It’s back into torture porn territory, as we open with a beaten, elderly man being wheeled down a hallway while his captor, who wears a contamination-protection suit, whistles a jaunty tune.
Where’s the old man headed? To be tortured, of course! And then thrown into a furnace! Yuck.
Things are a little happier over at HQ, where Mandy is watching a Charlie Chaplin movie because it’s public domain. Derek swings by the office to make a stereotypical quote about Chaplin being the ‘original player’, which is technically true, although kind of creepy to bring up. I mean, seriously, when a guy’s sexual depravities became the basis for the novel ‘Lolita’, maybe you should stop joking about it. In eighy years will there be hilarious gags about Michael Jackson’s bedroom escapades?
Meanwhile JJ gets a visitor in her office – a Kansas City detective whose beat involves him watching the homeless, prostitutes and drug users who hang out on skid row. Recently crime has dropped precipitously, and the city has awarded him for it, but the detective thinks something sinister is going on – crime has only dropped because over sixty petty criminals have mysteriously disappeared over the past few months! And now the killer has sent the detective a letter, annoyed that the detective is getting credit for his work!
Back at the creepy torture-house the old man’s corpse is being cleaned up after:
Yeah, I know that’s icky, but just be happy I didn’t use the image from a few seconds earlier featuring viscera lying everywhere. Then we’re on to the credits!
The detective has had heck of a time convincing his bosses that there’s anyone missing, let alone murdered, so he can’t get the official request that the team needs in order to get on the case. They’re pretty confident that the killer is murdering people in order to clean up the streets, a fact confirmed by the show, which cuts to the killer picking up a prostitute in a black van – she wakes up, groggy from being drugged, some time later in a bare concrete room, where Jigsaw’s game can begin in earnest! The first game? Her shoes have been removed, and she has to get through a room where the floor is covered in broken glass!
Greg and JJ decide to head out to Kansas anyway, hoping to convince the local dicks to get out of the way of justice. That’s hindered by the fact that the chief of detectives is Steven Williams, the X-Files’ Mr. X!
He’s skeptical about the detective’s theories, and has no interest in getting the FBI involved. Despite his hesitation Greg is able to force his way onto the case when they notice that the letter claiming responsibility was mailed from Kansas City Missouri, the sister city – involvement from two states makes this a federal case! Although, really that seems a little shaky to me, after all, it’s based on the presumption that the letter came from a serial killer, a presumption that, if they were going to be making, would already have led to to FBI’s involvement in the case.
Meanwhile, back at the tortureshop the victim has figured a way around the whole ‘glass floor’ situation. You see, the killer didn’t glue the glass to the floor like Jigsaw did, allowing her to push it aside with her jean jacket, giving her a relatively clean surface to walk across. Her feet still get fairly cut up, largely because she didn’t just stand on the jacket and shuffle across the floor the way a smart person would have. The killer then flips on a video of the old man being dismembered alive with a circular saw, and tells her that she’s next, unless she can noodle a way out of the maze she’s trapped in. Of course, like Jigsaw again, the killer has stacked the game so that she can’t possibly escape.
Luckily the team is on top of it, rushing to Kansas to give the profile and start looking for the killer. The basic idea is that he’s a creepy scumbag who no one could bear to be around, and people will remember for his singular, obsessive, unpleasantness. They get into his possible deranged motive a little, but that’s not really relevant to catching him, so let’s move on.
While the victim is busy being led through what we come to realize is a slaughterhouse, the team heads out to the street to talk to transients and whores, asking them about the creeps that hang around, and if any of them give off a ‘serial kller’ vibe. They don’t ask the big question, though – how could someone notice two people a week being grabbed off the street, especially a singularly awful man like the killer.
In what can only be described as an amazing coincidence the killer happens to be loading a new victim into his fake social services van within eyesight of the team, just as they’re having a conversation about how he might be able to blend in! Lucky, huh? They know it’s suspicious because Mr. X tells them that no, social services generally don’t drive around at night in black vans, loading people and spiriting them off to nowheresville.
Wait, doesn’t that seem like something that one of the prostitutes or homeless people would have noticed? Especially when Mr. X reveals that there’s no roving social services of any kind. The killer is quickly grabbed and arrested, but he’s quickly revealed to not be the killer at all, but rather the killer’s weak-willed sidekick.
While he initially seems like he’ll be too loyal to break, the sidekick proves to actually be a great source of information – it seems the killer forgot that the very qualities that make someone a good lackey (subservience, unquestioning obedience to any authority) also make it really easy for those people to turn on you when a greater authority comes along.
All Greg has to do is point out that the killer isn’t a nice person, and the lackey immediately cracks and sends them to the abandonned meat packing plant where the guy lives and works.
The team rushes over there and guns down the killer before he can finish off his victim, who the team rescues from her gurney. The victim insists on seeing the killer’s face before he dies, and Derek is more than happy to lift the bleeding man up a little so that his victim can laugh at him as he dies.
You know, I’m not going to question the intent or execution, but that’s two episodes in a row that have ended with this exact same idea.
The episode the ends with the whole team enjoying the Chaplin film together and sharing a laugh, as it’s the only way to deal with the horror they experience every day.
I just realized that I’d glossed over the providence of the silent film – Mandy explains that he had some relatives in the movie production buisiness back when silent films were made in Chicago, and that when the business shut down, his grandfather swiped a few prints. I’m not sure that Chaplin ever made a movie in Chicago, though, so the story may not hold water…
1 - Was profiling in any way helpful in solving the crime?
Actually, it was! Good for them! I know this sounds a little condescending, but it’s been so damn long since psychology played a role in solving a crime that I’d almost forgotten what it looked like. But if Greg hadn’t known enough about the power dynamics in two-person killing teams then he certainly wouldn’t have been able to bully the lackey into giving up his boss.
2 - Could the crime have been solved just as easily using conventional police methods given the known facts of the case?
Unless, you know, they’d just offered him a deal, as the conventional police would have done. A deal protecting him from both prosecution and the killer would have been accepted immediately, leading to the same net result.
So, on a scale of 1 (Dirty Harry) to 10 (Tony Hill), How Useful Was Profiling in Solving the Crime?
3/10 – I’d have scored the profiling a little higher if it weren’t for the unbelievably sloppy writing that led to them catching their suspect. After all, it’s not that hard to figure out who the killer is when he rolls up in front of you in a van seemingly chosen for its conspicuousness.