Suspect Behavior 105: Here is the Fire

For the fifth week in a row Suspect Behavior opens with a restatement of its premise. Which makes five weeks in a row that a completely unnecessary title card has wasted ten seconds of our time. Couldn't that time be better spent better explaining why CBS airs the same show twice in a row? Hell, I don't remember NBC airing SVU right after Law and Order (and if they did, it doesn't matter, since the shows are so vastly different).

Anyhoo, the show proper opens with a hilarious CG map that I'm going to present here, because come on, Criminal Minds-

This cry for attention stuff is just getting sad. If you wanted people to notice you, you should have had that heroic sniper shoot the guy in the eye last week. At least that's not something we see on television much.

Seriously? You zoomed in on a map, and then gave us the location chyron anyways? What is wrong with you people?

So there's a high school, and a creepy guy carries an attache case into it. He stops in a bathroom to water his face because he's so nervous, then heads into the principal's office. Then he uses the PA system to tell everyone to go to the cafeteria so that he can make an announcement. Is he going to blow them all up with a bomb? Probably. But I'm not sure why the hallways are packed with people to hear his PA message since, according to the clock-

It's not even 8AM yet. What time does high school start these days?

Anyhow, looks like he never made it to the cafeteria, since only a single classroom window blows out. Thank heavens for small favors, right? Then the director of the FBI (Richard Schiff!) gets a note about the bombing, and immediately calls his best man (Forest Whitaker) in on the case!

Okay, based on that scene one of two things is going on here. A: Someone at the network was as confused as I was about what a 'Red Cell' is supposed to be. B: This episode was supposed to be the pilot, but it was so weak that it got pushed back to episode 5.
By the way, the fact that a bomb went off isn't 'Intel'. That line mind wind up being our Prentiss-award-winner of the night, which would be the first time a non-cast-member wins it!

Also, remember how much I mocked them for working out of an abandoned gym?

Turns out it's a functioning gym. With an FBI office in it. God, this show is stupid. Also, an obviously looped line in this scene suggests, again, that this is a pilot, and Janeane wasn't originally on the team.

Flat-out proving that this was originally the pilot Janeane gets her own introduction (befitting the second-most-famous person in the cast - in the pilot we saw she didn't even have a line - okay, that's an exaggeration. She had two lines.) where she drives up, announces she's an anti-terrorist specialist, and hands the cop on scene some stimulants to make sure he's up to the task of solving crimes.

Seriously, that happens.

More stupidity - the cop announces that they've got an 'evacuation going on now', which suggests that somehow there would be anyone left in the building. Quick timeline - bomb goes off - FBI gets called (~ten minutes), message gets to director (~five minutes), director calls Janeane out of a seminar and has her drive to Fredricksburg, VA (~30 minutes). It's a minimum of forty-five minutes after the bomb went off - maybe firefighters are still working, but how could the building not be empty?

They send a robot in to search for another bomb, and we learn that somewhere in the neighbourhood of a hundred people were injured in the bombing! And a note announces 'Here I am'! They may have a serial bomber on their hands!

Okay, it's official, this is the pilot. Garcia's even getting an introduction shot:

With the murder map visible and everything! Not that she's used it in three years... Anyhoo, Garcia looks for bombs that went off in the last six months, hoping that there was a trial run. Meanwhile Sniper, whose name I've forgotten since last week, and murderer, whose name I never knew, are looking over the scene.

As far as we can tell all of the damage was contained in this one hallway, which makes me wonder how a hundred people could have possibly been injured. Hell, take a look at the hallway just pre-bomb.

You know who I really feel sorry for? The principal's family, who were undoubtedly being held hostage to get him to do that. Which makes him a real scumbag.

Also, making sniper look like kind of a dolt, he suggests that the bomb could have been left in a locker the night before, even though the walls are all crushed inwards, meaning the pressure wave was in the middle of the hall when it went out - the proof of which is the blast mark on the floor that he'd just pointed out.

Then, confusingly, we see the principal being interviewed by the blonde agent, meaning that the clever editing was lying to us, and he didn't suicide bomb the place after all. Good to know. He claims that he was nervous because he'd been diagnosed with cancer, and that he was going to be announcing it at an assembly. They find a piece of bomb in the hallway, with the words 'Here is the fire' written on it. Hence the episode title, I guess. Is it an anagram, or just a literal message?

