Criminal Minds 320: Lo-fi

It’s New York City! Who had NY in the poll? Anyhoo, the show opens on the busy streets, then moves down into the subway, where we a follow a suspicious bald man who seems nervous about cops. What’s he up to?

Oh, he’s getting murdered. Guess the show didn’t need to make him look so sinister after all, huh? The killer casually walks off after the crime, escaping any suspicion. A call to Greg reveals that this has been a pattern of identical crimes, and the team is being called in on it! This puts a crimp in JJ’s plans – Junior was coming up that weekend to visit her!

There have been five identical shootings over two weeks – in each case the killer simply walked up, shot someone in the head, then kept right on walking. No connections between the victims, no communication with the police… Reid points out that it’s just like the Son of Sam – and hopefully like that crime, there will be a random witness on the street who saw a creepy guy hanging around the scene of the murder!

On the way to the crime the team goes over the case – there are no commonalities that could possibly lead to clues! They also get some background on the FBI agent in charge of the case, it’s a British woman with a reputation for being tough. But apparently Greg has some history with her, and announces that she’s not that bad. Arriving at the office, JJ mentions that Kate (the agent) looks exactly like Greg’s ex-wife!

Really? Let’s check that-

Okay, I can kind of see it.

Kate explains that Garcia can log right into the city’s surveillance grid, then gets everyone introduced to the local cops that will be liaising with them on the case. She then takes Greg aside to ask about Derek. Why? It’s a mystery for now, because we go outside to spend some time with the cops, who are annoyed, as stereotypical cops are, that the Feds are invading their patch.

Garcia checks out the surveillance setup, and is surprisingly non-judgemental about how those rubes run their business. Then we swing by the subway, and see the killer walking around. Which doesn’t seem to alarm people in the slightest-

For the record, in the past two weeks there have been five murders – basically one every two days. In every one of these crimes the killer has been wearing a Navy-coloured hoodie pulled tight around his face. So how is it that all of New York isn’t on the lookout for a guy in a hoodie? There can’t be too many of them out there – this is New York, and it’s almost summer.

Yet there a hoodie guy is, sitting, unmolested, on a train car. Maybe they’re trying to make the point that New Yorkers are oblivious to their surroundings – but there’s not paying attention to your neighbours on a regular day, and then there’s not paying attention to your surroundings when there’s a crazed killer shooting people on the subway and the police are baffled. The second is far less likely than the first.

Down in another subway Jake and Joe are trying to work the profile without much success. Greg and Kate are looking for footage of the killer in the crowds after the killings, and Garcia is scouring the footage of the murders for any important details. It seems that there’s been a wide variety of descriptions of the killer from people who’ve kind of seen him before and after the shootings – no one has a good idea what he looks like, but all agree he was of some non-white ethnicity, but probably not a black guy.

And the killer nabs another one, right out on the street – and this time he left a clue! It’s a tarot card left on the body! At the newest scene we get a little more character stuff – Kate doesn’t like Derek because she’s likely going to be fired soon, and the higher-ups (Michael Ironside?) are planning to offer Derek the New York office! Good for him, but has Derek ever worked any kind of a leadership position? He’s clearly capable at what he does (use psychology badly and then tackle people), but does that really make you ready to manage an office of what must be thousands of agents?

The team examines the card-

And we get the usual mumbo-jumbo about how they’re interpreting Tarot wrong, and death doesn’t really mean death – the Tower means death. Which is all well and good for gypsy nerds, but the fact is that the dude just killed a guy, and then he dropped a card showing the grim reaper on a white horse trampling a king – that isn’t clear enough for you? “Death is coming to ruin your empire” or something like that.

Joe points out that the DC Sniper lefts similar cards at the scenes of their crimes – shouldn’t that lead them to the obvious conclusion that this killer is an Islam-themed terrorist, since that was the DC Sniper’s motivation?

Garcia brings back the science from the naked bank robber episode and measures the height of people in the various surveillance videos. It turns out that on different days the killer is a different height! So there must be multiple offenders! But is it just a two-man team, or some sort of gang? And why isn’t the team mentioning the likely terrorist motivation!

When the heads downstairs for the night they’re startled to discover that a late edition of the paper already has the picture of the killer-

How did they manage that? It’s only been like eight hours and the sole footage was from a city surveillance camera. Even more shocking? Junior has shown up at the hotel, looking for JJ! Oh, this could turn out very badly for him, what with this being a season-ender and all. Damn, he even asked her to marry him. I hope the guy’s days aren’t as numbered as they seem right now…

Also, 'Terror Collapses on City'? In what world does that make logical or grammatical sense?

Time for the profile! They talk about the DC Snipers a little, mentioning the fact that John Mohammed wanted to kill his wife, but leaving out all of the Al Qaeda-themed parts of their explanation. Here's another hint that points to his religious motivation: He changed his name to John Mohammed. They’re weirdly sure that there are only two killers, despite the fact they’ve only been able to height-scan two of the images.

