Numb3rs S1E2 Script

Uncertainty Principle (2005)

CHARLIE: Bank robbers are creatures of habit.

Once they develop a successful routine, they stick to it.

Time of day, day of the week, choice of weapon, disguise, region -- these will be the same again and again.

It's actually a lot like these fish.

Given enough time, it's possible to discern a distinct pattern that each one will follow.

Well, mathematicians, they do so love finding these patterns, don't they?

Tell me, what have you gleaned from this set of repeated crime phenomena?

An equation, for the FBI, that predicts when and where these two particular robbers will strike next.

I told my brother, they'd hit today...

Curtis, you see anything?




CHARLIE: one of two locations...

They've hit 16 banks in eight months.

The FBI's nicknamed them the Charm School Boys because they're so nice and polite.

They don't use weapons or threats.

They say "please" and "thank you."

They even open doors for other bank customers on their way in and out.

Using a combination of probability modeling and statistical analysis, I've pinpointed the next robbery.

It's 1:30.

If these guys actually show within the time window Charlie's predicted, it's kind of amazing.

Yeah, I know.

DON: Want to hear something wild?

When I was in college, I played baseball.

Charlie could predict the amount of walks I was gonna get just by my stance.

Charles, I have no doubt in your ability to predict the movements of fish and men, but I would offer one cautionary note, just colleague to colleague.

And what's that?

Don't mistake the ability to predict with the ability to control.

Yeah, I think I know the difference.

Oh, to be young and brilliant and full of yourself.

Just consider.

These Charm School Guys or Boys or whatever, they have no idea what's about to happen to them.

But my equation does.

I have the targets.

Positive ID?

Two Caucasian males, mid-to late 30s.

Baseball cap and sunglasses.

I'm on my way. Let's go.

Let's go. Let's go.

Team Two Baker. You got 'em?

Got 'em.

Teller number three.

We're moving.

Everybody watch your line.

Subject One is asking the teller to hand him the cash drawer.

They're coming out.

David, what's your status?

They're coming out, Don.

We have to move in.

DON: Go.



F! B! I!

( gunfire )

TERRY: David, how many shooters?

All units, what's going on?!

Shots fired!

Multiple shooters!

Agent down!

( gunfire )

CHARLIE: We all use math every day... every day... to predict weather... to tell time... to handle money...

Math is more than formulas and equations.

It's logic.

It's rationality.

It's using your mind to solve the biggest mysteries we know.

( tires screeching, gunfire )

( people screaming )

Get down! Get down!

Stay small!

Get back! Get back!

Get back!

You all right?

Cover me.

( gunfire )

Whatta you got?

Agent down!

I'm gonna go for McKnight.

You cover me with this, all right?

This is a live breaking report from the Channel 8 News...

I also have a post-doc who needs help with some references on an article.

Maybe you can recommend a couple of math students?

Well, wait. Let's clarify.

This is the redheaded post-doc?

Red hair and she rollerblades?

Yeah, you know. Brilliant theoretician.

Well, forget the undergrads. I'll help her.

...injured in the crossfire, where a shootout between Federal agents and suspected bank robbers is in progress.

I see several people are lying on the ground...



They're covering their exit! Terry!




( gunfire )

( gunfire )

Get your hands where I can see them!

Get those hands up!

Freeze! Don't Move!

Drop that radio! Drop it!

I got two suspects fleeing in a silver sedan, license...

OFFICER ( on radio ): progress, eight-year-old female.

All available units please respond.

Uh, this is 1-Adam-6.

Shouldn't we secure the area before we pull out?

They're in our system.

They're in our communications system.

They're making false reports.

Any available unit, report to...

Secure the area!

Went that way! Come on, come on!

You hit?

He's got my gun!

( groans )

Go that way. You hit?

Go that way!

Where'd he go?

I mean, how could we miss him?

This is an active crime scene, do you understand?

Do you understand?

I asked five minutes ago and...

Stop right there.

It, it's okay. Let him through.




Where is Don?

He's over there.

