Criminal Minds 401: Mayhem

Yay, Greg's not dead! His ears seem to have blown out (and the show's producers have decided to express that by overlaying a high-pitched whine that actually hurts my ears - great for relatability, bad for my ears), and his British chippie is nowhere to be seen, but at least Greg's not dead. Also, the bomber runs up to him to check if he's okay:

How do we know that this guy's the bomber? Well, let's see... he's a middle-eastern guy within easy walking distance of a bomb that just went off. Criminal Minds just isn't the kind of show that's going to have a non-evil middle-easterner show up to mess with our preconceptions.

Seriously, has this show ever had a middle-eastern person on it that wasn't a terrorist? I mean, I know it's about profiling, I just didn't think they meant 'racial profiling'.

Moving right along, the bomber (whose name is 'Sam') announces that he's already called an ambulance - Greg asks him to call back so that he can tell them the victims of the bombing are FBI agent, which will presumably get them to hurry their asses up.

Greg finds Kate a little further up the road, badly injured - while attempting to treat her he refers to the bomb that went off as 'an IED' - which seems like an odd choice of phrase. What with it being a car-bomb, and all. More to the point, though, they've got to reason to assume that this is a jury-rigged explosive made from artillery shells or salvaged landmines. Really, the only reason to use the term 'IED' is to reinforce a connection between this attack and the kinds of things that happen in Iraq and Afghanistan, which seems like the kind of overly political thinking that people under stress wouldn't do. If Greg were a veteran just back from the war, I'd totally buy him using IED as a synonym for 'bomb'. He's not, though, so it's all kind of a stretch.

Anyhoo, Kate's bleeding badly and will likely die if she doesn't get treatment immediately. There's a hitch, though - the SOP of bombers is to set off a small bomb to injure a few people, then use a bigger one to take out the cops and paramedics who arrive to help.

Ironically, the very orders that Kate put out to save lives may wind up costing her her own!

Also, what do you want to bet that they never explain how someone was able to sneak up to an FBI vehicle parked in front of an FBI building and plant a bomb in it with nobody noticing?

Despite the orders, Greg desperately calls for help. Also calling for help, for some reason? Sam, the bomber, whose motives aren't exactly clear. Does he not also have a gun that he could use to finish the job?

Back at the office Joe and Reid wonder just what form the next attack is going to take - since the terrorists in the season ender were testing a variety of locations for response time, there could be an attack at each place where there had been a shooting! Also, something tells me this show is massively underestimating the effect that series of random terrorism-based shootings would have on the psyche of the nation. Yeah, it's not going to be mentioned at all after this week, is it?

In the NYPD's Big Brother room Garcia starts scanning through the different camera angles, looking for clues about the bomber. She sees him planting the bomb, and then hiding behind the pillar to detonate it! Now it's time for the twist - Garcia fast-forwards until the bomber's face is revealed, and she discovers what we knew the second we saw the colour of his skin: Sam is the bomber!

Armed with this information Derek does the thing he's on the team to do: chase Sam down the street, and then into a subway tunnel. I'm not really sure why Derek would do if he was put in charge of the New York office. Are there an inordinate number of criminals who need to chased on foot there?

Anyhoo, Derek attempts to catch Sam, but he's too slow, and the kid manages to kill himself by stepping on the third rail of the subway tunnel. You know, for a guy whose duties on the team basically involve chasing people and then wrestling them to the ground, Derek sure screws up a lot. I'm not especially impressed with Same, either - he's escaped into a dark subway tunnel. Essentially the guy could have run to Harlem. Instead, he wandered back and killed himself. Why? If he was trying to tie up resources wouldn't running the FBI on a merry chase be a more effective way of doing so? After all, he could've killed himself at any point

Back topside a paramedic has decided to brave the threat of a subsequent bombing and run out to help Greg get Kate to a hospital. There's a drawback, though. The paramedic looks like this:

So obviously he's also a terrorist. I hate to be accused of doing some profiling of my own here, but come on, that guy looks like he should be firing an assault rifle at Jack Bauer in an LA warehouse. Couldn't they have found someone a little less threatening?

