Last night’s installment of CSI: Cyber is called “Selfie 2.0.” Does that mean anything? Who knows. What matters is that it sounds like it means something, and “Selfie 2.0” definitely sounds like two computer words smashed together. Moving on …
Detectives in Syracuse come across the body of Elizabeth Marks, a woman who has been missing for two years. “How is this a cybercrime?” you and Agent Ryan both ask at the same time. Well, it turns out that Elizabeth — despite being dead — has been posting status updates on social network Friend Agenda.
(Maybe she’s a ghost? Let’s not rule it out. What I’m saying is that ghosts 100 percent definitely exist.)
It turns out that ghost Elizabeth has been posting very natural, human-sounding updates. Like this one:
Definitely how humans talk.
The team launches into full cyberstalking mode, combing through her statuses from the last two and a half years. They find some Me Me Me Generation gems, such as:
Ryan and Mundo head to the only good thing about CSI: Cyber, the Cave, a.k.a. Giant Hologram Room, a.k.a. C.Y.B.E.R.M.O.R.G.U.E., a.k.a. GIF Heaven.
They find a tattoo on the victim’s back: 7 6 5. From here, Ryan makes an enormous logical leap using psychology to figure out that this killing was unintentional and that their kidnapper is looking for a replacement victim.
Uh-oh! Cue theme song.
Tonight’s Word of the Week is location services, and as usual, its definition is far more hyperbolic and fearmongering than it needs to be.
In order to figure out who might have taken Elizabeth’s place as kidnapping victim, Mundo plays what is essentially the CSI version of Guess Who?, inputting physical traits into a database in order to pare down his list of victims.
The three remaining kidnapped women are five foot two and have blue eyes. “Five foot two, eyes of blue,” Mundo notes. “Just like the song.” What song is he talking about? A Ke$ha song? No, he is talking about Art Landry’s 1925 smash “Has Anybody Seen My Gal?” a song that peaked in popularity before the Great Depression. (I know we have fun here and we like to joke that this show is written by old people, but until now, I did not actually think that centuries-old cryptkeepers were scripting CSI: Cyber. I guess I was wrong.)
Mundo keeps the song on his phone for some reason. Sifter (of course it’s Sifter) knows the words. “You know,” he muses, “I don’t think Art Landry’s 1925 hit song was ever meant to be the abductors’ anthem …” Good assumption! Though, to be fair, I cannot name a single abductor’s anthem.
They investigate each of the girls’ social media pages and find that one, Missy Bowers, has been posting status updates following her abduction, just like Elizabeth.
Back at the lab, Krumitz is very loudly sucking on a lollipop, and Nelson is decidedly not into it.
The gang is able to further track Elizabeth and Missy’s whereabouts by using the GPS data embedded in their photos. Or as Mundo explains, the girls “never turned their location services function off. Every time they took a selfie, they’d broadcast everything about themselves, and they didn’t even know it.”
Here’s a handy explainer of how photo metadata works:
Are your selfies setting you up to be murdered? According to CSI, the answer is: Yes, absolutely, 100 percent yes.
Krumitz: “The more selfies these girls took, the more they gave our target a road map into their daily life … Look at Missy Bowers’s cluster of selfies — she took a ton at the karaoke bar.”
From there, our sleuths zoom-and-enhance their way towards identifying a suspect, one Barry Tipton. But when they arrive a Tipton’s workplace, they’re greeted by this waking nightmare of identical dead-eyed faces.
Tipton is the inventor of No Persona, a genius plan to let people hide from Big Brother facial-tracking software by selling masks of his face. The hottest thing in tech is a $20 mask of some dude’s face. “It’s pretty genius, right?” Barry asks.
Krumitz and Nelson make another breakthrough by identifying the attacker as another five-foot-two female. They are excited and proud of themselves and so Babyface and Big Boy (real nicknames; I’ll let you figure out which is which) do a touchdown dance!
They also figure out that the numbers tattooed on the kidnapped girls’ backs are a ranking system, and they work on behalf of the kidnapper. There is no touchdown dance regarding this discovery.
Ryan devises a scheme to lure the top-ranking girl, Vanessa, out of hiding. Vanessa shows up at the meeting spot wearing her very cool, very convincing disguise.
She gets arrested anyway.
Ryan and Mundo use information provided by Vanessa to track down her “master” and their target, Jasper, and encounter a standoff in his captive-filled basement dungeon. Ryan literally negs Jasper into attacking her, and she shoots him dead. Everyone gets rescued and goes home. Great job, everyone!
That’s all for this week. Remember: Every time you take a selfie, a psychotic killer gets one step closer to spiriting you away to his misery dungeon.
Semi-Obligatory B-Plot Report: At the start of every episode, Agent Ryan describes how before she was an FBI agent, she was a psychiatrist. She got hacked, and one of her patients died as a result. This week, the sister of the patient who died reenters Agent Ryan’s life, and the sister is played by Rosanna Arquette. It is a very boring subplot that squanders what could have been some fun stunt casting. It is only barely worth mentioning, and now I’ve mentioned it, so we can all move on with our lives. Case closed!