502 The Decoy Effect

This is a lot of exposure for not a lot of money …

Summary: A woman’s murder leads to an investigation of ATM thefts.  Charlie begins the process to regain his security clearance.

Original air date: October 10, 2008 (US)

Written by: Ken Sanzel

Directed by: Ralph Hemecker
Opening numbers:

400,000: ATM’s
340: Dollars
48: Decoys
38: hours

Family Concepts: (character development)

  • Charlie begins the process of getting his clearance back by meeting Agent Carl McGowan
  • Don’s first assignment after graduating form Quantico was in Detroit Michigan
  • Events in the season two episode Judgment Call occur during Colby’s second week on Don’s team
  • Larry and Amita are still part of the Higgs-Boson investigation team
  • Larry got rid of his cell phone with the Star Trek ring tone, however Don “shoved another one” at him
  • Don’s team has an 85% clearance rate on their cases.
  • Amita has moved in with Charlie

Episode Quotes:

  • Alan: Charlie, when you’re dealing with the government it doesn’t hurt to have more than just the facts on your side.
  • Nikki: You know you’re not in East LA when twenty dollar bills hit the ground and stay there.
  • David: [to Nikki] New guy, you’re with me.
  • Colby: [while David takes a corner too fast] In one piece, please.
    David: Hey, you know the rule: you complain, you drive. [As a note: when we next see them in a car, Colby is driving.]

Episode Synopsis:

Five women over the past several weeks have been kidnapped.  They are held for a day or so and forced to remove odd amounts of money from their bank accounts. Before they are released they are beaten and raped.  Things have been stepped up however when the latest kidnapping victim decides to try and run away only to be shot and killed on a busy LA street.  Don’s team think they have a lead when the kidnapped is photographed by a garage camera only to discover the man and the truck he escaped in have been set on fire and abandoned.

Charlie hears about the case on the news and tries to offer Don some ideas on how to proceed.  Don listens to him but asks if Larry and Amita could handle the math.  Charlie also asks about Carl McGowan, the FBI agent he has a meeting with the next day to start the process of getting his clearance again.  Don is non-committal saying McGowan in tough but fair.  Dons gets a call from Nikki and goes back to the FBI office.

Nikki has evidence of a new kidnapping victim, Janet Gerber.  Janet was reported missing and there is surveillance footage of her kidnapping. Nikki also has the idea to use Spider, an ATM tracking program to follow Janet’s cards as they are used.  Nikki gets a hit as she and Don are using the program and David and Colby are sent to the scene.  They find Zack Talley at a convenience store driving the van used to kidnap Janet.  They give chase, however Talley is killed when he runs in front of a truck. The van is empty and unfortunately, Janet’s body is found the next day by a couple of homeless men.

Larry and Amita have come up with forty-three possible locations they think the FBI should plant decoys.  Nikki volunteers herself to be the decoy in the location Larry likes the most “on a hunch”. After several tours around the block in question Nikki, with David and Colby watching, is kidnapped. She is forced to withdraw money from five accounts and when it looks like the kidnappers will dump her she claims to have more money in a safe deposit box.  The kidnappers don’t take her bait.  Instead of using her safe word to call in back-up, Nikki tries to take on one of the men who is holding a gun on her.  Shots are fired and Don sends in the back-up.  Nikki is safe and the two men arrested, however Don is livid Nikki didn’t follow set procedure and assigns her to desk duty.

Don still needs to figure out how to catch the leader of the kidnapping ring.  He tells Larry and Amita about the odd amounts of money the kidnapped women are forced to withdrawn from their accounts.  Amita points out the odd amounts would make it easier for the Alpha Dog, as Don has nicknamed the ringleader, to watch how money flows through the ATM system using Spider.  Charlie walks in during the meeting and overhears this and shows how the FBI could use the data to catch the Alpha when he makes his move on an armored car set to refill an ATM machine running low on cash.  The plan works and the Alpha Dog along with the rest of his group are arrested.

Don tries to talk to Carl McGowan about the help Charlie gives the FBI and Don’s team only to discover McGowan knows all about Charlie’s help, including the instances where he wasn’t supposed to be helping.  McGowan also brings up Don’s therapy and the fact Megan left the team as examples of something being very wrong with Don’s group.