As Greg and the Terramedic drive Kate to the nearest hospital, Reid notices a discrepancy in the terrorists' pattern - the SUV bombing wasn't in any of the areas that they'd performed a dry run in! Now, in a sane situation, someone would point out that, since the terrorists have been one step ahead of the team for almost two whole episodes now, the bombing was in an unexpected place precisely because it was unexpected. This isn't a sane situation though, so Reid's pronouncement is supposed to be meaningful. The meaning is revealed in the next scene, when Greg arrives at the hospital and discovers that it's been closed by the Secret Service, meaning that Dick Cheney is having an operation at that hospital, and the Terramedic is planning to kill him!

And it's going to be face-to-face as well, since the Terramedic doesn't just detonate a bomb the second they're in the parking garage, Arlington Road-style:

No, he goes right on trying to save Kate's life as she's wheeled into the ER. I'll say this for the guy - he may be a terrorist, but his work ethic at his fake cover job is simply top-notch.

While Greg is being sewn up (he caught some shrapnel in the blast) the team is gathered at their field office, going over the facts of their case. They can't figure out why none of the expected bombs have gone off. A quick glance at Garcia's videotape reveals Sam purposefully detonated the bomb before Greg and Kate were in the car - but why? Well, you and I know, but the team's a little slow this week.

The lack of any further bombings has the authorities theorizing that the attack is over, but Joe's sure that everything up to now has merely been a prelude. His justification? "That," He indicates a picture of the Twin Towers, "Was memorable - this isn't."

Beg to differ, Joe. The Son of Sam killed 6 people over a year. His actions brought the city's nightlife to a halt for a whole summer, and captivated a nation. If these crimes - eight people randomly shot in public, police officers fired on with impunity, killers willing to die rather than being caught - had happened in the real world New York would have shut down until the criminals were caught. A dozen movies would be made about the events, and the country would never forget it.

Of course, this isn't the real world, it's Criminal Minds, where they catch a serial killer every single week, meaning their world contains people who are a little more accepting of the idea that they're surrounded by people who want to murder them for no reason at all.

Which is all my way of saying that maybe it's not cool for Joe to be bringing up the memory of 9/11 as a way of increasing the threat level in such a dramatically lacking program.

Everyone heads over to the hospital, so they can plan their next move with Greg, who's newly patched-up and wearing a replacement set of blood-free clothes. Hold on, why is the whole team at the hospital? Isn't all of the information they're basing their profiling on back at the base? I know that, for dramatic reasons, the producers want the main cast all to be present when the fourth-act gunfighting goes down, but come on, couldn't they come up with a better justification than 'Hey, let's all take a break to go check on Greg?' Since they know the FBI is being targeted, isn't the whole profiling team going to the hospital at once a huge security risk?

God, this is a lazy show sometimes.

While talking through the problem Reid mentions that they've got the chemical makeup of the bomb has come in, and that the reason it exploded so spectacularly despite being so tiny is that is that it contained, among other things, red mercury. Which isn't a real thing.

That's right, Reid essentially just told the team that Greg was blown up by a spell. Cast by a unicorn. He's supposed to be the smart one.

They talk about the bomb and bomb-maker for a few seconds, and then reveal that Sam never called an ambulance! How do they know this? It seems that Derek recovered the phone from Sam's body. Yup, before killing himself to stymie the police, Sam didn't bother destroying the piece of evidence that could have been used to foil his entire scheme.

I know you're dead, but it's important to note that, while you were alive, you really sucked at your job.

