Manhunt: Unabomber Season 1 Episode 1 Recap – The Discovery Channel’s eight-part series titled “Manhunt Unabomber” begins with a chilling voice-over message from Ted Kaczynski. On-screen a woman delivers a wrapped package to an executive manager. The voice-over: “Because you’re a sheep and all you can do it obey, I can reach out and touch you. . . “ And boom! The explosion, shredding human meat and destroying the office.
Manhunt: Unabomber Season 1 Episode 1 Recap
Manhunt: Unabomber Season 1 Episode 1 Recap images from discovery.com
Right and Wrong in the Age of Tech
Unabomber Ted Kaczynski was right about a lot of things in the 1990s. His manifesto is titled “Industrial Society and its Future.” He was tragically and horrifically wrong about one thing—killing innocent people. Not just killing them, but shredding them in the meat-grinder of shrapnel-filled explosions.
Although an over-dependence on technology is capable of destroying mankind, there are plenty of human engineers who believe technology will save it. With such assurances, we can ignore Kim Jong-Un, devastating computer viruses, nuclear warfare, alleged Russian cyber-influencing of national elections and other such petty nuisances.
But isn’t the capability of delivering nuclear bombs through MIRV (Multiple Independently Targeted Reentry Vehicle ) missiles due to the wonders of technology? What if an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) device should explode miles above ground to knock out the energy grid?
What would life be like for the millions of people dependent on electronic technology to manage their lives? Do people have confidence that there will be an easy fix? The best time to ponder that question is when you’re waiting for the utility company to restore power after a nasty weather event.
And consider the future of self-driving cars. We are constantly told by elite and politically powerful technocrats that we will be safer in them than driving the cars ourselves. Don’t worry. For every technological problem, there is a technological fix.
Are the people peddling technology and legislating it and making vast sums of money from it helping you or rendering you helpless? These may be partial motivations for the Unabomber’s reign of terror but ultimately “Manhunt Unabomber” is a crime story about a man who eluded authorities for more than a decade.
Law and Order
Chris Noth (Law and Order) portrays Don Ackerman, a leader of the well-staffed and provisioned Unabomber Task Force who finds profiler Jim Fitzgerald alone in a mountain cabin. Fitzgerald is distinctly a lost soul, summoned back to duty by his former bosses to interrogate imprisoned Ted Kaczynski. There has been a bond between Kaczynski and Fitzgerald. The FBI Special Agents know Fitzgerald is the only hope of getting a signed confession from Kaczynski.
Why do the feds want to avoid a public trial? That’s an important question and critical to the series. The short answer is that they don’t want to give Ted Kaczysnki a platform to broadcast his anti-technology political message.
Things to Consider
Consider the media impact, especially in a world where the government forces them to buy ‘HE’ washing machines that don’t clean clothing, groan as if someone’s being murdered in the laundry room, lock up when they want to, and tear the bedsheets. Consider also the damage to internal combustion engines by virtue of government mandates to put ethanol (wheat oil) in the nation’s gas tanks.
Consider the result of marginalizing people in favor of machines in the workplace. All of it is well-intended, of course, but still shifting economic power from the individual to either government or private enterprise technocrats.
Nonetheless, the Unabomber is a morally bankrupt genius who kills and maims people and belongs in prison. The man who helped put him there, Jim Fitzgerald, is a recently graduated criminal profiler. While criminal profilers are stock characters these days in crime fiction and crime TV shows, it was a specialty (behavioral analysis unit) that had little respect among veteran agents in 1995. Second in command Agent Stan Cole makes his skepticism of Fitzgerald’s profession no secret as he assigns Fitzgerald to petty tasks and tells him to stay out of the way.
The Unabomber struck many times during a ten year period in the 1990s and then went dormant for six years. Authorities believed that perhaps he died. Case dismissed. But six years later, the bombs, delivered by post offices, began again. The veteran agents revive old files characterizing the mysterious Unabomber as an unintelligent blue-collar stereotype who was likely a mechanic at an airfield. The stereotype was complete with a theory that he was fired and sending the mail bombs as a form of revenge.
But profiler and hero of “Manhunt Unabomber,” Jim Fitzgerald develops a more accurate picture of the bomber. His bosses won’t listen, tell him not to make waves, give him little support. Fitzgerald gets the focus of their attention however when critical incidents require his expertise. The Unabomber has sent his manifesto to the media and has also sent a letter to the New York Times threatening to take down a passenger airline jet. Fitzgerald makes the right call and characterization. It’s a prank. The airline is cleared for planes to take off though there is considerable tension as the plane gains altitude. A previous Unabomber bomb on an airplane was exploded by an altimeter when the plane reached 7,000 feet.
Back to the Future
There’s a lot of time-shifting in “Manhunt Unabomber,” most of it necessary to tell a detailed story of a man with a tangle of dangerous motivations and a multitude of victims. Sam Worthington plays profiler and protagonist Jim “Fitz” Fitzgerald as an equally complex adversary with a deep understanding of the intricacies of Kaczynski’s thought processes but also a sort of conflicted sympathy for his social-political theories.
There’s a lot in store for future episodes and it’s a worthwhile and challenging visual project. The breadth of the story is vast as is the toll it took on human lives. It’s clear, even in the first episode, that Fitzgerald will make tremendous personal sacrifices in pursuit of the Unabomber, including the loss of his family. While sometimes it feels you are being knocked over the head with Ted Kaczynski’s indictment of technocrats and their ‘slaves’ or ‘sheep’ or ‘obedient servants,’ those points are worth considering as society marches forward to an increasingly uncertain and technologically complex future.
Manhunt: Unabomber Season 1 Episode 1 Recap characters and cast include:
Jim ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald – Sam Worthington (Avatar, Wrath of the Titans, Hacksaw Ridge, The Shack, Cake, Everest, Macbeth, The Debt)
Ted Kaczynski – Paul Bettany (Legend, Captain America: Civil War, Margin Call, Wimbleton, A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Coe, Sharpe’s Waterloo, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World)
Stan Cole – Jeremy Bobb (The Knick, House of Cards, The Drop)
Tabby – Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider, Red Dog, The Nativity Story, Game of Thrones, Roadies)
Natalie – Lynn Collins (The Lake House, The Number 23, John Carter, 50 First Dates)
Frank McAlpine – Brian F. O’Byrne (Million Dollar Baby, The International, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Mercy Street, Aquarius, The Last Ship, Prime Suspect, Brotherhood, The New World)
Ellie Fitzgerald – Elizabeth Reaser (Ouija: Origin of Evil, Mad Men, The Good Wife, Twilight, The Ex List, Grey’s Anatomy)
Andy Genelli – Ben Weber (Twister, Coach Carter, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Kissing Jessica Stein)
Don Ackerman – Chris Noth (Law & Order, The Good Wife, Sex and the City, Mr. 3000, Cast Away, Lovelace)