Criminal Minds 923: Angels

Somewhere on a back road, a woman pleads for her life from the back seat of a car! Who is the driver? We're not shown... just yet! Once they've reached a suitably woody patch, the killer drags her out of the car and shoots her in the back of the head as she tries to crawl away!

Well, that's certainly a dramatic opening.

At Quantico - which gets a proper establishing shot this week - everyone has gathered in the middle of the night to hear about an emergency case. Also, Esai is there! I was wondering what had happened to him - it was starting to feel like the team didn't have a boss again.

The show seems to understand how weird it's been, and hangs a lantern on it, having Esai announce that the team is so good at their jobs they don't need supervision! Ugh.

Here's the rundown! A killer murdered two prostitutes by cutting strange symbols into their backs with a razor, then shooting them in the back of the head! Also he killed a guy and dumped him outside of a spot where hookers are known to congregate.

The interesting thing? Each of the murders happened six months-ish apart! The first killing was 11 months ago, the second six, and the victim from the opening was last night. Which brings me to my point - why is this a 'middle of the night' kind of case? Did people really need to be dragged out of bed and have their schedules interrupted for this one? The pattern suggests you have at least 149 days until the guy takes his next victim. Maybe just brief the team when they come in to work tomorrow?

Also, the team agrees that it was probably a 'forensic countermeasure' that the bodies were dumped in different counties. Although if you're looking to have people not know that the bodies are connected, maybe just don't dump the bodies in public? And if you're going to dump the bodies in public, maybe don't have the super-specific M.O. of slicing open the small of their back with a razor while doing no other damage.

In Texas, a group of sex workers doesn't want to go out, since two of their number have been killed! Their madam is having none of this talk of 'worker safety', and threatens to harm them if they don't make money for her!

I don't know why they're so worried - the guy has a months-long cooling-off period, after all!

I'm kidding, of course, this is Criminal Minds, where even if every killer doesn't start out as a spree killer, they magically transform into one the moment the team gets on the case, whether they know they're being hunted or not. It's like a Quantum Entanglement phenomenon, where the killers instinctively know to go into overdrive the minute the team finds out they exist.

So yeah, the killer drives by the very women who didn't want to go out working! Will they survive? Hopefully we'll find out after the credits!


Criminal Minds 922: Fatal

The episode opens with thrilling action, as a man runs into the police station, demanding protection! He's received a note saying that he'll be dead within 24 hours, and there's no way to prevent it! He's obviously a little worried, and when the cop smells booze on his breath, he immediately dismisses the guy's concerns.

Personally, if I got a note like that, I'd rush to a hospital, assuming that I'd been poisoned, but that's only because I saw DOA at a very young age.

After being told to leave, the man vandalizes a trash can, forcing the cops to arrest him, so he'll be safe in a cell overnight! When he's pinned to the ground, I notice that he's got a wedding ring on. Could his wife be the killer?

Probably too early to be making predictions, really.

The next morning the cops go to check on the paranoid guy, only to find him lying in a pool of blood! I guess it was poison, after all!

Over in Quantico - which the show introduces with an establishing shot of Washington D.C.:

Even though that's 50 kilometers away. Because it's Season 9, and no one who works on this show cares even a little.

-Greg is nervous about talking to his son's class about being in the FBI. Due to that one occurrence where a guy murdered the kid's mother because Greg was chasing him. Really, isn't it kind of insensitive to get Greg to give a presentation? I mean, the kid goes to school in Chevy Chase, one of the other parents must have a similarly important DoJ job, right?

Garcia runs down the case: Wayne Campbell (!?!) is the name of the dead guy, and that scene was set in Long Beach, CA. A week earlier a woman had also received a similar note and then died the next day - both of them with lethal levels of arsenic in their bodies! Between poison and notes, they jump to the conclusion that a woman probably did it - although it's a myth that women poison more often than men.

Also, not for nothing, putting in wacky joke character names is another sign that writers have checked out emotionally and are trying to make their own fun.

JJ thinks that it's super-weird to warn victims before killing them, but Reid points out that there was an episode about a killer that made fake 'missing' posters of his victims before killing them. It seems Reid remembers the show even better than I do! Was that the episode where they get one of the victims on the phone, and send the cops to get her, but can't be bothered to stay on the phone with her until the cops arrive, so she gets kidnapped anyways? If so, that was a terrible episode.

Then we head over to an auto-parts store, where the freaked-out proprietor confronts his friend about the murder threat he received! The friend claims to know nothing about the letter, and the proprietor is immediately struck with severe stomach pains. Now that's timing!

