In Plain Sight is the eighth episode of the second season, and the twenty-first episode overall. It was released on November 18, 2005. Data from a meth lab explosion reveals a photograph that triggers memories for Charlie and puts him at loggerheads with Don, who's focused on tracking down the drug dealer who set off the explosion that killed one of his agents.
David and Colby are coordinating FBI agents at the scene of the takedown the warehouse front of a meth lab as Don looks on from the van. Megan and Charlie are watching from the FBI. They’re just about to go in when a woman goes up to the warehouse in question. Colby tries to intercept, but can’t in time. One of the dealers spots Colby and tips off his buddies. Don goes in to get the woman and Megan goes to the address they find from tracing the call. In getting the woman out of harm’s way they kill the dealer. However, the lab wasn’t at the warehouse. Charlie doesn’t think the residential location they’re at makes sense as it doesn’t fit the scenario. Megan leads the team that goes to breach. She notices the house is wired a second too late. An explosion is triggered.
An agent has been killed. Charlie is collecting data at the scene. This was the lab, not the warehouse. They think it may be possible there are more labs around the city. Don checks in on Megan. She and Charlie saw a man in the house, but they haven’t found the remains. They look around for him in the house. David has found a homemade ventilation shaft with enough space for a grown man to exit the house.
An FBI tech works with Charlie to find out what’s on the computer. He realises that the man they saw is the leader of the group and so his actions wouldn’t necessarily fit the patterns of the rest of the group. The tech is able to find some data. They find a .jpeg file on the computer that Charlie can enhance.
David came up empty on searching the tunnel that left the house and it had been rented under a false name, so they can’t ID him. Colby has been interrogating one of the men from the warehouse whose brother was the one killed. Megan comes in and convinces him to give up the name of his boss: Derrick Lamberg. He also thinks that he’s far, far away.
Lamberg isn’t in the system, so the name is either an alias or he’s living off the grid. They figure if he’s running he needs money so he may not be gone yet. David looks into couriers and Megan goes to look at the computer data. Don thinks Megan should take the day off after losing an agent under her command and she refuses.
Charlie and Larry are working on cleaning up the picture from the computer. Larry is worried about Megan’s state of mind. Charlie is finding more data from the picture than there should be. Alan walks into Charlie’s office wondering what they’re talking about. He’s working on a project and wanted to show him. Charlie does a bit more to the picture and he reveals the underlying photo of a young, naked girl with her stuffed animal. He calls Don to see it. Charlie doesn’t want to give up the image because he wants to work on it to help the girl. Don and Alan don’t understand why he won’t give it to the child crimes unit. Eventually Charlie does. He tells Alan that the girl in the picture reminds him of a girl that lived a couple of blocks away from them when he was a kid. He thought something bad was happening there and wants to help this girl now.
Don gives the picture to the child crimes unit. They don’t find a facial match, but the agent will keep looking.
Megan is trying to find out if there are any other properties tied to Lamberg and David gets a hit off from a courier. Charlie tells Megan about the reflection of a man that he thinks could be Lamberg. He wants to work with the child crimes unit to help them identify and find the girl. Megan isn’t having it. Don still isn’t understanding Charlie’s motivation to find the girl and Charlie doesn’t understand why Don seemingly doesn’t want him to find her. He believes that the girl could help them find Lamberg and even if she doesn’t she needs their help. Colby informs Don that they found meth from the delivery service.
Charlie goes to Agent Romero and gives him the enhanced images that he has while a father reports his missing daughter. It’s the girl from the picture. Don comes home and wants to see Charlie. Alan is surprised that he’s looking for Charlie at 1am. Alan tells him about their neighbour from years ago. They have a disagreement.
Larry and Charlie are discussing the case under the stars. They make a realisation and rush off to the CalSci computer lab. They find a partition on the computer when Don joins them. Lamberg created a phantom hard drive. He compares it to a magician’s vanishing act. All the data has been encrypted. Charlie decrypts it and they find that Lamberg is a member of the Long Beach Gun Club.
Larry and Charlie are finally heading out when Charlie’s office phone rings. He got a fax of a photo. He recognises the man in the photo as the father reporting his missing daughter that he saw. He tells Don. Megan checks with child crimes and Don goes to check security footage.
Megan and Colby talk about Lamberg’s tactic of using them to find the girl as they head to the motel that he gave them the number of. The motel manager comes out to meet them. His truck was stolen. The mother stole it to get away from him. He sped after them. Colby calls in the new information and Megan takes a look at the room. In the initial photo of the girl there was a stuffed lion. The same lion is in the motel room.
Charlie comes into the FBI angry that Lamberg was there. He finds out that the girl’s name is Libby. He also found e-mails from Lamberg to his daughter. Megan comes to the conclusion he won’t leave without Libby. David sees the manager’s truck on the TV and shows the others. He and Megan go to track them down and Don calls to inform LAPD of the BMW. Charlie is going to go with Megan and David, but Don stops him.
LAPD and Agent Romero catch up to Michelle Collins, Lamberg’s ex and Libby’s mother. David catches Romero up on the situation. He had been working from an anonymous tip that was most likely Lamberg continuing to use them. Megan goes to help Michelle and finds Libby curled up and hiding in the truck. They realise that Lamberg will be in the wind now that they have Libby.
Charlie suggests they check out Union Station as Lamberg mentions travelling on trains in his e-mails to Libby frequently. Megan takes Colby to look there. Charlie refuses to listen to Don’s suggestion to go home because he wants to see this case through. David talks to Michelle. Nadine doesn’t think that Libby can stay with her mother. At Union Station Megan and Colby haven’t seen Lamberg yet. Nadine talks with Libby to get a handle on the situation. Libby just wants to be with her mother. Megan and Colby keep looking for Lamberg. Megan finally spots him. They arrest him.
Charlie tells Megan about the girl from his childhood as they leave the FBI office. She suggests he finds her to make sure she’s ok.
The image comes from the concept of hiding in plain sight, one of the primary tenets of prestidigitation, and many forms of con. Its successful execution often requires high levels of chutzpah.
The cast and relevant crew members had to sign waivers that they wouldn't reveal exactly how the magic trick was done. The trick revealed on the show is slightly different from the actual trick.
The MATH in this episode included: Flock behavior, steganography and matrices - error correction code.
Colby's license plate on his black Ford is: (California) 2GEE645.
At about 10m30s, the technician was clearly not really typing, but the audio had her punching a set of keys for the .jpg file that Charlie pointed out.
At roughly the 30-31 minute mark when Colby and Megan are questioning the motel manager, one of the camera operators is briefly reflected in Colby's glasses.
Steganography doesn't work as pictured here. More likely you could have two audio or image files, between which every sample or pixel only differ a little, so the "carrier" file (into which the hidden data is encrypted) would sound or look OK. The person who has the "key" file, would then compare the key file with the encrypted file, byte by byte, to extract the encrypted data. However, this method can't hide a file with resolution equal to the carrier file resolution (one or perhaps two bits per byte only). So the image of the girl couldn't have been encrypted into the picture of the house without visibly distorting the data.
During the set-up for the assault led by Megan, an agent is holding an MP5 machine pistol with the clip loaded backwards.
[This appears on the beginning of the episode] 167 Metric Tons, 5.4 Billion Dollars, 1.3 Million Meth Users, 2 Girls