20.8.10

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.

The team discusses the case on the plane, which leads to the stupidest thing that Reid has said all season. And that’s saying something.

Derek announces that he went to church every Sunday, so the Satanism stuff doesn’t bother him. Reid suggests that’s because Derek doesn’t really believe in God all that much. Derek rankles at this, and Reid counters with ‘Logic dictates that if you believe in one you have to reconcile the existence of the other.’

Yikes. I know that this is a sentiment that fiction throws out there all the time, but wow, is that not how religion works. Christianity is not a yin-yang symbol, with God on one side and an equally powerful devil fighting him from the other side.

You know, you can believe in god without believing in Satan, or more appropriately, Satanism. You see, Satan’s not actually a big part of the bible. Neither is hell. The Devil is basically MIA for the entire Old Testament, save a key co-starring role in Job (while the Serpent is often interpreted to be the Devil, there’s nothing in the text to support that), and while he gets mentioned quite a bit in the New Testament, it’s generally in symbolic terms, i.e. qualities that are more in line with the devil than god. Other than tempting Jesus that one time, Satan is never represented as having much power at all. And hell is referred to only as a place that you’ll go if you don’t try to alleviate the suffering of the poor.

Although, to be fair, there are an awful lot of demons. One could easily retitle the Gospels as ‘The Adventures of Jesus: Demon Puncher’ without being accused of having resorted to hyperbole. The idea of a powerful anti-god figure who looks out for serial killers and that you can pray to for power and support? Yeah, there’s not really any scriptural content to back that up.

Which means it’s not only utterly possible, but actually completely normal, for people to be faithful, devout Christians without ever really giving the Devil much thought.

The most insulting part about all this? This is the kind of thing that Reid really should know. The character has supposedly memorized the bible, and has read countless texts on the subject. So why is he spouting crap that should be coming out of the mouths of first-year college students in an unsupervised religious studies discussion group?

They get to town and check in with the local cops and medical examiner – he’s got a nasty piece of evidence to offer. Lucky cuts fingers off of his victims, then force-feeds them to the next victim before cutting that girl’s fingers off. Ick. This particular girl had six different index fingers in her stomach, meaning that Lucky’s had at least three victims before her!

Derek and Joe swing by the local church, figuring that if they’re dealing with Satanists the priest will have had some kind of run-in with the guy. Oh, and it turns out that Derek’s nervous about going in to church, presumably because he’s still annoyed about the way god didn’t prevent him from being molested back when he was a kid.

Joe talks to the grieving parents, which is extremely sad and all, but not really helpful in solving the case. On the the way out they see a local family dropping off some food for the grieving parents:

Why do I put the picture there? Because the mother had a line, suggesting that she’ll be either the next victim, or the one who gets rescued later on.

Okay, it’s rescue victim, because in the very next scene we meet this girl:

Making a rest stop in a state park. When are these women going to learn not to get abducted by the killer less than 20 minutes into the episode? You know that’s just not survivable, don’t you?

Back at home base Garcia gets a call from handsome man, who invites her out to dinner, and gets rebuffed, because she’s listening to Derek’s advice about things being too good to be true. She also gets an update from the computer – all of the fingers were from multiple women. 10 different prostitutes!

Garcia then gets really snippy with Derek for not thinking that she’s good-looking enough for a hot guy to ask her out. The sad part about this sequence is that we’re supposed to be thinking the same thing. Look, Criminal Minds, by no means is Garcia Hollywood-thin-

But it’s not like she’s the type of woman you’d cast as a truckstop waitress, either-

So go easy on the lady, okay?

Garcia is so emotionally screwed up by the situation that she actually calls the hot guy and makes date with him. Not a great move, Penelope.

Now for some more plot! The cops find out about the abducted girl, and when they get to the rest stop that she was abducted from Joe is able to tell that Lucky was in an asylum. How? Careful stacking of books.

No sane person would arrange books like that. Also, have you ever seen a public bathroom with a toilet lid?

The priest shows up at the scene, helping to set up a massive search for the victim. Hilariously the team says that this isn’t a good idea. Why? Because the killer might be a member of the church, and serial killers will often try to insert themselves into the investigation.

Um… isn’t that a perfect reason to have the search? So you get the names of all of the people who show up, and check who has mental health issues? Haven’t you done this exact thing in previous episodes?

Among the people helping to search is the mom from that previous photo! Wonder what’s going to happen to her, huh? Hell, she even wanders away from her group for no reason at all, basically asking to get murdered. That night Lucky gets pulled over by the cops with the mom in his trunk, but because the cop is called away to look for the missing woman, he doesn’t get close enough to hear her screams. Ironic, no?

The priest swings by the office so that Derek will have a chance to deal with his religious issues. I mean, technically he’s there to say he doesn’t know which of the volunteers is the killer, but really he’s shown up so that Derek can talk about his molestation, and the way he blames god for it. Joe and Derek then have a chat about the situation.

Derek swings by the church, where a woman is sitting amongst the pews, and candles are mysterious blown out by winds with no point of origin. Derek taps the woman on the shoulder, and is rewarded with a foregone conclusion:

Yup, it’s a new fingerless, legless corpse!

If that wasn’t bad enough, we then cut to the ordeal of victim number three, who the killer is preparing to butcher with kitchen knives – no, wait – instead he’s massaging her legs with out. Ew. Cannibal. And he’s preparing the meat with massage.

