Criminal Minds 412: Soul Mates

The episode begins in the suburbs of Sarasota, Florida, since we all know that crime is scarier when it happens to upper-middle class white people. Case in point (not the white thing, but the upper middle class), the first characters we meet are Michael Boatman and his daughter - he's a neglectful dad begging off teaching her to drive, so he tries to bribe her with a car! Things take a turn for the considerably less happy a teen wanders over with a flyer - there's a high school girl missing, another victim of a serial killer working the area! Just then the cops roll up and arrest Michael Boatman as his daughter and friends look on, shocked - could he really be the killer they're looking for?

Well, obviously, he's a guest star. So yes. But he's also not the only one - he's got a white partner! How do we know this just seconds into the show? Well, this is one of the problems of watching a show on DVD after its initial airing. I can't un-know the title. More to the point, though, there's also been a tip-off from a psychological standpoint - the serial killer the cops are hunting alternated between killing black and white girls. Since serial killers generally murder within their own race, it's a safe bet that Boatman's partner is white.

The team is on the scene moments after the arrest, ready to scold the sheriff - they were hoping Boatman would lead them to the girl, and now that chance is blown! How did they find Boatman so quickly you ask, since we're starting so far into the plot? A witness saw him at the place the last girl was kidnapped, and he has a criminal history of kidnapping and raping teenagers. So it wasn't much of a challenge, really. Although they do toss in a line about him 'fitting the profile' to make it sound like the team contributed.

Making things even worse, the team is working against a timeline - the killer generally keeps his victims alive for a couple of days, so she's probably out there somewhere, possibly running out of air! (Although that's just my supposition.) More importantly, though, Boatman might get bail in as little as twelve hours - will they be able to break him within that amount of time?

Probably not, since the team has never, ever, broken a suspect or talked a confession out of someone. The only thing they've ever done (and they've done this a few times) is tricked someone into thinking that their plan had succeeded, and then waited until the killer started gloating before announcing that it was all a scam. Will they be able to do that this time? Join me after the opening credits to find out!

The suburb has become a media circus, and it's all being handled by fake-JJ, despite her announcement last week that she was going to quit, and real JJ showing up for a cameo. Were these episodes aired out of order? Things are going to be very difficult for the wife and daughter of Boatman, now that everyone knows he's a killer! Greg and Emily interview the family, looking for any clues about where the missing girl might be located. This leads to one of the show's trademarked “Dumbass things Emily says” while trying to convince a woman that her husband is a serial killer.

Emily: Do you really think it's a coincidence your husband has been a suspect twice?

Well, Emily, considering the fact that he's only a suspect this time because he was a suspect last time, I'm guessing it's the opposite of a coincidence. This is like walking up to someone in the street, punching them in the face, and then asking why they get into so many fights.

The wife asks Greg and Emily to leave, and they do, but only after planting the seeds of doubt in her and her daughter's minds!

Joe and Derek start their interview with Boatman, hoping to trick him into giving away something about his predilections for rape and murder. He denies everything, of course, and claims that since he wasn't charged for all those other rapes, he's just an innocent bystander in the whole affair. Boatman is both a lawyer and clever, so he simply refuses to engage.

We then discover that bail has been set at five million dollars! Which is just crazily high. The wife asks if they should pull some money out of their retirement account, and Michael responds that they should put up the house.

The wife is obviously troubled by this, but not for the reasons you might think. She responds 'what if something happens... where will we go?' Well, the only way you can lose the bail money is if Michael flees the state, so I'm guessing you're fleeing with him, and you not having a house isn't really an issue.

More importantly, though, this is the street they live on:

Cramped houses, no driveways or lawns, so their house is profoundly not worth five million dollars, and they surely don't have that kind of money in their retirement account. Boatman's a lawyer, not a hedge fund manager. While it's possible to get a bail bondsman to lend you most of the money in exchange for ten percent. Two problems with that, however - first, you've got to find someone willing to put up FIVE MILLION DOLLARS to bail out a possible serial killer. Let's say you're a bail bondsman - are you going to risk FIVE MILLION DOLLARS (or, to put it another way, everything you own) on the hopes that a serial killer won't skip town? A half-million dollar payday is good, but it's not that good.

