CSI: Cyber Screencap Recap: We Learn What Crowdsourcing Is

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CSI: Cyber. Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS

It’s back! CSI: Cyber: the show that asks not if your iPad will kill you, but when. Tonight’s episode is called “Crowd Sourced.” Crowdsourcing is, per Wikipedia, “the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people.” In reality, it’s a process that involves a lot of useless yelling that usually produces a substandard product. It’s also likely the process by which this week’s episode was crafted.

This week’s case begins in a movie theater, where one guy yells at another guy to turn off his phone. Has that ever happened to you? Someone using his phone during a movie is a very relatable situation. Anyhow, it turns out that the bright light is not someone’s phone screen; it’s a bomb! The bomb has a tablet taped to it and displays a countdown clock that actually counts upwards. So I guess it’ a count-up clock? It reaches 200 and explodes, killing a bunch of people.

The C-TOC crew figures out how the bomb worked, and holy moly, it is the dumbest thing this show has done yet. I will try to explain: Everyone at the theater received a similar pair of text messages: a number, and the word “Kaboom!”

As the bomb moved through the crowd, it connected to people’s phones and counted upward. When it connected to the number 200, it detonated.

Does that make sense? No? What if I let Dawson explain.

It’s crowdsourcing. It makes perfect sense.

Mundo and Nelson try to comb through the shrapnel and find the tablet’s hard drive, but they can’t. “Too bad we can’t go back in time to the explosion and see where all the teeny-tiny pieces went,” laments Nelson. Mundo disagrees.

They head to the Cave, which is the crazy hologram room we haven’t seen since the pilot. Cue low-rent CBS dubstep.

“Run the 3-D stitch program,” says Agent Nelson. He assumes the power stance.

Shortly thereafter, Nelson gets so scared at a hologram. It’s cute.

Zoom in.

Closer.

Now enhance.

“Damn, that was real!” yells Bow Wow at a thing that is definitely not real.

More surprisingly competent hologram stuff follows.

Agent Nelson finally locates the missing hard drive in some dude’s corpse, and he’s just allowed to go in and take it out himself, as if he were a real doctor.

Ramirez then shows everyone else a website that’s “trending like crazy” called CrowdBomber.com. On it, the bomber chastises everyone for using technology: “You are responsible for this bombing. You could have prevented it if you just left your cell phone at home! Your addiction to technology is going to kill you.” Subtle!

The bomber issues another threat: a second bomb will explode once the site gets 1 million views. Agent Ryan puts it another way: “Our target is using pageviews on a website to make the public responsible for the next explosion!”

Thus begins the most bonkers exchange yet:

Sifter: We have to pull it down now!

Ramirez: We’ve tried to hack it. The firewall is too robust, but we’re working on it.

Sifter: Well, work faster. That URL cannot remain online!

“That URL cannot remain online!” is such a good line that I want it tattooed on my face.

Sifter wants to put the word out, but Agent Ryan knows better. “An alert will only pique interest, and drive viewers to the footage,” she explains. “Look how many views we have! This is mass cybervoyeurism!”

The team is now in a race against time to shut down the site.

The snake logo on the site’s log-in page reminds Agent Ryan of a now-imprisoned black-hat hacker named Tobin. He’s in jail now, but via flashback, we find out that Tobin had the best username of all time.

Agent Mundo’s idea is to make 50 clones of the website so that people who want to view the video aren’t upping the bomb’s counter. Ramirez tells him that it’s going to take “a long to time to make 50 exact clones of the website.” (Side note: I’m by no means an expert hacker, but I sorta think cloning files is one of the easiest tasks a computer can accomplish.)

Meanwhile, Nelson hacks.

Nelson and Ryan visit Tobin in jail again to get his encryption key, but Tobin demands to type it in himself. “I haven’t touched a keyboard in years,” Tobin explains, literally aroused at the thought of typing on a keyboard. He makes a very awkward computer-sex face.

The gang gets access to the site’s source code, but it contains a dead man’s switch that will trigger the bomb if they alter the code.

They trace the code to an address, where the site’s creator, some guy named Miles, threatens to blow everyone up. Miles believes that social media is evil and everyone is a narcissist. He sounds just like your grandpa. Mundo shoots and kills him. However, the site is still live.

Krumitz and Nelson figure out that the bomb is controlled through an IRC channel. Krumitz explains what IRC is while Sifter has a stroke.

“IRC is an application layer protocol that facilitates data transfer in the form of text.”

That is a suspiciously comprehensive answer. Let’s see what the very first sentence for “IRC” is on Wikipedia.

There it is — that’s crowdsourcing at work!

Eventually, the team figures out that the bomb will explode at a concert thrown by a telecommunications company, because telecom companies are bad. Mundo and Krumitz literally have to fight through a horde of EDM zombies, all of whom are filming on their smartphones.

They find the bomb and then … get into a car with it? It is a very stupid plan. Nelson knows how stupid it is.

In order to drain the tablet before it detonates the bomb, they wire it to the car’s starter.

The plan works. Agent Mundo makes his “happy to be alive” face.

The day is saved! Agent Ryan sends Tobin this sick burn.

That’s it for this week’s episode of CSI: Cyber. If enough people view this recap, a bomb will go off! (Just kidding!) (Or am I?) (I am!)