13.11.09

Criminal Minds 118: Somebody’s Watching

The Criminal Minds team is headed to LA! Which is actually pretty easy, since the show is filmed there! Mandy and Elliot are at a gallery showing, which is owned by a high school friend of Elliot’s! They quickly meet the episode’s guest star, a TV star! And then it turns out that Elliot’s name is actually Reed, and I’ve been getting it wrong for a few episodes now. Huh. How about that. Then it’s time to establish the episode’s theme (stalking), when a papparazzo shows up and snaps some pictures of the starlet.

Reed and the starlet flirt for a while (he’s socially inept at it, of course), while Mandy spends time with one of the starlet’s artist friends. They explain that they’re in town to give the LAPD a class on serial killing. In an amazing coincidence, on the very day they’re giving this seminar a masked killer with a really, really small gun turns up at the house of an actress, then proceeds to kill both her and her boyfriend.

It may seem like I’m making too big a deal about the gun, but believe me, it’ll be important later.

With the news of a hot new murder in the town they happen to be in, Mandy calls in the rest of them team to help them work the case. It’s already a serial killing - there have been two more similar murders with comitted with the same .22 calibre pistol. All of the victims have been involved in the industry – a producer and an actress.

It’s at this point that someone mentions that the .22 is often used by mob hitmen because the bullet bounces around inside the head. They don’t mention the other incredibly popular use of that calibre of pistol – they’re women’s guns. .22s are popular among women because they fit easily into smaller hands and have more controllable recoil.

These are the only two popular uses for .22s. There’s a third use, competition shooting, but that’s rare compared to the other two.

There is never the slightest suggestion in the evidence that the mob might be involved in the crimes. Yet somehow the possibility that the killer could be a woman never comes up. And these are supposed to be professional detectives.

During a pow-wow about the case the starlet’s agent shows up and announces that his client received a threatening note, announce that the starlet ‘owes’ the killer because of that day’s murders. An interview with the starlet reviews that the dead producer had passed her over for a part, and the actress from this morning is the person who got the job!

Yes, the actress is being stalked, and her stalker thinks that they’re helping her career by killing people. But who could this stalker be?

It’s her:

How do I know it’s her? Because she’s a PA, and she’s got a line. Which means they had to pay an actress thousands of dollars for the part, rather than tens for an extra.

Hell, PAs don’t even talk in real life, so when you hear one speaking, it’s important. Also, the .22 thing points to her, since she’s the only other female suspect.

The killer delivers another note from herself, announcing that she feels betrayed by the starlet going to the police. Hilariously the Starlet announces that she doesn’t want to run off because she thinks continuing to live her own life is the biggest priority. So she heads back in to shoot the last scene of that week’s episode, and Reed swings by for some more conversation, and flirting.

Mandy and Greg head over to the Starlet’s manager’s office, but find him murdered! The killer has moved on to killing anyone associated with her! The team comes up with a new plan – put her in a sfaehouse, hidden away, and the killer will be so frustrated by her lack of access that she’ll break cover. Reed escorts her back to her house, and sees this hanging on the wall.

Starlet announces that it’s a photo collage that she really likes. Um, of course you like it. It’s pictures of you. This appears on the screen for maybe a second and a half, but even in that glance it was painfully apparent to me that it was pictures of her – and I’m watching on a 21-inch screen. Click on it if you want a better look. Oh, wait, you don’t know what the starlet looks like – here:

See? Now here’s the crazy part – the Starlet doesn’t know that it’s a collage of her! Yes, she hung that photo on her wall and looks at it every day and didn’t notice that it was clearly part of a shrine to her. This will actually be a plot point a little later on.

Is anyone that stupid and unobservant?

They also find a lead at the office – candid photos taken of the starlet by a paparazzo (presumably the one from the beginning). Of course, he’s a red herring, so unless he caught the killer on film or gets killed himself, we won’t be bothering with his storyline. Oh, except for the fact that the killer drives by and takes a few shots at Derek while he’s leaving the paparazzo’s office. But nobody’s killed, so let’s move on.

A phone call finally brings them an actual clue – the stalker has been sending the Starlet her favorite flowers, and she’s never mentioned what they are to the press, so the killer has to be someone she knows! Like, for example, her friend the PA. For some reason they don’t call the Starlet and ask for a list of close friends, pointlessly delaying the solution.

Meanwhile at the Starlet’s house she goes for a swim and pulls Reed into the pool, and they make out for a while. Because Reed is bad at his job. He manages to kill the mood eventually by revealing that the Starlet’s manager has been murdered. This puts a damper on the romance just as the paparazzo is arrested for snapping photos from the bushes.

It’s while Reed is consoling the starlet that he finally notices the painfully obvious patterns in the photo collage – they’re pictures of her from university and beyond! And the collage was given to her by the art gallery owner! Could he be the killer? Of course not. They didn’t go to college together. Duh.

But he reveals who gave him the collage to give to the Starlet – the killer! Maybe I’m being a little sarcastic here, but come on, this is an unusually obvious solution.

Even more hilariously, they act like this information is a revelation that they couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. Because, again, Reed is bad at his job, and never bothered to ask the Starlet if there’s anyone in her life currently who was also in her life during college.

Duh.

Just then the Starlet gets a call from the killer, and has to keep her on the line long enough to trace her cell phone. Which is coming from inside the house!

Yes, even though they know the stalker knew the starlet and had access to her at all times, the police didn’t bother searching the house before letting her and Reed go inside.

I keep forgetting that simply EVERYONE in the world of Criminal Minds is bad at their jobs.

The killer manages to get the drop on Starlet and Reed after he goes looking through the house rather than waiting for backup to arrive. That’s right, backup has to ‘arrive’, even though there were cop cars outside earlier. Reed proves surprisingly competant and manages to disarm the killer after she’s given a little speech about being in love with the Starlet forever.

The show then cuts to a few days later, as the starlet is more swamped by the press than ever. She and Reed get one more flirty moment, then it’s off to live their separate lives – her talking to the press, and him investigating murders!

Aw. It’s so sweet, isn’t it?

THE END

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

Wow, there was absolutely no profiling this week. None at all. It’s unsettling how little the ‘minds’ part of the show’s title played into the story. There was a little bit of conversation about the psychology of stalking, but it didn’t give them any special insight into the killer’s plans or identity.

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

Again, it was. The specific flower let them know that the stalker was a close friend, and the Starlet had only one of those. Of course, they weren’t smart enough to catch her based on that, so they needed the collage that was obviously the work of a longtime friend who followed her out to LA – which, again, there was only one of. The mere existence of the collage wasn’t enough to solve the case, though – no, the team had to actually be told the name of the killer by another character.

Actually, come to think of it, the team didn’t even solve the case this time. That art gallery guy did.

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

1/10 – Yup, it was yet another week for obvious clues, silly red herrings, and blatant facts that are overlooked by negligent detectives. Go team!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love the way you analyse the show. While it looks like you are ranting at times, it is still interesting to read. As a hardcore fan of Criminal Minds, I tend not to look into it to hard, so I can just enjoy it. But your critic of the episodes adds another layer to the CM experience. Nice job !

Anonymous said...

The other dumbass thing about this episode is they mentioned a few times that the art gallery guy's face was in the collage as well. In fact, that's how they traced the collage back to him. So if he didn't actually make it, and the PA just gave it to him to give to the starlet, why were his pictures in it?