The Thirty-Second-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

When I saw this panel my jaw dropped. So I thought that the experience should be shared with everyone.



Criminal Minds 404: Paradise

Ooh, the episode opens with a trucker barreling down the road in the pouring rain, listening to rock music blaring from his radio - does he keep the music loud to drown out the screams of the people he keeps locked in the back?

Guess not, since he just ran into a car that was parked across the middle of the highway! So they're dealing with a killer who drugs people and then uses trucks as his murder weapon! Clever!

Also, now that 24 is off the air, I have to take my practical stunts where I can get them.

Back at home base the team breaks down the case - it turns out I was wrong, the people are already dead when they're put in the car, the woman raped and tortured, the men beaten to death. With this revelation JJ and Garcia are able to run down similar crimes, and find that there have been a number of similar cases in the past few weeks. Yes, weeks. Because every serial killer is a spree killer in the world of Criminal Minds.

Which brings them to the big question - how is the killer finding his victims? Tow truck ruse like in the hunting humans episode? Seems like this is the perfect place for that 'geographical profiling' thing. After all, if the killer is driving the victims' cars to the various highways where he leaves them for trucks to destroy, then he's got to be within easy walking/biking distance of all of those sites, right? Unless there's a second killer and they take 2 cars - but still, there's going to be a comfort zone situation and... you know what? I have no idea why I'm trying to solve this crime for them. Let's just meet our victims who, according to the timeline, will be tortured for 2 days before being murdered (in the business, they call this 'the ticking clock!).

On the way home after a trip to Reno, a married couple (one of them is William Mapother, of Lost/being related to Tom Cruise fame, and the other is Robin Lively - the Teen Witch!) decides to stop in at a motel to spend the night. After which the plot of the movie Vacancy will likely ensue. Hopefully we won't see too much of the couple - I didn't even like the movie, so I'm doubting that the rip-off is going to offer many improvements.


Criminal Minds 403: Minimal Loss

I'm just going to air the opening seconds of this week's episode, so everyone can share them with me.

A few points here: 1 - I liked the way they got a character to say this week's opening quote within the reality of the show. That's a nice touch. Unless there's another quote after the opening credits, in which case this was just an attempt to make the guy sound as little like an actual reporter covering a siege as possible.

2 - Don't often see loop lines that obvious, huh?

3 - Man, that's one calm and collected cameraman, isn't it? Giant explosion goes off just a few hundred yards away and he doesn't even flinch before zooming in. And such a precise zoom, too...

The show then jumps back three days to let us know that we're covering the Waco story - Reid and Emily are headed in undercover after an anonymous tip let the county know that a crazed religious leader has been molesting the girls at his evil compound. Social workers are supposed to interview the children to investigate the allegations, and for some reason they've called in the FBI to help out. And they're going to need all the help they can get - it turns out the cult leader is Luke Perry!

He's headed back to the Oz well, playing another bible-thumping madman! Although there was a lot more to his Oz character than I'm guessing is going to show up here. Luke allows them to head into the school and interview the potential victim, a creepily pious 15-year-old. She shuts down the whole investigation when she reveals that not only did she not make the phone call, but she's actually married to Luke!

Yeah, her. Ick, right? It seems that it's all legal because her creepy mother gave consent to the marriage! Before we can dig any deeper into the pscyhodrama everyone is rounded up by men with guns - it seems Luke was tipped off by a reporter that the cops were prepping a raid! The cultists immediately start firing on the police - no 'Rules of Engagement'-style open-to-interpretation misunderstandings on this show!

Then, in a move that's so stupid that the woman doing it can't be described as deserving to live any longer, the actual social worker that was covering for Emily and Reid runs up to try and get the cops to stop shooting. By yelling at them. From a room they're currently firing at, and being fired at from. So yeah, she immediately gets hit by a cop's bullet and is killed instantly. Luke gets his men to stop firing so that the police can retreat, proving that he's not all bad, at least.


The Thirty-First-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

Come, harken back with me to days of yore-

Those halcyon days when America (in the form of an anthropomorphized avatar) had the necessary moral authority to yell abuse at a manufacturer of poisoned candy. In many ways I would have loved to have lived back then.

Except for all the poisoned candy.


After.Life wasn't well thought out beyond the halfway mark.

Afterlife (that's right, I've abandoned the nonsense clever title spelling immediately) is a story about a dying woman (Christina Ricci) who gets into a car accident and winds up lying on a slab in Liam Neeson's mortuary. Liam patiently explains that he has the special ability to be able to see and communicate with people's souls after they're dead, and over the next three days between her 'waking up' and her funeral, he's going to make her look presentable while also easing her transition into the next life.

Perfectly good premise for a slow-paced, likely pretentious meditation of the grieving process and letting go, right? Well, it would be, except for the twist, which I'll get to after the jump, to protect people who may want to see the - just kidding! Liam's a serial killer who gets off on convincing people that he has magic powers so that they'll voluntarily allow themselves to be buried alive - after which Liam retires to his tiny bedroom and has a good chuckle to himself about the whole thing.