An examination of the victim reveals that the woman in the church had been frozen for nine months. Greg uses this evidence, along with the fact that the victim wasn’t molested, to determine that the killer must be a cannibal! Which we figured out a scene ago, but he didn’t have access to the killer-cam, so we can forgive his lack of the relevant information.

Garcia calls them up to announce that they don’t have any record of a crazed cannibal being in a mental institution – but the biggest destination point for people like that, Hazelwood (from the opening), had a records fire in the 90s! When they get to the asylum they discover that the doctor who wanted Lucky killed had died in the fire! His last act in life was to toss the notes on Lucky out the window so that someone could catch him later on, when he inevitably killed again. Um… okay, I was going to talk about this here, but let’s wait for the rest of the episode before I address the actions of the doctor.

They have a real name for Lucky – Floyd. The team makes a trip to his house, but doesn’t find him. He’s got plenty of meat grinding and slicing equipment, though. They finally discover what they’re looking for down in the basement, including a lot of frozen corpses, and the requisite rescuable victim number 3! Also down there is the surprisingly docile Lucky, who is revealed to be-

Jamie Kennedy, nearly unrecognizable in his beard, glasses, and frizzy hair! Is this their first celebrity guest killer since Keith Carradine? I think so!

The only thing they don’t find is the hiker who disappeared in the middle of the episode. They think she’s still alive because of the normal timeline, but Derek can’t get any information out of Lucky. He announces that he’ll only give the girl’s whereabouts to the priest – under instructions from Satan. Jamie is effectively creepy in the scene, playing the driven guy who won’t give anything up.

So now it’s time for the big reveal – the priest goes in to discover the whereabouts of the girl, and Jamie beats around the bush a little to build suspense. Meanwhile, Joe looks over the records from the search to come across to the logical conclusion – he tries to stop the interview, but he’s too late! It seems that Jamie brought chili to the search party – ironically feeding pieces of the second victim to the very people who were looking for her! The priest takes this news as well as can be expected-

Yet for some reason Derek prevents the man from just killing Jamie once and for all. Because it’s a better use of Florida’s extremely limited resources to keep the man fed and housed for the next fifty years.

Yeah, the show then elects to go all TCM with it – Lucky runs a barbecue stand, where he’s been forcing people into cannibalism for years!

On the plane ride back, Derek starts to wonder if Jamie’s luckiness was brought about by his deal with the devil. Joe advises him that it’s not their job to worry about that sort of thing. Then Joe tries to reaffirm Derek’s faith by reminding him that if he’s started believing in the devil, then he must believe in god as well.

THE END

Oh, except for when, at the end of their date, the hot guy shoots Garcia to death.

Yikes. Guess that’s a TBC.

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

Um, a little, I suppose. While the asylum thing seems like an important psychological insight, isn’t institutionalization something they’re guaranteed to look into when dealing with a killer who cuts pentagrams into people’s chests and chops their legs off?

I don’t know if we can really credit them for the cannibalism thing, either – I mean, the guy fed fingers to one of his victims. That’s the kind of specific screwed-upedness that you’d immediately want to attribute to his own proclivities, isn’t it?

Speaking of, how were there intact fingerprints on all ten fingers? Didn’t the stomach acid get any of them?

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

Conventional policework largely did solve the case. It really came down to looking over the suspect list and comparing it to asylum records – pretty run-of-the-mill stuff. Also, while I liked Jamie Kennedy’s extremely creepy performance, I find it hard to believe that the priest wasn’t able to finger him as being especially suspicious among the list of possible suspects. ‘Oh, you’re looking for a crazy guy? Well, we do have an unbelievably off-putting beardo who swings by the church from time to time – does that count?’

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

3/10 – They deserve partial credit this time around, although they’d have gotten more if their realizations had come fast enough to make them look like something other than stupes.

Oh, yes, and that thing I wanted to mention: what was going on with the doctor from the beginning? He was absolutely certain that Jamie was going to start killing once he was released from the asylum, and the fire that killed him wasn’t until 1998. That’s ten years during which he apparently didn’t mention to anyone at all that there was a likely mass murderer wandering around.

Why didn’t the guy shout it from the rooftops? So, what, it’s important enough to risk your life running into a burning building to save the guy’s file, but it’s not important enough to warn the proper authorities about?

Don’t give me that ‘confidentiality’ garbage, either – there’s a pretty big exception in that for when you’re sure a patient is an imminent danger to others, which the doctor was abundantly sure Jamie was.

What’s that? Ah, yes, terrible writing. It makes sense that an episode with above-average acting would necessarily have to be especially weak in other areas to balance out.

Also, after all the fuss they made back in season 1 about there never actually having been a satanic ritual murder in America, you’d think they’d be a little more excited about it actually happening this time.

PENELOPE’S MURDER MAP!

No glimpses of the map this week, and with Penelope getting seriously murdered at the end of the episode, we may never see it again. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop keeping track, however! Here’s our map from last time:

And now let’s add Bridgewater, FL- Oh, wait… as far as I can tell, it’s not a real place… So I’m just going to pick a place on the map near a state park that seems appropriately swampy, and put it there:

Updated!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

very inciteful commentary. thanks!

Anonymous said...

At the end when they discuss that its not their job to know where evil came from, just to stop it, it made me think of other shows like Supernatural, and how well demons could explain the abundance of serial killers and plot holes on this show.... :D

Nigsy Boggs said...

I am surprised you didn't mention Paget Brewster's extraordinary cleavage in this episode. T