[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for FBI Season 4, Episode 9 “Unfinished Business.”]
Drug lord Antonio Vargas (David Zayas) may be behind bars, but he proves just how dangerous he still is to the team in the FBI winter finale — and as a result, one agent is willing to maybe cross the line to keep those he loves safe.
But first, it takes a while for the team to realize who’s behind the threat. Assistant Director in Charge Rina Trenholm (Kathleen Munroe) is shot as she and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jubal Valentine (Jeremy Sisto) are leaving her brownstone. Witnesses heard the shot, but no one saw the shooter. With Rina being rushed into surgery, Special Agent in Charge Isobel Castille (Alana de la Garza) offers to have Jubal brought to the hospital, but he insists on working the case. And as they do, Rina is just the first agent to take a bullet.
More Questions Than Answers
Their first lead comes via footage of a man, quickly identified as Frank Castlewood (Khalil Kain), following Rina in the days leading up to the shooting. He got out of prison a week ago, but he has zero ties to the ADIC. He shoots at Special Agents Maggie Bell (Missy Peregrym) and Omar Adom “OA” Zidan (Zeeko Zaki) when they chase him down, but once he’s surrounded, he surrenders.
Castlewood’s gun doesn’t match the one that shot Rina, but it’s clear that someone paid him to follow her — and Jubal is willing to do just about anything to get him to talk. That includes offering to drop the attempted murder charges for shooting at Maggie and OA and pressing even after the guy asks for a lawyer. And that’s before Rina has a brain hemorrhage.
Tracking Castlewood’s movements before they picked him up leads to ex-Marine Logan Winters, whom ATF has been working a case on recently. The two were housed together in Metropolitan Correctional Center before Winters’ case was overturned. Neither seems to have any reason to have a grudge against the FBI or Rina. But Maggie and OA have to talk to ATF Agent Sanchez (Adrian Alvarado) to get the full picture on Winters (since the file is sealed). Only after OA claims to know his boss (he doesn’t) does Sanchez tell them about Winters’ associate, McCain (Nat Cassidy), who has a gun store he frequents.
Winters spots them outside the store and runs, and when the team takes chase, Maggie is shot. OA realizes the weapon is inside an electrical box and shoots it down. But his partner is down!
The Answer No One Wants
Fortunately, Maggie’s OK — her vest did its job — and she insists on continuing to work rather than have her bruised ribs and mild concussion further checked out at a hospital. “Can we just slow down? I thought I almost lost you for a second,” OA says, but while “it was scary,” Maggie acknowledges, she wants to focus on the case.
While Ian Lim (James Chen) can’t examine the box OA shot down, Special Agent Stuart Scola (John Boyd) remembers seeing one just like it near Rina’s. It’s “genius in a way,” Ian says. Photos were uploaded to the camera inside, and when facial recognition gets a hit, it triggers the device. Someone input the faces of the team — and their families. The only reason Jubal, Scola, and Special Agent Tiffany Wallace (Katherine Renee Turner) weren’t shot is the device jammed.
Isobel tries to make a deal with Castlewood, but he refuses to talk if he’d have to serve any jail time. “I run my life and still go to jail, even if it’s for a month, even if I’m in protective custody, he’s going to find me. I’m as good as dead,” he explains. “Winters is a walk in the park compared to the guy we’re working for.”
After a brief visit to the hospital (Rina’s still in surgery), Jubal returns to the office, insisting he needs to be there. “I can’t do anything [at the hospital],” he tells Isobel. “What I can do is try to figure out how to protect my kids.” She puts him on a very short leash. What he can do is get them a warrant for McCain’s shop, even if the ATF wants them to stay away. Once Sanchez finds them there and they update him on the case, he points to a room under the floor. There is McCain — with another of those boxes.
McCain is more than willing to talk, but all he can tell them is Winters has three more devices and a client wanted the team dead. Winters wanted to back out when the found out agents were the targets, but the client wouldn’t let him. And while Winters may not be easily spooked, he’s terrified of the client, whom he described as “the devil.” He threatened to kill his kids.
So who is this mysterious client? Well, his identity scares Elise Taylor (Vedette Lim), and who can blame her, considering the first time they dealt with him (Season 3’s’ “Liar’s Poker”), she had a bomb around her neck? It’s Vargas.
A Horrifying Truth
Jubal and Isobel go to see Vargas in prison, and the drug lord heard “through the grapevine” that Jubal’s son is sick. So why is he doing this? ” Because I want to,” Vargas says, and he doesn’t want anything “other than to see each and every one of you dead.” Why? “Because you played dirty,” he explains. “The last time we spoke, you showed me a video of my wife and my son. You knew that it would change my decision, that I would do whatever it took to keep them safe, including going to jail for the rest of my life.”
Isobel hurries him along with, “Congratulations, you love your wife and your kid, get to the damn point.” His point is “they’re dead!” Vargas reveals. “When FBI agents come into town, people talk, the word spreads. The second your people left Mexico, the hyenas moved in and they got their revenge. My wife and my son, hung from a bridge like rag dolls for everyone to see. And soon, you will all feel the same pain that I feel. … And if Winters doesn’t get the job done, then I will find someone to take his place. And another and another. Until you’re dead.”
Thanks to Vargas also noting that Jubal should already be dead, they know that someone told him the device jammed. An inmate who cleans the floors admits that he hid a phone for him because Vargas threatened his family.
And so while the team does track down Winters and he gives up the locations of the other devices (one 50 feet from Jubal’s kids’ school), “we both know Vargas is not going to stop trying” and “he’ll always be able to get a message out,” the assistant special agent in charge tells Isobel. “But Vargas has a lot of enemies. If he hits the yard at MCC, he won’t survive a week.” She can understand where he’s coming from, but she reminds him, “We’re better than that. We have to be.”
But has she — or Rina’s ex, who may blame Jubal for the end of his marriage but not for what happened to her as she remains in critical condition — gotten through to Jubal by the end of the episode? How far might he go to ensure that Vargas can’t follow through with his promise? Whatever happens, we can’t wait to see what happens next, because Vargas has nothing to lose and we’ve seen what he can accomplish both in and out of prison — and that all makes him a terrifying threat.
FBI, Tuesdays, 8/7c, CBS