Waiting for the End of the World

by Ezra Buckley on November 9, 2017

EARLY IN THE Manhunt: Unabomberminiseries, which first aired on the Discovery Channel in the summer of 2017, there’s a scene where Jim Fitzgerald (played by Sam Worthington) expresses his sympathy for the argument against modern civilization that Theodore Kaczynski outlined in “Industrial Society and Its Future,” more popularly known as the “Unabomber Manifesto.” Two years after Kaczynski’s arrest, the FBI profiler still has the manifesto kicking around in his brain, still sees the rest of society as “sleepwalking” through life: “Watching TV, eating trash, working to become something for someone else,” he says. “And nobody does anything about it. Nobody even tries. Nobody except for Ted.” “Yeah, but Fitz,” his colleague reminds him, “he’s the Unabomber.”

Obviously, you don’t get Discovery to commit to an eight-hour docudrama by glorifying terrorism, and the miniseries is careful to present Kaczynski as a very bad man whose bombings maimed and killed several victims, and who was brought down by the indefatigable efforts of a massive FBI task force — or, more specifically, one FBI profiler who refused to play along while his superiors chased one false lead after another and was ultimately able to convince everyone that applying “forensic linguistics” to the manifesto was the key to uncovering the identity Kaczynski had hidden for 17 years.

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