505 Scan Man

This is one time the haystacks are gonna tell us more than the needles …

Summary: The FBI needs the help of a savant to solve a case involving a series of high-priced thefts from a shipping company

Original air date: October 31, 2008 (US)

Written by: Don McGill

Directed by: Craig Ross Jr.

Opening numbers:

3: Million parcels
100: Billion neurons
26: Empty boxes
1: Scan man

Family Concepts: (character development)

  • Liz could be transferred to either Oklahoma City or Denver
  • Amita’s parents will be in town for New Year’s
  • Don and Charlie have an Aunt Doris (who sends them pears)
  • Don has stopped going to therapy
  • Liz’s brother thinks she should have been a marine biologist
  • Nikki’s younger brother was angry when she became a police officer
  • David has an autistic uncle (his mother’s younger brother)

Episode Quotes:

  • Larry: Ever get the feeling we’re just these celestial bodies orbiting Charlie?
    Alan: Having trouble with our resident genius are you?

Episode Synopsis:

Amita and Larry have been helping the FBI with an on-going case involving the theft of parcels from Union Parcel trucks; there have been twenty-four such robberies so far.  Their program gets a hit, however it’s not the correct location as a silent alarm at another Union Parcel center has gone off.  Don and David arrive at the scene and seemingly stop the heist and kill the two men involved; however they are surprised to find the boxes in the back of a van they were loading are empty.  An actual Union Parcel truck runs from the scene and an FBI agent is killed.

Charlie and Amita disagree on the method to use in order to find out who inside the Union Parcel company is helping with the robberies.  Charlie convinces David his method would work better and he does find the connection: the bar codes on the packages.  Damaged bar code stickers are sent to a facility to be relabeled and a package that went through the Exceptions office was on each of the trucks hit.  Nikki talks to Brian Hellman the manager for the Exceptions office.  She is certain the leak is in that office, however all of the people working there have only been on the job a few months.  Hellman tells her the staff she sees are all needed to replace his usual man for the job: Emerson Laidlaw.  Hellman also tells Nikki there’s no way Emerson could be involved.

Liz and David go to Emerson’s house and, after shoot down his door, find him mesmerized by a small portable television.  Nikki and Don try to question Emerson but find they can’t get much out of him.  The questioning is interrupted by Tom Shorter, Emerson’s case worker who demands Emerson be released.  When Don says no, Shorter starts working to get a lawyer for Emerson. Charlie realizes he’s seen Emerson’s behavior pattern before and his hunch is confirmed by Dr William Bradford who thinks Emerson is autistic with a genius for maths.  On Bradford’s suggestion Charlie takes Emerson back to the Craftsman house as a way to get Emerson to relax and talk.

Nikki questions Hellman as the actual connection for the robberies using evidence Hellman has been tracking Emerson’s work as proof.  Hellman explains he’s been worried about Emerson and reveal’s Emerson has been using Union Parcel as a way to store some of his excess stuff; he’s been packing things in boxes and shipping them all over the world with bar code stickers that contain errors so nothing is ever actually delivered.  Hellman also suggests the FBI look into Carter Laidlaw, Emerson’s cousin who has been known to use Emerson in the past.  It turns out Tom Shorter is really Carter Laidlaw.

Charlie discovers a switch was made during the robbery the FBI tried to stop.  Twenty six boxes were put into the Union Parcel as a ruse to get into a high security facility that contains a recent shipment of gold heading overseas.  Nikki and Liz find out Carter’s address; but they find him dead.  On his computer they find out what was in the twenty-six boxes but there are no tracking numbers.  They realize the boxes contain the tools needed to break into the secure facility and that the only person who knows the tracking numbers is Emerson.

David and Charlie take Emerson back to his apartment, however Evan Ricci, a member of the robbery gang is ready and waiting.  After a shoot out with David, in which Charlie helps by shooting at cans of cheese-whiz for a distraction, Ricci is arrested by Nikki and Liz, who only happen to be there because of what they found in Carter’s house.  Ricci agrees to give the leader of the robbery gang a set of tracking numbers supplied by the FBI.  When the gang tries to break into the secure storage facility they find only empty boxes and Don’s team waiting for them.