Criminal Minds 416: Pleasure is my Business

The episode begins with a high-priced call girl tantalizing a rich businessman and offering him a glass of champagne, the drinking of which quickly proves to have been a mistake. As the man dies on the floor of a hotel suite she makes another date! Will she be going for a two-fer tonight? And what does all this have to do with Greg watching footage of his son learning how to ride a bike, which is the scene the show immediately cuts to from the murder!

Oh, nothing, it seems. It's just that Greg is called in personally to rush down to Texas, sans the team. Why? Both the men who've been murdered recently are super-rich businessmen who were known to use the services of prostitutes - and the upper class of Dallas are worried that their own indiscretions will come out if the FBI looks into the case! Can the team possibly solve the case without stepping on anyone's feet?

And at what point will Greg realize that he was in the elevator with the very murderer he's been hired to catch?

More importantly, though, how can there be no footage of the killer if she's not shy about taking the elevator when on her way to murder people? And is bringing a suitcase to the room something a prostitute normally does? Maybe we'll find out after the opening credits!

Although I doubt it.

The team offers some theories about female serial killers, and none of it is useful, so let's move on to the important facts - men don't take out ten thousand dollars(!) from the bank to spend on someone they just met, so she either came from a well-known service, or was a frequent supplier of the two victims. Since any pimp/madam wouldn't put up with rich clients being murdered, they have to figure she's an independent operator, right?

Meanwhile the killer has spent the night with another man (this one survives the encounter), and the next morning she looks up Greg, having learned that he was an FBI agent while overhearing him talk to someone in the lobby. In a fun continuity note, the video she finds of him online is of him giving the press conference when they were trying to get the copkiller to target him a few episodes back. Nice work, guys!

The team goes to talk to the latest victim's widow, trying to figure out if some twisted fetish he had that might have set the killer off. She responds that no, he just enjoyed the company of younger women - that was as far as it ever went. Greg heads downtown to chat with the high-powered attorneys who are trying to cover up how the millionaires died, but finds instead the Michael Clayton-esque problem solver who's been assigned to make the situation go away without too much hassle. She offers Greg the name of a local madam who disguises her industry behind a facade of real-estate sales!

Ooh, the madam is SNL's Nora Dunn! Always great to see her working.

Emily and Reid ask her if she knows the identity of the killer, and manage to figure out what we did three paragraphs ago, but while doing so, Emily wins the Prentiss award for the night-

Well, duh.

They go to the madam with their 'deviant sex drove her to kill' theory, and she laughs at them, suggesting it's more likely some emotional component. Prostitutes have to listen to their clients bitch about their problems, after all, and it's likely that she's grown fed up with hearing about one certain thing.

Which is a really roundabout way of saying 'check what these victims have in common'. Which is something they should have been doing anyways, isn't it?

That search for commonality gets a little easier that night-

When the killer takes her next victim. Sorry, buddy - showing up before the halfway mark is a death sentence on this show. Also, the smug tend not to fare too well in these situations. Just FYI.

The killer then puts lipstick Xs over the victim's eyes, and rolls his chair into an elevator so it can be found by the building's security guard. You know, Reid specifically said that female serial killers don't leave signatures. Is there anything that guy can't be wrong about? Well, at least there's definitely video footage this time, what with it being a high security building. That subject isn't brought up, however. Instead, the clue they grab comes in the form of the company's lawyer, who gives the team all of the victim's financial information in exchange for keeping the manner of his death out of the press.

What do they learn? Like all the other victims, he refused to pay child support for any of the children from their previous marriages! There's the connection! But will that motive help them find her? Not as much as giving a physical description and details of her business to all the corporate lawyers who may have been in charge of getting the money to pay her. What motive do they have to co-operate, though? The team suggests that this prostitute knows many of their companies' dirty secrets, and as long as she's out there, she poses a financial risk as well as one to life-and-limb.

This doesn't seem like the greatest tactic - where is this killer more likely to give up details of corporate corruption and industrial malfeasance? When she's out killing rich men, or when she's in custody, trying to cut a deal to get the death penalty taken off the table? For my money, it seems like the team is giving these lawyers less a reason to co-operate, and more a reason to get some murderers on the job, Michael Clayton-style!

