Criminal Minds 201: The Fisher King Part 2

This episode picks up just moments after the end of the last one. Stuck without any idea what the clues mean, half the team heads off to find out what they can about the victim, who turns out to have been missing for two years.

The biggest dick move I’ve seen in a while occurs when Greg heads out into the main office - he sees the agent that he told to drive Elle home, and demands to know where Elle is, since the agent was supposed to be protecting her.

Yeah, Greg? I know you’re just trying to fix the writers’ mistake here, but I just watched the cliffhanger, and you didn’t tell that agent anything about the danger Elle was in, or that he should protect her. You only sent her with him because she was too tired to drive. The whole ‘the killer breached FBI security and we’re in danger’ thing was being held close to your collective chest.

Anyhoo, we cut to Elle’s fantasy of being brought to the afterlife on the team’s private jet, which is interruped by people performing CPR on her, while tastefully leaving her bra on. So Elle’s not dead? She’s still in the opening credits. I guess she wasn’t shot in the head after all. Good for her.

Back at the office Reid is trying to figure out the book they need (for the book code, remember?), and it turns out that baseball card was a clue – it was from 1963, the publication date of The Collector! They’re distracted from the revelation by the delivery man who dropped the code off with Greg’s wife – he doesn’t have much information to offer, though. He lets them in on burn victim thing, but that’s it.

Are you ready for a way too crazy coincidence? Here’s how Reid figures out the name of the book – the poem left in the music box was something called ‘the parliament of Fowles’, which his mother read to him as a child. This gets him to John Fowles, which gets him to ‘The Collector’. Here’s my question: Why do they still not see that the killer must have some concrete connection to Reid? This is all about him to the point that the killer is quoting stuff from his childhood!

The killer then calls them, and reveals that he thinks of himself as ‘The Fisher King’, which is a reference to Grail lore, and not the movie.

Back in Elle’s story she has a vision of her father as she’s being wheeled into the hospital – he was a cop who died when she was young, which is what made her become an FBI agent, it seems. Wait, wasn’t that the backstory of Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs? Or was her dad just a security guard or something.

Elle’s doing surprisingly well in surgery. Apparently the burn victim did such a terrible job at killing her she was able to call for an ambulance before blacking out.

Wow, this guy sucks at his job. For someone who’d previously been beheading and impaling people this is a steep decline in the work ethic.

Oh, and Greg finally admits that he was wrong to give such vague instructions to the FBI guy. Thank you for that. Seriously.

With the code finally broken the killer’s message is made almost painfully clear. I’m not going to quote it here, but it basically says ‘Ask your mom who I am. She knows.’

Yes, that’s right, despite the fact that every single clue has revolved around Reid it took the killer sending a letter about his mother for them to clue in that he was important. So he calls the Las Vegas FBI and has them deliver his mother to the office in Virginia.

Blonde and Derek arrive at the kidnapee’s house and finds out that the missing girl ‘Rebeccca’ was a bad seed that everyone assumed just ran away when she disappeared. Also she was adopted. Which means that the burn victim must be her father, which is weird, but I assume will be explained at some point.

Greg and Mandy comisserate at the hospital about Elle’s condition, and wonder whether attracting the killer’s ire was a great idea. They talk about the value of a fingerprint being important, but neglect to mention the fact that, through the press conference, they found about the killer’s status as a burn victim, which is just as important.

Oh, wait, here’s the explanation about the burn victim/dad right now. A family was killed in a house fire, except for the father and daughter. The daughter was adopted, and the father went mad, which led to him being sent to the same insane asylum as Reid’s mom, hence his obsession with Reid and knowledge about their lives.

Reid’s mom shows up at the office, and it leads to some ACTING! as Jane Lynch plays a fragile schizophrenic that Reid has to get some information out of. Of course, at this point they already know that Rebecca’s dad is the killer, so having Mom confirm it is a waste of time.

In triple redundancy news tech girl walks in just as Mom identifies the killer and also identifies the killer. Hilariously she announces that the way that she found him was through an IP search, as opposed to, you know, that family run-down you just did two scenes earlier, that identified a burn victim who was the father of the victim and knew Reid’s mom.

Then it’s time for a scene of them struggling to figure out where the burn victim lives. They act like it’s going to be a huge struggle, but then Reid’s mom reveals that she was sent a letter with a picture of the mansion and an address on it!

While I’m certainly happy that all the answers are being handed to them on a silver platter, I’m not sure why they’re even pretending that this house would be hard to find. Not only did he buy it under his own name, but more importantly he’s been using the internet from there. A lot. But tech girl managed to identify him through is IP address. Which means they can just ask the ISP where he lives.

They head over to the house, where burn victim is waiting for them. He wants Reid to ask the correct question to save everyone, or he’ll detonate a pipe bomb vest!

