Manhunt: UNABOMBER Season 1 Episode 3 Review: Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

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Creating a new scientific method to capture criminals isn't the easiest path to do the job.

That's something James Fitzgerald discovered during the hunt for and while trying to persuade Ted Kaczynski to plead guilty.

Fitz faced hurdles during every step of the UNABOM investigation, and Manhunt: UNABOMBER Season 1 Episode 3 provided a peek into that facet of his world.

Looking Over Evidence - Manhunt: UNABOMBER

The devastation caused by the delivery method chosen by Kaczynski to get his message across remains important, and opening the installment with another mail bomb and its destruction is, too.

It's too easy to get lost in the words and the facts outside the blood and emotional anguish especially when the case is built around them.

Nobody wants to see someone suffer pain or their family struggle with the situation into which they've been thrust for no reason, but when a society like ours is so used to the news of similar crimes the world over, facing it head on is sometimes the only way to remember that behind every criminal are flesh and blood victims.

The sensationalism of crime isn't an easy line for "entertainment" television or even news to hold, but showing the effects of crime on victims so the case itself doesn't overwhelm the reason it's relevant seems appropriate.

We've made an industry around serial killers like Ted Kaczynski. 

They not only dominate our fictional entertainment, but hours of reality programming are dedicated to trying to understand them at any given time on television. RIGHT NOW you can turn on the TV and, provided you have cable, you can dig into the mentality of men like Ted.

Intelligent, cunning, men who don't think about their victims. They may be completely derelict of emotion or so caught up in their message that they lose sight of the carnage they're creating.

Fitz tried two different ways to reach Kaczynski for his guilty plea, and Kaczynski turned the first on its head.

Fitz continued to align himself with Kaczynski, using the "I want you to fight the revolution" tactics, but when he asked if the bomber ever considered what he left behind, it was the wrong approach.

I'm skeptical (again, as usual) that Fitz took this approach in real life. Again, maybe I've watched too many of the very programs I've noted above, but the last thing I'd do to try to sway a man like the one Fitz knows Kaczynski to be would be to doubt his intelligence.

By showing Kaczynski the mountain of evidence and taunting him with the idea he left behind so much of himself for the FBI to uncover and connect to the crimes, it only made him angry.

Do angry people plead guilty? I don't know.

Regardless, Kaczynski took the time to reveal his plan, which was to flip the FBI's warrant on its ear and toss out all the evidence because he didn't believe the new method Fitz created to capture him was scientifically sound.

The shame of this news is Fitz didn't have any more faith in his method than Kaczyzski.

Concurrent with the 1997 issues Fitz was facing trying to get the Unabomber to plead guilty, we were watching his struggles in 1995 as he broke through the ranks of the FBI to prove he wasn't a wacko in his belief the "manifesto" was the key to the case.

Discovering why Natalie was so helpful to Fitz and his belief in himself was incredibly helpful. She was the only "expert" who took him seriously. An expert in comparative linguistics, she noticed the manifesto was in the form of a doctoral thesis from '67-'72 and even the idiolect of Chicago.

It was a big deal and one that should have meant a lot more to the FBI than it did at the time. New is not always welcome, though. The fight was on for Fitz (again) to make his superiors look beyond the traditional evidence with which they felt familiar.

It's so exciting seeing someone with the passion for a field they only fell into by accident suddenly becoming the expert, creating an entire line of forensics. Yes, I'm a geek, but the suffering Fitz did during that time is appreciated.

In '95 when the going got tough and his team was pulled out from under him, Fitz had a conversation with Natalie that led him to a new profile, one pointing to the more unique features of the Unabomber, including the isolation and lack of technology – the very subject of which Kaczynski covered in his thesis. 

In '97, Fitz was going to call it a day and retreat, but he realized Kaczynski cannot back down and plead innocent if he's to connect to the people and call for a revolution, claiming FC and the manifesto belong to him.

How can he stand up and fight for everything he says he believes if he's going to deny the very existence of it by way of squashing the evidence and validation of the linguistic proof and validity of the search warrant?

The two men, again showing their similarities stepped out of the conversation with poses eerily similar. I like the "there before the grace of God goes I" nature of the discussions between Fitz and Kaczynski.

How easy is it to go off the dark side when you have no friends, no family, and no support?

Hopefully, we'll never need to know.

Don't hesitate to watch Manhunt: UNABOMBER online to catch up on the series. Like all Discovery fare, it's good stuff and makes you think.

Keep in mind, Kaczynski was and is a genius. But he also committed heinous crimes and got caught doing it.

There is a right way and a wrong way to deliver a message, and Kaczynski chose the wrong way.

Did you do any research on the crime or the men involved since the Manhunt: UNABOMBER Series Premiere

Let me know what you're thinking! 

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Review

Editor Rating: 3.75 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (5 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Manhunt: UNABOMBER Season 1 Episode 3 Quotes

Are you kidding? This is cutting edge. There's not even a name for what you're doing.


Natalie: And if we can find his idiolect...
Fitz: ...we can find the Unabomber.