The Agency (2001-2003)
The District (2000-2004)
Holy crap. I don't even know where to start on this. And I mean that in a good way. A simple crossover can be complicated to explain. But in this case we have two complex shows with big casts of complex characters crossing over in a huge and complex story. Heck, they even had a B-story running between the shows that is pretty large and needs mentioning as well. Okay, I'm going in. Follow if you have the guts. This will not be brief.
The District is a cop show aired by CBS and set in the U.S. Capital, Washington D.C., a city with one of the highest crime rates in the country. The setup for the show is that Jack Mannion played by Craig T. Nelson is hired as the new Police Commissioner promising that he can cut the Capital's crime rate in half.
The Agency is a CBS drama about the complex world of the C.I.A. The story of the show is almost as involved as the stories on the show. It hit the air in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy with stories already filmed that suddenly hit too close to home. At the same time, it was coming out at a time when several "spy" shows were hitting the airwaves. Both 24 and Alias came out at the same time and got tons more attention from the press and the critics. The Agency found itself being tweaked and revamped. Sounds bad. But at the same time it seemed being left in the dust. it apparently was outscoring its higher profile competition in the ratings. I'll say this about The Agency: its plots are as complex as I think I've ever seen.
Okay, onto the crossover. The story started on The District with the D.C. Police investigating the murder of Daniel Laird who works for a company named Elkwood, a little company that makes bank software. Bad news but simple enough, right? Well, then the police talk to a Mr. Braxton, the head of security for Elkwood, ask him what Laird was working on. He tells them to get a warrant. Soon it comes out that Elkwood is run by former C.I.A. folks. Braxton is former C.I.A. Then again, ARE they all former C.I.A.? Hmmm.
Then the police discover a woman was with Laird the night he died. That woman is The Agency's Agent Lisa Fabrizzi. Not that she tells them she's C.I.A. right away. Can't just go blabbing that without need. Suddenly Commissioner Mannion finds his office being bugged. But by who? The C.I.A.? Elkwood? The C.I.A. via Elkwood? What is going on?
The cops find out Lisa Fabrizzi is C.I.A. It turns out Daniel Laird, the dead guy? Also in the C.I.A. The C.I.A. had sent him into Elkwood undercover. It seems he found out some info and got killed for it. The cops put a cop at Lisa's apartment to protect her AND keep an eye on her. Mannion can't figure out who to trust.
When Lisa and her cop "bodyguard" get to her apartment then find Braxton there planting bugs. Mannion confronts C.I.A. boss Robert Quinn asking him what is going on. Is Braxton working for him? Is HE having everyone bugged? Did the C.I.A. kill one of their own while he was investigating a company they ran? No no no, of course not. Probably. Quinn hardly inspires trust. Mannion talks to another C.I.A. big shot named Tom Gage, played by Beau Bridges. Gage tells him that even if someone in the C.I.A. helped get Laird killed, he wants that killer brought to justice.
The cops discover that Laird gave Lisa Fabrizzi a briefcase the night he died. Oops, did she forget to mention that? Well, it is part of her job description to keep her mouth shut. The case turns out to have discs containing all the info Laird had on Elkwood boss Victor Abbot. Well, someone wanted that info bad enough to kill for it so the cops decide to use that to their advantage. Lisa calls Abbot. She pretends she wants to blackmail him for it. They set up a meeting. But before she can reach Abbot Lisa is jumped by Braxton! He did it. He kill Laird! The info would not only be bad for Abbot, it would also apparently prove Braxton was stealing from his company. But Braxton is in for a surprise when it turns out he has been setup. He is surrounded by cops and taken into custody.
Being interrogated, Braxton claims he IS in fact working for the C.I.A. and that in exchange for a light sentence he will give his bosses up to the police.
The final scene of The District intercut between Braxton being driven to court and Tom Gage questioning Quinn over whether the C.I.A. did have a hand in the whole ugly mess. Quinn says no. Meanwhile we see one of Braxton's escorts kill the other escort and then Braxton. Cut back to Gage asking Quinn, "Do you have ideas on how that might be prevented?" and Quinn responding, "Yes I do." Preventing what we don't know.
The phone rings. It's Mannion calling to let Gage know Braxton has been killed. "Good work, Tom." Tom Gage looks at Quinn with suspicion. The end!
Pretty good. Wraps up the plot to a certain extend for folks wanting to stop there but it left tons of unanswered questions.
Oh. There was also a B-story that needs mentioned before moving on. In an unrelated plot couple of the cops investigate a disturbance in an apartment building. Some "thing" jumps one of the officers in the basement of the building. He insists it was a monster and posts drawings of the "creature" everywhere in the building and causing a stir big enough even the press hears about it. A reporter shows up covering the story and interviewing people in the building live on the air. In the end, it turns out "the monster" is actually a small escaped monkey. The officer who claimed it was "a monster" gets ragged on unmercifully by his fellow officers. A throwaway B-story? Guess again.
Moving on to The Agency, we revisit the end of The District and get to see how editing can effect how a scene plays. We see Brazxton interrogated. Only now we see it from the point of view of Gage and Quinn watching from behind a one way mirror. Suddenly we see that when Mannion asks, "Who in the C.I.A. ordered the killing?" he is actually staring right right at the pair, accusing them really. Next we see the same conversation between Gage and Quinn and Braxton being murdered. Only this time we get more info. In particular what that odd question about , "Can you prevent it," meant.Quinn: It's blackmail. We can't let him smear us.
Gage: Do you have ideas on how that might be prevented?