Yikes. He should really be wearing a mask.

Reid tries to explain to burn victim that he’s just a crazy person that Mom pulled into her own medieval-lit psychosis. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t work, and the burn victim blows himself up, giving Reid just enough time to heroically jump away.

Before dying he did offer a useful piece of information – that the photo was a ‘map’ to Rebecca. In the photo there was a lit window in the basement, meaning that she must be down there!

They quickly rescue her in the most contrived way possible. They find her shackled to the bed, and they need the same key that they used on the music box to open them! But it’s in evidence, back at the FBI, right? No, in a startling coincidence earlier in the episode Reid’s mom had knocked the key off the evidence board, and instead of putting it back up, Reid placed it in his pocket, so he had it on the scene! What luck! Or bad writing. Either way.

In other terrible contrivance news, it turns out that the source of all Elle’s guilt is that on the day her dad died, she said that she hated him. Ah, Elle. You didn’t get a character until this episode. And when they finally gave you one, it was a hand-me-down.

But hey, at least you lived, right?

Reid gets one more meeting with his mother, which ends the episode on an up note, since he doesn’t go out of his way to remind her that it’s kind of all her fault that the burn victim went on his killing rampage.


Except for a musical montage which includes, among other things, Greg swinging by Elle’s house to clean her blood off the walls before she gets home.

Blood that comes off really, really easily:

Not that I’ve got a lot of experience cleaning blood, or anything.

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

Oh my god, was it not. There was barely even lip service paid to profiling this time around. Everything was riddles and clues and how well do you know mid-century brit lit. This could have been an episode of anything.

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

Hmm, I’m not sure… is ‘asking your mom who did it’ traditional policework? Seriously, though, it was solved in the simplest way imaginable. Hell, this guy was so easy to catch they actually uncovered his identity three different ways! They tracked down the victim’s next of kin, and found the killer. They tracked down who hacked their system, and found the killer. And yes, they asked Reid’s mom who did it. And she told them.


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

0/10 – Maybe the zero seems harsh. But even Dirty Harry, terrible detective though he was, never resorted to asking his mother for help solving the case. Sylvester Stallone tried it once, and where did it get him?

FactCheck –

This episode is clearly based on the famous- No, I’m kidding. This was pulp novel nonsense, given some air of quality based on the fact that the most basic framework of it was stolen largely from a good book, as opposed to a bad one.

I’ve got a lot to say about the Collector, but this episode isn’t the time, despite the obvious collection. I’m waiting for them to get to a Leonard Lake episode, and then we’ll just go nuts with it, ‘kay?


Anonymous said...

Really enjoying these reviews - this one especially is well-written (apart from your slightly schizophrenic relationship with grammar) and very funny.

Speaking of schizophrenia - as a mental health professional I'm yet to meet a schizophrenia sufferer who spontaneously forgets who her own beloved son is, having been conversing with him moments before. What kind of crazy drugs do they have this poor woman on?

Also: I'm loving your use of Tony Hill as a paragon of profiling. It's nice to see he's appreciated across the pond (gotta love 'Wire in the Blood').

Kalieka said...

I am confused. Garcia, tech girl, is supposed to be crazy good with firewalls, hacking, security, and anything IT, right? So how is it she sees nothing wrong with using the wireless at the FBI to play her game on her personal laptop (where the security standard apparently is not that great. At least not good enough to keep someone from hacking her laptop which she is supposed to know how to prevent)? As a crazy good tech analyst, she should realize, "Hey, if I tap into the FBI's wireless on my personal laptop, some hacker could get to all the secret FBI files the US government holds on every member of the team dating back to childhood. So, yeah, maybe I should not do that."

Also, in season one, Elle calls Mandy "Dad" twice. The second time she calls him "Dad" he says "Don't call me dad" and they joke about calling him "Mom". This lead me to believe Mandy was in fact Elle's father on the show. But watching this episode, Elle sees her dead father when she almost dies, and it is not Mandy.

Anonymous said...

You've provided an interesting review. You have established some good points to consider and have also been quite critical. My question to you is, who's Greg? Did you mean the character Aaron Hotchner or the actor, Thomas Gibson? If you want to write a review, you should at least get the character names right.

Unknown said...

He explains in the first or seconds review that Hotch is called Greg after his role on Greg and Dharma. It's just what he thinks of and knows the actor primarily from. He calls Gideon, Mandy, the actors real name. Sometimes he mistakenly calls Reed, Elliot. Hasn't wrote learned JJ or Penelope's names yet. Still entertaining read.

Unknown said...

My mother has schizophrenia and is bipolar and allthough its only happened on a few occasions. I have experienced her forgetting who I was and in one occasion she literally said "who is this kid is he the devil"
This is something that has bothered me for a long time.