Hey. Hey, Charlie, how you doing?

It's okay, really.

It's fine.

They weren't violent.

There were two of them.

Why 16 robberies exactly the same, and then this?

I mean, first of all, nobody ever tried to stop them, right?

And it wasn't just two guys.

You know, they had four backing them up.

Yeah. We had no way of knowing till we confronted them.

That's it. You're good to go.

Nothing to Dad, right?


Don't say anything to Dad.

I'll take care of it, okay?

You heard me, right?

Charm School Boys.

I mean, I'm sorry, they came prepared for war.

DAVID: We've got people looking at the security tapes from the previous robberies to see if the same accomplices were present at those incidents as well.

And there's no doubt in my mind that was a detailed ambush-and-escape plan.

And didn't hesitate to kill.

( sighs )

Well, from what I understand, in the last five years, this office has lost only two agents in the line of fire?


McKnight's parents are flying in from Denver tonight.

I'm gonna go talk to them at the hotel.

I mean, I don't know what you say to a parent about their dead son.

All right, what have we got so far?

Um, we think their crew consists of at least six individuals.

From the firearms, use of explosives, the false 911 calls, we're assuming it's a team with extensive training and experience.

The gunman David shot was identified by his driver's license as Malcolm Stapleton, 36.

Video game designer. No criminal record.

How does somebody go from no criminal record to firing on Federal agents with an assault weapon?

That's the question we need to be asking.

We need to know a lot more about this dead guy.

Already on it.

That's the first thing we need to know, and we have to assume with their planning and preparation, they're not gonna hesitate to hit another bank.

So even though we're looking at this guy, Charlie's equation, that's still our best lead.

Well, he was able to predict today's robbery.

He should be able to tell us where they're gonna go next.

Charlie... did you hear what I said?

Oh, I'm just, uh... thinking.

Uh... ( clears throat )

( sighs )

Understand this is an entirely new problem now.

The pattern I was working from was a false pattern.

No, no, not so much false as incomplete.

You were able to accurately predict today's robbery.

Right, but there's new factors now, okay?

They aren't two unarmed guys.

So the assumptions we made about them are invalid.

DON: Okay, all right, all right, look, so you take the new factors, and you make a new equation, right?

It's not that easy, man.

It's not that easy because, uh... there's something else that has to be considered.

Like what?

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.

Heisenberg noted that the, uh, the act of observation will affect the observed.

In other words, when you watch something, you change it.

And, uh... for example, like, an electron.

You know, you can't really measure it without bumping into it in some small way.

Any physical act of observation requires interaction with a form of energy, like light, and that will change the nature of the electron, its path of travel.

All right, all right, hold on, hold on.

You know I got, like, a C in physics, so just take me through how this relates to the case.

Don... you've observed the robbers.

They know it; that will change their actions.

TERRY: Okay, so they change their MO, but we don't have to go back to square one.

We know some things about them.

We have a basis for making some conclusions.

Right. Good, but I, um...

I can't help.

I can't do this.

TERRY: Charlie, you feeling okay?

Yeah, it's just my stomach's been bothering me.

That's normal. Happens to a lot of us after something like today.


I was the only one I know who was throwing up at the crime scene.

Look, buddy, come here. Turn around.

Charlie, listen to me: what you saw was-was bad, okay?

I know. Trust me.

It takes a while to process that.

So what I want you to do is go home.

Come on. Put that down. Give me that.

Charlie, you go home and you get some rest.

Go, and when you come up with something, just call us, all right?

Charlie, call me if you want to talk about anything, okay?


We're counting on you, buddy.

( sighs )

What do you got?

The explosive in the car bomb was C-4.

Check into that batch.

How are we doing on the fake 911 calls?

Two individuals using cell phones with scramblers.

We're preparing voice prints.

We got any hits on crews with similar MOs?

No, so far it's unique to these guys.

And we should be checking into armored transport, and-and jewelry, fine art, right?

I mean, they could've started in any one of those and, uh, moved on to banks.

( sighs ) I should be looking at mug shots, right?