The friend leaves before the guy collapses, though, giving his customer a chance to walk in, see that the guy is dying, and then leave a peace of string on the body, because I guess he was the killer!

Also, was that Kevin from The Office? Perhaps we'll find out after the credits!


Criminal Minds 921: What Happens in Mecklinburg

So no, the next episode doesn't start with them catching the Jason from last week, so I guess the team just sucks at their jobs? At least the Jason probably didn't kill that couple - after all, he was oddly directed for a Jason, and only killed people specifically related to the target of his vengeance. Or, you know, cops who were trying to catch him. So, what's up for this week?

It's late at night, and two college students are leaving a grocery store when a car blocks them in - could it be a kidnapper, or are we in in for yet another misdirect?

No misdirect - the killer zaps both of them with a stun gun, and is also wearing a pig mask! Is this because Jigsaw was in last week's episode?

The next morning, Derek and his lady are just waking up when he gets a call - she's disappointed to learn that he's got a case in Memphis! Which is weird for him to already know, since generally their texts just say 'come into the office'. It's almost like Greg gave him more information than usual just to precipitate this specific fight!

The girlfriend is extremely disappointed because her parents are coming into town to meet him, and Derek offers to let her break up with him over it, which she calls out as super passive-agressive. Way to go standing up for yourself, doctor lady!

According to Garcia, the killer has grabbed three people in two nights, all from grocery store parking lots! Turns out that the first two victims were men, one middle-aged, one younger, and of the two college students from last night, he only grabbed one of them, leaving the other woman behind!

Sadly there's no other information in the opening sequence, other than some random theories, because they haven't found any bodies yet. The absence if proof doesn't count as evidence, though, since the victims could either be alive or simply thrown in a ditch somewhere that no one has randomly stumbled across!

While the team might be in the dark, we discover that all of the victims are still alive - also in the dark, as luck would have it, chained to the ceiling in a basement somewhere! The pig-masked killer arrives to menace them, and then it's off to the credits!

At just six minutes, which is also very quick for this show! I wonder why they're changing up their format?


Criminal Minds 920: Blood Relations

For the second episode in a row, we open on a crying woman, stumbling through the woods! I'd ding them for repetition, but the difference this time is that it's the past (1955), and in black and white!


So, is this another Gubler episode, or is another director willing to do something visually interesting?

Anyhoo, a killer in rubber boots walks up behind her, and then we cut to the present, in West Virginia. Which is probably where the B&W sequence was set as well, but the show didn't actually make that clear.

In the present, a low-rent hunter returns to his trailer with a gun and cooler full of varmints, but before he can grab a beer to reward himself for a good night's work, he hears someone lurking around outside. He heads out to check, and winds up with a noose wrapped around his neck - apparently the killer is strong enough to lift him right off his feet, but lithe enough to move around on the roof without making any sound!

Oh, then the killer murders the guy by turning his head a hundred and 180 degrees around. So obviously we're dealing with a Jason situation here. Or at least a Madman Mars.

Then it's right to the briefing, where the characters get confused about basic terms! Joe points out that it's basically impossible to form barbed wire into a noose the way the killer has, because it doesn't have enough tensile strength. Reid thinks that it is possible, as long as the killer is strong enough!

And he's supposed to be the smart one. Seriously, the point here is not that barbed wire is hard to bend - it isn't, the stuff is shipped in coils, after all, but rather the kind of tight winding you have to do in order to make a noose would presumably cause it to snap, irregardless of the killer's strength.

But let's not get sidetracked - the killer also built a bear-trap-launcher that fired a bear trap wrapped in barbed wire from a tree into the face of another hunter.

There's no way the rest of the episode is going to live up to this awesome beginning, is there?

The team immediately head to West Virginia! I wonder if they'll just drive? We, on the other hand, cut over to a shake where our killbilly, a surprisingly slender man for the feats of strength we've seen him accomplish, sits in front of a fire, tearing the head of a doll using barbed wire!

This just gets crazier and crazier, doesn't it? Hopefully it will keep going nuts after the opening credits!


Criminal Minds 919: The Edge of Winter

It's night, it's the woods, and, you guessed it, a woman is screaming for help as she flees for her life! Because, you know, Criminal Minds. A helpful Chyron lets us know that it's 2013, but since I'm not super-clear on when this episode originally aired, I'm going to guess that's fairly recent, like the year before the episode's present day.

Could I find this out in slightly more time than it takes to type this sentence? Sure. But that's not my brand, so...

