Mental illness can strike anywhere.
That message was well handled on FBI Season 5 Episode 16.
Using Tiffany’s family to illustrate this message was a wise choice. After all, she appears to be the only team member who has much of a personal life.
Yes, the show is called FBI, not FBI Families.
But would a little more about the agents’ personal lives really hurt the narrative that much? Dick Wolf’s other franchises (Law & Order, One Chicago) manage a work-life balance, don’t they?
Tiffany always has been shown to have a heart, the perennial good cop in interrogations. Getting a memorial plaque for her mother’s favorite bench was a great example of that.
That was why it seemed odd that she was blowing off Erika’s very appropriate concerns about Bryan. Some of that was her feeling that Erika was overly dramatic by nature, but some of it was that she didn’t want to believe that Bryan had a problem that needed treatment.
Tiffany made it out through determination and hard work, and Bryan could do the same. He just needed to get his mind straight. Well, that was correct, but not how she meant it.
It was humorous that Scola promoted the value of therapy, admitting that he had been in therapy since age 12. But that was more acceptable in upscale New York than in Bed Stuy. Tiffany was skeptical, to say the least.
It took her seeing Bryan in total meltdown at his former workplace for her to start to admit that maybe Erika was onto something.
It certainly didn’t hurt that Scola piled on after witnessing that incident, agreeing with Erika that Bryan could benefit from professional help and that Bryan couldn’t tough his way through mental illness.
Also helping to change Tiffany’s mind was that the murder case that Erika kept interrupting her during involved a shooter with a mental illness. However, Michael Landry was much more violent than Bryan.
Landry being medically discharged for his mental illness was definitely an accident waiting to happen, leaving a warrior searching for a new mission.
Landry found one in seeking justice for his sister Hailey who died in custody. In his disturbed mind, anyone who crossed paths with Hailey while she was inside was guilty of negligence and deserved to die. Little wonder it took the team so long to comprehend Landry’s motivation.
Indeed, that view was extreme. But perhaps Landry’s military trainers didn’t stress nuance to him.
Even Landry’s mother knew her baby boy wasn’t the same after all he had seen in Afghanistan. It took tough love from Scola to get her to understand the monster that her son had become.
Landry needed help when he returned, and, like too many veterans, the VA failed him. Not all the casualties of war are on the battlefield. Hailey’s death just ended up pushing him further away from reality.
Surely, OA would have had some valuable perspective to offer from his time in the Army Rangers. But it wasn’t his episode, so that opportunity went wanting. That’s too bad.
Landry’s military training and his manic energy, and the fact that the agents were slow to piece together his plan, kept him a step ahead, technology be damned. That’s why he kept escaping, again and again.
But eventually, Landry made the mistake that allowed him to be tracked, seeking solace from his loving mother one more time.
Tiffany tried to talk down Landry like she had done earlier with Bryan. But he was too far gone. Fortunately, so were his bullets so that he couldn’t kill himself and Scola could arrest him.
Scola deserves credit for being such a supportive partner to Tiffany.
Even though he knew she was handling Bryan’s situation poorly, he essentially held back from telling her what she should do and gave her space. He offered occasional helpful advice and told Tiffany he was available as a sounding board whenever she wanted to talk.
But Tiffany was stubborn. She wanted to believe the best about Bryan — that he was immature and nothing more problematic. She had to discover the truth in her way and in her own time.
After she kept hearing what a good soul the murdering Landry was, Tiffany was ready to join forces with Erika to get Bryan the help that he needed.
Watching the two sisters struggle to put the best face on Bryan’s mental illness while trying to convince him to accept professional help was heartwarming.
Bryan admitted to being scared, a perfectly normal reaction under the circumstances, but was strong enough to attempt to get better, fortified by his two loving sisters.
Unfortunately, there’s only so much room in this procedural format for follow-up. It’s likely to be a future season before Bryan, or any of his progress, are heard from again.
FBI should be lauded for entertainingly tackling such a complex subject. This episode illustrated best- and worst-case scenarios when people are striving to deal with mental illness in their loved ones.
To follow Tiffany’s progress, watch FBI online.
What did you think about how mental illness was handled?
Should Tiffany get credit for doing what was best for Bryan?
Did Landry’s mother and/or society fail Landry?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.
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