The team goes for a local student who'd been jailed for arson in the previous year. In his locker they find a gun and some drugs, but no proof of explosives. They find the kid in the yard, he pulls a gun and runs, proving he wasn't associated with the bombing, and the team chases after him and tries to talk him down.

Is that whole 'finger on the side of the barrel' something cops actually do? I get that if you want to prevent a misfire while running or walking it makes sense not to have your finger on the trigger. But all the time I see cops on television pointing their guns at someone they might have to shoot in less than a second, and they never have their fingers on the trigger. What's up with that?

I should check how Timothy Olyphant rolls on Justified. He loves shooting people.

Forest then makes his own bid for the Prentiss award, announcing that they shouldn't keep checking into the principal now that they've confirmed that he actually does have cancer. Look, maybe he's not involved, but isn't this the opposite of exoneration? You people are always talking about how a 'stressor' leads people to start mass murdering, and the guy just found out he's going to die. Shouldn't that heighten your suspicion of his involvement, rather than lessen it?

Going over the text of the message, Forest notices that it's a bible quote. Is it a religious thing, or just a crazy person! Garcia also finds a place where someone set off a bomb - one group heads over to the churches to check them out, while the rest decide to investigate the explosion site! Oh, and the FBI Agent who's a murderer's name is 'Sims'.

Somehow they've convinced themselves that the bomber is both a 'family anihilator' and a 'personal cause bomber' - because the bible passage was about Abraham killing- wow, they didn't even re-edit this slightly to hide the fact that it's the original pilot. I didn't even notice until this scene that Forest's talking to Janeane like he's only now just meeting her.

VID 2 (~18:55)

I'm not saying that this is the sloppiest-produced show on television, but when your actress says 'babbling book' instead of 'babbling brook' and you don't even bother asking for a retake, maybe it's time to admit you need to be in another line of work.

Finding three crosses near the site of the bomb tests, they talk to the local minister, and he announces that he recently baptized three boys in that river! The father had just lost his wife and fourth son in a birth gone wrong, so he had his other three sons baptized! Wait, he's super-religious and they weren't already baptized? What? Anyhoo, the working theory is now that he's using his sons as walking bombs. I'm sure we'll find out why soon enough.

The youngest son is currently on a schoolbus - is he going to blow up a bus full of children?Or do they have completely the wrong guy? They can't just call the bus, it seems, because they're out of range of cell phone towers! Don't school buses have emergency radios or something? What if they break down in the middle of nowhere? Meanwhile, the evil dad is checking his watch, waiting for the bomb to go off!

Suddenly I'm less afraid, because I really feel like this show isn't going to blow up a bus full of middle schoolers. And true to my prediction, the team is able to pull the bus over, although not without some difficulty getting the driver to notice them. Seems like if you'd brought some real cops, you know, with a siren and all, along with you it would have gone a lot better. For next time, keep that in mind, huh? In a move that makes absolutely no sense, they clear all the children off the bus, leaving their bags inside, which creates some tension, because they miss one kid, and have to run back, blah, blah, blah, my point is, wouldn't you be better off getting that kid's backpack off the bus and tossing it into the woods? Sure, it's going to throw off some shrapnel, but you know what's going to make pretty good cover for that? A bus. And do you know what's going to throw off more shrapnel than a pipe bomb?

A bus.

Okay, so that's one successful bombing, and one failed. Except for the ruined field trip, obviously. Now, where is he going to be sending that last son? Searching the guy's house they find a video he made of his family, but it's not a huge amount of help. They want to figure out his ideology - which is going to be tough, since there aren't a lot of those that involve blowing up dozens of strangers' children.

They interview the son who was almost blown up, but don't get a huge amount of help. He does mention that the dad gave them all infinity-themed keychains, and that 'everything ends where it begins', which is probably code for 'I'm going to have my third son blow up the hospital where my wife died'. Of course, I'm not a big-time profiler, so I could be all backwards on this one.

Also coming to my conclusion is Forest, who finds a notebook detailing the guy's obsession with the idea that it would be immoral to bring another generation of children into the world. Which is totally a reason to blow up a hospital, I guess. They trap him just outside the hospital, and he claims to have a bomb, but the other son doesn't seem to be with him, so it may be a ruse.

Note - here's the situation when they're preparing to shoot the guy:

Now take a look at the guy they're going to shoot.

What's wrong with this picture? See that cop just over the fat guy's right shoulder? He and his partner are just hanging out by their car - directly in the FBI agents' line of fire. They know the FBI agents are there aiming guns - they're looking right at them. So why are they staying in it? Why aren't they clearing the civilians who are behind them (not visible at this second, but they're there in other shots) further from the possible blast radius and definite line of fire?

