Criminal Minds 218: Jones

Yikes. This episode is even opening with a ‘previously-on-Criminal-Minds’ package about Reid’s drug abuse. Is this going to be the end of the storyline, or is it going to start getting really bad?

The former, please.

We also open with a flashback to Hurricane Katrina, as a cop, desperate to catch a serial killer, refuses to leave his home as the levee’s break, he’s that sure he’s close to a solution. How determined is he? When knocked over by a collapsing tree, and with just moments of life left in him, he manages to grab a piece of broken glass and scrawl the word JONES on the wall of his living room.

Now that’s dedication to your line of work right there. But what does ‘Jones’ mean? Only time will tell!

Oh, and the detective died, all the evidence was lost in the flood, the killer stopped for a year and a half after Katrina, but is now back, and now the detective’s son (detective jr!) is in charge of the case.

The team heads down to the crime scene, and they’ve managed to arrive so quickly that there are still pools of wet blood on the ground.

Yeah, I know it’s humid down there, but come on. The murder was last night. And what’s going on with the evidence cards being 9, 7, and 2? Shouldn’t they be dropping those things near one another?

Oh, and also please note the LA office buildings are visible in the backgrounds of shots in ‘New Orleans’.

The snark is officially out of control. What’s bugging me about this episode? From here on out, I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt.

The team looks over the crime scene while JJ flirts with Jr, and they get a look at the letters from the killer, in which the crimes are described in vivid detail. The victims had their throats slashed first, and were then gutted! Seems like you’d notice someone covered in the amount of blood that would generate, but hey, it’s New Orleans.

Jr takes the team to his childhood home, and they all puzzle over the possible meanings of the word ‘Jones’. They assume it can’t be the name of the killer, because no one involved in the case had that name.

Except the files were destroyed, so how can they know that? Let’s move on, though… to the letter, which has now turned me against the episode fully, FYI. Why? Take a look-

They go in for some blather about sexual sadists justifying their actions, and the possibility that it’s a gay killer who stabs because he’s impotent, but none of the three characters in the scene (Greg, Emily, repository of random trivia Reid) mentions the elephant in the room.

‘Boss’. ‘Ripped’. ‘Yours Truly’.

You don’t have to be a god-damned ripperologist to figure this one out. I haven’t studied serial killing at Quanitco or anything like that, but something tells me that, somewhere in their classes, Jack the Ripper must come up, right?

Reid eventually gets there – but the other two are made to look like idiots by having them be surprised by the revelation. As if you could read that letter and think anything else.

Oh, and given my observation last time that they’re terrified of the concept of a gay serial killer, I’m guess that we’re going to be dealing with a Jill the Ripper this week.

Wow. There’s yet another murder. And it gives them a chance to totally misrepresent Jack the Ripper! Jr comments, based on the two bodies in two days, that he can barely keep up with the killer. Emily opines that this might be the point, ‘He terrorized London for months without ever getting caught’.

Except Jack only killed five people, as this killer now has. And he did it over the course of three months – including taking all of October off. So the Jack connection isn’t exactly apt.

It’s time for the profile! Since it’s based around the idea that the killer is male, the thing is useless, so let’s move on. They pause for more bad ripperology, announcing that Jack was an ‘impetuous lust murderer’, while this one is more organized, since ‘he’ is faking impetuous lust. Of course, since Jack was never actually caught, I’m wondering just how sure they can be about what type of murderer he was.

I’m not saying ‘From Hell’ was the truth, I’m just pointing out that speaking authoritatively about the nature of the world’s most famous unsolved serial killer kind of makes you look like a fool.

While they’re profiling it up back at headquarters Reid goes to visit one of his old high school buddies, one that had planned to join the FBI but chickened out at the last minute. Is Reid thinking of quitting? At this point, that would be something of a relief.

Back in plot territory Garcia has turned up a victim with a missing kidney in Texas – could Jack already have six victims? The answer, of course, is yes. Although they make a big fuss about how he took a kidney from a victim as if it was unique, without mentioning that he also took a heart that one time.

The From Hell letter doesn’t even come up.

Bad ripperologists. Bad.

Meanwhile Reid gets some character stuff with his slacker buddy, while dodging phone calls asking him to come to Texas with them. The buddy points out that the team must know he’s a heroin addict, and are just too polite to talk about it.

With Reid AWOL Emily and Derek head to Texas to follow up with the other victim’s fiancee. You know who I’d like to meet? The pilot of their private jet. Is it weird for that guy, only flying to the scenes of serial killings?