Criminal Minds 402: The Angel Maker

This week's episode opens with a cliche - the blond woman creeping around her empty house, suddenly being scared by movement, but then it turns out that it was just the cat. The show tries to be clever by having the woman acknowledge in dialogue that her situation is cliched, but then it goes and drops in a second one, Myers-style.

Yup, it's the old 'out of focus killer moving soundlessly getting ready to ambush the woman' shot. I don't fault the show for employing classic horror movie tropes, I fault them for thinking that they're better than the tropes, and making jokes that outright claim as much.

The woman is, unsurprisingly, beaten to death with a hammer just a short amount of time later moments later, and then her corpse is violated with a post-mortem rape and stabbing. Ick.

Back in Quantico Greg is getting an MRI - demonstrating a nice acknowledgement by the show that there are major lasting physical repercussions from being within five feet of a huge explosion. He's warned that he should stay away from further loud sounds for a few weeks, lest he be deafened permanently! Greg badgers his way into being put back on the active duty roster, but the scene ends with a note of concern from his doctor, who has to tell him that the phone in his jacket pocket is ringing. Which is a great idea, except that it requires the audience to believe that Greg, a man who's now been living for a few months with a serious degree of hearing loss, wouldn't have already switched the phone's vibrate feature on to compensate.

Once Greg has arrived at the office the start going through the details of the case, but not before Derek takes a moment to tease Reid about his ridiculous haircut:

I also take a moment to mention this seemingly random and unimportant act because it's worth noting that, according to the first episode, Mandy had everyone refer to Reid as 'Doctor Reid' because he looked too young to be an FBI agent, and he wanted to ensure that the man was given the proper respect that his intellect warranted. Now it's four years later, though, and Reid no longer looks too young to be an FBI Agent. He now just looks like an FBI agent with a haircut that's completely inappropriate for an employee of the federal government to be sporting. He's by far the least-appropriately attired member of a team that includes a member who feels comfortable running around in jeans.

While representing the FBI.

Hey, so where were we? Ah, yes, the new crime is a copycat for a serial killer who called himself 'The Angel Maker' - a serial killer who was executed one year to the day before this new crime. Ready for the twist? The semen found on the dead body was an exact DNA match for the Angel Maker! What could possibly explain this development? Let's find out after the opening credits!

(although the only two possible explanations are identical twin or semen smuggled out of death row)


Criminal Minds 401: Mayhem

Yay, Greg's not dead! His ears seem to have blown out (and the show's producers have decided to express that by overlaying a high-pitched whine that actually hurts my ears - great for relatability, bad for my ears), and his British chippie is nowhere to be seen, but at least Greg's not dead. Also, the bomber runs up to him to check if he's okay:

How do we know that this guy's the bomber? Well, let's see... he's a middle-eastern guy within easy walking distance of a bomb that just went off. Criminal Minds just isn't the kind of show that's going to have a non-evil middle-easterner show up to mess with our preconceptions.

Seriously, has this show ever had a middle-eastern person on it that wasn't a terrorist? I mean, I know it's about profiling, I just didn't think they meant 'racial profiling'.

Moving right along, the bomber (whose name is 'Sam') announces that he's already called an ambulance - Greg asks him to call back so that he can tell them the victims of the bombing are FBI agent, which will presumably get them to hurry their asses up.

Greg finds Kate a little further up the road, badly injured - while attempting to treat her he refers to the bomb that went off as 'an IED' - which seems like an odd choice of phrase. What with it being a car-bomb, and all. More to the point, though, they've got to reason to assume that this is a jury-rigged explosive made from artillery shells or salvaged landmines. Really, the only reason to use the term 'IED' is to reinforce a connection between this attack and the kinds of things that happen in Iraq and Afghanistan, which seems like the kind of overly political thinking that people under stress wouldn't do. If Greg were a veteran just back from the war, I'd totally buy him using IED as a synonym for 'bomb'. He's not, though, so it's all kind of a stretch.

Anyhoo, Kate's bleeding badly and will likely die if she doesn't get treatment immediately. There's a hitch, though - the SOP of bombers is to set off a small bomb to injure a few people, then use a bigger one to take out the cops and paramedics who arrive to help.

Ironically, the very orders that Kate put out to save lives may wind up costing her her own!

Also, what do you want to bet that they never explain how someone was able to sneak up to an FBI vehicle parked in front of an FBI building and plant a bomb in it with nobody noticing?


I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 62

Indiana Jones and the Hole-y Plot (Part 4)

Building on the previous article, let's accept, for the sake of argument, that the door used to be open, and then some kind of security system closed it only after the skull was stolen – how did the conquistadores get down to the treasure room in the first place? The only way to open the temple is to let out a huge amount of sand through holes in a rock, which causes a central pillar to descend, which acts as a counterweight moving some outer pillars, which work the mechanism that opens the floor, revealing a staircase that juts out from the wall - for just fifteen seconds. Then the stairs begin sliding back into the wall, but the hole in the roof of the temple doesn’t close again.

