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!

While nearly dying in the operating room, Garcia flashes back to a childhood spent in San Francisco. I’m guessing that unlike our last near-death experience, this one won’t be accompanied by a visit from her deceased father.

The doctors announce that the injury wasn’t actually all that bad, and Garcia will be fine in a few days. With that taken care of, part of the team swings by the scene and quickly realizes that it was no robbery gone wrong. A fact confirmed by Garcia, who wakes up long enough to give them the guy’s fake name. Derek’s a little hard on himself because he wasn’t able to talk Garcia out of going on the date. Then Emily comes up and announces that they’re working under the assumption that hot guy used a revolver – which leads to one of those ‘character has to sound stupid to make Reid look smart’ moments, when Derek asks ‘Who the hell uses a revolver?’ and Reid responds with ‘Someone who doesn’t want to leave shell casings’.

Um, I’m pretty sure Derek knows that. Also, revolvers aren’t uncommon at all. They’re cheaper than automatics, and far more reliable and easy to maintain – and with automatics now legally restricted from having more than ten bullets in their clips, a revolver’s 5-8 rounds are no longer a significant drawback to using one.

Where was I? Oh, right – the story. Greg and Joe discuss why Garcia was victimized, and agree that it’s far too much of a long shot that someone working for the team would just happen to be attacked by a murderer. Derek goes in to visit with Garcia, who talks a little about how weird riding in the ambulance was. Finally she offers some more information about him – the hot guy drove a white car, said he was a lawyer, and took her to dinner somewhere out of the way.

Hot guy swings by the crime scene and finds out that, much to his chagrin, Garcia survived. Will he make another attempt? More importantly, will there be an episode if he doesn’t? Suggesting that he’s going to prioritize murdering Penelope, his next stop is to a Virginia gun store, where he picks up a revolver to replace the one he tossed in the river.

The show then fast-forwards a few days without the team finding any decent clues – no one remembers the hot guy, and the sketch isn’t a lot of help:

There’s some characteristically sloppy writing around the sketch, actually – right after Joe sarcastically suggests that they bring in the ‘3 million guys it looks like’, Emily announces that they ran it through VICAP, and got no hits. Um… shouldn’t the problem be that, as Joe said, it’s too general a description? Being flooded with thousands of hits is every bit as bad as having none, especially if it turns out your guy isn’t in the system.

This is the VIolent Criminal Apprehension Program, after all. It’s where they put the details of every crime committed in a American in hopes of finding links between them. You’re telling me that ‘unidentified white guy shooting a woman’ matches no other crimes in VICAP?

Derek and Reid interview Garcia about her date, hoping to find some clues about the hot guy’s identity in his behaviour. All they get is that he pretends to have more money and status than he actually does, and that he doesn’t know much about the law. Although the way they discover this is classic bad writing – he claims to have been sickened by having murder cases thrown out during his time as a ‘City Attorney’ – as if anyone could make that mistake. Who doesn’t know what a DA is?

The team brings in another Analyst to work Garcia’s computers, hoping to find some clue leading to the killer’s identity. And it’s Xander from Buffy! Yay, Nicholas Brendon, getting at least an episode’s worth of work in something three years ago!

The scene in the lab gives us a rare glimpse of the murdermap, which I’ll address, as always, below!

They have Xander look up failed lawyers who happen to have the same initials as the hot guy gave – assuming that since he had monogrammed shirts his alias would share characters with his true identity. When Xander tries to look it up, though, he finds a section of Garcia’s computer suspiciously password-protected! Greg heads over to the hospital to question her about it, and suspend her for misusing government equipment. She claims that it has nothing to do with the attempted murder, but really, what are the odds of that?

The IA guys (or whatever the FBI’s equivalent is…) come in to search through Garcia’s files, and reveal the dark secret of how she joined the FBI: She used to be a hacker, and she was so good at it that the government put her to work! Actually, that’s not such a dark secret after all. Garcia also dodges answering just what’s on her computer’s secret partition, and no one pushes her too hard about it.

Derek escorts Garcia back to her home, where she’s staying despite the fact that someone clearly both wants her dead and knows where she lives. Derek offers to stay to provide a little more protection, and Garcia does the sensible thing and allows him to.

Turns out to be a hugely smart move, as Hot Guy shows up that very night, packing heat. Heat he uses to gun down the cop who was guarding the place!