We see Braxton killed.
Quinn: Yes, I do.
Now on The District the killing came way before, "Yes, I do." It was cut to make you suspicious of Quinn. The sequence on The Agency doesn't make you suspicious of Quinn, it makes you pretty certain he did it. Kinda cool.
Now things get really complicated. I'm likely just going to have to oversimplify like crazy. Gage asks about Elkwood. Was it a C.I.A. company? Yes and no. They didn't own it but they did funnel money through it. The C.I.A. was "buying" a heck of a lot of banking computer equipment. Heading over to Elkwoods offices Gage finds the building abandoned. Everyone and everything is gone. And since the C.I.A. didn't actually run the company it turns out they can't track where everyone went. And the files the C.I.A. had on the company? Oh, it seems they were all destroyed with the authorization of the more and more creepy Agent Quinn. And if the company was being used to funnel money, where was that missing money now?
It also seems Quinn was working with the thieving, murdering Mr. Braxton. Only Quinn, scummy though he might seem, wouldn't be the type to be into stealing money. Ah! But he would be into wanting money for secret operations.
Looking into the records they have of the C.I.A.'s transactions with Elkwood. It turns out eighteen million dollars were funneled to a subsidiary company. The name attached to that company is one of the aliases used by Lisa Fabrizzi. You know, the last one to see the dead guy - the first original dead guy - alive?
Confronted with this info Lisa explains that she opened that account as a favor to Quinn. When he is confronted, Quinn explains the money was put in that account as a way for the U.S. to give money to foreign powers without that money being traceable to our government. Gage points out maybe Quinn killed Braxton to help cover his own ass. Braxton was going to sell out his bosses. Quinn is cool as ice. He points out the case would never go anywhere because they'd need Elkwood employees to testify and they were all gone. Ah, but cleaning out the company so no one could testify was obstructing justice! Ah, but since Braxton was dead there was no case to be obstructed. Follow that? Confusing but basically a nice bit of ass covering. Quinn suggests if the cops need want someone to hang, give them the lovely Lisa Fabrizzi. She slept with the murdered guy, she was the one with ties to the bank account. What can I say? Again, he's creepy.
This is the point where the C.I.A. with the help of the D.C. police find one more quirk in this case. The account Lisa set up had eighteen million dollars in it. The police discover Braxton stole one million dollars. That makes nineteen million dollars total. Only the C.I.A. only put fifteen million in the account. So, where did the extra four million come from? Confronted, again, Quinn suggests maybe it was profits. Yeah, right. But hey, wait a minute. This is a company that made banking software, that dealt with banks. Could it be the C.I.A. stole money through this company? Yep. Why why why? Well, maybe they weren't stealing just any money. Maybe they were making "unsecured loans" from the accounts of terrorists. Not maybe. they were. "Deprive the terrorists of their money, deprive them of their power," Quinn observes.
Well, seeing as the government has been authorized to take terrorists funds, why the big cover up? Why lie to the police about any of this crap? Why throw Lisa to them like a lamb to the wolves? Well, if they told the police, that info would get to the press and then the terrorists would all move their funds before more could be seized. And besides, Quinn new Lisa would survive. She was innocent in the murder and that would come out."You're a son of a bitch!" Agent Matt Callan tells Quinn.
"Yes, but I don't kill people."
Callan asks Lisa how much she knew about the scheme to steal money from terrorists. She says she didn't know anything but she is familiar enough with the situation to be able to help piece together who was behind Braxton' s murder. This is info it that it seems Quinn knew all along but just chose not to share. That info is handed off to Tom Gage who in turn hands it over to Commissioner Mannion. The killer has fled the country and will be hard to catch but the police at least know who he is. Mannion is thankful for Gage dealing straight with him.
The final scene had Lisa discovering Quinn sitting in her house, having broken in. He proceeds to lay out that he believes Lisa had Braxton killed. She was sleeping with Laird. Braxton killed Laird. Quinn says he thinks Lisa knew about the scheme to steal money from terrorists, that she leaked the info about Braxton being responsible to one of the terrorists so that they would kill him. Revenge for the death of her lover. Quinn actually is impressed with this. Which is just fine with Lisa. The one plot point I left out of all of the above is that Quinn, not trusting Quinn, had earlier asked Lisa to try and get in good with Quinn. After Quinn leaves, Lisa gets on the phone to report in that Quinn now thinks he has her where he wants her.
But wait, we still have that monkey to deal with. It seems that when that reporter covering the monkey story went on the air, one of the people she talked to was a young girl in the building visiting a friend. That girl's father had helped the C.I.A. defeat a terrorist plan and he and his whole family had been put in the witness relocation program. With the daughter on the news, they would have to quickly move the family and give them new identities. But before Agent Terri Lowell can get the family packed up, they are attacked! The assassin kills the family's dog and wounds the father. The family hides in the basement of the family's house. The killers do not come after them. They wait until dark. Meanwhile Agent Joshua Nankin back at the C.I.A. wondering what is keeping agent Lowell decides to head over and find out Lowell fights with the killers and blinds them with a makeshift booby trap as the family flees to their car. Only the killers have tampered with the car. Lowell gets the car running just in time, backing away as a killer points a gun at the car. Just then Agent Joshua Nankin arrives, crashing his car into the killer and making him into a nice greasy spot on the road. The family is taken to the hospital before being relocated.
A note to the makers of both these shows: next crossover can you just have, say Craig T. Nelson and Beau Bridge's characters just go out for lunch or something else less complicated? I'm begging ya!
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