The lady runs out of the woods, and is immediately hit by a car! Was it a super-effective killer, or just a preposterously-timed accident?

In the present day, we head to an institute for the mentally unstable in New York State! Derek has arrived to help prep the victim before the trial! The doctor working the case is surprised to see a profiler doing that, but he explains that profiling is only 10% of what they do, and trial prep is an important part of the job.

While I'm sure that's closer to true in the real world, if it was a part of the team's job, I'm sure it would have come up more often in the past 200 episodes. We're expected to believe that in addition to solving 25 serial murders a year they're also flying around the country - individually or in groups - to help out local DAs? That seems like a stretch.

The victim is playing solitaire when Derek arrives, and she looks to be in pretty solid shape, so I suppose the truck impact wasn't too severe! Nice to know that someone's obeying the speed limit on a dirt road in the middle of the night.

Derek wants to prep her for cross-examination by going over all of the details of the case, both her experiences, and the things they've turned up in their own investigation over the past year! Wait, are we expected to believe that the team continued investigating the case after catching the guy, because that's absolutely not their MO. Let's just assume he meant 'we' in the 'all law enforcement' sense of the word.

Specifically, they're going to go into more detail about what happened to 'Ben', who she saw being carried out into a field by two goons, beaten to a pulp! Time for a flashback to fill us in on some of that backstory!

He was turned into a human scarecrow. Ick. The victim thinks she should have done more to stop the murder. Was she one of the killers? If not, I'm not sure how she would have.

Then it's over to the team who (in the past) are getting the details of the case! It seems three victims were stabbed to death with farm tools and dumped in public, all within the last ten days. So it's off to New York.

More present day stuff, as the victim sets up another flashback! Wait, whose flashback was that scene in the office? It seems like the show is so desperate to keep to its standard format that they're just throwing out the whole 'Derek coaches a victim' concept whenever they feel like it.

Anyhow, in the victim's flashback, another victim has stolen a key from the killers, and they break out after the villains have gotten drunk. But they make too much noise, and as they flee across a field, the other lady is shot in the back! The victim keeps running, though, because really, what can you do when the killer has a rifle and you don't?

Let's see how the flashbacks continue after the credits!


Criminal Minds 918: Rabid

The episode starts outside a mini-mart in Milwaukee, where a lady is laden down with packages. My first thought is, honestly, "is this the same mini-mart from two episodes ago? I know they reuse locations, but that would be crazy, so probably not." It's night, and she's wearing a short skirt and light jacked, so I guess it's weirdly warm in Wisconsin this April? Wasn't there slush everywhere and people in Parkas just three episodes ago?

The lady hops on a bus, where almost nothing bad ever happens. Except for, you know, a creepy weirdo who won't stop ogling her. Then, when she gets off the bus, he disembarks as well, trailing her down a dark alley! Is this the least amount of mystery ever, or is there about to be a surprising twist as she kills him, or they're both killed by a third party?

Creepiness slightly defused, when it turns out he just got off the bus to give her an item she left on the bus seat! Still creepy, though. Then show then follows the guy down the street, where he's murdered by a hobo! Or perhaps... someone pretending to be a hobo? I mean, we don't see the guy's face, so who knows?

Then it's over to a running track, where Garcia and Reid are training to pass the field fitness test! Which apparently involves an 8-minute mile! Which isn't especially daunting, but they're both extremely out-of-shape, it seems. Which I believe from Garcia, since her job is typing, but it's weird that Reid can't manage this. Garcia points out that the whole thing is pointless, since he's never had to run a mile quickly in the field, which I'm pretty sure isn't true. If he'd been a better runner maybe Van Der Beek wouldn't have caught him and got him hooked on heroin.

That might a low blow.

Time for a briefing! Three bodies were found in the woods by a park ranger, two men and a women, all showing signs that they'd been tied up for long periods of time before being murdered! Not that they'd be able to tell that yet, if at all.

How do I know that for sure? Simple - the bodies were found THIS MORNING. I know I spend a lot of time harping on the ridiculous timelines of this show, but this is just insane. I did some quick research to explain just how crazy this is.

The episode aired on March 12th, and we can assume the episode is set on that day as well, since that's just how Criminal Minds works - it's why we were robbed of that evil Santa episode all those years ago.

On March 12th, sunrise in Milwaukee is at 7:15CST. Garcia received her call about the case at:
Which is 6:09 in Milwaukee - a full hour before sunrise. Of course, she didn't get a call when the bodies were found. She got a call from Greg, after he got a call from the Justice Department, after they got a call from the Milwaukee FBI, after they got a call from the Milwaukee Police Department, after police officers confirmed that there were bodies in the woods, after they were called by the park ranger.

