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"Without a Trace" White Balance (2006)

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Two teens missing: One white, one black. One female, one male. The FBI and the media give more attention to the missing white girl.

Author: brizzman
12 December 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***CONTAINS SPOILERS*** I had never watched an episode of "Without A Trace" before this, and probably won't in the future. But who knows? Not because I think it's a bad show, but I just happen to catch this episode in syndication while channel surfing. I'm into enough shows anyway. This episode was riveting and despite a few holes in the plot (i.e. why didn't the black mother try to get media attention elsewhere, why were both mothers at the FBI office at the end when they didn't know Jack had any final news until he came out, etc.) the episode had very good momentum, superb acting, and was emotive. My biggest complaint is with the "up-in-the-air ending" - One is alive and one is dead. One could debate and try to guess which teen was killed, but that simply becomes annoying. The show tried to go for a profound ending, which I applaud, but what they missed is that once an audience has followed your bread crumbs with such interest, you must satisfy them with closure. No, closure is not necessary in every situation, but this episode's writing didn't lend itself to a mysterious ending. I really think the writers were stuck. They didn't want to contradict their equal opportunity message by killing the black teen and they didn't want killing the white teen to be misconstrued as a radical pro-reverse discrimination message. So they went the safe route under the guise of the issue being the real point...Nice try, but no blue ribbon. The writing should've been crafted a little differently in key areas to achieve that. The episode would've received less negative feedback on this site and probably been received better on air had they chosen a teen to definitively be the dead teen, then scripted reflective conversation between main characters to drive home their deep point. (And yes, this is just my opinion).

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Great ending!

Author: conversationalist from United Kingdom
28 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was gripped by this episode of a consistently good show. It covered the important issue of biased media coverage, something recently raised over the reporting of murders in the UK. Two teenagers go missing, one white and one black, one a girl and the other a boy. All the media coverage and more of the resources go to the case of the white girl, despite the strong reservations of the FBI team. There seemed to be several opportunities where the FBI or either of the mothers of the missing teenagers could have tried to change this, but sadly it didn't happen. Perhaps the scriptwriters felt this reflected the reality of what goes on. Unlike most episodes, there was no resolution here. Were we meant to assume one thing led to another? I didn't think so, and was left guessing.....great ending!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Big Clue

Author: brianrobertonline
28 July 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Warning to anyone who hasn't seen this episode: This clue will spoil the show for you. Like most reviewers; I felt cheated at the end of the hour. What happened to the missing girl after she left the hotel? How did she end up lifeless in an automobile trunk? Most people felt unsatisfied because the identity of the dead person isn't given.

Here's my clue: Danny and Samantha were assigned to the missing girl's case. They were the agents on the scene when the body was "positively" identified. One of them phoned the news to Jack Malone; who then slowly approached the two apprehensive mothers. Therefore; it follows that it must have been the girl who was murdered.

I initially felt cheated by the ending, and thought about it for awhile--until my "aha" moment.

The most interesting episodes (for me) involve the whole team working on one case, and the clue/evidence gathering. Will the person be found dead; or alive??

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Should have been their Emmy episode

Author: spinnercricket from Michigan, USA
14 May 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Though I agree this episode has an obvious intent that fact doesn't lessen the power of it. There is no question in the mind of the viewer where it was headed. Malone's defense of his staff with his superiors and of his superiors to his staff and the two mothers shows how all good leaders serve. The episode also shows the complexity of being Vivian Johnson in the midst of all the latent media bias. What takes this somewhat predictable plot beyond the preachy is the revealing moment at the end. ****Beyond here spoilers be**** Malone is informed that both missing youths were found, one dead and one alive. Having followed the story lines we are intrigued to know who which is. It isn't until Malone approaches both mothers and the screen goes to credits that we realize how invested in each family we are. Who do we think is dead? Who alive? How do our preconceived notions play into that? We have spent the better part of an hour being judgmental of the press, the agency, and Malone's lack of ability to control either when we suddenly find our own bias laid bare. That can be either to our credit or not. Or maybe it just helps us see our real selves. Either way the viewer doesn't walk away just entertained but truly challenged in the best traditions of the media. In a season (Their fourth) which jumped the shark with last episode of their previous season, this episode edges the show back towards redemption; redemption being the main theme of "Without a Trace" for its first 69 episodes. Jeff M.

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I Tried to Give It More Than One Star...

