Most CBS procedurals skew conservative—this is, after all, the network that gave us NCIS, essentially a military police porno for old people— but last night’s episode of CSI:Cyber was like an hour-long PSA co-written by Glenn Beck, the Concerned Mothers Against Video Games, and my mom after my brother almost failed AP French when he wouldn’t stop playing WoW.
“The online gaming world is a haven for predators, pedophiles, sex offenders, and radicalizers,” Special Agent Avery Ryan (played, as always, by Oscar Winner™
Patricia Arquette) tells her squad as they race to find a rogue gamer seducing youths into gun trafficking and the cold, analogue hand of DEATH.
Our episode opens with a gamer boy accidentally shooting himself with a gun that he’s delivering at the behest of a fellow first-person shooter enthusiast, prompting our gang to sound the Cybercrime Sirens.
“There’s a part of the internet where people can remain anonymous. It’s called the deep web, and we think your son had access to it,” Avery explains to the dead kid’s parents, as though Tor is somehow difficult to download.
“We had strict rules about what he could post, and what sites he could visit!!!” the dead kid’s dad laments. This is just the beginning of an episode sagging under the weight of its bulging boner for sermonizing about the dangers of video games.
“As an avid gamer, I love playin’ online, but as a parent....” Mundo says, dropping some Concerned Gamer Dad torment about stranger danger on Krummy that may have been copied and pasted from Tipper Gore’s therapist-prescribed nightmare diary.
“No parent would allow their child to go outside and play with a 45-year-old stranger!” Avery yells. “But this happens every day!”
Krummy somehow extracts audio recordings of gamers live-chatting from a video game console (?) and the gang realizes the Gamer Killer (nefarious handle: Viper75) earned the trust of children by hacking them, stealing all their sweet digital gaming accoutrements, and then offering them some of their lost armor back for free, if they’ll only please secretly deliver packages to random locations.
super sick kill shot ratio bro
The packages contain guns, for killing purposes. The first dead boy, Spencer, accidentally shot himself with one of the guns, but the killer is actually trying to murder people nearby the drop sites. Shortly after the dead kid kills himself, the killer ends up shooting his original target.
The gang tries to figure out who the killer is and why he’s roping in an army of GamerBoi Soldiers, but GameVex won’t give them access to the account, which leads to this priceless exchange between Sifter and Avery:
“Ever since Snowden went rogue, these lil tech firms have become obsessed with privacy”
“Tell that to Spencer’s parents.”
It’s hard not to put every line of dialog in italics, because that is how they are delivered.
Despite tech companies having a bug up their butts about, uh, not forking over user personal customer data without a warrant, our gang manages to figure out the identity of another one of the young gamers seduced by the weird old internet man. Of course he’s turned into a total sociopath due to excessive gaming and shows zero remorse about delivering weapons resulting in homicide!
“It’s no big deal!” he says, as his dad looks on in horror.
The dead-souled child is a dead end, but don’t worry, they find other gun trafficking recruits almost immediately. They chase a teen down and he injures himself trying to jump across a roof, a move he thought he could execute because he’d done it before....in video games.
If you thought the most absurd part of this episode was Sifter blaming Snowden for not being able to catch a deranged gamer killer, or the show assuming that gamers are stupid enough to think their digital powers extend into the real world, you’re wrong!
Here’s the most absurd part about this episode:
The gang realizes that they can guess where the killer lives because they have three packages he sent, all from a county in Florida. They decide the best way to nail him is to create a fake online news article about the murders and insert a “supercookie” tracking malware into the article, giving them access to the web browsing habits of everyone who clicks on it.
This isn’t the most technologically improbable thing this show has done— at all!— considering the FBI has actually done shit like this. But there’s not even a discussion of getting warrants for incredibly invasive bulk data collection.
Also, of course, Sifter doesn’t even know what a supercookie is, and is DUMBFOUNDED by how it works. (“What is that insanity?” he says, looking at the dubiously legal dragnet surveillance he’s authorized.)
cool & totally legal
The supercookie works almost immediately, and they trace the baddie to a public library in Tampa, Florida. THEN they somehow they get from Washington, DC to Tampa, Florida before the bad guy logs off from his session at the public library, which makes no goddamn sense, not only because most library internet kiosks have time limits but because a non-stop flight is 2 hours and 15 minutes, plus travel on both ends, plus corralling a backup squad.
I know I shouldn’t get hung up about stuff like logistics in an episode so stuffed with hysterical narrative, but for god’s sake, HOW DID THEY GET TO FLORIDA?
Also, the guy they arrest isn’t the killer? It’s another guy who is picking up the last gun shipped to Chicago. Avery confronts him in a darkened alley, swaggering in and standing there cooly as he tries to shoot her— somehow she and Mundo had time to get to the drop site and remove all the bullets from the gun, I really don’t know. Then they finally arrest the right person.
THEN they have some bullshit meeting where they congratulate themselves for putting away a murderer, and just to muddle the show’s thus-far ceaseless accusation of the morality of gamers, they play video games themselves.
- Shad Moss Vest Watch
Woof! Not his best. Luckily he redeems himself later on with a snazzier combo:
I sincerely hope Shad Moss has some creative input on these getups.
- Hacker girl is back! I still can’t remember her name though.
- Horrible Graphic Explainer of the Week: