Noisy Edge is the twelfth episode of the first season, and the twelfth episode overall. It was released on April 29, 2005.
A UFO is briefly seen flying through Los Angeles airspace with no clear indication of what it is, but Agent Eppes discovers it was heading for the Staples Center and starts an investigation into the possibility of mass terrorism.
At night Charlie is going over some of Don's open cases to see if math will help close them. Currently nothing comes to mind, but he'll keep looking, a trait that Don likes about his little brother. David rushes in telling them that the FAA has received seven reports in ten minutes of a UFO headed towards LA that can't be detected by radar and no flight path has been reported. Based on new intel it's headed towards downtown LA. Two aircraft are sent to intercept it, but they can't spot it.
The next morning Don and David talk to one of the witnesses in LA. They get video footage from them. Erica Westin from the NTSB joins them in their investigation. She thinks it could be an MPH (Multi-Person Hoax). Don decides to bring Charlie in.
Alan is trying to teach Charlie how to golf. He's not doing very well and math isn't helping him. Charlie uses Don's bat signal to get out of the rest of the golf game. He joins Don, Westin, and Amita to go over radar images. Amita and Charlie decide to find the 'noisy edge' to try to find the signal from the UAE (unexplained aerial event) using a technique known as 'squish-squash'. It looks for a weak signal and squishes and squashes to find its strength and direction. Charlie uses a room of people clapping to show how it works. Amita suggests they call Larry to get into the computer lab and use some of his scheduled time. Larry was happy to help at first, but is a little let down when its for an FBI investigation. They have ruled out the usual suspects, but Larry thinks it's possible that it could be aliens. They finally find the flight path of the object. The signal eventually becomes to weak to track, but they can follow the trajectory to guess that it was flying towards the Staples Centre.
Don and Westin brief the team. They find airfields that a plane could use and talk to people onsite to no avail. Larry suggests they focus on the object rather than the point of origin. They overlay the various radar maps over each other to try to build an image of the object. They are successful and it doesn't look like anything they've seen before. Westin confirms that it's terrestrial. After ruling out airfields and street/freeway takeoff they come to the conclusion that this craft uses vertical take off and that it was made out of non-metallic materials. David and Westin go to Nordell Aeronautics to see if anybody has won their prize for a vertical takeoff craft. The list is short: David Croft and Lane Gosnell. They then go and talk to Croft about it. He accuses Gosnell of stealing his design. Gosnell was about making a statement and damn the consequences.
Charlie is looking for a lost ball with Alan at the golf course.
Don and David talk to Blake, Gosnell's son. He's surprised that his dad was flying two nights ago. He takes them to Gosnell's workshop, but Gosnell isn't there. They do find sketches of the plane and scorch marks from when the plane took off. Blake has no idea where is father could be, but insists that he wouldn't hurt anybody. Blake tells them that Gosnell sold stakes in his work to Rednauer Investments to the tune of $1.7 million. The company apparently doesn't know that he was flying it. He knew of rumours that Gosnell was getting close, but not that it flew.
Amita gets praise from Charlie on her thesis. She is considering getting a second PhD in astrophysics because she likes being at CalSci and doing the second PhD would mean that she's no longer Charlie's student. Westin comes in and catches them up on the case. They work to find the plane with weather radar. They go to Don and David - they found a likely landing site for the plane. They can't find anything at the site. Charlie remembers back to not finding his golf ball and agrees with Westin that it could be hidden in plain sight. They check a nearby junk yard and find the wreckage and Gosnell's dead body. The rudder had been tampered with, causing it to crash. Blake is brought to the scene.
Because of the sabotage they can't tell what the intended flight path was and so can't rule out an attack.
Don visits Charlie at work to talk about Gosnell. He teases Charlie about Amita and helps Charlie realise why Alan likes to golf with him even though he's so bad at it. David calls Don. They found Croft's fingerprints all over Gosnell's workshop. Don and David bring Croft into the FBI for interrogation. He met Blake elsewhere and he let it slip that his dad was getting close to finishing it.
Charlie looks at the rudder and thinks that somebody was trying to fix it rather than sabotage it, they just don't know who aside from it wasn't Gosnell. They go and talk to Blake. He was just trying to make improvements to the design to prove to his dad that he could be like him.
Don, Charlie, and Alan meet for a golf game.
- Rob Morrow as Don Eppes
- David Krumholtz as Charlie Eppes
- Judd Hirsch as Alan Eppes
- Alimi Ballard as David Sinclair
- Sabrina Lloyd as Terry Lake (credit only)
- Peter MacNicol as Larry Fleinhardt
- Gloria Reuben as Erica Quimby
- Bill Smitrovich as David Croft
- Rod McLachlan as Bill McClelland
- Castulo Guerra as Paul Ridenhauer
- Dwayne Barnes as Mr. Johnson (credited as Dwayne L. Barnes)
- Ethan Embry as Blake Gosnell
- Ben Davis as Air Force Captain (credited as Benjamin Jay Davis)
"Noisy edge" is a term in mathematics, seemingly referring to the degree of disruption or distortion suffered by a wave in its extremist form. Here the sense is of disentangling one unclear sonic signature from the urban hubbub and extracting the truth from the rumor.
In the last scene, as the father is about to swing his shot, Don calls him by his name (Alan) and not "Dad".
Charlie is golfing with his dad and is wearing a golf glove on his left hand. Then in the next scene he is still wearing the glove, but it's on his right hand. Then the glove disappears, but you never see him take it off.
When Don is talking to Blake in the junk yard, when seen from the front he's wearing a jacket, from behind he's not.
Early in the episode the military attaché said that they have two F-16 fighters airborne, whilst during the fly-by scene the editors have added two F-18s instead.
The cast listing indicates that Gloria Reuben plays a character named Erica Quimby, but in the actual episode she is referred to as Erica Westin.
Eppes' team decides to re-calibrate a weather radar, so that it would be able to detect the unidentified aircraft. But returning the radar signal after the detection was made, wouldn't provide any new clues; changing the signal of the radar to make it sensitive to different materials, or the gain, can only be effective during the detection. Afterwards, the signal can't track something that is not there.
[This appears on the beginning of the episode] 6,950 Small Planes in LA, 400 Homeland Security Threats, 5 LA Radar Arrays, 1 Aerial Anomaly