Despite the bad hand they're being given to play, one of the lawyers comes forward, revealing that a 'friend' of the latest victim lived in a penthouse he provided for her. Now that they know where she lives, it's just a matter of time! But will it be in enough time to save her latest victim, a nervous, schlubby klutz she meets in a hotel lobby?

Nope. Although she starts out planning to not even have a 'meeting' that day, and the guy doesn't fit her normal target (dead wife, not deadbeat dad), when he mentions that, according to his lawyers the FBI is on to her, and will likely keep her arrest quiet, she's so angry that she goes ahead and murders him anyways. Wow - three victims two weeks in a row! Good work, killers, breaking that tradition!

While the team goes through her apartment the killer calls to yell at them over the whole 'covering up for rich scumbags' thing, and while Garcia tries to get a trace on the call, I notice, for the first time, that she uses the exact same monitor that I do!

It's an HP swiveling thing, just like mine!

Okay, she's got eight of them, as compared to my one, but still, I now feel a kinship between us. That's only heightened by the fact that I'm completely picking up her slack on the whole murder map thing. Would you look at that on the wall? There's nothing on it!

Greg answers the call and tries to form a bond with the killer. He tries to get her to come in, but she doesn't believe that he won't just make her disappear, Mich- actually, you know what? I'll stop referencing Michael Clayton now. But you should totally watch that movie.

Without any further leads (other than knowing the killer's cell phone number, which, according to other episodes of this show, should allow them to trace her), and somehow missing the fact that she essentially admitted to seeing Greg walk into the hotel on his first night in Dallas, giving them yet another place to go for surveillance footage, the team tries to figure out how she got into the prostitution game in the first place. They found suspiciously high class goods in her apartment, suggesting that she's well-educated and speaks French. Not the normal profile of a call-girl, they assume. So who could she have bought a client list from, allowing her to get into the game?

The fixer happily gives up the information, which leads them to the prostitute - creepily enough the killer chose to buy the client list of the woman that her father was sleeping with! Ick! Here's the interesting thing - she claimed that she was just trying to buy the woman out as a way of getting back at her father, not actually going into whoring herself!

Now that they know her true identity Greg goes to talk to the father in question, who, as predicted, left the mother and cut her off financially. The father doesn't offer any information, but the team follows him anyways, sure that he'll try to contact the killer. He does, offering her money so that she'll disappear. The meeting doesn't go well - he almost convinces her that he wants to help, but then he mentions that she needs to keep quiet about all her clients, and she freaks out. Dad survives, though, making the fact that Greg and company are rushing to help kind of moot.

Her father leaves with her Blackberry in hand, and Greg arrives at the hotel room just in time to watch her die from some self-administered poison. They share a knowing exchange, and then she dies. Greg promises that he'll try to do something with the phone's memory card, and he does release the list of names, but without the killer alive to testify, it's not like anyone's going to be charged with anything, and this is the kind of thing that will wind up being forgotten quickly by the press.

Her one victory? When people find out she was the daughter of a famous CEO, Dad has to resign. Which is pretty cold comfort, really. She should have just shot the guy.

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

To a marginal degree, I suppose. While it largely didn't play into the proceedings, there was the fact that they extrapolated from her targeting deadbeat dads that she was a victim of parental neglect, but that didn't actually play a huge part in her capture.

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

She was caught largely by simply asking people in the know about prostitutes who the killer might be - anyone could have done that, although having the FBI on board certainly sped things along. In any case, had she gone on killing, FBI or not, the situation would have been taken care of quite quickly, in the style of a movie I've discussed too extensively already.

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

2/10 - But there was a lot of Greg-time, so I'm calling this episode a win! Just kidding. It wasn't fantastic. Not that I'm comparing it to anything, but for an episode partially about evil corporate stonewalling, the corporate lawyers weren't that threatening.


Anonymous said...

Ok you really need to catch up! There are so many of the newer episodes that I am dying to get your take on!

Anonymous said...

Greg? You mean Aaron Hotchner?

Hannah Gillis-White said...

I am COMPLETELY surprised you skipped over the team saying that women cannot gain any sort of sexual gratification from murder. I would personally LOVE to know where they got that fact from and all the science that supports it. It's a tiny and insignificant detail, bit for some reason it enrages me.