Now that they know the ambulance was part of the plan, Greg drops a bomb on the rest of the team: he tells them about the secret service lockdown of the hospital! Wait... he has to tell them? They're in the hospital right now. Which means they had to get past the secret service to get in, didn't they? If not, does that mean terrorists could have just walked into the building and skipped all of this Trojan Ambulance jazz?

Like I was saying - lazy writing.

The team scrambles to find the Terramedic, and we're offered an explanation for why his bomb (yup, it's another bomb) hasn't gone off yet. It seems that he hadn't activated it yet! Um... let's say you were the one trying to sneak a bomb into a hospital - wouldn't it be armed when you drove in? You'd have to be a crazy optimist to think that you'd have a chance to arm it once you were inside, wouldn't you?

He does arm the bomb, though - and still doesn't set it off! No, the Terramedic instead decides to just saunter leisurely through the building, giving the team a chance to spot him on the monitors. Since the bomb is cell-phone activated, rather than on a timer, or just a switch or something, Garcia is able to shut down the local towers, buying them enough time for Derek to drive the Ambulance away to safety!

His plan foiled, the Terramedic sits down and prepares to cut his own throat, so as to rob the FBI of the chance to interrogate him and gain some of his valuable intelligence on terror networks:

Despite the fact that the entire team is standing five feet away, aiming guns at the man, no one bothers to attempt an incapacitating shot to keep him from committing suicide. In that situation, what's the worst-case scenario? You accidentally kill the guy? Well, he was going to slice his throat open, so it's kind of a wash, right? So they let the high-value target slice his own throat, presumably to save on paperwork, and call it a day.

Now it's time for the wrapup - they don't find out who was in the hospital (but come on, it was obviously Cheney), the shot cop is fine, and Greg tells Derek that he's not ready to take over the NY office, despite being next in line for the job.

I'm totally with Greg on this one, BTW.

In a final, sad note, Kate dies from her injuries, and Greg gets there in time to see the body before it's wheeled away.

That'll teach her to flirt with a recently-divorced man!

Wait - all of her injuries were on her back - why is she lying face-up? You know what, I'm just going to assume this is a medical thing - there have been enough instances of terrible writing this week that I don't have to go looking for more.

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

Dear lord, no. They barely solved a thing. The team was the victim of an attack, and then they let themselves be used as tools in an attempt on the VP's life.

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

See above - a common technique (checking a suspect's cell phone) led to the key piece of information that cracked the case.

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

1/10 - That's a bad way to start the year off, fellas.

Not just with the profiling, either. This week's wrapup was something of a disaster from a plotting standpoint. I know we're not supposed to think to hard about the villain's plans on this show, what with them being preposterously badly-written most of the time, but this one was just especially contrived. Here, in numbered form, are the steps to the terrorists' plan.

1 - Have a terrorist bomb-maker train to be a paramedic, then steal an ambulance.
2 - Through amazing connections, know two weeks in advance that Dick Cheney would be flying to New York for an operation, rather than the secret service just bringing the doctors to DC, which it seems would require a lot less effort than having dozens of agents travel to New York so that they could shut down an entire hospital.
3 - Have eight different terrorists shoot eight people over two weeks, knowing somehow that each one would get away clean even though the crimes were being committed in broad daylight, with hundreds of witnesses to each one.
4 - Set a bomb under an FBI Agent's car, which was left unattended during a terrorist crisis just three blocks away from the VP's hospital.
5 - Blow up two FBI Agents, managing to do the exact amount of damage that will A: Not kill them but B: injure them enough so that another, less injured FBI Agent will be willing to able to talk their way past Secret Service agents, which the Terramedic, alone, would never been given a chance to do.
6 - Be left alone for an hour in a hospital supposedly locked down by the Secret Service so that there's time to arm the bomb.

Is there a single step in that plan that makes any kind of sense?

And here's the kicker - at the end of the episode we're supposed to be relieved that the threat is over, yet saddened by the cost incurred in preventing it. Tiny problem, though - the terrorist cell had at least eight people in it. Emily killed one, Sam killed himself, as did the Terramedic. Which leaves at least five more terrorists in Manhattan, with who knows how many guns and bombs.