Did you get a good look?

Yeah, definitely.

WOMAN: Agent Eppes.

That piece of evidence you found at the scene -- we know what it is. Excellent.

It's an ultra-thin plastic mask that you can peel off in a second, wad up and throw away.


A micro-mask.

The CIA uses the stuff for covert operations.

That explains how he was able to just disappear.

He could alter the shape of his face, his nose, making him unrecognizable.

DON: So much for mug shots.

I'm gonna find out where you can get one of these things.

Right. Thanks.



Charles? Oh.

Listen, I just stopped by.

Amita said that you weren't gonna be coming to campus tomorrow, and...

I don't know, surely you remember you're giving a presentation to my graduate seminar.

Larry, I'm right in the middle of a significant line of thought.

Right now really isn't the best time for me to be entering in on a discussion with anyone, no offense.

No, no, no, none taken -- it's just that Amita said that you also said that you wouldn't be coming to school for a while?

And I just think, uh, you know, considering your teaching schedule, the upcoming semifinals, I mean, it struck me as rather odd, just kind of... entirely unworkable.

Well, maybe so, but I'm close to a breakthrough on this three-set, and so I-I need to follow through on this line of current algorithms now while I have a fix on it.

Donny. Hey, Dad.

You all right? Yeah, yeah, I'm okay.

I'm fine... Ow, ow.

Look, it's just, my arm's a little sore.

I got a-a scrape during an incident.

A scrape? From what?

Well, a bullet, if you have to know.

But it's not... Dad, please, listen to me, okay?

Just relax. We had an arrest go bad, and we lost an agent, okay?

And three people died.

Now I'm looking for Charlie. Where is he?

He's out in the garage with Larry.

He's upset. I can see why now.

What's he doing in the garage?

He's just working on that problem. You know.

What? That problem he can never solve.

The P versus P thing?

Yeah, yeah, that's the one. Aw, man.

Where you going?

I got to talk to him. I need a new equation.


You know that it's considered unsolvable?

Well, certainly people who have failed to solve it might think that.

But we all know, Minesweeper Consistency is an NP-complete problem, so I believe that there is an answer in here somewhere.

Minesweeper? What are we talking about, computer games?

Yes, but if you keep talking to me, I'm going to lose my train of thought, so please don't talk anymore.

'Cause I-I need to follow through on this-this-this line of-of adjacent vertices.

Look, please don't do this.

Don't do what, Don?

Go ahead, go ahead, try and tell me what it is that I'm doing.

You don't even know what it is I'm doing.

No, actually I do; the thing is, I don't think you do.

Okay. I'm gonna go contemplate the koi pond.

Charlie, look, you helped us find these guys once before.

You can do it again.

Come on.

Why, so you can get shot again?

No, buddy. Look, understand, I appreciate you care about me, but it's not gonna happen.

Statistically, you're dead now.

You understand what that means?

A man aimed a gun at your head and fired.

The fact that you survived is an anomaly, and it's unlikely to be the outcome of a second such encounter.

Listen to me.

We don't have many leads, okay?

If you can help us predict when and if these guys are gonna hit another bank, this is the only shot we got.

Please understand, sometimes...

( panting ) I can't choose what I work on.

I can't follow through on a line of thinking just because I want to or... or because it's needed.

I have to work on what's in my head.

And right now this is what's in my head.

This is the license we got off the guy that David shot, which IDs him as Malcolm Stapleton, right?

All right.

This is a duplicate license of Stapleton we got from the DMV.

So... if the one we got off the body is a fake, then who is he?

His current neighbors recognize that guy as Stapleton.

Let's go talk to the neighbors of his former residence.

All right, that's a good idea. Yeah.

Hey, how's, uh, how's Charlie doing?

I don't know, he's just working on some famously unsolvable math problem, which is not a good sign.

At least it's not binge drinking and strip clubs.

That's true.

TERRY: You're sure this isn't Malcolm Stapleton?

Yes, I'm sure, because that's Malcolm's brother.

What happened to him?

He was involved in an accident.

