Unabomber E04 Review “Publish or Perish”

“Bombs may attract attention, but ideas, start a revolution.”

This week’s episode starts off with a montage of reality news footage from when the Unabomber had sent letters to most major national newspapers, telling them that the terrorist group known as FC is willing to make a bargain. If the New York Times, or another reputable newspaper/ media conglomerate publishes his manifesto, “we will permanently desist from all terrorist activity.” The dilemma then arises, can one take a serial bomber at his word..?

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The further into the episode one gets, you begin to see a few cracks occurring in our protagonist, his tunnel-vision that literally won’t allow for anything else to even attempt to take up a moment of his time. His relationship with his wife is becoming strained and increasingly more and more distant, the obsessive-need to solve this puzzle, to find the Unabomber becomes all-consuming.

We arrive at a pivotal break in the …. Well not exactly a break in the case, but a revelation of just how spectacularly wrong the FBI has been, along with wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars following what they considered to be their only solid lead. Nathan R. The Unabomber was thought to have written a reminder to himself on a piece of paper under which was one of the letters he sent. Believing this to be the only conclusive and hard piece pf intelligence that they had gleaned over the entire seventeen years that they had ever found. Due to FC’s most recent letter, to the New York Times, Genelli pays the company a visit, and much to his dismay, witnesses the legs of the investigation being ripped out from under him. In making his way through the mail room and sees a mail-room guy, at his desk, and sees him write post-it’s on nearly every envelope with reminders of things he has to do that day. He reads identical handwriting, saying “Call Peggy G” and “Wendy P”. That Unabomb letter came to the NY Times mailroom before it got to us. The Unabomber didn’t write Nathan R, there is no Nathan R.

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Luckily, Ackerman (Chris North) gets this phone call before he steps in with the Attorney General for the United States Government, Janet Reno. Giving Fitz and his team enough time to come up with a new idea. If they publish in the Post, (The Washington Post) which is only sold at one news-stand in the city. If they publish in the post, and they know he’s in the bay area, he’s going to want to buy the paper as a trophy, and watch everyone buy his paper. Ackerman’s speech and proposition to Janet Reno  – “We publish exclusively in the Washington Post, as part of a two-pronged approach. First prong = Forensic Linguistics. If we make the manifesto widely available, I believe that there is an excellent chance that a friend or colleague of the Unabomber will recognise his unique language and ideology and will turn him in. Second prong, there’s a high likelihood that the Unabomber lives in the Bay Area. The Washington Post is sold at only one location in San Francisco, this unique advantage will allow us to stake a large surveillance operation to follow, to question, to identify every individual who buys a copy of the Post on the day of publication. While the size and scale of this operation is unprecedented, we believe it to be a singular opportunity to lure the Unabomber into the light.” Recognition of the incredibly scale of the operation was difficult to ignore, they would have to drain the entire country of surveillance teams. As the day goes on, they end up with nothing, and no one. Hundreds if not thousands show up to purchase the newspaper, but Fitz and his team don’t find their guy. Resulting in him being sent home.

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But we end the episode on a tantalizing moment, we see a woman read the newspaper article about the Unabomber Manifesto and then look up the manifesto to read it. Seeming unnerved and anxious, she then calls her partner, asking if he has read the piece himself, suggesting that he should. This cues the camera to pan out of the house and back up on the road till we see the letterbox…

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