This case was a rough one for OA.
He spent much of the time the team was hunting a killer drug dealer debating whether he could be a good agent and a devout Muslim on FBI Season 5 Episode 22.
OA has had to get comfortable with the idea of compromising his faith while on the job, especially when he was working undercover.
What led to his crisis of conscience? OA learned he was a model for a younger but more faithful Muslim agent who believed being devout was more important than being an effective agent.
Even worse, OA didn’t even recognize Val, who was working undercover at an Albanian drug lord’s bar.
The reason was Val was inspired to enter law enforcement after a talk at his school by OA about being a Muslim agent.
This made OA feel responsible for Val. And he felt a little guilty about being a flexible Muslim, munching away on a snack during Ramadan.
OA gets the demands of his work, especially when undercover. Indeed being in the military probably made him more realistic about what parts of being a Muslim he could still embrace and which ones he couldn’t while working.
Is this OA making excuses for himself? No. It’s more like situational ethics. It’s easy to be devout when undercover in a jihadist sect. It’s not so easy when you’re portraying a gunrunner.
Val already had one strike against him, being a young agent who doesn’t understand what he doesn’t know.
But being undercover at a bar and refusing to drink is problematic. That inhibits him from gaining the trust of those around him who are there to drink or pour drinks.
Later, he refused to plant a camera in an imam’s apartment. So OA had to plant it, and he would have been caught if Val hadn’t stalled Hyka.
In between, Val screwed up an effort to sell Tony, one of Shabini’s thugs, on a gun deal when he said contradictory things about the potential buyer. Scola was in peril from Tony before Brittany shot him because Val couldn’t bring himself to shoot.
OA talked with Val to make sure he had his head on straight. He emphasized how he would need to do things that went against Islam to become an effective agent. Val still naively believed he could put his faith first.
Val’s fervor did cause OA to question how he conducted his business. When he had to intercept the imam, OA asked about some of the contradictions with which he had been wrestling. He received no joy from the strict imam on that front, no “say three Hail Marys and don’t sin again.”
Val did come through OA, shooting Shabini to keep him from killing OA.
But afterward, Val paid him the backhanded compliment of saying he wished he could compromise his faith as well as OA did.
Val isn’t likely to remain in law enforcement for long. Maybe he should consider a position in private security, where the stakes aren’t as high, and he could practice his faith according to his conscience.
Meeting Val served to drive OA back to his mosque as he prayed on becoming a better Muslim.
Fortunately, OA’s internal debate didn’t slow the squad from hunting for the dealer supplying the high-powered fentanyl derivative that killed seven teens (including the one that provided the pills).
Maggie and OA bungled into the middle of another investigation, which was working to establish a RICO case. Since the public was more concerned with teenagers overdosing on drugs, Isobel put the other operation on hold as the team hustled to get the drugs off the street.
She did get Val out of the deal since he was already in place with Shabini, the likely drug dealer.
She and OA discovered later what a mixed blessing that was. They made headway more often despite Val than because of him.
Val deserves credit for returning to Shabini’s place after the Tony debacle. After dropping the camera, he did manage to get it planted, allowing the squad to monitor Shabini’s activities.
Later, the camera OA was forced to place after Val’s refusal (he admitted he scored low at being sneaky) did get them to the meeting warehouse in time to stop the drug deal from happening. Also, Scola shutting down the drug lab kept that neighborhood from going up in flames. So that’s a plus.
Val’s shooting Shabini made that RICO case fairly moot. But the whole case was more complicated than it had to be for Val’s involvement.
It was beneficial to delve into OA’s precarious balance between being an agent and a Muslim.
Through Val, this episode also showed a different approach to that same conundrum and suggested the correct answer lay somewhere between those two.
The downside was that the rest of the team faded into the background, allowing for the interplay between OA and Val.
To the detriment of the investigation and the storyline, Maggie needed to have a “come to Allah” talk with OA to get him back on track, which never happened.
To follow OA’s journey, watch FBI online.
Does the job require OA to make compromises?
How unrealistic was Val for wanting to be a devout Muslim and an agent?
Did their religious debate interfere with the investigation?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.