Season 1 Episode 5

Prime Suspect

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Feb 18, 2005 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
214 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

When a five-year-old girl is kidnapped from her birthday party, Don and Terry lead the investigation, but must rely on Charlie's help because the girl's father, Ethan, is also a mathematician. Charlie realizes the kidnapper's motive when Ethan reveals he is close to solving Riemann's Hypothesis, a difficult math problem. If solved, the solution could not only earn him $1 million, but could break the code for Internet security and unlock the world's biggest financial secret.moreless

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  • Review

    I liked this episode, with Charlie having his little backstory in the way that Don did in the episode that came before this one. Living in the house his entire life, Charlie found it heartbreaking to learn that his father might sell the house that he grew up in. I enjoyed watching the ending of the episode when Charlie decided to buy the house from his father.

    I thought that the case in this episode was an interesting one, involving Charlie in a very early and simple way. I thought the kiddnapping scene was a little random, with the mother getting thrown to the ground instead of just being pushed into the van and taken away as well...but its all good.

    If they could just get a little more personal in this show and a little less involved with the cases, I think the show would be one of the big sleepers of the television drama seriess.moreless
  • I found this one interesting, as much as anything because it's the second show I've seen in as many days with a storyline around Riemann's Hypothesis.

    Overall, I had trouble identifying with the initial reaction of the parents to the kidnapping of their daughter.

    The mum was suitably tearful and fretful, but to be honest I would've expected her to lash out at her husband not just for for nicking off to play with his equations during his daughters birthday, but then she's kidnapped right in front of him but he's too busy to take any notice. I know genius mathematicians are supposed to be self-absorbed, but that was just too cold.

    Then when he decided to take care of himself after he got the phone call.... What was that about?

    And then there were the reactions of the Feds.

    All the way around I felt like the episode was written by the president of the society for the emotionally retarded. Only Epps the younger seemed to react in a way believable to his character and the circumstances.

    But that's just my opinion.moreless
  • Charlie and Don race against time to rescue a kidnapped girl.

    The episode was interesting and, overall, very good. However, one thing keeps bothering me: the little girl\'s reaction to everything that was going on around her. I just find it very hard to believe that anyone, especially a child, would remain that calm when their life is put in jeopardy. I think the director and/or the actress goofed up big time, because the girl\'s reaction was very unrealistic.
Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris

Ethan Burdick

Guest Star

Susan Egan

Susan Egan

Becky Burdick

Guest Star

Emma Prescott

Emma Prescott

Emily Burdick

Guest Star

Navi Rawat

Navi Rawat

Amita Ramanujan

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (13)

    • Kyono has two Chinese characters tattooed on her left upper arm. The upper one is pronounced "meng" and means "dream". However, the tattoo is upside down. The lower one is pronounced "xiao" and means "laughter."

    • Charlie Eppes is discussing the Riemann Hypothesis, and its relation to very large prime numbers. In the graphics shown on the screen to depict what he is talking about, one of the large numbers shown has "10" for its final two digits. This cannot be a prime number.

    • The MATH in this episode included: Cryptography, prime numbers, Riemann hypothesis, and Riemann zeta function.

    • Opening numbers:

    • Ethan says he attended one of Charlie's lectures on the "P vs. NP" problem. This was as a reference to show that Charlie was a well-known professor, as well as delving back to the episode "Uncertainty Principle".

    • Watch the light outside when Don and Terry are in the basement compared with when they walk out. The sun is setting when they're in the basement, but it's late afternoon when they leave.

    • The door to the room where Emily was in was locked from the outside. We know this because the FBI agent had to unlock it. So how did Ballard get in?

    • How was Atwood trying escape through a window that obviously had bars on it?

    • Watch closely when Ethan tosses the books. There are three different camera angles in which they film this. All three show him throwing the books at different points in the room.

    • Based off the real birthyear of Neil Patrick Harris (which is 1973), and the fact that his character says he's been working on this problem for 15 years, that would mean he started working on it when he was just 17. Looks like he's more of a genius than the episodes lets on. (From a joking standpoint... Doogie Howser must have moved on after getting bored with being a doctor.)

    • The kidnappers have the little girl tell her parents to call 818-555-0175. However, the last four digits of the number on the close-captioning are 4275.

    • To draw the 200 kilowatts the show speculated, the criminals would probably have to have over 500 computers. While they wouldn't have to be huge (physically), where exactly were these?

    • If the kidnappers asked for an algorithm to implement uses of Riemann's Hypothesis in integer factorization, they would be given an algorithm, not the 'fake key' that the FBI made up.

