever there was a case that seemed ripe to be repeated in some fashion, it's this one.
Isn't that what hackers attempt to do every time they break into another online vault trying to stick it to the man? What happens when their hacking goes beyond movies and TV in an attempt to send a greater message? Why wouldn't (or couldn't) it happen?
By the time Manhunt: UNABOMBER Season 1 Episode 2 finished, we'd learned a great deal about Fitz and Ted Kaczynzki and that their similarity is likely what took down the Unabomber and tore asunder Fitz's personal life.
The FBI was one of the very institutions the Unabomber seemed to be talking about in his manifesto (even if it wasn't what he liked it to be called), and the nature of the people for whom Fitz and Tabby worked daily spoke the language of Ted's targets.
Dude, have you read this? In the manifesto. 'In the modern society, all that is required is obedience.' Isn't that exactly what Cole said?Tabby
It was through a sheer force of will on the part of Fitz that he was able to force his belief in the importance of chucking the 17 previous years of doomed data collection for a fresh take and focus on the words of the man who had spent years attempting to get his message across.
The real story is Fitz spent five months on the task force and later in 1996 in an assist, of sorts, helps match up a new document to the manifesto using the linguistics method he creates for the case and voila – Kaczynski is captured.
I have a feeling we're going to see something slightly different here, but I don't care. I do care, but drama is drama, and Mr. Fitzgerald is out there if we want to reach out and touch him (in a much different way than the Unabomber might have done).
Among other things, he's a consultant on Criminal Minds. Get ready for a wild ride. I haven't forged forward yet, but I know this one only gets better from here.
The premiere felt like a prelude to the real meat of the story, and it was already so engaging I've spent hours trying to better understand the history of the case and those involved.
There is nothing better than a series that piques your interest in the history of the true version of the fictionalized tale being told. Getting more knowledge through entertainment is the best use of the medium. Let the examination of events continue!
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.