You know, had the show just made it a million dollar bond, I would have believed the house was worth that much. No problem.

Reid's working the computer side of things, by which I mean repeating for the team the things that Garcia actually found out. Oh, and his haircut-

Has somehow gotten even worse. You don't work at Starbucks! Get a haircut, hippie!

It seems Boatman's been collaborating on a blog with another co-murderer, and he feels that he can guess where they're from by their choice of words. Except he doesn't pick really plausible examples to base this profile on. Sure, people either use 'soda' and 'pop', but never both, but there's no way that 'turnpike' is only used in Florida. My evidence for this? The Jersey Turnpike. Also, he claims that 'filling the gas tank' is a Florida regionalism and, unless it's being used as a euphemism for something horrible that I don't want to know about, I'm pretty sure that's what everybody says everywhere (at least in Canada). Although I guess I've also heard 'pumping gas', although that's more a description of the job...

They try confronting Boatman about the blog, but he keeps quiet, then immediately gloats when the discovery of the dead girl's fresh body proves that he couldn't have killed her - he was in custody at the time!

You know, Boatman, if you don't want people to think you're a serial killer, perhaps it's not the best idea to grin like a smug prick while getting the news that a teenager has been brutally murdered. Just FYI.

Reid attempts to decode the blog, hoping there will be some clue about the partner's identity - although no one's mentioning the fact that he's obviously white, based on victim choice. Now that they've confirmed the existence of the partner, Joe and Derek confront Boatman with it, hoping their insinuations that he's a sublimated homosexual will drive him to confess. It doesn't.

Physical evidence on the latest body leads them to another local rape victim, who confirms the fact that they're looking for a white guy (finally). They don't, however, ask her to look at a photo array of every white man that Boatman is associated with, on the off chance that her rapist met her casually or stalked her before coming back with a mask on for the actual attack. Because they're not good at their jobs.

Greg and Emily head to the house to ask Boatman's family if they know any white guys that he's particularly close to. They also warn the family that the killer will probably drop by to check up on them, since he's worried about Boatman, but obviously can't go down to the police station. This is a pretty good scheme actually, except for the fact that it requires the supposed 'highly-intelligent control freak' to do something that obviously attracts attention to himself.

Hoping to help that process along, the team adds a message to Boatman's blog intended for the white killer. He immediately reads it, and is understandably pissed. He flashes back to the first time the two of them murdered someone - which, in an example of 'aw, ain't that romantic' dualism, Boatman is thinking about at just that moment while being interrogated by Hoe and Derek. They taunt him with the fact that they're leaving blog posts to lure white killer into their clutches. The pitch? That white killer will be furious with Boatman for co-operating.

Except white killer couldn't possibly think that Boatman is co-operating. If he was helping the police, white killer would already be in jail. The only possible reason to allow a killer whose identity you know to remain out if jail is the hopes that he will lead you to something important. But the latest girl is dead. White killer has nothing more to offer. The very fact that the police aren't breaking down his door is proof that Boatman is still on his side.

Maybe mistakes like this are why the team has never successfully broken anyone.

Also, we hear a little more from the blog, and suddenly Reid's claim that he was able to detect that two different writers were working on it based on the fact that 'one uses dashes, the other ellipses' is a little dubious. When half of the entries talk about 'we' and 'us' or involve one thanking the other for something and the second guy saying 'you're welcome', the two authors thing kind of becomes inescapable.

Over at Boatman's house the white killer is finally revealed:

It's his next door neighbour! Who comes over to comfort the wife after some neighbourhood kids vandalize the family car!

Now let's take a moment to consider what the team could have done to speed this whole 'catching the bad guy' process up. Greg seemed to feel that the killer was definitely going to try to contact the family. Now, if you wanted to use that theory to nab the killer, what might you do?