What's the minimum amount of time all of those calls could have taken? Two hours? And an hour for the cops to get out to the dump site in the woods, confirm that the corpses are real, and report back to their superiors. So that's three hours, which puts the time window for the ranger to have found the bodies somewhere around 3AM local time.

Also, the bodies were under a couple of inches of dirt:
Which makes it even more incredible that they were found in the pitch darkness.

I know it's weird that I bring this up every episode, but it's truly strange - what do the writers think they're accomplishing by not having the characters just come into work and finding out that they have a case because a body was found a couple of days ago, and the FBI has decided they should work the case? I say 'The FBI' since they no longer have someone deciding what cases the team works on. Garcia obviously isn't doing it. Is Greg? He's the one calling everyone in, but even he seems to just be getting word that they're working the case from someone else.

Where are these cases coming from? Does anyone even know?

Okay, back to the show - the newest body is of a sex worker who was killed six weeks ago. So maybe the creep was just locked away somewhere, rather than being killed by the hobo?

That theory is confirmed in the next scene, where it turns out that the killer has an actual jail that he keeps people in!
Well, possibly a kennel, but in any event, it's a pretty impressive setup just for keeping people captive! The killer sets up a video camera and sprays the creep with water, telling him to drink so he won't get dehydrated... yet. Is this some kind of a study the killer is performing? Does he want to document the effects of starvation and thirst on humans?

I suppose we'll find out after the credits!


Criminal Minds 917: Persuasion

In a dark room, a woman is crying.

You know, I feel like that sentence is Criminal Minds' entire raison d'etre. That's every episode of the show in just eight words.

A man enters the room, and the woman asks what the doctor wants - she's willing to do anything! His response? To club her with a pipe and drag her into the darkness. Because this is Criminal Minds.

Then we're in a diner in Las Vegas (will Reid's Mom show up?) when a backpacker enters! He asks for a job, but the waitress says they're not hiring! We notice that the waitress seems to be dressed in the same outfit as the woman from the beginning, so that explains why we're here now! The connection is confirmed when the waitress mentions to one of her regulars that 'Frieda' is late for her shift.

The customer heads out to talk to the backpacker, and accuses him of trying to pick the wallet of someone in the diner, and then offers help! It seems the customer is a magician, one with an oddly generic business card!
Will they become some kind of a criminal team? Only time will tell!

Some ATVrs find the corpse of the waitress and another woman dumped in a field, then it's over to Quantico for the briefing! The women haven't been identified, and they were killed via drowning after being tied up and clubbed! There's no leads yet, but as the team points out, Las Vegas is the most surveilled city in America, so hopefully they'll get some evidence soon!

Hey, can you tell that a corpse has been drowned after it's spent nearly a month being turned into a mummy by the sun?
Her soft tissue has all been transformed into jerky, but they already have a cause of death they're sure of? Doesn't that seem like a stretch? Or are they just assuming she was also drowned because she was found near the other body? Wouldn't it be hilarious if it was an unrelated victim of a different killer, and they've just made some bad assumptions?

I don't know a lot about fabrics, but that print looks pretty colourful - am I crazy, or would three weeks in the Nevada sun bleach that pattern out a little? I mean, look what's happened to her skin, wouldn' the pattern on the shirt show a little more wear than that?

Oh, and speaking of Vegas, we cut back there and see people walking happily along the sidewalk while someone - maybe the backpacker, it's hard to tell - screams for help underneath the street's drainage grate, before being dragged away! Was it the pickpocketing backpacker who got killed? Hopefully we'll find out after the credits!


The Lady or the Tiger Has Been Solved

I was reading Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, as one does, and the preamble to one of the stories extensively discussed Frank Stockton's “The Lady or the Tiger”. I had only a passing familiarity with the story – I remembered it ended on a cliffhanger, and it was up to the reader to decide which ending was more likely. According to the preamble, the author had written a sequel, but it was similarly unsatisfying, which had led another author to, many decades later, write a sequel for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine entitled "The Lady and the Tiger", which wrapped up the story in a satisfying fashion. Sadly I was unable to track that story down, but I was able to find the sequel to The Lady or the Tiger, published one year later, a short story called “The Discourager of Hesitancy”. Reading it, I discovered something interesting – not only was it not as unsatisfying as had been reported, but it seemed to provide the ending for “The Lady or the Tiger” that the original story lacked. I believe that Frank Stockton offered a solution to the readers who were desperate for any resolution, and he did it in a manner so brilliantly obscure that I could find no evidence that anyone has come across it.