Author: Blue_Eyes_James from United States
31 July 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Because many if not most parts of this episode deserved it, as always. "WAT" is a great show with a superb cast.

Those extra stars will have to remain invisible and contained only in the words of my review. Much has been made about how brilliant the ending was. And it was! SPOILERS comin'! To end a show with a a known but un-revealed outcome isn't a new plot device. And for a moment I liked the "one is alive and one is dead" ending just before confronting the two mothers. But... we invested so much of our own investigating in our minds, following the complexity of forced virgin prostitution, paid grade cheating, runaway father, rebellious tattoos, white missing girl vs. black missing boy vs. the higher-ups and the press... that basically, following all of that was for nothing.

Where did Emily go after leaving the hotel? Theoretically she should've returned home alive, because Darnell had an excuse for his absence, caring for his father. But that still doesn't explain him not returning home earlier, unless the events between meeting his dad and his dad's death were more compact.

If one were alive, they would not have been missing for over 48 hours! So even the timeline they fed us might be misleading. Too much work and involvement leading up to guess who 'won" in the end, the white or black mother. The latter who of course didn't aggressively pursue the media as suggested by Vivian! WTH? Thank you and enjoy!

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I don't think that is what they are trying to put out

Author: luckienum_13 from United States
31 October 2008

while it is very true that many many African Americans are not reported on the news under any type of issues missing or even doing well in other matters. I thought this was a really well done episode cus it is stating that fact as we know it now. I simply think they are trying to show the aspect of saying race shouldn't matter cus in the end someone lost a child doesn't matter who they are where they come from or what race they are so by staying away from telling who died just planning shows that no matter if they go on air to the news or not everyone should be treated equal cus u never know what will happen out there. Not sure if most agree.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

pay close attention to the end

Author: timothy6959 from United States
1 December 2011

if you pay close enough attention to the end you can see the outcome of the show watch the face of the last woman seen from what i can tell it is the white girl that is dead the show is a mess but the show is not all about being racist it is the conflict between races notice that everyone in the show is talking about being race related conflict but what i get from the show is with every moment counting the focus should have been on saving a life white black green what ever the race it should have been about the kids but race wars today is more devastating to us now because even if we are not racist we can still be seen in this way because of the way we where all brought up the ending of the show was left the way it was because the director wanted everyone to think how a race war can be never ending if we don't end it before it starts the whole story here is not how a single race can be singled out when it comes to Death therefore to show this the girl had to die

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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

I thought that I had missed the ending, but I guess not

Author: snarlah-1 from United States
6 May 2008

I recently had DVR from Comcast installed in my home and it seems to me that when I select a program to record it sometimes ends short. I thought I was doing something wrong by not setting the recordings manually, but apparently those are the actual endings that I'm getting.

I say this because this particular show didn't tell me which teenager had been killed, the black boy or the white girl. But based on what I've read here among the comments, that information was not missing from my recording. That information was never there to begin with. We do not know which one was killed, which makes the entire show a loss.

Racism is a common theme for this kind of copping out at the end, but it is not the only one. I watched "Numbers" last week and they did the same thing about politics at the end of the show. They had a chance to be strongly against the current Administration, and at the last moment they did not come through.

Also, in general, although I enjoy those programs that feature the FBI as if it were a different organization than the one we know, or CSI shows us an incredible amount of resources and concern put into every single murder that takes place in Las Vegas, they are generally all a cop out in this way: these wonderful, intensely effective organizations do not exist in this country, and probably never did. Otherwise, why would so many people call the FBI the FEEBS? Why would so many murders go unsolved? And "Cold Case," oh, please. We go back 5-60 years to solve murders that were filed without solution. On what planet do these things happen? They have their enjoyable aspects, but they're like a law-enforcement dream--they do not happen in real life.

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11 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Review of episode White Balance

Author: sid155 from United States
13 May 2006

I have been a fan of Without A Trace from the premier episode. I really cannot express my disappointment in the episode last week. This is a REAL problem that far too many Afican-American families have dealt with and continue to deal with. The lack of media coverage crucial in the first 48 hours has been documented by a recent study. Law enforcement including local , state, and federal are also complicit. What was the purpose of advertising this subject matter and then copping out on the ending? Seemingly, television can deal with almost ANY subject matter EXCEPT RACE. This is shameful.Get it together or don't explore it next time.

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