So, after the Conquistadores opened the temple with this mechanism, and presumably used some kind of a grappling hook system to get back up again after the stairs had retracted, why did the natives reset it? What possible motivation could the natives have had for doing this? To keep invaders from stealing any further skulls? How could a theoretical invader possibly do that without them already having a skull to open the door? It can’t be to keep outlanders from grabbing all of the antiquities held in the cockpit’s antechamber, because, as isolated kung-fu-monkey-ninjas, they would have no conception of those items’ value.

This rather gaping plot hole grows out of the fact that the audience is never privy to anything approaching a motivation for the natives of the lost valley. Do they want the skull back? If so, why didn’t they grab it? Do they not want it back? If not, why did they docilely let a group of guys carrying the skull climb their pyramid? You can’t tell me their religion didn’t allow them to touch the skull, because they didn’t seem to have a problem burying along with the Conquistadores.

Traps and doors that needed to be reset were commonplace in the other Indiana Jones films, but at least there some sense of purpose could be ascribed to the people who maintained them. The thuggee wanted to ensure that the secret passageway into their underground lair was well-guarded, so they made a crush room. Obviously they’d want to use that passage themselves at some point, so there was also a simple reversing lever. Likewise the Hovitos’ traps would only be effective at keeping people away from their idol – a clear motive – if they were hidden in the walls, so it makes sense that they would sneak in and reset them every time someone wound up stabbed by some light-triggered skewers.

As for the zombie kung-fu monkeymen, because it’s never clear what they want, their actions can never make sense. The fact that those actions are internally inconsistent is just awful icing on a shoddy cake.


Thirtieth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

Oh, Captain Marvel-

(click to bigify!)

Why must you dance so elegantly around giving us the answers you know we crave? Answer me, dammit, would you have supported Hilary or not?

Of course, we already know how you feel about capital punishment, what with the way you made sure that alien inchworm was sentenced to death that one time.

Also, for the record, this story was set at the North Pole. So... yeah.


The Walking Dead Persists in Disappointing

So anyway, I watched the rest of this week's The Walking Dead and... well, yikes.

On last week's Avod the DiveMistress and myself got into a discussion about how terrible The Walking Dead's second episode was - most notably because of the character of Merle, the racist sexist violent redneck stereotype who everyone left to die on the top of the building. This week opens well, with a glance at Michael Rooker's desperate struggle for survival, in which he proves more intelligent than either character in the film Saw:

By using his clothes to grab the item of his salvation. Which would lead me to give the character (and by extension, the writers) a lot of credit. If the next scene featuring Merle's predicament wasn't so ungodly stupid. Here, in three images, is the crux of that stupidity:

This is, of course, a reference to Saw/Watchmen/Mad Max. So let's see just what The Walking Dead got wrong by taking a look at those scenes, shall we?


Criminal Minds Season 3 Recap!

Another season of Criminal Minds down! Some high highs this year, with the arrival of Joe Mantegna livening up the show a little, and the team finally battling that satanist they'd been itching to match wits with since "The Popular Kids" back in season 1.

The lows were especially low, however - between the show robbing us of our Santa-themed killer and the trip down bondage and child molestation lane, there was a glut of especially contemptible content this year.

Of course, we're not here to wallow in nostalgia - let's examine the only hard-and-fast metric ever designed to judge the relative psychologicality of Criminal Minds storylines!

Due to the writer’s strike there were just 20 episodes this year, featuring a total of 21 serial killers. The season didn't feature a two-parter, and while Penelope's shooting did occur over two episodes, the solving of it was featured entirely in episode nine, so I've counted their investigation there.

The total profiling score for the year was 50/210, or 24%. While this is up from last year's 20%, it's still lower than the series high-score of 25% in the first season.

Picking this year's best psychological writing was simple enough - it was the one time an episode climbed over five. Its inclusion is a little on the questionable side, though, because, much as in 'Riding the Lightning', in this particular case a crime wasn't actually solved. When we're introduced to the killer in question, he's already on Death Row, in the middle of a plan to have his execution delayed by adding a few more names to his list. When Reid stopped him with an impromptu profile, I decided to count it as 'solving' the case, despite the lack of mystery. Hell, it doesn't even really count as difficult profiling, because Reid wasn't actually using evidence to reverse-engineer a portrait of a killer, he was merely explaining how the killer's insanely bad childhood led him inexorably to murder - a task that was made immeasurably easier by the fact that he had access to the killer's entire life story.

It was much harder to decide on the worst showing for the profilers this year - beyond the now-standard format of most cases being solved by completely traditional policework, this season offered a shocking number of examples where the team had almost no measurable impact on the investigation. Where things would have turned out essentially the same had they remained in their comfortable chairs back at Quantico. Of all of those failures, though, one stands out above the rest. In the episode 3rd life, not only did the team fail to catch the culprit, they were beat to it by a mob hitman, who was trying to rescue his daughter from a group of vicious rapist/murderers.

When criminals are doing a better job of catching serial killers than the FBI, it might be time to turn in your badges, guys.


