The third season of FBI on CBS is coming to an end, and viewers are in for an intense episode that brings back one of the most memorable criminals of Season 3: Antonio Vargas, played by Dexter alum David Zayas. Unlike most of the bad guys of FBI, Vargas wasn't captured, held, and locked up by the end of his debut episode, thanks to a fateful decision made by Isobel. Now, he's coming back for what showrunner Rick Eid describes as a "rematch," and that's not all. So, do Isobel and the rest of the FBI team stand a chance in the showdown?
FBI showrunner Rick Eid spoke with CinemaBlend ahead of the Season 3 finale, called "Straight Flush," and he explained why Vargas was the right criminal to bring back for the Season 3 finale:
Because it wasn't closed. It's one of the rare times that we let a murderer drug kingpin free.... So the fact that we let somebody, this kind of criminal, walk free, is a problem, and an unresolved problem. We saw in Episode 14 the emotional toll that experience took on Elise, and she's still struggling with some lingering effects of trauma. There's a lot of unfinished business here. And we thought that it would be great to have a rematch, so to speak, between Isobel and Vargas.
In David Zayas' first appearance as Vargas, he was freed by Isobel after his foot soldiers captured poor Elise, fitted her with a bomb collar, and sent her back into FBI headquarters. While the building was mostly evacuated in case the explosive went off, Elise herself was doomed unless they somehow found a way to disarm it, and she definitely wasn't the only character still in the blast radius if the worst happened. So Isobel set him free to save lives, and he was slippery enough to get away before he could be recaptured. Rick Eid isn't kidding about unfinished business!
His first appearance and then escape made for the kind of failure that viewers don't generally see from the skilled FBI team of agents, although it was a win insofar as innocent lives were saved. When I commented that the return of Vargas seems like it could just make the trauma that was so evident in Elise last week get even worse, Rick Eid pointed out a potential upside of the team crossing paths with Vargas again:
The return of Vargas, perhaps the conviction or the arrest or the imprisonment of Vargas, might begin that process.
Of course, the showrunner didn't guarantee that Isobel and Co. will indeed manage to arrest and imprison Vargas to begin the healing process for Elise, but Elise beginning to recover without having to fear that he could turn up again would definitely be a perk of the team getting him back into custody and keeping him there. The big question is simply whether or not the deck is too stacked against the heroes to hang onto Vargas even if they get their hands on him, since he presumably hasn't lost all his loyal soldiers since his last appearance.
In fact, Rick Eid went on to explain how "Straight Flush" will compare to David Zayas' debut episode as Vargas, which aired as the final FBI episode of 2020 back in December. Eid said:
I'd say if you liked his debut episode, you'll love this episode. It's intentionally a Part 2 of that storyline. The first episode we called 'Liar's Poker' because of their showdown and this one we call 'Straight Flush.' Because once again, they're both in a sense playing poker. The question is who has the straight flush – Vargas or Isobel?
Vargas may have won the last "hand" of poker, but the stakes were so high that it's hard to blame Isobel for folding to save lives. She made an impossible decision in the face saving lives vs. freeing a most wanted (although not a Most Wanted) criminal in the middle of New York City. While I for one would like to bet on Isobel and the team in the Season 3 finale, the promo for "Straight Flush" at the very least indicates that Vargas won't go down easily, if he goes down at all. Take a look:
The Season 3 finale of FBI airs on Tuesday, May 25 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS, between the finale of NCIS Season 18 at 8 p.m. and the finale of FBI: Most Wanted Season 2 at 10 p.m. ET. With Vargas planting multiple bombs in Central Park and none of the team members other than Isobel looking too confident about nailing him, fans may want to prepare for another intense FBI episode as Vargas' future in custody or free is decided yet again.