Suspect Behavior 104: One Shot Kill

The episode opens with one of those 'start at the end' things I hate, where we get flashes of the British One involved in some kind of a sniper duel with this week's killer. Of course, I'm always in favour of sniper duels, so I'm willing to give this one a pass. Less forgivable? That Forest, who is counseling the British Guy in a flashback within the flashforward (that's not convoluted at all, guys), looks even creepier than usual-

Then we move three days earlier, where we see the sniper kitting up to go out and murder someone. So, how are they going to catch this guy? When they grabbed Tim Omundsen back in season 1, it was because he wasn't really a sniper at all, just a completely different kind of killer who happened to use a sniper rifle. This guy, however, climbs high in a building and opens fire seemingly random people, so hopefully the team will really have to stretch themselves to figure it out.

Kidding. I'm sure it's going to be dumb luck and Garcia, as usual.

Quick note - we're supposed to think the guy's a real pro because he picks up his shell casing to make sure he's not traced (also to keep as a souvenir)-

But the guy's using a bolt-action rifle.

So why did he eject the round in public like that at all?

Anyways, back that the office, Forest is having stickfighting practice with one of his subordinates, which is what this team does instead of all the paperwork they'd have to do if they were actual FBI agents. We also learn that the British Guy is the womanizing cad, or 'Derek' of the group. Which is good to know, since until now he's had no personality other than his accent.

They get the call telling them that there's been yet another sniper death in Chicago (this was the forth) and they're finally being called in!

Wait, what? They have to wait to be called in? I thought they were a 'Red Cell' who went where ever and did whatever at the behest of Richard Schiff? Also, on what planet would the Chicago police wait an entire week in which three people were sniped before calling in the FBI? Don't the writers remember the DC sniper?

It turns out the British Guy “Mick” is an experienced sniper, and immediately knows they're dealing with a skilled marksman, who's likely watching them at the moment!

He's totally right, of course - but why is the sniper singling him out? Does he sense a kindred spirit in the way Mick hung around the crime scene, talking to people? Let's find out, after the opening credits!

Also, just FYI, they're being really coy about what the sniper looks like, even though we saw him full-on in the opening flash-forward.

Was that not originally in the episode?

While investigating the scene the bald guy (I swear I knew his name a few episodes ago...) announces that he got out onto the locked balcony by jimmying the lock using and using an electronic lockpick, as if that's something you could tell by looking at a door. That it was jimmied? Sure. But how? No way. They send the surveillance footage over to Garcia, hoping she can find someone going in or out of the building carrying a bag big enough for a gun.

Forest and Janeane look over the corpse, and, apropos of nothing, he mentions that he was in a seminary. Then the dead guy's wife drops by so that we'll feel some empathy for the victim. She wants to know how they can possibly find someone who kills people for no reason. Forest points out that while the victims are random, he does have a reason - and understanding it is how they're going to catch him!

Or someone might notice him sleeping at a rest stop, curled up with a rifle. Either way, really.

Gathering at the local police station, as opposed to the FBI Chicago field office at 2111 W. Roosevelt Road Chicago, IL 60608, the team offers some generic psychobabble about the 'standard profile for snipers', pointedly without offering any information that might help them figure out who the killer is. Garcia goes through a list of people with sniper training, hoping that they'll be able to use simple demographics to catch the guy.

Forest and Janeane swing by the crime scene a second time in the past five minutes, offering us nothing but more generic lines about how being a sniper is like being god (pro writer tip: If you can get the same scene in a show three times, do it! Your audience is probably stupid, so they won't mind hearing the same thing over and over again). The one funny part is that they keep talking about getting inside the sniper's head and seeing what he sees, but the two characters are standing in the parking lot where the victims were, rather than the sniper's nest.

Maybe one of the actors doesn't like heights?

Now it's time for a quick interlude in the sniper's hovel, where he adds his new shell casing to his set, making a total of five, which is odd for two reasons.

One, which the producers intended, is that there have only been four shootings, so what could that fifth, considerably older shell on the end mean? The second, which the producers almost certainly did not intend, is that when we saw the sniper's hovel in the teaser:

There were already five shells. Basic continuity? Beyond the good people at Suspect Behaviour!

Also in the hovel is a card from the funeral of an old army guy, whose death (suicide by sniper rifle?) is undoubtedly the 'stressor' that has led to this shooting rampage. The killer is also on top of the Mick situation, logging onto a website that apparently has a listing of all snipers, everywhere:

Wait, does Garcia know about this website? Because that could be useful in catching the killer.

Speaking of Mick, he and Gina (that's the blonde one's name!) come back from checking out the crime scenes, restating all the sniper profiling nonsense for the fourth time this week! Wow, the writer wasn't even trying this time around!

Stretching the plausibility of compressed timelines to the absolute limit of the audience's goodwill, Forest announces that he just got a call from Garcia in which she reported having checked the alibi of every single 25-35 year old sniper in a thousand mile radius. Let that one sink in for a second, huh?

