The arrival of the so-called “Unabomber Manifesto” causes a ripple effect of frenzies erupting throughout the Unabomb Task Force. Following another received item from the infamous figure, a letter delivered to the San Francisco Chronicle warning that at some point in the next six days, the “terrorist group known as FC, called Unabomber by the FBI” is planning to blow up an airliner out of Los Angeles International Airport. Given that the Unabomber had previously placed bombs on airlines and added proof that he was who he claimed, this threat was taken seriously.
The second episode in the series brings one of the most important insights that James Fitzgerald had in relation to the Unabomb case – something that later on sparks a further epiphany that we’ll circle back to in a few paragraphs. Whilst interviewing a suspect that was momentarily thought to be the Unabomber, Fitz utters the phrase “Thicker than water”, but with his accent that hails from Philadelphia, it’s heard as “Thicker than Wudder”. He later laments this occurrence, after being given a bit of good-natured ribbing at his word-slip; “One word, one tiny slip and you think you know who I am? I say one word slightly wrong and you can all peg me as the philly street cop who’s out of his depth.” [Bare with us.. this is highly relevant*]
When discussing the Unabomber and unravelling his character with a fellow employee, Fitz tells us “This is the original letter, look, he punched right through the paper, not just crossing out his mistakes, obliterating them. Profiler’s talk about signatures versus MO. MO is everything necessary to complete the crime, the signatures are the extras. They reveal psychology, character.”
Netflix’s creation is refreshing in that it actually attempts to dissect, fully, the psychology and mindset, thought-patterns and rationalizations [in life and in his academic papers, not rationalization for any violence committed] of Theodore Kaczynski. On many subjects and societal issues his hypotheses are objective, logical, rational, well-reasoned and well-argued. If you are so inclined, reading his thesis (‘The Unabomber Manifesto’ / ‘Industrial Society and It’s Future’) is an undeniably interesting piece of literature, and *preaches nothing of violence. The episodic tale is impressively skilled at allowing the viewer to embody and sink into the cultural and social theories that many opposed to technology would affirm. Or, for that matter, anyone who is at least in part, critical of capitalism and a consumer-driven society. This is most eloquently posited in the sequence when Fitz is working his way through the building of the prison that Ted is being held in, and is on his way to meet him, per Ted’s own request. With a voice-over dissecting the thoughts in Ted’s paper. =
“Human beings are being permanently reduced to engineered products and mere cogs in the social machine. Deprived of dignity, autonomy, and freedom. The only option to us is obedience.
We’re being turned into caged rats. Distracted from the maze by the meaningless cheese we’re running after. Status. Promotion. Money. Nicer cars. Bigger houses. New tv’s. Blasted with entertainment, adjusted with therapy and Prozac, until you don’t even want to be free anymore. Or, if you can’t be adjusted; the psych ward. Or prison.”
The long-awaited for arrival of Ted Kaczynski, portrayed in this series by Paul Bettany. The 53 year old with an IQ of 167 and the infamous mastermind behind bombings that spanned seventeen years. Alas, Netflix utilizing the postmodern technique of leaping through different timelines, the minute we’re introduced to him, holding this tantalizing moment that is highly anticipated since the first minute of the pilot episode, undoubtedly raising the stakes and further intriguing the viewer, knowing they have to wait further to delve into he scene. Which as a reviewer i applaud, delayed gratification is a very real psychological phenomenon that can be manifested in myriad forms, including that of television. Well played Netflix…. Well played.
What follows is potentially the most imperative conversation that takes place between Fitz and Ackerman (Chris North) which occurs after the resolving of the airline issue. Fitz, being the one to confirm that it was in fact a prank and that FC has not placed any bombs on an airline ends up being correct:
Fitz – Maybe you’ll even read the manifesto now.
Ackerman – I will. We all will. Actually, I already tried to read it. But, come on. End notes, and all these dead sentences, who writes like this?
This prompts the most pivotal epiphany that the entire Unabomber case is hinged upon. the question – Who writes like this? Fitz’s support team arrives and he implores them,
“When I say ‘Wudder’, you learn everything about me. One tiny word. One tiny mistake. You can tell I’m from philly, blue collar, local school, fan of Dave Schultz. Just like when you [Tabby] say ‘Bruh’ – you could only be from San Francisco, right? What if there’s a ‘wudder’ or a ‘bruh’ in here, in the manifesto?”