Garcia and the NYPD camera lady spot a hoodieman getting onto a subway platform and executing someone. They rush the police down there, but it’s too late. This leads to more drama because Derek had suggested the whole team getting out there on the street, hoping to luck into catching on of the killers. He was turned down, and now the latest murder happened at one of the stops Derek suggested!

Over in the hotel bar Joe and Derek talk about the possible promotion, and how it might be better for his state of mind if Derek quits following serial killers around the country.

Back at the office a height analysis has revealed that the newest killer is yet another villain – bringing the minimum up to three! Now that it’s officially a gang-sized entity, the team refuses to alter their profile, and still suspect that they’re looking for a garden-variety son-of-sam-style freak who’ll show up in the videos days later, drooling over the crime scenes.

Except there are at least three different shooters – will each of them go back, because of identical psychoses, or will just one of them? This is one of their worst profiles ever.

While the rest of the team is out on street corners, looking for hoodies, Joe asks the older cop they’re working with why he’s still so bugged about the Son of Sam all these years later. The cop tells him that it’s because they were never able to figure out Son of Sam, and he was only caught because of a ‘parking ticket’. Which, of course, isn’t true – he was caught because a person who lived in the area – their awareness heightened by the fact that a killer was on the loose, as hanging out by his car, skulking around the street and watching people. When there was a murder on that same street later that night, the witness told the police about the creepy fat guy and his car, and it was then that they looked for a way of identifying it, and found the parking ticket. Kind of a significant omission, if you ask me.

Joe is confused about why the killers might drop the card and then not contact the police. The theory? That the message was just for the FBI! Which means they want the FBI to be involved in the case! Does that mean they’re hoping to shoot one of the agents? Just how much of a cliffhanger is this episode? Making things worse, the surveillance cameras have been hacked by the killers! Yikes! And with a hoodie headed out to kill right now, what are their chances of stopping him without a camera?

Pretty good, actually – because the killer happens to gun someone down exactly fifty where Emily and the young cop are stationed. They chase him down the street, and the cop gets shot in the chest – Emily kills the hoodie, and I’m left wondering why the cop wasn’t wearing a bulletproof vest if they were out looking for an armed man. An armed man with a .22, which couldn’t possibly get through a vest.

Emily is puzzled by the bad guy’s behaviour – instead of fleeing the scene he stood his ground and fought. It’s her theory that the killer was sent out to commit suicide by cop so that they’d think the murders were over. Finally the team gets to the terrorism motive, and start profilng based on that.

Their working theory – the terrorists are watching the avenues of entrance and exit to the city, using the murders to gauge how fast the cops are able to arrive at scenes after crimes have been committed. So all of these shootings are just a preamble to their real plan! The whole team agrees to scatter so that they can inform everyone who needs to know about this at the same time – it doesn’t occur to any of them, somehow, that because the killers have hacked into the surveillance cameras and watched the aftermath at the crime scenes, then left a card to ensure the FBI would be involved, that their next target would likely be the FBI agents working the case.

And these are supposed to be smart people.


Okay, I skipped over some stuff to get that impact, so let me fill you in – everyone was walking out to identical black SUVS at the exact same moment, so we don’t know who was blown up. Could it be Joe? Reid? Garcia, Derek? Greg and Kate? JJ and Junior? Emily and the old cop?

Normally this is where I’d hazard a guess as to who gets killed off, but I’m not going to – my guesses have been so bad as of late that I don’t’ want to embarrass myself.

There is one clue I noticed in the finishing montage, however – every single character was shown actually getting into their car except for Greg and Kate. So if they want to kill someone off, it could be anyone at all, but if they don’t, it’s Greg and Kate’s SUV that detonated.

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

Um… kind of? All of their guesses were hugely off until one of the killers committed suicide in the hopes of distracting them. Basically the only read on that is terrorism, so it’s kind of a gimmie. Also, they kept talking about the Beltway Snipers without mentioning the terrorism connection, which makes it seem like they don’t know their own cases all that well.

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

Almost entirely - the most important factor in figuring out who was responsible was watching surveillance tapes, and using a computer to figure out the suspects' biometrics. Which, come to think of it, is about as far from psychology as you can get...

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

3/10 – Despite the military precision and lack of any clear fetish or obsession from the killer, they fixated on Son of Sam for no reason at all, allowing it to blind them to what was obviously going on. Even when the killers actually started giving them obvious clues about their motives. Not a great day for profiling, but at least they managed to put the pieces together at the end.

Although the picture they wound up with didn’t involve them getting blown up, so obviously it was incomplete.


Penelope was in New York this week, so we didn’t get a look at the official murder map. Here’s what it looked like last week:

And now let’s tack on the final location of the season (and first location of next season, since this was a cliffhanger), NYC.

Now, let’s check this against my prediction that the case would be within 300 miles of Quantico…(do that)

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