Because this is a remarkably badly-staged show.

That's the bullet going right through the guy's wrist and - miraculously, not hitting the cop directly behind it. Lucky!

There wasn't a bomb in the briefcase, though, and he refuses to tell them where the final bomb-boy is. Although we already know where he is, because when we last saw the two of them together, the dad was saying that he'd just got word that the other sons were 'injured', meaning he's clearly dispatched the kid to the hospital where the school bombing victims were taken.

But how is the team going to figure it out? Oh, they don't have to, his school ID was waiting at the hospital. Convenient!

The team rushes over to the hospital, and while they're heading in the son does the smart thing and takes the backpack off his back. Meanwhile Forest heads in to talk to the boy, first taking off his vest, reasoning that if the bomb goes off, 'it's not like it'll do much good anyways'. Well, um, unless you consider 'stopping nails from flaying your internal organs' good. It really depends on how far you are from the bomb, dude. Wearing the vest just narrows the fatality radius.

Forest finds the kids walking around, still carrying the bag. Despite the fact that he knows that his dad sent him into the hospital to die. This would not have been my first reaction. Turns out there wasn't a bomb in the backpack, though! And he claims not to know where it is! Oh, hey, turns out the bomb where his wife died and the one with all the kids was the same hospital. Weird. They head off to the maternity ward, looking for the bomb in the room where the guy's wife died, although I'm not sure why the dogs didn't find it. There's a funny line where they mention that the maternity ward is 'over an oxygen line - if that bomb goes off, it's all over!'.

Except the bomb is made out of gunpowder and nails. Even if there was an 'oxygen line' somehow directly below it, there's no way any of that stuff is going through a solid concrete floor. Anyhow, Mick (that's the sniper's name, I just remembered) disarms the bomb, and we've got ourselves a happy ending!

Except for a scene where Mick and Forest talk about how tough it is being back from war, man. Wait, Mick is recently back from the war where he was in the special forces? When did he get a psychology degree?

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

Kind of - they used their understanding of the guy's inciting trauma to figure out where he was going to strike next.

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

They tracked down a site where similar bombs were tested, and followed an obviously religious connection to the nearest church, where the minister told them who the killer was. Not exactly psychology-heavy this week.

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'?

Even though the episode literally opened with Richard Schiff explaining how crack and elite the team is, had you just reassigned the lines in this episode in the following fashion: Mick/Derek, JJ/Blonde, Janeane/Emily, then combine Simms and Forest lines into a group and split them between Greg and Joe, with Joe getting the religious/insight lines and Greg getting the ones about chasing people and giving orders - absolutely no one would have been able to tell that this wasn't originally written as a Criminal Minds episode.

Which doesn't say much for this show's unique voice, considering that this was clearly intended to be the original pilot.

Oh, hey, and I checked - here's how Raylan and his partner hold their guns when they may have to shoot someone.

So, there you go.


Anonymous said...

That scene from Justified was pretty kickass. I had kinda forgotten that his partner was a sniper.

Anonymous said...

So, I see from this episode that Mick is supposed to be a Welshman. When I heard that I actually had to replay it to make sure I'd heard it right. That is the least Welsh-sounding accent I've ever heard in someone who claims to be Welsh! I googled the actor and apparently he grew up in Gorseinon; his parents are called Evans; if he went to Welsh schools he ought to speak at least a bit of Welsh - and that's his accent? I'm deeply confused by this. Did he have to change it to suit American audiences? How come he decided to mangle it up with a bit of English and Irish? The guy barely even sounds British to me - he sounds like an American doing a terrible British accent. And how many Welsh boys are called Mick?

Anonymous said...

You always have such enjoyable and entertaining reviews. I haven't actually watched an episode of suspect behavior yet, just the original. After reading a couple of your reviews, I don't think I could. I let it slide pretty far with criminal minds as is - this show is just asking for too much lol.

In regard to the whole finger on the side of the gun thing, that is actually quite common with just about any service that trains with firearms. It's actually one of the first things they teach you during firearms training because if your finger is in the trigger well and something, say, pops up behind you and scares you, the body's natural response is to tighten up, which could lead to an accidental discharge.

Paige said...

My high school started at 7:30, ugh. I remember thinking how harsh it was to ask teenagers to wake up so early.