  • QUOTES (9)

    • (Talking about the woman in the house)
      Alan: You have no idea what this is all about. Trust me.
      Charlie: (chuckling) I don't think we want to know.
      Alan: Well, you have to know.
      Don: No, we don't, Dad.
      Alan: Now wait a minute, just hold on a second. This is not a date.
      Charlie: Dad, what are you telling me? That this woman is a.. pr..?
      Alan: A real estate agent!
      Don: Oh, right.
      Charlie: I'm confused. Are you dating a real estate agent?
      Don: No, you're selling the house.
      Charlie: But why? I live here. You live here.

    • Don: (Nudges Charlie) Come here. Explain something to me. So, now, he was lying the whole time?
      Charlie: (Shaking his head) No, he wasn't lying. He was convinced that he had it.
      Don: And you can't do it?
      Charlie: You - You've just asked me to solve one of the world's biggest mysteries in a few hours.
      Don: Charlie, you got me thinking you can do anything with numbers.
      Charlie: No. What do you think we should do now?
      Don: Well, the same thing I did when I was in school, and I didn't know the answer. Fake it.

    • Don: Yeah. Hey, Charlie, let me ask you something. The math thing that the father was working on, is there anyway that could be worth money?
      Charlie: Well, it is one of the millennium problems.
      Terry: What's a millennium problem?
      Charlie: Seven like, classic difficlut math problems. The Clay Institute of Mathematics offers 1,000,000 dollars for the solutions to each one of them.
      Don: All right, well, that's motive. So, how would he collect the award?
      Charlie: Well, first the solution has to be published in a refereed journal. Then it has to achieve general acceptance in the math community over the course of two years, and then an advisory committe is convened...
      (Terry interupts him)
      Terry: It's possible somebody knows he's workin' on it, but doesn't know how far off the award is.
      Don: Right. Well, who else would know he was working on it?
      Charlie: I would check with the math journals, you know, because maybe he contacted some of them.
      Don: All right. Why don't you give me some of those names?
      (Hands Charlie a pad of paper and a pen.)
      Don: Here, actually--you write it.

    • Alan: How is it I always end up loading the dishwasher?
      Charlie: You were the one that wanted to flip a coin.
      Alan: Yeah, I know, but I lost the last five times. Now what's the odds of that happening? Never mind, don't tell me.

    • Alan: Oh, come on, Charlie, don't you remember we talked about this?
      Charlie: Talked about what? No.
      Alan: I'm sorry, I should've made sure you were paying attention when I was talking to you.

    • Don: Relax, I got a great apartment in a great neighborhood... you'll find one too.
      Charlie: Then why are you over here all the time?

    • Alan: I just don't think you realize what you're getting yourself into.
      Charlie: Yeah, how's that? I've lived here pretty much my whole life. I think I'm used to it by now.
      (Furnace begins to rumble in the background)
      Alan: (smiling) Ah, that would be the furnace in your newly acquired home. There's a wrench in the basement... I'm sure you can figure it out.

    • Charlie: Ethan, all your conclusions emanate from this point. If it's not fairly solid, then we can't get to where we need to go.
      Ethan: I know. (Gets frustrated) It doesn't work. (Tosses books at wall) It doesn't work! We need ... we have ... it has to work, so we need to fix it. You and I, we have to fix this.
      Charlie: It's ...ah, it's a 150-year-old math problem, you know, we just can't solve it because we want to or we need to.
      Ethan: How about because my daughter's life depends on it! How about because she's going to die when they realize... there's nothing. (Sits down) There's nothing. There's nothing... to give them... for... her life.

    • Charlie: Okay, what's the biggest number you can think of?
      David: A gazillion? Is that a real number?
      Charlie: (Chuckles then suddenly stops) No.

  • NOTES (5)


    • Riemann's Hypothesis: First formulated in 1859, this is an unsolved math conundrum dealing with the number of zeros in Riemann zeta function.

    • 367 Dahlia Avenue
      The kidnappers' address is a subtle reference to one of Los Angeles' most notorious unsolved murders. Elizabeth Short, a young woman known as the Black Dahlia, was murdered in 1947 and her body was dumped in a vacant lot in downtown Los Angeles. The crime has generated a lot of speculation as well as many books, movies, and articles.

    • Millenium Problems
      The Clay Mathematics Institute is dedicated to increasing, disseminating and supporting mathematical research. They fund a $1 million prize for a solution to each of seven major as yet unsolved problems in Mathematics, including the proof for the Riemann Hypothesis. So far only one of these problems have been solved, the Poincare Conjecture was proved by Grigoriy Perelman who was awarded the prize in 2010. The P vs. NP problem Charlie was working on is another of the Millennium Problems.

    • The Challenge Of Large Numbers
      Charlie refers to a 1977 article printed in Scientific American where three mathematicians issued a challenge to factor a 129-digit number. The answer didn't come until 1994.