Criminal Minds 916: Gabby

The episode opens with a few shots of abandoned businesses and rotted out homes to establish that this episode is set amidst an environment of urban squalor. Then they cut to a perfectly nice low-end suburban street, because the show shoots in Los Angeles, and they don't have access to the kind of wrecks you can find in Mississippi there.

A woman is dropping her daughter off to stay with her sister for a week. They offer some exposition about how the mother won a raffle for a week-long cruise, and it's her first real vacation away since the daughter (who's like 5-6, something along those lines) was born! The aunt has prepared a child's playhouse for the front yard, so the visit should go great! Unless a killer shows up, murders her, and steals the daughter. That would be less great.

Later that week, we see the aunt pile the kid into a car to go for a nighttime drive. She explains to the neighbour that going out for rides helps the little girl get to sleep, then as they're driving off, the little girl and the neighbour lady exchange some sign language! Which they know for some reason? Is one of these characters deaf and I somehow didn't notice?

We cut to the aunt sitting in her car at a gas station, waiting for there to be no witnesses before she runs into the store to buy some food. Maybe we're supposed to think that she's waiting for the guy to drive away because she finds him creepy and doesn't want to leave the niece alone in the car with him at the pumps, but then again, the niece is sleeping, lying across the back seats, so there's no reason to think that anyone even knows she's in the car.

So while the aunt is in the store, a minivan drives up, presumably grabs the kid, and then drives off. Did the Aunt sell the child to someone? Because it's kind of crazy to imagine that a kidnapper would have been been following them this whole time and managed to land on this incredibly lucky moment.

Seeing the empty back seat, the aunt starts screaming for help, and the guys inside call 911!

The team immediately jumps on the plane and flies there - like, immediately. Preposterously immediately.
That's the sun just coming up to the front right of the plane - which is a little weird, considering that they're flying west, but whatever, let's just assume that they mean it to be like 7AM when this scene is happening.

Assuming they're almost in Mississippi, that's like a two-hour flight, meaning they had to get on the plane at 5AM. So let's figure the abduction happened around 10PM, that means that the cops showed up, took statements, decided they couldn't handle the case, called the local FBI, who kicked it upstairs to Washington, and someone there decided that the serial killer people should be working on it - even though it's just a missing girl, not a beheaded little girl - and then called Greg and woke him up at like 3AM, and then he told everyone else to get moving, all so they could be on a plane at 5AM.

This is just so far from how the police actually work. Would it have killed the show to have them arriving at noon the next day? A plausible amount of time later?

Oh my god, it's so much worse than I thought. All of that figuring I did above? Yeah, it's even worse - it's been just three hours since the abduction during the plane scene. I don't know how far they are into the flight, but that means the idea that they were all gathered up and put on a plane happened even faster than I'd calculated. Also, how can the sun be coming up? Was that abduction at like 2AM? Damn, this show is crazy.

In their pre-file they point out that the abductor would have had to have been stalking the little girl - and perhaps even gotten the mother sent away on that trip! Although that might be a stretch, since it's my own interjection. Bigger issue, though, is that they talk about having 24 hours to find the girl before it's too late!

Weird that they would still be saying that, since just six episodes they did a story about how that was a meaningless rule of thumb.

We catch up with the minivan driving down a rural road and dumping something body-shaped but wrapped in black plastic into a river! Has he already murdered the little girl? Was the little girl already dead, killed by the aunt (who's actually the girl's cousin, it seems) and this is a friend helping make it look like an abduction/murder? It's not like we actually saw the little girl moving in the back seat during the convenience store scene.

Hopefully we'll find out after the opening credits!


Criminal Minds 915: Mr. & Mrs. Anderson

At a cold gas station a backpacking young woman walks up to a familiar character actor and asks if she can get a ride with him. He demurs, and starts to drive away, then stops and invites her in. So which of the two of them is the killer? Probably him, right?

He offers to take her as far as he can - which is the motel up the street where he and his wife are staying. It has a bus stop out front! She immediately agrees to this, which is a little suspicious, since that's not much of a ride.

During the ride, the man asks questions designed to reveal whether the young woman has anyone waiting for her, or if anyone knows where she is. It's a no in both cases, just FYI. They get to the motel and the man gives her some cash to take the bus, but then his wife comes out and invites the woman inside, saying there's about to be a storm, and she'll freeze out in the cold waiting for a bus!