What's the brother's name?

Bill Stapleton.

He showed up a few months ago, said Malcolm had gotten a job back East and wouldn't be coming back.

Did Malcolm ever talk about having a brother, or say anything about getting a new job?

No. Never even said goodbye.

Okay, well, thank you for your time.

Thank you.

Okay, so our dead guy is the brother of a man who was an only child.

Right. Where do you want to start?

I'm thinking if he never said goodbye, maybe Malcolm never moved from here.

Let's talk to the manager.

The super said contractors came in to do work down here, but the owner never ordered the work.


Check this out.

( knocking )

Looks brand-new.

That's good. Let me look.

DON: Whoa.

See that?

TERRY: Looks like we just found Malcolm.

We found a body identified by fingerprints as Malcolm Stapleton.

TERRY: We think the man you shot killed Stapleton and stole his identity.

I'd like to be there when you talk to the ME.

All right.

Malcolm Stapleton died from massive blood loss after his carotid artery was severed.

The killer knew what he was doing.

DON: How so?

Well, the thing is, most people don't know how to slit a throat.

They think you pull back the head like this.

But in this position, the windpipe provides some protection to the major blood vessels.

However, tilt the head forward, the arteries are exposed.

The cut was made away and down from the assailant, minimizing blood splatter.

The weapon was an extremely sharp, wide-blade knife.

Somebody with medical training?

More like military experience.

You know, the victim in the robbery or the guy in the boiler room had his throat cut exactly like this.

The wound on that body was very similar.

But here's something new. Look at this.

Electrical burns.

This man was tortured before he was killed.

DON: All right, so they kill efficiently, they use torture, and they can execute a coordinated escape.

You're thinking military?

I'm thinking Special Forces.

( phone rings )


We're on our way.

Charm School Boys just hit another bank.

Let's go. All right, thanks.


Same MO, same two guys.

Asked for cash, didn't show a weapon, but when the assistant manager followed them outside and pulled out a cell phone, they shot him.

You realize this breaks the pattern of two weeks between robberies.

Excuse me.

( ringing )


Uh... yeah, actually I think you might have the right number.

Ma'am, my name is Don Eppes with the FBI.

There's been an incident.

Are you at home?

Can you please stay there?

We're going to come see you.

What's your address?

That's my gun.

Classic psych-ops technique: he's trying to get inside your head so you don't think clearly and dispassionately.

Well, we need to look beyond conventional military.

Start concentrating on Delta Force, Navy SEAL units...

I agree.

Have you shown any of the new data to Charlie?

No, he's not working the case.

Just that crazy math problem day and night.

Last time he pulled one of these is when our mother got cancer.

They were close?

Yeah, but when she came home from chemo, he couldn't deal, just stayed in the garage... didn't spend any time with her.

What are you thinking?

That he can't stay in the garage forever.

ALAN: You know, Don and Charlie, they graduated high school on the same day.

Thank you. Don's mentioned it.

A few times.

ALAN: Kind of puts an edge on that sibling rivalry thing, you know?

I'm sure it does, but having a kid like Charlie had to put some unusual pressure on the family.

How old was he when you first realized he was exceptional?

I think he was three when he multiplied four-digit numbers in his head.

By the age of four he needed special teachers, special classes.

My wife...

I mean, his mother and I, we put a lot of time into his education.

It was Don, he was the one who had to... get used to taking care of himself.

Well, he might have gotten used to it, but I'm not sure he's as good at it as he thinks he is.

Well, it's hard for him to ask anyone for help.

It's really hard for him to ask Charlie.

We think they have special military training, and now they have struck again and killed another innocent person, Charlie.

Charlie, please don't do this.

Do you understand the stakes we're dealing with here?

More bloodshed, people's lives.

I mean, if I have to do this on my own, it's going to put me and all of my people at greater risk; is that what you want?

Their old pattern's gone. I told you that.

Then there's got to be a new pattern. Doesn't there?

Isn't that the way it works?

You incorporate whatever's going on?


I'm sorry.

I'm sorry.