They finally get a useful clue – three of the victims were bar-hopping in groups, so how were they alone to get killed? Because a woman led them away from the crowd! It’s about time they got to Jill.

The next day as they’re preparing for the press conference another body is discovered, this one with a missing ear. Reid points out that the lopped-off ear was mentioned in the Dear Boss letter, and then carried out – except that the ear was never mailed to anyone as promised, and it’s far more likely that the cut ear was just a side effect of an enthusiastic throat-slashing. He also points out that the cut ear happened on the one day that Jack killed twice (Eddowes and Stride), which leads Mandy to determine that there will be another murder that day.

Except you just found the body that morning. Meaning the second murder would have also happened the previous night, if she were following Jack’s pattern.

Also the letters weren’t real. ‘From Hell’ might have been, but ‘Dear Boss’ and the related postcard weren’t.

Despite the fact that the body should already be out there the whole team go out to wander around the French Quarter, hoping to randomly run into a killer they have no idea about the appearance of. This search is complicated by everyone talking about Reid’s personal problems at the same time.

The team waylays some random woman, but meanwhile the actual Jill is murdering the heck out of some beardo in a baseball cap.

Then there's a weird cut: despite the fact that Beardo’s body is found that night by people making out-

The team doesn’t actually bother showing up at the crime scene until the next morning.

Really? A fresh victim wasn’t worth getting out of bed for?

Also, please note that pieces of evidence found near one another have numbers close to one another. Just saying.

In the mouth of the killer they find another note, which Reid announces is addressed to the detective, but then it just says ‘Dear Boss’, which is a little bit of a stretch. Was ‘Boss’ his nickname?

Then it turns out that detective senior used to work sex crimes, so it’s possible Jill knew him through that, and she’s now trying to avenge the sex crime that was committed against her. This finally gives jr. the clue he needed – there’s a popular bar in New Orleans that used to be called ‘Jones’!

Really? He was so weak he couldn’t write ‘Jones Bar’ on the wall?

Jr and the team get into a conversation with the detective’s old partner. It turns out there was a brutal rape at the bar nine years earlier, but the cops covered it up because the guy involved was the son of someone rich and powerful. They talk to that guy and attempt to get his victim’s name. Despite the fact that the statute of limitations is up, the guy’s reticent to give up the information. Why?

That’s right. They had the two women interview him.

Look, I know it’s dramatically satisfying and all, but obviously he’s less likely to talk to a woman about a rape. You actually covered this on a previous episode.

Outside, looking in, are the male members of the team, who worry that the ticking clock is going to run out before the ‘Mary Kelly’ murder. Of course Jack left a gap of more than a month between the two murders and Kelly, so I’m not sure why they’re certain that she’s going to strike again that night.

The girls finally get information out of the rapist by implying that he’s next on their list – which is clever and all, but I’m not sure why they didn’t just have a man ask and get the information much faster.

Armed with Jill’s name they decide to set about finding her before the final murder… but she’s already picked up the guy! Oh no! How will they get there in time?

Also, in the additional bad ripperology front is the idea put forward that Jack used the privacy of the apartment to torture her before killing Mary Kelly – of course, this is the worst kind of conjecture. There’s absolutely no evidence that he did anything but slice her throat first, then disembowel her after death like the others, with the disemboweling being excessively brutal because of the time and privacy he was afforded by the situation.

The team rushes to Jill’s house only to find it empty. Which means she must be out killing right then! Well, okay, it doesn’t, she could be getting groceries, but let’s move on. How are they ever going to find her?

Through the worst ripperology of all, naturally! Reid breaks this one out when they can’t find her-

Reid: There are some ripperologists who speculate that Mary Kelly was actually killed in a flat that Jack the Ripper rented for the night.

NO. Just goddamn no. Nobody thinks that. Nobody has ever thought that. Mary Kelly was killed in her own apartment. Where she lived. With her sometime boyfriend Joseph Barnett.

I understand you need an excuse to have the team find the killer and rescue the guy in time, but don’t god-damn lie to us to get it. Just search for her credit cards and hope you find a hit. Don’t use crap to justify it.

Anyhoo, they rush in and save the day. Guy gets rescued, girl doesn’t get shot, the end.

Except for a little more flirting with JJ and Jr, and then Reid finally admitting to Mandy that he’s developing a drug problem because of his ordeal at the hands of Van Der Beek. But we’re not here for the characters, we’re here for the cases. The terrible, terrible cases.

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

Oh my god was it so not. The detective’s dad had already solved the case, and when we finally found out what ‘Jones’ meant, Jr looked kind of stupid for not having made the connection. Considering he was a beat cop in the clubs in the French Quarter for years and would have been in and out of that place dozens of times.