So, is the wife the one who's more psyched about killing in this pair? Because the husband wasn't trying very hard to get this lady into their motel room. The show cuts away before we see what happens.

At Quantico, Garcia and Derek talk relationship stuff, and then run into JJ - it's her first day back after getting tortured last episode! Time for the case rundown! Two women have been thrown half-naked into ditches at the side of the road - please note the complete lack of snow, even though both were killing in and around Pittsburgh, and the show went out of its way to show a bunch of snow on the ground in the first scene.

The women were strangled, stripped but not raped, then wrapped in shower curtains. Joe intuits 'a lot of rage', although the women weren't tortured in any way other than the strangling that killed them, so I don't know what Joe is basing that on. The team wonders why no sexual assault, since the vast majority of serial killers are rapists, so they guess maybe the killer is impotent. But they can't figure why the killer would cover the bodies, which is usually a sign of remorse.

We've got a pretty good idea about that already, since we saw that the wife was a little more into killing than the husband, but to be fair, we have access to more information than they do.

Also, the two bodies were dropped in the past two days, so yes, they're already spree killing.

Then we see the couple with a marriage counselor, who interrogates them about their homework to put the spark back in their marriage. Have they been working on that? We see a flashback to the murder, and it's revealed that the reason the women aren't being raped is that the sexual component of the crime is that the couple has sex after the husband strangles the women to death.

Thanks for that, show.


Criminal Minds 914: 200

Okay, if I'd known when I made that prediction about JJ's storyline that 914 was the 200th episode, I'd have guessed that it would be the place for all the secrets to come out. This is the downside of trying to go into episodes completely clean - you miss out on chances to make super-accurate predictions.

So let me make one more bad prediction before the episode starts - we'll get another visit from that background agent whose job is giving people rides home, last spotted being let in to the office by Mark Hamill last season!

Now, on with the episode!

Picking up soon after the last episode left off, JJ is dragged into a room with a bag over her head, shackled to a chair, and then drugged! Is this a chemical interrogation? We're finally going to get that backstory from the year she was off, though, since it's a middle-eastern guy doing the ejecting, and then pointedly middle-eastern music pipes up on the soundtrack and we cut to a view of one of those eight-sided towers I don't know the name of!

Back in 2010, JJ arrives in Iraq, where she's met by Erin, who is still alive in the past! She starts explaining that it's an incredibly secret job that she's taking on, but then the speech gets interrupted by the introduction of Esai and Helo from Battlestar, who are outside of a tent, arguing over who screwed up their attempt to interrogate a terrorist!

JJ meets Helo, who's not psyched that she's been brought on board to mediate interrogations - he'd prefer to just torture people to death, as he just got finished doing! In a great moment, it's acknowledged that JJ has no training in profiling or interrogation whatsoever, so it's not really clear what a media liaison/case manager is doing there.

They never did explain why she was able to start profiling when she got back, did they? I mean, other than Garcia having stolen her old job. Was it a subtle dig at the art of profiling, suggesting that if you just hang around these people for a couple of years, you'll become as good at faking it as they are?

As JJ is escorted out of the tent by Esai, she sees the wife of the dead guy, who she's supposed to interview, and then meets their interpreter... the guy who drugged her in the present!

Speaking of the present day, Josh arrives at the office, bringing their son, who's not named William the 3rd, as far as I can recall. Josh tells them to call Esai - he knows about the secret mission, of course, and JJ said to call Esai if she ever mysteriously disappeared! Naturally Esai has also mysteriously disappeared, information that is brought by Anderson, the chauffeur/agent who's rarely on the show!

So that's one prediction correct! I'd make more, but I have no idea where the episode is going, and won't pretend that I do.

Speaking of Esai, he's dragged into the torture dungeon as well, and they're both hung from pipes, as the translator gets ready to go to work! I hope this doesn't get too gruesome - I guess we'll find out after the credits!


Criminal Minds 913: The Road Home

It's raining... somewhere... as a man writes a note while sitting in his truck. He tried to make something right, and failed, now he's asking for forgiveness. Then he goes to the glove compartment, grabs his pistol and - will he kill himself, or someone else? Well, the pistol has tape all over the handle, which might be intended to repel fingerprints, but who knows?

The man - you may recognize him as the reclusive nerd from Real Genius, or the other guy in Napoleon Dynamite, but to me he'll always be Broots from The Pretender - sees some kids in coasts walking to a gazebo to get out of the rain. Apparently he's in a public park?