I need your help, you understand?

I don't think I can, that I can...

Charlie, I know it's hard for you, I understand that, but it's hard for everybody.

You know, I don't know how I got in a situation where I need your help to do my job, but I sure as hell have.

I wish you would just snap out of your precious bubble for once.

Dad... I've been working on a problem.

P versus NP -- it can't be solved.

I think you knew that when you started.

I could work on it forever, constantly pushing forward, still never reaching an end.

You know, sometimes you want to think that things don't end.

But they do.

When Mom was sick, I couldn't stop working on it.

Yeah. I know.

I didn't get it.

Uh, not then.

And your brother sure doesn't understand why you spent the last three months of your mother's life working on a math problem.

But Charlie, your mother -- she understood why.

Because she knew how your mind worked.

Malcolm was a top-level programmer.

He worked in our division that handles tracking software.

Tracking what?

Financial transactions, mostly used by banks for data processing.

What were the circumstances of his leaving the company?

He was on vacation, called to say he was quitting.

He had a new job.

All right, thanks. We'll talk to you soon.

You're welcome.

All right, so Stapleton had high-level access to bank software; he's tortured; he's murdered, and his identity is stolen by a guy who's a member of a bank robbery crew, right?

That doesn't seem like a coincidence.

And consider how careful they were to make it seem like he was still alive.

Right, 'cause you figure they're going to want to avoid a murder investigation so no one knows they have access to his work.

Maybe they're using the software to track when banks have large amounts of cash on hand.

Yeah, but the takes are varied, you know?

I mean, you got a couple hundred thousand dollars in one, and then a hundred dollars in the next.

Don, Captain Joe MacNevish, Delta Forces. How are you, sir?

Our John Doe's fingerprints turned up a match with the Army.

Former Delta Force member Master Sergeant John Anthony Galbraith.

Galbraith received an honorable discharge four years ago.

DAVID: That's the guy I shot.

One of his associates was a Robert Gordon Skidmore.

I'm sure the Bureau has a record on him.

DAVID: Robert Skidmore, convicted of robbing a cash shipment coming into an Army base.

Yeah, that's the guy who took my gun.

He was partners with the guy I shot, Galbraith.

All right, well, we got two names. Let's start building a crew chart.

All right.

Well, I was heartened to hear that you've shifted your focus off P versus NP.

So tell me, what is it that I can help you with?

I failed.

I failed to notice something significant.

These robberies display certain highly eccentric characteristics.

Okay, well how so?

Many were conducted in under two minutes, but in many cases, the perpetrators remained on the premises far longer, despite having the money.

Why would they wait around?

Don't know.

Leaving quickly would seem to be the essential strategy when fleeing a felony.

You see this game, Larry?

You've got to clear mines without blowing any up.

Each time you've cleared a square, a numerical value is revealed.

That number tells you exactly how many squares containing mines are directly adjacent to that square.

This allows you to predict where the next mine will be located.

And then, the more boxes revealed, the more accurately one can predict the location of the mines.

The pattern used in these bank robberies is similar to this same type of problem-solving pattern.

These robbers have used the banks they've been robbing to tell them which ones to rob next.

To what end would criminals be playing Minesweeper with banks?

I don't know.

DON: Right, no, I don't think that's smart.




I'll call you right back.

No, I will.

Hey, Charlie.

I have some findings for you.

I'm sorry I couldn't get to this sooner.

No, now's good. Come on in.

Did you rework the equation?

No, I think you need to be looking at a whole other line of investigation.

Like what?

What's inside a bank that's more valuable than money?

Information? Financial data?


This case -- it isn't about robbing banks.

CHARLIE: Everything they did made it seem like a typical bank robbery, but while our Charm School Boys were at the teller's window creating a diversion, they must've had a third man accessing the bank's computers.

The question is, why?

Are we sure this is the only machine that they messed with?

As far as we know.

Why risk robberies?

Why not just hack into the bank's computer?

From an outside source, it's almost impossible.

These databases are guarded with intense firewalls.

