White Knight Syndrome
The FBI Agent as moral crusader, from James Comey to Dale CooperThe Baffler
By Niela Orr
'On television, the reappraisal of the FBI is filtered through its own messianic figure: the virtuous special agent. Now the Bureau—which, like many American institutions, was once seen as a force for good—is facing a reassessment. This shift can be seen in a number of popular TV shows, including Twin Peaks: The Return and Mindhunter, Netflix’s critical darling. It also finds expression on Must-See TV events like Comey’s congressional hearings.
Which is to say that television has started to interrogate the received wisdom that tells of the FBI’s goodness; meanwhile, in real life, those outside of progressive circles are finally reckoning with it, too. More and more, the Bureau is projected as a symbol of incoherence and mayhem, and this jibes, too, with its public perception after the 2016 election.'