The Walking Dead is Also Poorly-Written

Here's a question I'd like to pose: if bad writing from the source material has been preserved in the finished product, is that better or worse than something just being badly written? Does faithfulness to the source material excuse the stupidity, or does the fact that years have passed without anyone noticing the problem, or bothering to fix it if they did, make the mistake even more contemptible?

I'm referring, of course, to the big reunion scene from episode 3 of The Walking Dead (it appeared in issue 2 of the comic).

That's TVRick, gleeful to discover that his family has survived.

This, of course, is comic Rick at the same moment.

What's wrong with both of these scenes? Simply that, while Rick's surprise at discovering that his family is alive is heartwarming (and needlessly profane, in one redacted case) it could not have happened this way in the context of either story.


The Walking Dead is Weird, Huh?

So I'm watching The Walking Dead, and being mildly diverted when I'm not getting angry, then suddenly I hear the oddest thing. Take a look at this brief sequence, where Rick shoots a zombie outside the police station, ensuring that Lennie James and his son will no longer be able to use it as a hideout:

Did you hear it? Buried under the sound of the chain-link fence is something that should be familiar to everyone who owns an Xbox 360.

Yup - it's definitely the 'achievement unlocked' sound effect.

Easter egg by the producers? Playful sound technician just dropping it in and hoping that no one would notice? You be the judge, because I've been too judge-y lately!


The Twenty-Ninth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

I’ve learned some amazing things while reading comics for this series, but this panel taught me one of the most fascinating:

It seems irony wasn’t invented until sometime after 1948.


I Don’t Understand William Hurt’s Plan

When it was recently discussed on theAvod episode 85, the Divemistress and myself were careful not to spoil all of the plot twists that the film ‘The 4th Floor’ had to offer. Unlike theAvod, though, Castle Vardulon is an all-spoiler zone, which makes this the perfect place to address the film’s unbelievably convoluted plot.

Actually, it’s not the plot that I must object to – it motors along effectively enough, propelled by the stupid, unbelievable decisions of the main character. No, my real questions are with the way the film collapses under the convolutions of its own logic once the second twist ending (William Hurt did it!) is revealed.

For most of the film’s running time every single character acts in a preposterously suspicious fashion. In practical terms this serves to create a spate of red herrings to distract the audience from the real killer, Juliette Lewis’ downstairs neighbour. Of course, since he’s the only character in the film who doesn’t act incredibly suspiciously (other than a Korean grocer), the attentive viewer will tap him as the murderer almost immediately, since he’s the only character for whom the revelation would be a (theoretical) surprise. The basic plot of how JL is terrorized and almost murdered by the man downstairs is serviceable enough, but then the twist appears, and when the rug of mystery is pulled away the rest of the film comes crashing down, the shoddily contrived construction being unable to support its weight.

Yes, the 4th floor is another one of those many, many movies that would have been far better if you’d just left off the final minute's ‘stinger’.


Criminal Minds 320: Lo-fi

It’s New York City! Who had NY in the poll? Anyhoo, the show opens on the busy streets, then moves down into the subway, where we a follow a suspicious bald man who seems nervous about cops. What’s he up to?

Oh, he’s getting murdered. Guess the show didn’t need to make him look so sinister after all, huh? The killer casually walks off after the crime, escaping any suspicion. A call to Greg reveals that this has been a pattern of identical crimes, and the team is being called in on it! This puts a crimp in JJ’s plans – Junior was coming up that weekend to visit her!

There have been five identical shootings over two weeks – in each case the killer simply walked up, shot someone in the head, then kept right on walking. No connections between the victims, no communication with the police… Reid points out that it’s just like the Son of Sam – and hopefully like that crime, there will be a random witness on the street who saw a creepy guy hanging around the scene of the murder!


Criminal Minds 319: Tabula Rasa

The episode opens, confusingly, with a flashback to 2004 – the team (sans Mandy), is attempting to catch a killer named Matlock in his apartment complex. I will continue calling him Matlock for obvious reasons. Derek is distracted momentarily by dreamcatcher, then chases Matlock out onto a roof. Matlock tries to jump for it-

But since he proves not to be a videogame character, he doesn’t make it to the other side. Derek, who certainly is a little more videogame-y, jumps to the other side successfully, but can’t grab Matlock’s hand before this happens:

We do a ‘life flashing before his eyes’ thing and then he splatters all over the pavement. He’s not dead, though, and for no good reason they call an ambulance to make sure he survives. Which means that in the present day (2008), he’s able to wake up for the trial. What’s the twist? He’s got total amnesia, and doesn’t remember being a serial killer! Will they be able to jog his memory and get him into jail? Find out after the credits!

But again, the answer will be yes. It’s a formula, people, and he’s no Keith Carradine.


The Twenty-Eighth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

Water table pollution by industry is a big problem in the United States, and has been for for over a hundred years. But the effect of heavy metals and other commercial effluence on the human body can be confusing to children. Which is why comic book heroes wind up fighting...

And really, what could be scarier to children than that?