Besides, by actually robbing the banks, they were able to gain any capital they might need in the meantime.

More important, the data seems to be location-specific.

So when they're accessing data at one bank, it leads them to data at other banks.

Here you go.

It's the YDS software.

The program was accessed using Stapleton's pass code on the day of the robbery.

Dollar amounts?

MANAGER: Believe so.

Bank routing numbers?

MANAGER: That's what they are.

TERRY: The routing numbers are all the same.

The cash in this list is all going to the same bank.

DON: Which bank?

That's a special Federal Reserve routing number for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Specifically, the Los Angeles branch.

He helps us on financial cases all the time.

And I tend to remember numbers.

DON: So these heists are diversions.

They're distractions.

And that's why Stapleton was tortured, for his confidential pass codes.

The exact same computer program was accessed at all the banks hit by Skidmore's crew.

How does this factor into the Federal Reserve?

The program tracks cash being removed from circulation.

Old currencies, either worn or ripped, and it's retired cash is taken out of circulation at local banks.

Every few months it's taken to the Federal Reserve Bank then to a secret Treasury location where it's destroyed.

And that retired-cash data is collated by the YDS software, which allows the bank robbers to locate other banks with the same software.

So once they have enough data, they get a fix on the shipment from the Federal Reserve Bank to the Treasury.

Each shipment is maybe a hundred million dollars in untraceable cash.

( phone rings )



Right, I got it.

That was the Federal Reserve Bank in Los Angeles.

They got a shipment of retired currency going to the Treasury in six hours, okay?

I want to know what the security is what the route is, what the procedure is, right?

Let's go.



Just one thing.

Heisenberg and his Uncertainty Principle.

Right. Do me a favor. Hold this.

What about it?

Remember I told you how the act of observation will ultimately affect that which is being observed?

Yes, you did.

These guys know you've studied them.

They know you're trying to outthink them.

Charlie, it's all right.

Me and Heisenberg we're all over this.

We'll be at Ontario Airport in about 20 minutes.

Almost there.


TERRY: Unit One, Unit Two, Code Red!

Unit One, Unit Two, come in!

All right, Unit Two to Unit One, come in.

( radio static )

Unit Two to Unit One?

TERRY: Unit One, Unit Two, Code Red.

Unit One to Unit Two, come in.

They're jamming our radios.

( tires screech )

I'm not getting any response.

What do we do?

We'll stick with the plan.


You want to live?

Drop your guns.

Where's the money?

In the bank.

Drop your weapons!

Get on the ground!

Back off!

Bridge team, green light.


TERRY: Drop your weapon!

Get your ass down! Get down on the ground!

Get down on the ground! Get your ass down!

Get your hands on your head!

Don't move.

( starter grinding )

FBI! Do not move!

Do not move!

Get that other hand on the wheel right now!

Get it up! Do it!

This is mine.

Get out of the car.

Get out of the car!

Get down on your face!

Billy, cuff him!

Here you go, Pop.

I got it. Now you got it.

Thank you. Spoon.

Hello. Donnie!

Wow, it's good to see you.

Oh, you guys ate. I'm starving.

ALAN: There's plenty. Come on.

Yeah? Did Terry call, tell you guys what happened?

Yeah, she said you arrested every suspect.

Only one shot fired, huh?

One? How'd you pull that off?

We knew roughly where'd they'd try to hit the next shipment, and I knew they'd have an escape plan.

ALAN: That's very clever.

I guess I was inspired by Mr. Heisenberg.

Just like Charlie here suggested.

ALAN: Heisenberg?

You mean, the physicist?



Your brother goes into a dangerous confrontation with heavily armed felons, and you prepare him with a lecture on the movement of subatomic particles?


It worked, didn't it?


I guess it did.

I'm telling you, if your mother could see you two guys now, she would be... so happy.

How you doing on your P versus P thing?



I'm not pursuing it anymore.


I got plenty of problems to work on, ones that I think I can actually solve.

Glad to hear it.

What, no mustard?

I knew you'd ask.

He forgot.

What's up? What's up?