A cop who wasn’t wearing a bulletproof vest, for some reason. Seriously, you work in urban Virginia, and you’re not wearing a vest all the time? Security guards in my local mall where bulletproof vests. And I live in Canada.

The gunshot wakes up Derek, who gets Garcia to a safe location while he chases down the killer. Knowing the jig is up Hot Guy runs for it, and manages to escape into the night. Hopefully this will finally convince her to hide out somewhere a little less obvious. The place they choose? The office!

The attempted shooting also triggered a few more memories in Garcia – not only did the killer keep the car already belted, but he also sat in the corner of the restaurant! He must be some kind of a law enforcement officer! Joe thinks it’s serious enough that it’s worth demanding to finally know what’s in Garcia’s files. It seems that she spends her free time counselling the families of murder victims, and occasionally she’ll put a tag on their case files so that the local police will prioritize them – knowing that the FBI is looking over their shoulder and all.

Which means the killer must be a cop who knows about the tagged files, and committed one of the murders! The very murder he investigated, I suppose, although it seems like that would be hard to arrange.

Rather than just giving them the passwords and letting the team sort out the computers themselves, she elects to hack into her own computer system, which leads to a hacker battle with Xander. Which proves as dull as all such hacker battles invariably do onscreen.

They look over the cases Garcia had flagged, and discover the killer’s identity – Hot Guy is a sheriff’s deputy who drive-by-shoots people and then shows up first at the crime scene! Also, now that I’ve seen a posed picture of him I’m pretty sure that actor was also one of the Initiative guys on Buffy season 4. Which makes this episode quite a reunion. In the sense that he and Xander never shared a scene on Buffy, and won’t here either.

Now that the mystery’s solved (he’s the same kind of ‘kill people to rush in and help’ killer as Tim Omundsen was back in the sniper episode from season 1), it’s time to wrap things up. Turns out I was wrong! Hot Guy goes to the office to check in on the FBI’s interference with his cases, and the head IA guy tells Xander to pull his files – the twist? Xander has just figured out that Hot Guy is the killer! But how to warn people without getting shot?

By signalling Garcia, of course – who Xander realizes must still be monitoring his activities! With the team alerted it’s just a matter of shooting the Hot Guy to death, which they do successfully without any other parties being injured!


Oh, and despite the fact that the keep saying Internal Affairs on the show, I just remembered that the FBI’s version of that is the OPR – Office of Professional Responsibility

Also, Xander asks Garcia out on a date. So there’s your happy ending! Wait, does this mean he’ll be back on the show? Because that would be nice.

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

There’s no way that ‘interviewing a victim about what she remembers’ can be called profiling, so no, it didn’t help at all.

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

Totally was – all of the ‘law school’ stuff came to nothing – the case was solved when they asked Garcia ‘are you working on anything shady that might get you shot’ and she answered (after much hesitation) ‘um… yeah.’

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

1/10 – Remember when this show used to be about psychology? Yeah, I don’t either.


We got an additional look at the map this week – and I’m pretty sure it’s that weird one from two episodes back, with the dot in Kansas – but the New York dot has been moved down to Virginia for some reason. Also there’s a new dot in Colorado – but not in Denver, where we actually had a murder this year, but rather in the southwest, closer to Teluride.

I have no idea what’s going on with her map.

But ours is coming along nicely! Here’s how it looked last time-

Now let’s tack on Quantico, VA – because a cop got murdered, and they worked the case.

Now, it’s possible you’re not seeing the change here, and that’s understandable – it’s just that Woodbridge, where they found that kidnapped little girl, happens to be right next door to Quantico (which is how they could drive there in ten minutes). And since the dots Garcia and I are using are bigger than an actual city, scale-wise, we’ve got some overlap. Hopefully they fly to Alaska next week or something.

Although Alaska isn’t actually on my map…


Anonymous said...

But wouldn't the VICAP search actually have been, white male who picks up women, takes them on a date then shoots them at the end of the night or something like that since that would be a very specific MO? That seems like there's a good chance no match would come back.

Maia Smith said...

I don’t get what not choosing a window seat and sitting in the corner of a restaurant has to do with being a cop. Can you explain?

Anonymous said...

Always seeing who is coming in so you can react. Also what annoys me is why didn't they get cctv from the cafe when she helped him fix computer.