Our episode begins with Special Agent Avery Ryan (played, as always, by Oscar Winner™ Patricia Arquette) trapping and releasing a giant spider/metaphor in her office, to reiterate to viewers that she is both capable of catching devious creatures and ~compassionate~ enough to release them.

Reformed black hat hacker and known vest enthusiast Nelson is not down with Avery’s catch-and-release program and freaks out, understandably, because look at this fucking spider:

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no

I guess none of the CSI: Cyber writers are familiar with the “Chekhov’s spider” rule of storytelling (if there’s a spider getting trapped in an FBI-official manila envelope in Act 1 it better bite someone in Act 3) because— spoiler alert— the spider is completely irrelevant to the plot, which is a shame, because honestly an episode about attending to serious arthropod bites would’ve been more enjoyable than the shitjumble of lunacy.

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We cut to Sifter, the Head of the Cybercrimes Division, who is for some reason (maybe because he is awful at his job) relegated to relaying flight details to his subordinates. Mundo is going to New York City to deal with a hotel that has been hacked.

hope u got an unlimited data package bro

Yeah. A hacked hotel. Big whoop! Every other episode of this show has started with a heinous tech-related murdercrime or kidnapping, yet we are to believe that the boss’s boss is personally coordinating the logistics of sending his agents to check up on a security breach? Alright, show.

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They’re prioritizing the hack because it’s near the UN and they’re worried about hackers leaking documents that could “embarrass some important people,” a worry confirmed when the hotel lawyer (?) straight up tells the FBI that its customers email prostitutes on the regular, which seems kinda unwise but OK.

So the viewer is supposed to be trembling at the thought of some fictional Berlusconi’s fuckboy emails getting released?

Nah— turns out, there’s a dead girl in one of the hotel rooms, and the hacker(s) attacked so that they could manipulate the hotel’s computer network to make it look like the girl was still alive, by falsifying evidence of room service and manicure orders.

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No one really cares about the dead girl either but that’s because murder shows like this are rarely about the person who got murdered. Her name is Adele but honestly there is no point in keeping that little kernel of information in your brain, just let it pass through your mind like the name of a particularly boring acquaintance who somehow always remembers your name when you see them on the street and you’re like “what am I to you that you are keeping my name in your brain?” and then you decide they probably have a crush on you, you GODDESS of SEX.

Adele is meaningless. I’ll call her “dead girl” from now on.

Our intrepid squad traces the hack back to a generically hot big ole dumbo of a bar owner, whose phone appears to contain damning evidence linking his location data to the murder scene and recording threatening texts between him and the dead girl. There’s also surveillance footage of the bar owner kissing the dead girl the night before she died. But he swears he didn’t do ittttttttttttttt.

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lol who me murder??

Well, of course he didn’t. They catch him with half an episode left to go! As it happens, Avery gets the sketchyfeels when she interviews the dead girl’s ex-boyfriend. Once Nelson rebuilds what he calls the dead girl’s “poop phone” (because it was found in pieces in the toilet, which is one half-assed way to destroy evidence) it becomes clear that the bar bro is telling the truth; none of the messages they supposedly exchanged are on her phone.

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“We can do that? We can actually get data off this thing!?” Nelson asks about rebuilding the broken phone, even though Nelson is a former black hat hacker and earlier in the episode hacked into a hotel’s computer in literally 1 second to demonstrate how it worked.

“The Evil Twin” is a weird episode because it’s aggressively paint-by-numbers— squad arrives to investigate one crime, stumbles upon a dead girl, turns out the ex-boyfriend did it, in a twist anyone who has seen a screenshot of a Netflix summary of a procedural show could see coming a mile away, or in CSI:Cyber’s hackneyed parlance, “just a keystroke away.” But it’s also aggressively nonsensical.

So the boyfriend supposedly killed dead girl in a passion-rage. But then he immediately launches into this absurdly elaborate cover-up/framing plan with first step of haphazardly throwing a phone in a toilet and a second step of orchestrating a corporate security breach big enough to immediately draw the attention of an elite FBI division via phishing attack to infiltrate a hotel network. All so he can gain a few days’ head start on launching another elaborate hacking attack, all so he can frame a guy who he has never even met yet somehow knows enough about to pinpoint his exact location and phone details in the days following the murder so that he can hack the guy’s phone and make it look like he murdered dead girl.

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And then...he goes to kill the other guy, even though he set him up? I’m sorry if that hurts your brain to read. Please know that it hurt mine to write.

more like van der BLEAK hehehe

It’s also important to point out that, if the ex-boyfriend hadn’t concocted this elaborate scheme, he never would’ve drawn the attention of the Cybercrime Unit in the first place, as they were only alerted because of the threat of hackers embarrassing the powerful.

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Anyways, our Confusingly Motivated Murderer does what any horribly fleshed out desperate villain does when caught trying to kill his would-be fall guy, which is try to escape. This helps Mundo fulfill his quota of unnecessary chases for the episode. Mundo saves the guy’s life after he tries to jump of the building, and makes a really good constipation face, and then arrests him. But wait! The team still doesn’t have enough evidence to convict him.

They use the motion tracking processor (I think maybe they’re referring to the M7 chip in iPhones?) to track the movements of the ex-boyfriend and dead girl around her time of death and are able to recreate the final fatal fight using only that chip, which they seem remarkably confident will hold up in court despite the fact that motion chips aren’t connected to GPS and don’t tell you a person’s location, and the entire scenario rests on a huge assumption that both of the phones were in their pockets.

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circumstantial as fuck come on guys

I am reluctantly willing to admit that maybe, maybe, MAYBE!!!! they could make a simulation like this MAYBE. But to create a simulation like this in the time frame presented by the show? No.

The entire episode takes place over the course of 10 hours, and Mundo and Avery fly between DC and New York during that time. Ok, even if they don’t have to be at the airport an hour before their flight, that’s still a SOLID two-and-a-half hours of travel. And then there’s a scene where Mundo and Avery are dawdling and reminiscing in Manhattan, and another where they laboriously explain how phishing attacks work. And then they go outside of the city to look at an apartment! Even by condensed procedural timeline standards, this is OUTRAGEOUS.

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Cheeselights

  • Shad Moss Vest Watch: A bold foray into plaids!

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  • “They probably discovered a vulnerable protocol and used a root kit to gain access.”
  • Horrible Graphic Explainer of the episode:

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Click here to view this kinja-labs.com embed.