FBI's Isobel Just Crossed A Major Line To Close A Case, But Was It The Right Call?

Alana De La Garza as Isobel in FBI
(Image credit: CBS)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 15 of FBI Season 5, called "The Lies We Tell."

All hands were on deck at 26 Fed in FBI's latest episode, when the fatal shooting of an off-duty diplomatic security agent escalated to involve explosions, a stolen virus and vaccine, and a hostage situation. The stakes were sky-high with the clock ticking before thousands of people could die due to the new strain of COVID, which meant that Isobel had a choice to make. She crossed a line, and Maggie was bothered enough to make it clear that she had doubts about what her boss did, but a lot of people are still alive in the FBI universe because of Isobel's actions. So did she make the right call? 

Cracking the case ultimately rested on a man who had broken the law to try and save his wife's life, and he refused to cooperate unless he had proof that she was alive and well. Isobel and Maggie had been bluffing when they claimed that his wife was fine but being processed elsewhere, and they had a choice to make: 1) continue trying to bluff, 2) come clean that they hadn't found his wife, 3) get creative to trick him into believing his wife was safe. 

There was no real good option, so Isobel chose the one most likely to get the needed results as quickly as possible. She tasked Ian with compiling all the footage he could of the man's wife so that he could fake a quick video that made it look like she was reassuring her husband that she was fine. At first, Isobel's decision seemed like a sketchy but not all that objectionable move, since the agents still hoped to find the woman alive. 

Her choice had darker implications after the man's wife was discovered dead, clearly murdered as soon as he was no more use to them. To her credit, when Isobel broke the news, she didn't try to cover up the truth about when she died, and let him know that they'd never had her safely in their custody at all. He was devastated and angry at being used, and Maggie seemed at least somewhat on his side. She could certainly see his point! After all, for all that they lie to suspects all the time, faking a video to convince somebody that their missing spouse was alive and well is something else entirely. 

Isobel firmly reminded Maggie that it had been her decision, not Maggie's, and kept a brave face about the ruse in front of the other agents. Alana De La Garza's performance as soon as she decided to trick the man was enough to clue viewers in to how Isobel was feeling without the other characters figuring it out. It was very clear by the time the final credits rolled just how much it affected her, as Isobel skipped taking advantage of court side tickets to a Knicks game with a man she's sort of seeing to drink alone in a dark bar. 

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Isobel didn't really make the most morally sound decision, but it's easier for Maggie to make the objections when she ultimately wasn't the one whose call would mean life or death for many more people than just the man's wife. Isobel made what she saw at the time as the best choice in a bad situation.

Fans may be able to debate back and forth about whether Isobel made the right call, but I for one love when Isobel-centric episodes dig into the particular pressures that she faces as the boss. Her position means that she's the most likely character to cross over to FBI: International and FBI: Most Wanted, and episodes like "The Lies We Tell" help to flesh her out even more ever since the reveals about her backstory. Isobel has always been one of my favorite FBI characters, so even watching her make questionable decisions makes an episode all the more interesting for me.

Keep tuning in to CBS on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET for new episodes of FBI. The show is already guaranteed to return for Season 6 after scoring a two-season renewal back in the spring of 2022, and a crossover between the three FBIs is on the way in just over a month, so there's a lot to be excited about. If you want to revisit some earlier Isobel episodes showcasing Alana De La Garza, you can find FBI streaming via a Paramount+ subscription!

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).