Well, you could:

A) Tap their phone and see who calls!
B) Watch the house to see who comes over!

Did Greg do either? Nope. You know, it's just slightly possible that his lack of promotion within the Bureau isn't entirely due to him being too saintly for politicking.

Boatman's wife doesn't find white killer suspicious, but daughter does - yet she doesn't call the FBI to mention it (not that she should have to, Greg) because he mother says that white killer couldn't possibly be involved.

Meanwhile, back at the police station, the team has figured out where Boatman and white killer first met - at a block party, ogling local teens! So, first off, ick, and secondly - how will they use this information to manipulate Boatman into making a mistake? Wait, they won't, because the whole 'psychology' thing isn't really their strong suit.

Luckily, though, they won't have to work too hard, since white killer seems bound and determined to incriminate himself! When a group of local teens hassles Boatman's daughter about her serial-killing dad, he runs out of his house to intevene.

So this is twice now that simply having a plainclothes officer parked across the street would have solved the case. Great work, team! White killer then gets into a fight with his wife and storms off, while daughter (who was left alone in the house by mom), watches from inside her house. Now, even though daughter is suspicious of white killer, instead of simply calling the police she follows him down the road and out to the marina. Without telling anyone where she's going.

What the hell, daughter? You're acting like you want to get kidnapped to set up a preposterous final-act rescue and- Oh, okay, I see what you're going. Carry on.

The team is busy trying to figure out how the two killers co-ordinated when they were going to meet, since times are never mentioned in the blog, and they liked to 'surprise' each other with new victims. I'm going to go out on limb and say they had some kind of an easy-to-notice visual cue? Since they live next door to one another, it could be as simple as leaving a mug on a windowsill.

The team has a different idea, though - they realize that the random snippets of poetry that are included in the blog are actually excerpted song lyrics:

Which raises an important question: was the song actually playing in that earlier scene?

You know, Criminal Minds writers, if you can't generate a mystery without lying to the audience, it's possible that you're in the wrong like of work.

Now knowing that the killer has to be a neighbour, the team runs through the demographics of the white guys living nearby until they find someone who seems like he could be the killer. There's only one who was born in Florida and isn't disabled! The team rushes out to find him, but he's already disappeared along with the daughter! It's this kidnapping that gives them the leverage to finally affect Boatman's conscience. He leads the team to the murder warehouse, gets his partner to confess on tape, and then docilely walks away handcuffed.


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

Not especially - I mean, they correctly predicted that white killer would involve himself in the lives of Boatman's family, then took no steps whatsoever to check if that was going on. How do I grade good profiling and bad follow-through? Oh, that's right - harshly.

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

There's no way white killer could have been a serial rapist for years and then a killer for six months without any kind of a criminal record - and yet the team didn't check the backgrounds of anyone living in Boatman's general vicinity. That's weak, guys.

So, on a scale of 1 (Dirty Harry) to 10 (Tony Hill), How Useful Was Profiling in Solving the Crime? 2/10 - Oddly, this week the case was solved for them by one of the killers. There was no physical evidence and no one was testifying, it was only the daughter's bizarre choice to follow white killer and his even stranger choice to kidnap her for doing so that got Boatman to confess. That's certainly not the kind of break they can rely on in the future.


Maaian said...

A very weak episode in my opinion. I didnt believe the plot for a second, not even when he confessed. Seems to me a much better ending would be making him innocent because I dont buy the fact that he's guilty.

Anonymous said...

The song was playing at the beginning, when the father and daughter were in the car. However:

1. It sounded more like a soundtrack than something playing in the scene;

2. It was already playing when the father and daughter got into the car, so why didn't he rush off then? Why did he get into the car, look at his 'phone, then decide he had to leave? Setting up an excuse for his daughter, perhaps... 'though it still doesn't make much sense.

albina N muro said...

Do-it-yourself detectives often think that online criminal records means sex offender registries, criminal court records, or prison inmates. florida criminal background check