Guessing that's never going to be mentioned again, either.

Criminal Minds FactCheck!

This episode, obviously, was not based on any real events, but there was a single fact in the review I wanted to check. The IMDB was nice enough to confirm my hunch, and it turns out that the ambulance driver: Adoni Maropis, did, in fact, play a bad guy on 24 for a few episodes.

And now, as announced on TheAvod, let me present the new Penelope's Murder Map 2.0: The Google Maps version!

Sadly this means I won't be updating the crude line map of the US that I've been using any more. Tragedy, right?


Anonymous said...

Dude his name is aaron hatchner not greg. Unless I'm missing a reference

Vardulon said...

Yes, you're missing a reference. But keep reading - I explained it more clearly in the Waco episode!

Anonymous said...

You have to fix your writing style. All this is is plain whining and literary masturbation. You can be commended by your desire to point out the plot flaws but the tone you take when you write prevents the reader from seeing past the arrogance the text shows.

Anonymous said...

PS. Point in case, you keep on calling the characters in names not everyone knows about. There's the assumption that the reader actually reads the rest of your posts. Is that your tool to get more traffic? Well it's dumb calling people names. "...he's a middle-eastern guy within easy walking distance of a bomb that just went off. Criminal Minds just isn't the kind of show that's going to have a non-evil middle-easterner show up to mess with our preconceptions." That was your judgement. The guy looks like any other brunette on the street. you're the dumbass racist. This writing is not well thought through. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

i totally disagree with previous anonymous. it is much easier to tear down someone else than to actually do something yourself. you may not like vardulon's writing style, that is your subjective opinion, but as you yourself admitted he makes valid objective points. many of us like his writing style, and i would submit he is a good writer.

that you would like everything explained to you in each episode is evidence of your laziness, not a problem with vardulon's writing style. vardulon's logic tends to be valid, style is subjective, try doing something instead of tearing other people down. just my humble opinion.

thank you vardulon for your interesting interpretations of criminal minds episodes. best of luck in the future.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, July 11 2011: The expression you were looking for is 'case in point'.

Also, males with brown hair are brunets; females are brunettes.

I would also add that your own writing style leaves a lot to be desired. True, Vardulon needs to sort out his GRAMMAR (capitalised for emphasis); but really, your rant was barely comprehensible. Get back in your glass house and stop throwing stones!

Anonymous said...

You say about them all being at the hospital even though it's in lockdown- you forget that the bloke initially asked Hotch for his badge, which indicates that the rest of the team would have probably got into the hospital with their badges.

I don't understand if you like the show and are just humorously criticising it, or whether you really dislike it - then why are you wasting your time...

Meddling Chihuahua said...

Ignore those 'anonymous' comments, those people expose themselves as morons the minute they start complaining about you calling Hotch 'Greg'. This episode was so stuffed with ridiculous cliches it was almost painful to watch. Glad you caught them in another instance of killing off strong, "arrogant" female characters.

Silverhill said...

I believe that the "red mercury" mention was for public protection.

Reid mentioned several things that can actually be used in an improvised bomb. IMHO, the writers had him add red mercury to the mix in order to make a would-be bomber believe that such a bomb could not be constructed without it. In so believing, and in failing to be able to get any red mercury, Mr. Bad Guy would then not try to use that recipe to build bombs. The potential threat from would-be bombers who are stupid enough to fall for this deception is then reduced.
As I said: public protection.


Similarly: Ever notice that all phone numbers in TV and movies are given as 555-xxxx? This is because 555 is a non-assignable exchange, used for telco internal testing only. If the writers accidentally used a real, assigned number, there are plenty of idjits out there who would call it and want to talk to the character. (Yes, this has happened; they genuinely believe that they can call and talk to a fictional person.)
Public protection.