Without a Trace

Season 3 Episode 13


Aired Thursday 10:00 PM Feb 03, 2005 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

Write A Review
out of 10
78 votes
  • An autistic boy goes missing on a field trip to a museum. Jack hones in on the boy's father, who is beligerant from the get-go and who was unaccounted for for 2 hours immediately after Ian disappeared.

    I thought this was a great episode in that it shed light on what it is like to have an autistic child, particularly from a parent's perspective. In this episode, Ian, the young autistic son goes missing while on a field trip to a museum with is father and older brother. I thought it was well written and well acted by Ian's father - the frustration he felt both with his son's autism and with the fact his son was missing and he was helpless to find him. He was immediately a suspect, as all parents usually are, because he was rather beligerant with Jack - a real no no - and then about midway through we learn he isn't even Ian's biological child, making Jack all the more suspicious of him. We also see, and feel, the angst and despair of the older brother because he feels he "killed" Ian when he cut off the locater bracelet Ian had gotten stuck between 2 bars. It is obvious that the older brother both deeply loves his brother, but also that he feels a sense of responsibility for him. The worst is feared when one of Ian's shoes is found in a snow-covered park, and with that and the fact night is coming quickly, the team works even more diligently to locate Ian. Martin finally makes the connect that the one thing that did not go as Ian had been prepared for that day, was that his handler did not make the field trip (she had lied and called in sick but was really on another job interview, fearing the parents were about to send Ian to an in-patient facility for autistic children). Martin remembers a tour bus in the park, close to where the shoe was found, that had tourists from India - where Ian's handler is from. Ian's father had told Jack earlier that Ian liked small, dark places because they made him feel safe, so Martin races to the bus yard and finds the driver of the bus full of the tourists. The driver finally confesses that Ian had been hiding in the luggage area, and thinking he was a thief, yelled at him and ran him off - scaring poor Ian half to death. Martin puts the driver in his place when he tells him that Ian is autistic, alone, in a strange place, and scared to death. The team, along with Ian's father, mother, and brother, pair up and fan out in the area where the driver thought he saw Ian running. Jack takes Ian's father with him, and naturally they are the ones to find him. Jack sees that Ian's father truly loves him very much, and that biology doesn't make - or not make - a father. Just as the show is ending, Ian's father steps away from the ambulance and shakes Jack's hand, apologizing for the way he had acted and tells Jack he understands he was just doing his job. As he shakes Jack's hand, he tells him "Don't take this personally, but I hope I never see you again". To which Jack, shaking his hand, responds "Likewise".