Spoilers ahead for the November 16 episode of FBI on CBS, called “Gone Baby Gone.”
FBI hit the ground running with “Gone Baby Gone” with the case of a little girl who was abducted at gunpoint due to a drug deal gone wrong involving her father and a dealer. The more time passed, the less likely it was that the team would find the girl alive and safe, but Maggie had other things on her mind thanks to the return of her sister. Erin turned up at Maggie’s place and fell off the wagon, and her return combined with Missy Peregrym’s performance as Maggie delivered a story that elevated it to one of the best episodes of the season. Why? Because there was a focus on character.
Given that FBI is one of the biggest scripted dramas on television and airs under the Wolf Entertainment banner, the format of a new case every week has of course been successful, but this show is also very procedural. The characters generally take a backseat to the action and investigation. That format has been a hit with Dick Wolf series, and has in fact – as Elliot Wolf recently noted to CinemaBlend – crafted a style of storytelling for some of the Law & Order shows that really works. As this episode proved, FBI benefits from taking the time during episodes every once in a while to focus on character development and help viewers get invested in them as more than just the carriers of badges and guns.
And FBI does deliver character-centric episodes sometimes, but the Maggie/Erin story is ongoing, and made that half of “Gone Baby Gone” feel more serialized than procedural. This conflict started back in Season 3, so its return made it easier to sympathize with Maggie even though dropping her attention from the case got a cop shot, when she got the news of Erin’s overdose.
This case feels like something that will matter for Maggie’s character beyond the final credits of this episode, and that’s a good thing that FBI would benefit from doing more often. Plus, Missy Peregrym nailed her performance. Now, I’m not suggesting that FBI should follow the format of Law & Order: Organized Crime as another Dick Wolf show and go fully serialized, or even shift gears for as much character work as the One Chicago series. FBI can just craft more standout episodes if characters get more storylines that carry over.
The show did deliver something along these lines recently with OA making a big decision about staying at the FBI and regarding the future of his relationship, which was a step in the right direction. There as also an Isobel-centric episode earlier in Season 4 that was interesting to watch. But this big Maggie episode was especially effective from an emotional perspective, and I’d love to see more like this.
Besides, it’s not like increasing the focus on Maggie with a personal emotional story came at the cost of the case. If FBI could pull it off this week, why not more often in Season 4 and beyond? See what the show has in store next with new episodes on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, ahead of new episodes of FBI: International at 9 p.m. ET and FBI: Most Wanted at 10 p.m. ET before the end of the fall TV season.