Criminal Minds 318: The Crossing

Keri, a Maryland woman, is running her daily errands – the scenes are filmed to let us know just how much of your personal information gets let out in ordinary day to day interactions. She has to give her phone number at the dry cleaner, a pharmacist asks her to confirm the street she lives on, and so forth. Any one of the men standing nearby could find out all they need to know in order to stalk her!

How do we know this is an episode about stalking? When she gets home, this is sitting on her stoop:

So yeah, stalking episode.

The way Keri freaks out when she sees a photo included in the love note, we know that she’s been stalked for a while. Meanwhile Greg and Joe giving an anti-terrorism speech when a Boston cop approaches them about doing a psychological profile of a woman who claims that she murdered her husband because she’s a battered woman. But there was no on-paper history of abuse in the house… so will they prove her to be a liar, or confirm her story?

Over at the home office, Emily and JJ read the letter Keri sent them – she’s looking for help to stop the stalker who’s been after her for two years! The police say they can’t do anything because no crimes have been committed, and JJ tells her that she’s interested, but can’t guarantee the team will take the case. Keri then decides to make her point by drama-queening it up, writing down a list of who to call after her corpse is discovered.

(the stalker has an evil wall!)

Will her gambit pay off? Find out after the opening credits!

But yes, it will.


Product Reviews? You Heard Me.

Recently I was approached by representatives for csnstores (surely you've heard of them - they're the barstool people), who are apparently interested in some sort of a promotional partnership with 'The Castle', which is a reference to this website, and not anything off-colour, before you ask.

What kind of partnership, you ask? The kind where they send me a thing, and I tell my readers (the 'you' of the post's title) whether those things are worth purchasing. Since that's kind of what I'm doing here anyways (without numerical scores or obvious instructions in re: buying things), it seems like a natural fit.

One hindrance? They don't sell movies or comic books. They do, however, sell knives:

Probably not these knives, though.

It's not something I mention here in posts, but my sixth-favorite hobby (after singing and before hiking) is cooking. Add that to the fact that this is (theoretically, at least) a horror-themed blog, and you've got a perfect match!

So look forward to those product reviews in the near future! A few days after the knives arrive, I suppose.


I Hate 'Outsourced'

Are you familiar with the show ‘Outsourced’? It’s about a bigot, pictured here:

Who travels all the way to India so he’ll have a larger group of people available to insult. I’m not taking this time to talk about how loathsome a human being the main character is, though – I’d like to point out the stupidity of what’s going on over his shoulder.


Criminal Minds 317: In Heat

People are dancing with abandon! This can only be Miami, if my years of watching CSI Miami are any indication. Will the BSU team run into Horatio and the gang? They are on the same network, after all. Somehow I’m guessing no.

A woman in a blue dress propositions a man in a black shirt – seems like sexiness is about to occur – or more likely, murder! Speaking of sexiness, Xander has snuck into Garcia’s apartment to prepare a romantic dinner. How sweet of that guy. He’d better not turn out to be a serial killer.

Now, back to the Miami sexiness, where the man and woman are making out on a boat in the harbour – turns out they’re not the killer or the victim – they just discover a corpse!

The team goes over the case – three victims in two months (bet that’s going to speed up, huh?), all men who’ve been strangled to death, then left in barely-concealed areas. The key element of the crime so far – no crushed necks, no wire marks, which means that a chokehold was used to murder them. So right away, although no one says it, they know the killer must have military or police training.

Yes, he could be a judo guy or an ultimate fighter, but seriously, what are the odds of that?

Hopefully we’ll find out after the opening credits.


The Twenty-Seventh-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

And now, allow me to introduce you to El Carim-

Anybody can win a duel with Death for a man's soul. It takes a special kind of fella to be insufferably smug about it. While wearing a monocle and turban.

I get the sense we'll be seeing more of El Carim soon...


Introducing Jason Ritter’s Preposterous Facial Hair

This is Jason Ritter. You may be wondering about his preposterous facial hair.

In this scene we’ve just met the young man for the first time. He’s sneaked onto a plane, and is being pursued by men in suits. Presumably this means he’s been on the run for a while, and hasn’t had time to shave, hence the odd stubble.

Except here, in the very next scene, we learn that 11 days earlier he had the exact same stubble-goatee. That’s right, he didn’t think it was important to shave before asking his girlfriend’s father if it was cool for him to propose. Which means he’s extremely fond of this odd, stubbly look.

How fond? Well, let’s flash back even further than two weeks, to-

Five years earlier, when he first met his girlfriend.

This isn’t the show 24. All of these scenes aren’t happening just minutes apart. The funny thing is, had Jason just been clean-shaven we wouldn’t have ever noticed that he had the same haircut over the past five years. Even if it wasn't matted.

But they selected a preposterous bit of facial hair for him. And the rest is mediocre-TV history.


Criminal Minds 316: Elephant’s Memory

Operating under the belief that there’s nothing that can’t be improved by Johnny Cash (a convincing belief, to be sure), this episode opens with a guy driving home to the strains of ‘When the Man Comes Around’, Johnny’s musical version of the Revelation of John in his letter to the seven churches of Asia. Then his house blows up.