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

They did. I mean, it was preposterous TV cop stuff, with the criminal basically confessing to one of the cops as best she could, but psychology never entered the equation.

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

1/10 – I’m beginning to think that this year is going to have a markedly lower score than the last.


This was the Jack the Ripper episode. I mean duh, right? At least this time they acknowledged it.

I’m not going to waste any more time going over theories and ideas in this section except to point out that Jack is a very dangerous case to build a psychology-themed show around, because, by definition, you can only judge the success of a psychological profile based on results, i.e. – did you catch the killer.

Jack was never caught, which reduces all psychological theories and pronouncements about his personality or crimes little more than mere sophistry.

God, this was a singularly awful episode.


Nostradumbass said...

Ok, here's the deal. I actually like your reviews. I think they are well thought-out and a good, fun read. However, stop pretending that you are writing them as you go. It is very clear that you have seen the full episode before you post a review and your ability to call things is you just trying to look smart and forward thinking. It's getting annoying. You claim to have called way more than what info is possible to have gleamed early on. This was particularly clear in the last episode. Again, keep writing the reviews, they're enjoyable, but stop pretending you don't know everything that has happened before you write the reviews. It's really self-serving.
Also proof read your posts for spelling once in a while.

Vardulon said...

It's possible that I didn't make it clear just how painfully obvious the 'Rambo' reveal was back in 217. I'm totally going to go and get a video of that.

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the other guy on all points but one: it was clear to me that you were only pretending to foresee the endings back at the "Keystone Killer" episode. Once they reveal that the killer was in the audience, you go back and screenshot a shot of the audience where you can’t even be sure you can see everyone and say "It’s obviously him. He’s the only middle aged white guy there." And then go on as if you didn't have to cut and study every shot of the audience to know that. And really, who goes through all that trouble before even finishing an episode unless trying to prove something? For most your predictions (not all though, I’ll be fair), it reads like you already know who it is and just make up reasons why you know. And it’s not just when you’re predicting stuff too, sometimes as I’m watching episodes I follow along the review and there’s times when your info isn’t chronological. Like now, when you knew he wrote “Jones” when all they had shown him writing was “J” Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the reviews, but the jig is up, kid, we're on to you.

Vardulon said...

I do actually rewind to check things while watching them - that's one of the benefits of not watching them live. As for the Jones thing, I'll completely admit to cheating on that one in the way I do a lot of the time - unlike most people watching the episode on CBS or randomly catching it on A&E, I always know the title going in, which proves to be a pretty big clue most of the time.

passingthrough said...

after reading the last episode review I actually also thought that you wrote the review after watching the episode. Don't bug me too much though.

what i'm here to comment about though is; even though you're finding Reid's drug addiction annoying (you haven't really said why you find it annoying have you?) (plus, it hasn't even been made official he's addicted. I got the "addiction" bit from the wiki mini description but we haven't seen him taking the drugs at all in any of the episodes), you gotta love the way he snaps at Prentiss. He kinda has it in for her doesn't he? I wonder where this will lead.

Anonymous said...

Reid has the best/worse drug addiction ever and considering you seemed excited for it before, I'm not sure what your objection to it is now. Basically he went from an eager to please twelve year old to a rebellious 16 year old that doesn't like his new foster sister and wants to hang out with his hipster friend instead of going on a family trip. His addiction doesn't even interfere with solving the case in any way.

Hanna said...

I am really very late to this discussion, but I dont think the count watches all of the episode before starting to write.
Many of the reveals are very obvious. Casting choices, time left in the episode and a general understanding of cop show writing is helpful to figure that stuff out, but if you watch carefully, you really dont need to know the ending of an episode to know who did it.
I usually start watching an episode and every time I catch something I read the review up to this point to see if I already missed something and to see what the count has to say about the thing I caught.

I usually catch about 3/4 of the stuff the count catches and some things he doesnt mention. If I can catch 3/4, I am pretty sure someone else can catch all that stuff, after all I am not the smartest person on the planet and english isnt my first language.

Maybe you guys dont want to see these things, dont look for them or just havent watched as much TV to easily spot patterns in how the episodes progress.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why it's considered a good thing to review something (and, by the way, craft a plot summary at the same time) before you've watched it all the way. (I can see pausing to jot down something that crosses my mind.)

Writers are observant people who have imaginations. They can put themselves back in the moments where they were confused by the show, angry with the show, whatever. They put themselves in the audience's shoes through talent, not through how exactly they get a result.