FBI Season 6 Report Card: Storylines Remain Topical in Strike-Shortened Season


FBI Season 6 can best be summed up in two words: Treading water.

Collins Dictionary defines treading water as “to be in an unsatisfactory situation where you are not progressing, but are just continuing doing the same things.”

OK, so maybe that definition is a little harsh when it comes to describing the latest FBI season.

Its powers-that-be did give viewers a dash or two of character development. Not the average amount they would have received from an entire season, but some.

Questions about the impact of those changes in the characters’ lives will have to wait for the next complete season to be answered.

Yet ever present were those “ripped-from-the-headlines” storylines for which Dick Wolf is renowned.

The terrorists, the possibility of Armageddon, and the tense takes on terrible threats remained front and center. If anything, this procedural became even more procedural, if that’s possible.

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The phrase “treading water” needn’t be pejorative. FBI’s producers deserve credit for not doing what so many other series did following the dual strikes that ravaged the TV industry.

They didn’t overreach. They didn’t attempt to stuff a season’s worth of stories into a half-season, resulting in out-of-sync narratives and bewildered, nay angry, viewers.

Sure, when you’re the cornerstone of a popular franchise and don’t have to give much thought to cancellation, you can plug your nose, tread water, and ride out the storm. Too many shows didn’t have that option in the strikes’ aftermath.

Still, that doesn’t mean that FBI Season 6 didn’t have its share of highs and lows, just like any full season.

Best Episode – “No One Left Behind”

Shockingly, this season highlight came on FBI Season 6 Episode 11, one of the two episodes when Maggie was on a bereavement leave she finally accepted.

Like that large chunk of the fourth and fifth seasons when Maggie was recovering from Sarin poisoning, OA is brought to the front of the narrative.

He was the perfect choice to lead this investigation after three Taliban got gunned down and the highest-ranking member of this party got abducted.

However, this case got complicated in a hurry on a couple of levels.

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The first was on the personal level for OA, as the kidnappers were proven to be soldiers attempting to free a unit-mate who was still being held as a POW in Afghanistan.

The presence of the Taliban also stirs up memories for OA, the soldier. He cannot put into words the impact of his time at war on him for Gemma (who was a season low point).

OA also has trouble reconciling the fact that the terrorists he had been fighting are now Afghanistan’s leaders.

The second front sees Isobel running interference for her team after an assistant secretary of state arrives to reveal that the Taliban delegation is in town for top-secret mineral rights negotiations.

Kate Burton is the standout guest star of the season, appearing as the duplicitous Evelyn Kates, who was more concerned with optics than a case resolution that helped the most people.

OA connects with his fellow soldiers to help bring the case to a satisfying close, with the POW coming home but has very few other winners.

Worst Episode – “All The Rage”

The season started with a dud in FBI Season 6 Episode 1. Perhaps this was inevitable.

Before the season finally began, there had been all this buzz about killing off a character in the premiere.

But if you’re going to kill off a character, make it count. Erase one of the big six.

But no. The unfortunate soul was Trevor Hobbs, one of those background agents in the JOC who had appeared in 30 episodes before his death.

It had more emotional impact than “Hey you” from the Postal Service. But it still felt like a cop-out.

The episode did cynically accomplish a couple of purposes.

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It introduced the Somalian al-Shabaab terrorists, who would pass as the big bad for this shortened season.

Also, it sent Tiffany, who was on assignment with Hobbs when he was gunned down by cell leader Hakim, on a season-long spiral (more on that later).

Character With the Best Storylines – Maggie Bell

Who else would it be but the character who stands out season after season: Maggie?

This season showcased Maggie’s softer side as she toyed with the idea of becoming a single mother.

Jessica Blake, Maggie’s old friend from Quantico, was introduced on FBI Season 6 Episode 4.

Jessica had the life Maggie wanted. A rising star in the bureau’s counterintelligence division, she is also the mother of a young daughter, Ella.

Jessica and all of the viewers should have seen what was coming. Shortly after naming Maggie as Ella’s temporary guardian, Jessica died unexpectedly during surgery on FBI Season 6 Episode 6.

Yes, Maggie got to jump the line to motherhood without any messy relationships or taxing medical procedures.

After a Kevlar vest barely kept Maggie from being shot on FBI Season 6 Episode 10, Maggie gave into the weight of suddenly becoming a mother and took a little bereavement leave. Fortunately, she returned for the season finale.

Character With the Worst Storylines – Stuart Scola

Stuart barely qualifies as having more than one storyline: He’s a new dad, and, man, isn’t it tiring?

His relationship with Nina, especially after she got pregnant, got much more screen time during FBI Season 5.

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That was especially so when the pregnant Nina got shot during the FBI crossover, with Isobel deciding not to tell the undercover Scola about that.

But after she gave birth on FBI Season 5 Episode 23, they must have become the boring new parents that no one wants to hear from.

With Dougie’s demands at home, Stuart apparently has forgiven Isabel’s duplicity, as there was no sign of tension between them.

Also, Nina joining the Fugitive Task Force on FBI: Most Wanted drew scant mention.

The couple did team up on FBI Season 6 Episode 9, posing as buyers to capture dangerous jewel thieves.

Most Improved – Tiffany Wallace

Since joining the squad at the beginning of the third season, Tiffany has always been the newbie.

While she’s the team’s junior member, she was among the most stable until this year.

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On the opener, after Jubal had told more to be more assertive, Tiffany pushed Hobbs, who hadn’t been out of the office for a while, to follow Hakim into the men’s room against his wishes.

Hakim saw Hobbs’ concealed gun and shot him. Since then, Tiffany has blamed herself for his death — to a degree, correctly.

This led her to chase Hakim’s ghost, especially on FBI Season 6 Episode 8, which led those around her to question her fitness to be in the field. But by the episode’s end, she’s proven right about Hakim returning.

Tiffany finally gets justice for Hobbs when the team takes down critical members of the al-Shabaab cell, including Hakim, in the season finale.

Now, if only Tiffany could get more of a personal life.

Most One-Note – Isobel

Yes, Isobel is a woman in a man’s world. But can’t she get the stick out of her butt?

Sure, there was emotion when her neighbor and his adorable son were critically injured in that explosion on FBI Season 6 Episode 7.

But wouldn’t the turnover be fierce in the JOC if she didn’t have Jubal as a good cop to persuade the staff?

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She’s had her attractive moments in the past, but she would be more likable if she weren’t always concerned with the politics of any situation.

She’s another one who could use a life outside the office.

But maybe that’s endemic to the job, with only Scola and OA (somewhat) in relationships.

FBI Season 6 Final Grade

Like many other shows in this ultra-short broadcast season, FBI suffered. The best we can do for a show we consider treading water is to give it an overall grade of C.

When you look back at the per-episode scores, we were much more (perhaps woefully so) forgiving. But when you take the season and wrap it in a bow, it’s askew and not so pretty.

What do you think were the highlights of this mini-season?

Who was well served, and who wasn’t? What needs to be fixed for next season?

Comment below.

Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.

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