Two cops respond to the crime, only to wind up gunned down by a killer hiding at the treeline. It seems this guy had it all planned out! Also, for no clear reason, the deputy was filming the fire with a cell phone camera when he was shot. Okay, we all no the reason – it’s so that there can be contrived footage of the killer.

Then it’s time for more personal stuff, as we see Reid hanging out with a support group for cops with drug and alcohol problems. He explains that although he’s clean now, he’s been craving drugs lately, mostly since the emotionally wrenching sight of having a rapist/torturer/murderer/corpse mutilator gunned down in front of him. Yup – seeing an evil monster get what was coming to him may drive Reid back to drugs.

I don’t know if I’ve said it before, but man this guy is a wuss. Just two episodes back, Greg was willing to beat a serial killer to death with his bare hands. Mostly for fun. I guess what I’m trying to say is:

Man up, princess. You’re an FBI agent. Start acting like it.

His introspection is interrupted by a phone call – the team is being asked to help out with the murders, so he has to flee the session. He’s interrupted by Michael Ironside!

Who is apparently a high-ranking member of the FBI, although they don’t specify which one. He gives Reid some helpful advice, and makes me hope we’ll see more of him.

The team hassles Reid about being late – which is a little odd, since he delayed taking their call for maybe sixty seconds, and then talked to Michael for just ninety. Can’t imagine that he took that much more time getting there than the rest of the team, seeing as the call came in… actually, it’s not clear what time the call came in, but half the team looks sleepy.

We get another detail about the crime, though – apparently the first victim’s daughter was in the house when it blew up! Yikes, this killer isn’t messing around!


Criminal Minds 315: A Higher Power

A woman arrives home, talking on her cell phone with a friend. We can glean from the conversation that she and her husband are having a hard time because their daughter died recently, but apparently the husband was reacting well.

His suicided corpse would beg to differ. Or is it murder!? Probably the second, since this isn’t a show about investigating suicides.

How does the team even get onto this one? It seems that the a cop feels there’s been too many suspicious suicides recently, and wants their help. That cop? 24’s Ryan Chappelle!

The team looks over the details of the case – 14 children died in a fire, and a suspicious number of the parents have killed themselves in the aftermath. Five, in fact, each two weeks apart – the last was Ryan’s brother!

Meanwhile Greg heads off alone to spend some time with his son. How will that go? Find out after the credits!


The Twenty-Sixth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

Every now and then a character, through seemingly incidental dialogue, reveals more about themselves than they'd intended.

There are two other members of the Purple Trio there presently foiling her scheme. Why focus on the short one?


Criminal Minds 314: Damaged

Okay, I got pretty pissed-off at last week’s Criminal Minds, and went off on a pretty long tangent. Gonna try to dial that back this time around. I’ll try not to get overly upset, but I really hope that the episode doesn’t do anything to set me off. Meet me halfway, Criminal Minds!

The episode opens with a nightmare – Joe is still haunted by that murder he was never able to solve, and those three orphaned children. Will this be the episode he finally solves the case? I hope so. Also, the dream lead to a weird continuity error-

That’s a bloody axe lying on the floor. A few episodes back he said that the mother an father were ‘bludgeoned’ to death. Unless he was working with the back end of the axe, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count as bludgeoning.

Then it’s over to Garcia’s apartment, where Joe wants to berate Penelope for failing to put together a decent file on the twenty-year-old murder. She pleads both inability to find information, and that she was on a date with Xander when Joe knocked on the door. Both are compelling arguments, so Joe leaves in a huff.

Meanwhile a young woman is leaving a strip club – is this the little girl who saw her parents’ get killed? Of course it is! She’s menaced by a loser outside, but pulls a knife to protect herself. It’ll be harder to protect herself from the truck that’s following her, though – whose occupant left an adorable stuffed animal on the dash of her locked car-

Whatever you were trying to get across with that doll, you failed. Unless you were trying to get across ‘I want you to be creeped out before I kill you’, in which case, bravo on that one. Stripper drives home, with the truck keeping a good distance behind. Will it manage to catch her? Let’s find out together – after the opening credits!


Criminal Minds 313: Limelight

The episode opens, rather strangely, with two dudes bidding on the contents of an abandoned storage unit. What they discover inside will haunt your dreams for years to come:

Bet you wish you had some sweet-ass Tonka toys like that, don’t you? Oh, and there’s also a trunk full of monstrously detailed sketchbooks about the owner’s plan to kidnap women and then torture them to death in hideous bondage contraptions.

But I maintain that the toys are the real find. The team is sent copies of the file immediately – Joe heads up to look over the material with Reid, so they can determine if the guy is actually a serial killer, or just a fantasist. When they arrive they meet Jill, the agent in charge of the office. She’s announces that the storage unit was rented under a fake name, and they’ve got no idea who’s behind it! Although you’d think that somewhere, among the thousands of sheets of paper in the crate he must have left a fingerprint somewhere, right?

