The Blackout Part I: Tragedy Porn

Episode Report Card
Sara M: C+ | 8 USERS: A-
Even God Hates This Show

And then!!!! Charlie GOES TO THE LBRARY!!!! THRILL! Actually, it does seem really exciting, if only because we're 1) In a new location, and 2) It was accompanied by a jaunty musical flourish. Charlie walks into a reading room and spots a man wearing a carnation on his lapel. He sits down next to him, whispering, "I'm Charlie Skinner." "Shall I call you Mr. Hancock?" Charlie asks. "It's Schneider," the man says, looking confused. "How many aliases do you have?" Charlie grumbles. Schneider is even more confused. "Are you 'Late for Dinner?'" Charlie asks. "I have no idea what you're talking about," Schneider says. That is the worst thing about urban public libraries! They are full of crazy people!

A familiar voice calls Charlie over. Yes, it's the actual Late for Dinner -- his voice is very distinctive, enough so that you'd think Charlie would have immediately realized Schneider wasn't him. An embarrassed Charlie tries to play it cool while leaving Schneider's table. I feel like I've seen this kind of thing several times on Get Smart, except that on Get Smart it was so much funnier. Charlie introduces himself to Solomon Hancock, the real Late for Dinner, who doesn't understand why Charlie assumed he was a nerdy middle-aged white man named Schneider. Charlie says the carnation threw him off. Hancock says he never claimed he would be wearing any kind of flower. Charlie watched too many spy movies. Hancock might have, too: he demands that Charlie take the battery out of his cell phone in case the evildoers are using it to listen in on the conversation. Um... if they are, then they kind of already heard Hancock's name and that he set up this meeting with Charlie, right? Why stop now?

Charlie doesn't know how to remove his battery, so Hancock does it for him. "I'll never be able to put that back together," Charlie sighs. BlackBerry Casualty #3 on this show, I believe? Charlie asks Hancock to tell him about himself. Hancock says he used to work for the government during the Cold War, then the private sector and then, after 9/11, for the government again. "You're an IT guy," Charlie says. Hancock bristles. "My title is assistant deputy director of technology and systems cryptology and mathematics at NSA," he says. He writes it down for Charlie, who has pretty clearly demonstrated his inability to follow what's going on.

Hancock says he tests NSA software like a program called Global Clarity, used to search millions of electronic communications all over the world to try to find bin Laden. It was created by defense contractors and, as Hancock says, intercepts 1.7 billion phone calls, emails, texts, etc. every day. "Legally?" Charlie asks. Of course not! Duh. Hancock says he's talking about "illegal, warrantless wiretapping of American citizens." Charlie needs further clarification on what Hancock means by "warrantless." "Without a warrant!" Hancock says, losing patience. The NSA has been "happily" breaking all kinds of laws and amendments and is spying on us all. Yeah? Have fun listening to all of my boring phone conversations, NSA. Hancock says some NSA employees are using the technology to spy on ex-spouses and even movie stars! Oh god no, not our movie stars!!!

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