It Seems that the Writers of Medium Watch Criminal Minds

Yes, every story has already been told, and it’s only natural to steal a good idea here or there, and most importantly, when there’s three shows on the air that deal exclusively with serial killers, there’s going to be some overlap, but last week’s episode of Medium demonstrated a basic lack of the care necessary to avoid committing outright plagiarism.

The episode concerned a fake Zodiac Killer, and the author who had written a book about him. The author is played by Marcus Giamatti, who is Paul Giamatti’s brother, and who I always confuse with Beardo from the show ‘Bones’. This aspect of the storyline is fairly close to the true story of the Zodiac case, with Giamatti playing a Graysmith type who’d spent his life tracking down a serial killer, only to have the killer die before he could confirm the man’s identity.

When the murders start up again there are only two possibilities – 1: Giamatti’s doing the killing. Or 2: His investigation was wrong, and the real killer’s still out there.

Of course, since this is an episode of Medium, we don’t have to wait around to discover the truth, they just flat out tell us immediately through one of Allison’s dreams that Giamiatti lied, and the suspect didn’t confess on his deathbed. Which means the real killer is still out there… But who could it be?

It’s Fisher Stevens. The killer is Fisher Stevens.

And I know this not just because there’s no way anyone is casting Fisher Stevens to play some random guy at Allison’s physical therapy treatment centre (for an example of this, see also the film Alphabet Killer, or better yet, wait for my review, which is forthcoming), but rather because I recently watched and reviewed the fake-BTK episode of Criminal Minds "Unfinished Business" (which I was going to link to here, but apparently it goes up Friday).

That episode, like this one, portrayed a serial killer disappearing for fifteen plus years and then starting up again suddenly, but now with a slightly different M.O. In the Criminal Minds episode the killer no longer had the dexterity to tie complex knots or the physical power to overpower his victims.

Here in Mediumland the killer suddenly wrote cryptograms with his left hand instead of right, and was also less physically powerful. The reveal was that Fake-BTK was in a car accident on the way to a victim’s house, while Fake-Zodiac was shot during a mugging… on the way to a victim’s house.

That’s right, both shows were faced with a real-life serial killer who mysteriously stopped killing for an extended period of time, came up with the exact same explanation (a crippling injury that changed their M.O. slightly), the exact same gilded-lily element (the injury happened just minutes before a planned murder!), and used the device of a book being published about the crime to get the story going.

There’s homage, and then there’s plagiarism. I’m not a judge, but come on, guys.

Also, in a little shout-out to real-life Zodiac-obsessive Robert Graysmith, the Fisher Stevens-played fake Zodiac was named ‘Graybridge’. Cute, right? You spend your whole life trying to catch a serial killer, maybe you screw it up a little and the guy dies without confessing, and then a TV show references your (possible) failure while you’re still alive.

Damn. Now I’m sad again.

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