Shadow Unit


Supervisory Special Agent Esther Falkner (Captain, United States Army, Ret'd.)

Age 41

Falkner is Reyes' second in command. She's exactly the person you want at your back in times of trouble: smart, perceptive, physically capable, tempering justice with mercy. The people who depend on her rarely realize how much it costs to be that kind of person.

Falkner was a high-ranking agent in the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit when she was asked to work with Reyes to form the Shadow Unit team. In fact, the Bureau has placed her there to keep Reyes in check; Falkner's a team player, someone who seems to respect authority and order, and Reyes has already proved a master of the doctrine that it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

She went to West Point in the mid-'80s, and survived the experience of being a female Jewish cadet by being as good or better than the boys. In the course of it, she injured her back; it still bothers her. She has a notable Tylenol habit.

She served in Desert Storm; her tour included an incident in which she was only supposed to be the driver, but ended up shooting/driving her wounded passenger out from under enemy fire and to safety.

That, like most of her military career, went unrecognized by her superiors. When she realized that was going to be the story of her life if she stayed, she took the early out option. But she had a taste for action and was good at it. She joined the FBI. The post-J. Edgar Bureau was a much better environment; she's been recognized and promoted. If she'd stayed in the BAU, she might have been its first female Unit Chief.

She was with the FBI team at the Waco siege. At the time, she thought she was seeing the worst face of humanity. Joining the BAU set her straight. Shadow Unit has pushed the boundaries further.

Mythology and theology combine to supply Falkner with a metaphor for the anomaly that she fights hard not to apply. She respects any faith that requires relieving of suffering and fair treatment of all people, but any religion that justifies hurting others in the name of God is not the good guys.

She believes in redemption and forgiveness. Even if you have to do it with your teeth gritted.

She has a husband, Ben, and two daughters, Rebekah and Deborah. The oldest, Rebekah, is about to be bat mitzvah'ed. Deborah is 9; the Falkners adopted her from a Nicaraguan orphanage.

She's tall and athletic, dark-haired, with pale olive-toned skin. Her strong, flexible speaking voice is one of her gifts; that and her self-control and poker face make her an outstanding interviewer and negotiator. Falkner runs and studies kendo. Though she's a perfect team player--or seems to be--all her "sports" are solo ones. She pits herself against herself.

The hardest person for Falkner to forgive is herself. There, her personal code is too rigid.

She is reputed to have no sense of humor. However, one year, for Reyes's birthday, Falkner got him an FBI-standard navy-blue windbreaker with big white stenciled letters on the back: WTF.