After spending hours with the perverse reading material Joe and Reid come to a mixed conclusion. The guy wants to be a serial killer, but there’s no evidence that he’s actually killed anyone. Jill is disappointed to hear this, and lets them see the final piece of evidence – some hair that had been locked in the trunk – apparently according to Joe’s book collecting hair basically means you’re planning to start serial killing people. Who knew? With that crucial evidence in his hands, Joe has all the reason he needs to call in the team – which will happen, naturally, after the opening credits!


The Twenty-Fifth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics!

And now, from the annals of comic book history comes this example of the complex relationship that creators had with non-white races.

You know, if they could have just gotten an Indian Chief and a buck-toothed Chinaman in there, this might have been the most racially questionable panel ever!


Criminal Minds 312: 3rd Life

The episode opens with scenes from a young woman’s brutal murder, intercut with flashes of her mangled corpse lying in a ditch. For obvious reasons, I’ll spare you having to look at any images of it. The team is already on the scene, looking for some ‘missing girls’, and wondering if this corpse will be identified as one of them. The parents of the two girls are waiting around the scene – one of them is Brian McNamara, and the other one is a widower who brought a pal to the crime scene!

The twist? They don’t know which of the two girls is lying dead on the ditch, since her face and hands have been brutalized! Also, there’s something clearly up with the widower dad-

That’s just crazily creepy, isn’t it? He even offers to try identifying the mutilated corpse. What’s going on with that guy? Other evidence includes an audio tape of one of the girls being murdered! But which one? Can they really ask the parents to listen to the audio? The team seems to think it’s important that they know which girl they’re looking for, although I’m not sure why. In either case the remaining girl is being held hostage by a group of vicious torturers – will knowing the identity of the living girl really effect how they conduct the search?

Anyhoo, they all listen to the tape together. Broadcast aloud for the whole room to hear. Which seems like a stretch – haven’t these people heard of headphones? So what’s the identity of the dead girl? Find out after the opening credits!


Criminal Minds 311: Birthright

We’re out in farm country as this episode kicks off, where young people are partying despite the fact that two young women have disappeared recently! I’m guessing that the missing girl counts as victim number one, so the brown-haired girl who gets abducted when she and her boyfriend wander away from the party will be the victim we get to know a little before she’s brutally murdered.

The team has the case presented to them the next morning – the women are being held for weeks, then tortured to death, cut to pieces, and dumped in a national park. Here’s the hook – this series of murders is identical to a series from twenty-five years ago! Could the killer have returned?

The killer might be in his fifties – the show is careful to let us see only black-gloved hands in the next scene, showing us what happens to the women he abducts-

Ah, crying girl dangling from a hook. You’re not as disgustingly overused as ‘crying girl tied to chair’, but you’re damn close. The victim in the foreground explains the rules to the new girl – the killer wants to pretend he’s at a party, so don’t scream and he won’t burn you with cigarettes.

Ick. And on that unpleasant note, let’s drift over to the opening credits, shall we?


The Twenty-Fourth-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

And now, the perfect crime!

Who could ever suspect foul play in 'The Case of the Puma That Was Dropped Off A Cliff'?


Criminal Minds 310: True Night

Hey, remember back in the kidnapped child episode, when I talked about how Criminal Minds never attempted artistic imagery? (Probably not, that was a couple of months ago, after all) Turns out I was massively underestimating the show. This episode seems to have been done up in Sin City-Vision.

So Malcolm in the Middle is fighting Werewolves. He’s also perhaps the worst hard-boiled fiction narrator ever, as you’ll hear in these opening seconds of the episode.

You couldn't get him a pack of cigarettes or something? Gravel out that voice a little?

So Malcolm’s a comic book artist who’s drawing a trite story about a guy in a trenchcoat killing werewolves. But he’s also going out and butchering people at night!

Seven people across two weeks! That’s some hard-core violence – no wonder our crew is headed out to LA immediately!

Damn. I was really hoping for Alaska.


Now, on a serious note-

I don’t ordinarily engage with detractors – oh, I’ll respond occasionally when I feel they’ve gotten something factually wrong (that being my bailiwick), or if I think of something adequately dismissive to write (the secret is eight words or less – that way it doesn’t look like you put too much effort into it).

A recent comment on my much-maligned open letter to the filmmakers responsible for the film Inside deserves some response, I believe – not because it’s an especially controversial or interesting, but because I think the commenter let us know more than they’d intended. What I learned left me worried… but we’ll get to that after I’ve shared the comment with you.

Here’s the notification, as I received it:

DIEfatangryblogger has left a new comment on your post "An Open Letter to the Makers of Inside":

Hey just wanted to stop by and say you're a douchebag. Oh, and i hope you choke on your dad's cock.

As you can see, the main thrust of the message isn’t particularly unfair or fresh – I am, in fact, a douchebag, a fact to which anyone who’s ever listened to an episode of theAvod can freely attest.

It’s all of the surrounding information that I find so disconcerting. Let’s start with the name that our commenter has chosen for themselves. ‘DIEfatangryblogger’ – if we separate that out into the sentence that it’s obviously meant to be, we get DIE Fat Angry Blogger. Which, naturally, lets us know that this commenter is a woman of German descent, or possibly a native German-speaker herself.

