Season finales: Numb3rs

Martin Jarvis in Numb3rs Finale

Finales are typically times for surprises. Numb3rs was no different and was practically bursting with them. But the biggest surprise was to see Martin “Rings on their Fingers” Jarvis going hardcore on the FBI’s arses. Man he can get nasty with a mobile phone holster.

The second big surprise was that there were any surprises. The third season of Numb3rs has been – dare I say it? – formulaic. It’s drifted here, it’s drifted there. Pretty much every episode the story has been the same, with no real character development, no real characterisation, simply maths technique of the week and a bit of shooting. Even the occasional bit of new blood hasn’t helped and the old blood have had negligible time devoted to making you actually care about them. It’s never been awful, but it’s never been great. So to have an episode in which everything gets shaken up is really quite amazing.

The third big surprise is that Ken Sanzel can write. Responsible for most of the series’ worst episodes, he’s co-written the finale and despite its somewhat derivative and convoluted nature, it does at least keep the tension ratcheted up.

By the end of the episode, there have been major twists for at least three characters. If you’re a big Numb3rs fan, at least one development will have you asking plenty of questions – mostly how, why, who, when, and where, since it does come somewhat out of left field without much foreshadowing – and maybe we’ll get some explanations for it next season, although I doubt it. What they’ll do to build on it and other developments, I don’t know, but it does at least demonstrate that even in the most tired of shows, the occasional dramatic twist can occur.

Tension: 8/10

PS Does MI6 do its own code-breaking and code-creation still or is that a GCHQ thing now? Anyone know?


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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