9.10.09

Criminal Minds 113: Poison

A father and son are driving out in the woods after catching a movie. They almost hit a deer – or do they? It turns out the father is hallucinating! Then he thinks there’s a flat tire, so he stops the car. And beats his son nearly to death with a tire iron! In his defence, at the point he thought he was being attacked by monsters. Actually, come to think of it, that’s not a fantastic excuse, is it? Filthy pothead.

Oh, wait, it wasn’t pot, he was poisoned. Which explains why the team is involved. They need to track down the mass poisoner who gave 7 people monstrous amounts of LSD! Wait, how long does it take LSD to kick in? Because he’s just coming out of a movie, meaning that he spent roughly two hours sitting in one place. Was the popcorn or drink spiked? But then why was his son fine? Until he got beaten nearly to death with an iron bar, of course.

Based on the kinds of poisoner that commonly commit this type of crime, the team assumes that this 7-person attack was just a trial run for a much bigger poisoning that’s coming soon. The first lead they follow up is bat-dad, who’s pretty messed up about almost murdering his son that time. It seems bat-dad was angry about his wife’s affair, causing the son to be angry at dad – Mandy brutally questions bat-dad about his possible motives for attacking his son, which seems like a waste of time, considering that he was on LSD during the attack, and they don’t think he was responsible for the poisoning.

Science offers the next tip – that the LSD was mixed with Rohypnol, to ensure that people would have amnesia the next day. Not sure why that was a priority, but okay. I mean, all you have to do is find the common factor in everyone’s poisoning in order to figure out how it happened. This turns up right away, when the owner of a local coffee shop recognizes a bunch of the victims. Suspiciously one of the employees, a high school kid, hasn’t turned up for work – Elle goes by his girlfriend’s house looking for him, and find that there were two more victims of the mass poisoning. For a moment they think the boyfriend might be responsible, but it’s not a plausible lead, so we’ll just skip on past.

In another one of the series’ patented ‘try to make the team look smart by having other cops act like idiots’, Greg informs the police officer in charge of the case that, after the story about the poisoning breaks without naming the restaurant, there will be a flood of calls to 911 and people turning up at the hospital. The officer can’t understand what they’re talking about, and demands they explain it to him. Because a 45-year-old man who’s been a police officer for all his adult life wouldn’t have every heard of a case of the news reporting on, oh, I don’t know, meningitis and then 500 people showing up at the hospital reporting symptoms, right?

Even more preposterously, they’re frustrated that they can’t find a connection between the café where the poisoning was and someone with a grudge or a disgruntled employee. But why would they? The whole theory they’re operating under is that the café was just a trial run of the poison, so wouldn’t the target have been incidental? It all turns out to be a red herring, though, since it’s just a coincidence that everyone ate at the café, and it wasn’t the source of the poisoning! The bank across the street was!

Watching the security tapes they find all of the victims on the bank’s security camera, including a new one who’s turned up at the hospital. But there’s a twist – the woman in the hospital seemed to be the one putting poisoned candy in the bank’s candy jar! Their suspect dies quickly, before naming who her partner was. Meanwhile the actual poisoner is sneaking into a pharmaceutical company, just as the management staff is going off on a weekend camping retreat!

Wait, wait wait - now that we know where the poisoning happened, and when (the afternoon, at the bank), I'm going to ask again, why didn't the dad start showing LSD effects during the movie? LSD doesn't take longer than an hour to kick in, so why wasn't the freak out in the theatre? Or even before he got there, since he clearly went to the bank before picking his son up and going to the movies. Which makes it hours and hours before the LSD kicked in.

They stumble onto a new target during their research into people the company has fired – there's a certain chemical engineer that the company screwed out of a patent! He confesses right away, then tells them he poisoned the punch at the company party that night. Which is true, of course, but also a red herring, because there wouldn’t be a corporate retreat in the story if it wasn’t important. The team doesn’t seem overly concerned that the guy is quivering and sweating throughout the entire interview, even though they were expecting him to try to kill himself, and knows that he's using botulism as his current weapon of revenge, which creates exactly those symptoms.

Now it’s time for the twist – in addition to the candy at the bank, the killer also poisoned envelopes! While they’re figuring out that the real poisoning involved toxic envelopes, like the ones that will be used at the retreat! As they’re figuring this out the poisoner dies, but luckily they get to the camp in time to save the lives of all the people who screwed him over! Go team!

1 - Was profiling in any way helpful in solving the crime?

God no. This week they had everything handed to them on a silver platter. There was videotaped evidence of who was responsible, and a paper trail pointing to the other suspect. Their attempts to convince the killer to help using psychology came to absolutely nothing, and they saved the day by watching a videotape.

2 - Could the crime have been solved just as easily using conventional police methods given the known facts of the case?

It was.

So, on a scale of 1 (Dirty Harry) to 10 (Tony Hill), How Useful Was Profiling in Solving the Crime?

1/10 – I have no idea why the profilers were even called in on this case. The poisoning was completely a local matter, with no interstate or terrorism connections. They certainly didn’t accomplish anything the local police couldn’t have.

Also, this episode was just rife with bizarre plot stuff. We never found out what happened to a number of the characters, somehow LSD went from taking the normal hour to kick in to taking four or five hours. Just a mess of an episode, with absolutely no psychological element.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

i feel slightly dumber reading this. I wanted a synopsis, but expecting what you expect out of a TV show, it is not realistic. It is TV, and the point is to get people to watch, instead of being as realistic as possible. A few good points, but overall...

macks2010 said...

I liked the episode, partly because I like the idea of a criminal using a delayed poison and partly because I like anything that incorporates a red herring, but agree that there wasn't much in the way of profiling, although didn't they use profiling to determine what type of poisoner they were after? That in mind, I would have said 2/10.