So look at how this woman chooses to identify herself – not only is she a ‘fat angry blogger’, she’s ‘THE fat angry blogger’ – as if those two negative characteristics are the primary ways in which she self-identifies. Now, it’s possible that she’s merely being hyperbolic, and isn’t either as obese or hateful as her name would suggest, but I don’t think so – and there’s evidence in her second sentence that I feel proves the case.

Oh, and i hope you choke on your dad's cock.

Please note that Blogger’s comment feature does not autocorrect typography. So when DFAB was typing out her comment, she knew enough about proper formatting to capitalize the first letter in each sentence. Yet she doesn’t capitalize the word ‘I’, as is the convention. This lower-case ‘i’ suggests serious issues with self-esteem, perhaps going so far as to imply the desire to extinguish the self.

Between the name and this unintentional(?) revelation, it’s clear that DFAB doesn’t like herself very much – so where does this self-loathing come from? I could go on to theorize here about the kind of background that must exist for a person to so cavalierly bring up imagery of child molestation, but I'm going to refrain from doing that. Instead, I want to offer a suggestion to DFAB - whatever it is in your background that's driving you to such depths of self-loathing and obesity, deal with it. Quickly.

You've made your cry for help, and it's been heard. Now take that next step and get the treatment you so obviously need.


Criminal Minds 309: Penelope

Oh, so Garcia’s not dead. Sorry for the confusion, I guess that since the hot guy wanted to kill her I just assumed he’s shoot her more than once through the upper left chest. He didn’t, though, and the ambulance called by her neighbour arrives in time to take her to the hospital! Will she pull through? I can’t hazard a guess. Well, okay, I’ll hazard, since you insist. Yes, she will pull through.

The team gets the news at base – apparently they flew back from Florida really, really fast. Everyone gathers at the hospital except for Derek, who was in church when we last saw him, and therefore has his phone turned off.

Meanwhile, the hot guy tosses evidence into a river while looking awfully proud of himself. So who is the hot guy, and why did he shoot Garcia after being seen with her in public on multiple occasions? I’m guessing we’ll find out after the opening credits!


The Twenty-Third-Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

It occurs to me that I haven't featured enough amazing sound effects in these panels.

Hopefully this will the first step to remedying that situation.


Criminal Minds 308: Lucky

It’s flashback time! Back in 1988 a doctor is warning the rest of the staff of the Hazelwood home for the criminally insane that they can’t risk releasing a disturbed 17-year-old back into the world. Sadly, because of the backwards legal statutes in Florida, a criminal committed before the age of 18 must be released when they legally become an adult.

The doctor warns, Loomis-style, that the killer will no doubt try to live out his journal full of sick sexual fantasies, and I don’t doubt that he’s right. When you’re so dedicated to craziness and evil that you actually fill your room at the insane asylum with books about Satan, maybe this should be a sign to the world that you don’t need to go on living.

Seriously, doctor, if you’re that worried, just take the guy off the board already. History will thank you. And you’re so old that you’ll only have to spend a couple of years in prison.

The episode then jumps to Garcia, who’s getting coffee on her way to work in the present day. While at the shop she flirts with this handsome man who’s having computer troubles:

Could he be ‘Lucky’, the satanist would-be serial killer some 20 years later? All we know about the killer is that his medication pushed his weight past three bills, and he wore glasses. This guy doesn’t fit either of those criteria, but between going off meds and getting contacts, he could well be our killer. Especially considering that he’s got a speaking part in a Criminal Minds episode.

The handsome guy asks Garcia out on a date, then she heads off to work in a good mood, which Derek picks up on immediately. Garcia is suspicious of the handsome man’s interest, which Derek encourages.

Meanwhile JJ has arrived with this week’s case, which is taking place in Florida, so it can’t be the handsome man who’s doing it, sadly. It seems that Lucky kills young women, cuts off their fingers, carves pentagrams into their chests, then tosses them into the river for gators to eat. Oh, and he’s also still wearing the glasses, and has grown into a Beardo – but we don’t get a good look at his face. Maybe we will after the opening credits.


Criminal Minds 307: Identity

The episode opens with an explosion, as a scarred man speeding along the road in a stolen car gets pulled over by the cops. Unable to escape he decides to take the honorable way out.

Yeah, it was a grenade. Also, he seems to have been moving a load of flour in the back of his car. Who might have guessed? Why did this man kill himself? We won’t find out immediately – first it’s time for the team to check out Joe’s office and try to profile him a little. He interrupts the session, which, sadly, does not result in hilarity ensuing. Then it’s time for the briefing: Three women have been abducted in the past year and a half, never to be seen again. The car that exploded belonged to a fourth woman who was abducted that morning. A woman who wasn’t in the car! So where could she be:

Oh, there she is. Sorry lady, but you’re not going to make it. Scarface died in the teaser, which means you’re the one who gets killed halfway through the proceedings before they rescue victim number three.

A prediction that I’m sure will come true after the opening credits!