FBI’s newest episode, Trauma, lived up to its name.
While hunting a bomber, Special Agent Omar Adom “OA” Zidan had to put some faith in an old friend only to have it end tragically.
A deadly bomber strikes
The episode opened with Stacy Rose and her son, Evan, heading into a federal courthouse with bags. When a security guard sent the backpack through a security scanner, it exploded, killing four people (including Stacy) with three more wounded.
Maggie and OA were quickly on the scene as a tech said it was a timer-detonated IED. It was just like a bomb that had gone off in an IRS building in New Jersey, although that bomber had died in the attack.
The team quickly figured that someone had planted the bomb in the boy’s backpack. Rina took Isobel to another room to say the FBI director was getting pressure to solve this case and wanted it closed fast.
Isobel was quick to realize Rina just wanted to look better for her own career.
Maggie and OA tracked down a security video from a coffee shop to see someone swapping Evan’s backpack for the one with the bomb in it. In addition, they were able to see a Navy tattoo and a limp, suggesting he had a prosthetic right leg.
A quick search turned up Ryan Davis (Neil Hoover), a decorated Navy veteran. The team raided Ryan’s home with him seemingly not home, only for Davis to open fire from a nearby rooftop, wounding one agent before Maggie and OA caught him.
Davis refused to talk with Maggie and OA, realizing he was somehow connected to Trey Dawkins, the bomber in the earlier attack. The team found a link to the Garrison Lodge, a club for retired veterans that the ATF was watching for suspected gun-running.
OA reaches out to a friend
OA recognized one member of the club as Chris Zapata (Cleveland Berto), who he had served with in Iraq and had just asked for help on a federal weapons charge.
Maggie and OA met Chris in a park to offer the charges dropped in exchange for knowing about the Lodge. Chris claimed it was just a bar, but they checked backgrounds carefully and would sense OA as “a fed.”
The team learned the Lodge was owned by Nick Hawthorne (Greg Perrow), whose service record indicated he’d been a “wannabe armchair general” who had been in contact with Davis and Dawkins.
Scola and Wallace went to Hawthorne’s apartment with him saying those men were tired of being ignored by the military or society for their service. A search of his apartment turned up nothing, but his attitude made it clear he more than supported what the bombers were doing.
Rina and Isobel had another brief clash that was interrupted by OA. Isobel broke it to OA that they needed to use Chris to get into the Lodge. OA was unsure given how Chris was struggling to adjust to civilian life. Isobel understood, but it was important to get at Hawthorne.
Chris at first refused as the Lodge was needed for veterans but was swayed when seeing Evan among the victims of the bombing. Maggie brought up Chris saving a bus of kids from a bombing which convinced Chris to help.
A dangerous undercover assignment
OA set Chris up with a bug but was upset that he was ready to bring a gun into the Lodge. He warned Maggie that Chris “didn’t have an off switch” and suspected he had executed an insurgent in Iraq.
Chris planted the bug and then talked about understanding why Dawkins made the attack. OA was ready to pull him out, worried he was going too far, but Chris ignored him to follow Hawthorne to a back room.
Finding Hawthorne meeting with other men, Chris played that he sympathized with the bombers and wanted in. He was subjected to a beating and literally thrown out but told OA he now had images of Hawthorne’s accomplices to run through the databases.
The team realized that Victor Maxwell (Robbie Tann) had to be the actual bomber. A quick hotel raid found an entire bomb-making lab with Maxwell ready to light up a beaker but surrendered himself. However, evidence indicated he’d made one more bomb.
Chris makes a dangerous choice
Maxwell refused to talk with OA, saying he understood the bond of soldiers and how hard it was to move on after the service. However, a line from Maxwell on “having people know how dangerous signing up is” led the team to figure out another bomber, Taylor, was going after a local recruitment center.
Scola and Wallace were able to intercept Taylor, but the bomb was still live, forcing them to let it explode in a nearby dumpster.
OA made the mistake of telling Chris they didn’t have enough evidence against Hawthrone. That led Chris to storm the Lodge with a gun to force Hawthrone to confess. OA confronted both men, with Hawthorne firing off how they could understand how it felt “fighting for a system that didn’t care about them.”
Hawthorne attacked Chris, shooting him in the shoulder with Chris fighting back and killing Hawthorne, forcing OA to arrest his friend.
Meeting Isobel later, OA was upset that what they did with Chris was no better than what Hawthorne did with the other veterans as “we took advantage to weaponize him.” He refused to alter his report to make the FBI look better as “neither of us deserves much sleep tonight.”
It was a powerful case as OA realized the hard way some peoples’ wars never truly end.
FBI airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.