The show cuts away before we see him decide to kill someone else instead of himself, and suddenly we're in Joe's office, as he stares at a gun lying on his desk. It's an old-timey semi-auto, and it came with a note. Maybe an old army buddy? I've got to stop making guesses about things that aren't related to the plot, and just watch the show.

Turns out Joe is worried because the gun is a gift from Mescach Taylor (his army buddy from the homeless burner episode) - it's a Vietnam-era army sidearm with custom-made handgrips designed to look like the Vietnam War Memorial! But how could a recently homeless fellow have afforded that? Did he liquidate all his assets and buy extravagant gifts for his friends prior to committing suicide? Joe has tried to get in touch, but Mescach has disappeared, not showing up to work or his at his housing unit! Greg tells Joe to fly out to LA and check on him.

Back at the park, the three youths start harassing the old men playing checkers in the gazebo, and when they flash their guns, Broots appears and shoots them to death! Two of them, anyhow - the third is smart enough to run away full speed.

It's time for the team to get involved! Although they really shouldn't, given the details of the case - he killed the two guys at the gazebo, and chased the third to a gas station a mile away and shot him. That really does sound like the kind of standard gang violence that the FBI is profoundly disinterested in. So they add another person getting shot at a bus stop a little while later to justify the team's interest. It's off to Cleveland!

Where Broots his back at his flop, pouring out his whiskey because he's found self-actualization through murdering scumbags! Just like that Death Wish movie! Then it's off to the gun store to buy boxes and boxes of bullets for his gun! Hopefully some extra magazines as well, because, you know, it's kind of awkward to ask the gang toughs to just hang out while you reload a clip.

What's he going to do with all that ammo? Let's find out after the opening credits!


Criminal Minds 912: The Black Queen

It's 2004, and we open in a interrogation room inside the San Diego field office of the FBI. There's gothed-out lady sitting at the table. We don't see her face right away, but it's obviously Penelope, right? This is when she got caught for hacking? I don't know why, but I guess I always assumed it had happened earlier. Had she really only been working with the team for a month or two when the first episode started?

Greg enters the room to chat with Penelope about her crimes, and they don't do a very good job of making either of them look a decade younger. That takes more expensive computers than are available to the people at Criminal Minds.

Greg immediately offers her a job because someone talented at hacking into pharmaceutical companies would naturally have the skills and temperament necessary to hunt serial killers. Preferring a job to jail, Penelope signs up. Then Derek comes in, and wow, did they not bother at all to try younging him down:

That's some preposterous facial hair for you to have had back in 2004, Derek. I know Shemar Moore wouldn't want to shave it and grow it back for continuity reasons, but wow, should he have been written up for looking unprofessional. On the other hand, it's nice to know that at some point in his life, he was capable of dressing like a professional!

In a super-cute scene, we then cut to Quantico in the present day, where they're having a sexual harassment seminar because of Penelope and Derek's incredibly unprofessional behaviour! Greg then pulls Garcia out of the meeting to go and visit the attorney general - I guess something from Garcia's days as 'The Black Queen' (of course she'd be a big X-Men fan) have come back to haunt her!

It seems that when Garcia was recruited, the team was also in town to arrest a super-hacker who also killed a bunch of sex workers! And now the Justice Department website has been hacked to demand justice for the guy! It seems that a bunch of online would-be sleuths have decided that he's innocent, and are making a fuss until the case is reopened. So the team is going to do just that!

Because they're known for giving in to the demands of extremists, I guess?

Let's find out after the credits!


Criminal Minds 911: Bully

Before I press start on the episode, let's just take a moment to notice that Criminal Minds reached the point where it can have an episode whose number is '911'. Will this be a emergency services-themed episode? Are the producers kicking themselves for not shifting 'The Caller' into this slot?

Let's get this thing rolling!

A man walks into a basement which is supposed to be dilapidated - we're shown dripping water and a rat, but there's an almost shocking level of organization displayed on the toolbox visible in one shot. Heck, the the screwdrivers have even been arranged symmetrically! It's a weird situation where the set dresser can't stop themselves from doing a good job of setting up a work bench, even if it shouldn't be that good looking.

Also there's dust cloths over things to protect them from the elements. This is not an ill-cared-for location.

The man opens up a huge chest in the middle of the floor, removing two chains with padlocks. He helps a woman stand up out of it, but just as he's about to start molesting her, he hears a creak on the floorboards above. So he chains her to a pipe so he can focus on the unexpected intruder.

Which, naturally, turns out to be the team, who are busting in and arresting him! Jeanne tries to talk him into dropping his gun because the woman he's hiding behind 'isn't his mother'. Apparently he'd been sending the team taunting letters about his crime?