Point is, they're stumped about how this guy could have learned to be such a great sniper if he's not military (from his dad, as we, the audience, know) - but before they have to tink too hard about things like motive and psychology, a courier walks in with a clue:

Hey, let's pause again! Not only is the show taking the shortcut of having the killer just send Mick a letter using the world's fastest courier service, that service also has no trouble getting inside a police station to deliver a package to 'Mick Rawson'. Not only was she not stopped at the front desk while someone called upstairs for Mick, somehow the people on the main floor of the police station knew that a letter for:

Meant that it was going to the FBI guys working on the sniper case. Seriously, Forest didn't even introduce the detective working the case to his team, how is a desk Sargent going to know who that is? And how did the killer know which police station the FBI profiling team was working out of?

God, nothing about this episode makes sense. Even holding it up to the extremely low standards of an episode of Criminal Minds; Suspect Behavior.

So, anyhow, inside the envelope is a pager that he'll send a message to every time he's going to kill someone. Wait, when did he get a pager set up? Did he just have that lying around?

Now we learn that this show has delved well into the realm of fantasy - his new crime? Shooting two people within a second of one another, each in the forehead. Except, again, it's a bolt action rifle, so there's just no way that's possible. Not to the mention the fact that he's using a silencer which, in addition to being completely unnecessary (you can't detect where a the sound of a rifle's coming from when surrounded by skyscrapers in an, ahem, 'Windy' city), it would render pinpoint accuracy on moving targets at these ranges (more than half a kilometer!) a complete impossibility.

I can accept this from Golgo 13 because, again, he's Golgo 13, the star of a comic about a magical above A+ class sniper who can do no wrong, but this is supposedly set in the real world, and that's just silly.

Now that Mick has become the focus of the killer's obsession, how can they use that information to catch him? Open letter in the media, challenging him to a sniper duel? If only.

Forest's pep talk to Mick lets us see the flashback from the opening flashforward, and it's just as redundant as everything else in the show! Luckily there's some new infomation in the offing when Garcia, as always, solves the case for them by finding a matching ballistics report of a kid who was shot years ago! And just in case we were complete idiots, the show spends five zooming in seconds on the older shell casing, which also helpfully has the cold case victim's initials written on it.

Wow, this is a bad show.

Outside of his murder shack the sniper is stopped by his older sister to talk about their father's upcoming memorial, and we finally get a look at the guy:

Who I swear has played a murderer in something else. I should check later... Anyhow, he's creepy, and also named Jason. So there you go.

The team is struggling back at base, trying to figure out some clue as to who their killer is, and where he might strike next (I don't know, maybe look into his first victim, guys?), and an offhand line of dialogue lets us know that he covered his tracks with the pager, and paid for the delivery in cash. Where was it picked up, though? And where are the calls to the pager coming from? This is all traceable stuff guys, and could help Janeane with her geographical profiling. Although since mentioning it at the beginning of the episode, it hasn't come up again. Maybe she gave up?

There's another page, letting the team know that the killer is about to shoot three people - which means that the show may be violating the 'save the third victim (group of victims)' rule.

Wait, spoke too soon, Janeane's computer, using science that's so ridiculously advanced as to appear magical (or terribly written) is able to predict exactly where the next sniper attack will take place. The cops rush down there and scour the scene, looking for anyone with a sniper scope. Jason fires a shot at Mick, but he saw the cope in advance, and is able to get behind cover and warn everyone else to do the same. There's a ridiculous scene where they chase a red herring through the building, while we wonder how the killer could have possibly escaped from a building that the cops were able to immediately surround while he was on the tenth floor.

Want to bet we never get an explanation for that one? We didn't ever find out how Tim Omundsen made it out of that parking lot when he was crouched in the trunk of a car, surrounded by an entire SWAT team.

The team finally checks sniper's family members against that original murder, and turn up Jason, who was both the son of a recently-deceased sniper, and a classmate of the dead guy. They rush over to his house and discover that he's left a suicide note, next to the card about the father's memorial service. The team then heads over there and locks down the building, while Mick puts together his own rifle, which he brought with him for reasons that elude me. He also attaches a silencer to it-

Which makes even less sense then when the killer did it.

There's only one question left - when Mick countersnipes Jason, will the bullet go through Jason's scope into his eye, like in the apocryphal story about Vietnam that Mick told earlier in the episode?

Nope. Disappointingly Forest got there in time to just arrest him. Sigh. Oh, Criminal Minds: Suspect behaviour - you can't deliver even the most basic entertainment value, can you?


Oh, except for Mick getting some of his frustrations out by having a stickfighting match with Forest at the end of the episode. Satisfying! Well, no, it wasn't. But it was a fair approximation of...

No, it wasn't even that.

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

God, no. They found a link to a previous shooting, then never explained why the guy took 12 years off from killing before going on the new rampage. Still, these concrete clues led them directly to the child of a sniper, and told them who did it. Very psychology-lite.

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

Checking ballistics and family members? Yup, conventional as it gets.

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


Would this episode have played out any differently had the regular team been running things, or was there some advantage to having a rogue Red Cell that operates 'outside the bureaucracy'?

Um... no? They were invited to consult in a completely traditional manner. The only difference was that they had a sniper on the team, but he didn't offer anything but the most facile insights, and he didn't even manage to snipe anyone.

This is four episodes in without the show even making it clear what a 'Red Cell' is, let alone why having one around would be a good idea.

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