Then, proving my long-standing point that they should have their fingers on the triggers during tense standoffs like this, the man has plenty of time to move the gun away from the woman's side, aim it at Jeanne, and pull the trigger before any of the FBI Agents get around to shooting him.

They say not to put your finger on the trigger until you're ready to shoot, and their not being ready to shoot just almost got Jeanne killed.

Yes, Jeanne is fine. Just grazed in the arm. Think of how awful it would have been if we didn't have her around to... um... she was supposed to profile linguistics, right? That never really comes up, does it?

Outside, as the killer's body is carted away, Jeanne gets a phone call from her father! Something has happened! Is she going to be getting another character episode? We haven't had one of those since she decided not to quit the team even after her husband stopped being an MSF just to be closer to her!

On the plane, Garcia checks in on the tip Jeanne's father sent - a guy was stripped of his clothes, forced to put on women's underwear, and then beaten to death! Also, a year earlier two teens were beaten to death in an alley, without all the fetish nonsense. Could they be connected? The team is going to go to Kansas City to find out, even though Jeanne's dad isn't actually on the force any more!

While the plane is on the way, we cut over to the presumptive killer, a roided-out nutbag who works on his boxing skills while listening to speed metal! Because sure, why not.


Criminal Minds 910: The Caller

A woman is woken from her rest by a phone call. On the line is a child-like voice saying 'I'm gonna get you', It's obviously been happening a lot lately, so she hangs up the phone in anger. Her husband enters the bedroom, asking about the call. She says that it's frustrating that cops wouldn't investigate the calls. Would you have to investigate them? Couldn't you just check your call display? Also, making harassing phone calls is a crime, and there's no reason they wouldn't be able to file a police report, especially if this has been going on for some time.

The wife asks the husband to talk to the retired cop at his workplace and see if there's anything that can be done. Although I don't know what that would be, if they live in a place where cops won't charge people with crimes.

Anyway, the husband says it's not worth worrying about, and that the kid will get bored of calling. I don't doubt that the guy would be this much of a jerk about his wife's concerns, but it's still rough to watch. Also, maybe he made the call? He walked into the room immediately after it ended, so that's not impossible. Like how in Scream they wanted you to think Dewey might be the killer by having him be unreachable in his room while the killer was calling Sydney at Tatum's house.

The next day when the couple wakes up and preps breakfast, they're dealt two nasty surprises! 1: Their son is missing, and 2: their front door is covered in blood!
The only conclusion? Their son has been kidnapped by people who are very bad at reading the bible! It's the people with blood on their doors who don't lose their kids, dummies.

Moments after the discovery of the door, the child voice calls back to claim responsibility for the crime! The dad is standing right there, though, so obviously he's not the one making the calls.

We cut immediately to the briefing room, where Garcia is running down the case. Has she gotten a raise now that she does twice as much work? I certainly hope so.

They try to explain the police's non-response by saying that they had determined no laws had been broken. Which is just wrong. It's absolutely a crime to phone people and threaten them, even if you're just a child. The problem is that there's no way for the writers to get around this problem - for the story there need to have been a bunch of calls, but if the cops had looked into it they'd have either found out who the criminal was, or that they were using extreme measures to disguise the call's origin.

Of course, if the second was true, they'd have escalated the case, because a child wouldn't have the ability to mask a call, and an adult making these calls while pretending to be a child is immediately more threatening.

So the show just gives bad advice to the audience, telling them that if they're getting days worth of creepy and intimidating phone calls, there's nothing they can do about it.

Thanks, show.

Then we get an interesting reveal - Mandy dealt with a case just like this fifteen years ago! Creepy calls, abducted kid, the whole thing.

Joe and Greg then win a Prentiss Award for this exchange:

Um, if that's the case, you don't need to rush. He's already dead. Here's the timeline - the parents notice the child is missing, and call the police. The cops show up, talk to them, realize how serious the situation is, decide to call in the FBI. That goes through proper channels until it gets to Garcia, who approves the case, and calls the team together.

That whole process had to have taken at least two hours - especially since Garcia has had time to put together a visual presentation including a photo of the kid and the bloody door:
So even if, miraculously, the child was abducted one second before the parents woke up, it's still been more than two hours since the abduction, since the parents had to spend at least half an hour getting dressed and ready for the day.

Also, the team is now going to spend more than two hours on a plane heading for St. Louis, where this all happened. So yeah, if the killer is known for killing kids within two hours, you haven't got a prayer.

Then the show cuts to some footage of the investigation, for no reason that I can think of.