Suspect Behavior 108: Nighthawk

Oh my god! This episode isn't opening with a title card awkwardly restating the terrible premise! Instead, there's a news guy interviewing Larry (of Larry, Darryl, and his other brother Darryl fame) about being a serial killer! Let's see where this goes... (other than nowhere interesting).

Also, I feel like that's a real news guy, but I don't watch enough American news that I can identify him by name. I'll check the credits later.

When asked 'how it began', Larry flashes back to watching some dudes walking out of a bar while wearing a menacing hoodie. He follows one down an alley and then full-on murders him! With a baseball bat! Because the guy didn't lock his car door when he saw a freak standing in front of him!

Anyhoo, the team is on the case immediately because two other guys were beaten to death within a few hours! That's three murders in one night, which is finally enough for the team to call it a spree - even though literally every case they work on qualifies as one of those. Forest also gets the Prentiss Award of the night-

So, in what way does that make him different from any other serial killer? Do they stop just because they get bored? Also, they'll stop when you catch them, which you do, since this whole episode is a flashback, apparently.

That's right, Larry is seemingly flashing back to Forest and the team having a conversation about him in their office - because that's solid, in no-way-confusing television!

Before we head on to the credits, though, we get another few words from Larry, describing his irresistible impulse to kill. Of course, that's not important, so, on with the credits!

While the team is at the crime scene, looking over the evidence and breaking down their assignments, Larry is washing all the murder-juice off his hands. Suddenly a rock is thrown through his front window!

Its message suggesting some kind of tragic backstory that explains, without excusing, his crimes! Although he's crazy, and this is a story he's telling, so this could all be in his head. As could the threatening phone call his receives moments later, prompting him to pick up his murder-bat.

Looking over the corpses in the morgue, the team discovers that all three men were physically similar, and wore glasses! So he's angry at a certain person - he also planned each subsequent murder more carefully, meaning that he's developing! Forest asks Garcia to search the computers for people recently out of jail, or mental patients who've been released in to the community. They also decide to check into violent criminals who wear glasses - hoping that the person who Larry's rage is directed at might already be in the system.

Larry, meanwhile, is begging for more work at his job - his wife is in the hospital, you see, and if he can't get more money to pay for her treatment, she's going out on the street! Which, naturally, just lets us all in on the vital importance of universal health care, a cause for which Larry would be a wonderful spokesman. If he weren't a mass murderer, of course.

Also, the show is making a pretty obvious case that Larry is trying to get back at a specific person with all these murders, which means when he was announcing that he didn't quite know why he killed people in the opening interview, that was probably a lie.

It seems everyone at work hates Larry, thus increasing the stress in his life. Some kind of a tragedy happened, and everyone blames him for it! When he gets some flack in the dining hall he starts tearing the place up, and his boss fires him on the spot, warning that if he comes back, the cops will be notified! Which is great and all, but just goes to show that this guy knows nothing about managing dangerous workplace situations - Larry is obviously the kind of guy who'd come back with a gun after being fired. Whether he actually does or not, the cops should have already been called when he physically assaulted that guy-

Just in case.

The team tries to figure out who could possibly be responsible for the crime, focusing on the physical similarities between the victims, assuming that has to be the key element. While this is true, it's also the conclusion that Forest and Blonde came to in the morgue scene, making this sequence wholly redundant.

Meanwhile, Larry goes for a hike in the woods and kills another guy who reminds him of glasses-man.

You know, this episode is getting farther and farther away from the idea that this is all supposed to be Larry's flashback. Just saying. Hearing a ringing phone from the victim's body, Larry answers it, realizing that he's killed the wrong person. He apologizes to the victim's mother, then pockets the phone, giving the police an easy way to track him!

In the next scene the team have arrived at the body, and notice that he's been covered with leaves - the phone call let the killer know that he'd killed the wrong person, and he was filled with guilt over the mistake! Which we already knew, but isn't it always comforting when the characters recap the previous scene's content for us? Really helps slow things down to that glacial pace we've come to expect from the show, doesn't it?

Oh, and apparently they can't trace the phone because it's been turned off. Even though I swear they said they could do that in another episode... well, hopefully he'll turn it back on at some point.

Forest then goes to try and talk some clues out of the mother - because there's nothing more comforting than Forest Whitaker's looming, overpower presence and his stammered, slurring speech. The mother does want to help, but Forest insists she go to the press, hopefully driving Larry out of the shadows.

Larry sees her press conference while he's fighting with the hospital about his wife getting thrown out for non-payment of bills - which I don't know if that's legal to do... he hears the pleas and is compelled to phone the tip line, which is being manned by the team! While waiting for the call the tip line Janeane mentions that the DC snipers phoned a few times and were hung up on - apparently she noticed all the 'linguistic clues', but no one would listen to her! So you see, if they'd just paid more attention to profiling, they would have caught the DC Snipers sooner! Or not, since they were calling to gloat, rather than turn themselves in. Still, it's nice that she's inserted herself into real-life tragedy!

A call comes in from, the victim's phone, and they act like it's going to be a big deal to trace it's location. As if all modern phones don't have GPS signals in them which constantly broadcast their exact physical location.

Larry demands to talk to the mother, but Forest won't let him, and instead tries to get him to talk bout his motives and desires. Larry once again alludes to a tragedy that people held him responsible for, but once again he refuses to be clear on just what it was. After he hangs up Garcia announces that 'cell phone triangulation' is able to pinpoint the suburb he was calling from, but nothing more than that. What about GPS, Penelope? So you can find the only schizophrenic person in a state in five seconds, but you can't access one of a phone's basic features in one minute?

The mystery is finally solved when Larry goes to a desk and finds his glasses - the person he hates so much is...

A younger version of him! Dun-dun-dun! Wait, does that make sense?

The team figures from Larry's voice that he's sixty-ish, and then they tell the police to go get him! Not that this is particularly helpful information, mind you... Garcia then finds an old man who was accused of raping some children, causing a group of young toughs to beat him nearly to death with a baseball bat! Could that be their guy?

Of course, not, his backstory clearly has to do with an accident of some kind, and his presumable wife. Everything he's said has phrased his defense as if something wasn't his fault. You either did or didn't rape a child - it couldn't be an accident for which you can deny complete responsibility.

This doesn't keep the show from doing the ridiculously overused 'Silence of the Lambs' thing of having the team knock on a door while someone else knocks on Larry's door - intercutting between the two in order to make us think he's about to be caught! Except he's not, since there's still like fifteen minutes in the episode. The knock on Larry's door was just somebody leaving a dead body in a garbage bag. Larry immediately goes to visit his emotionally shattered wife, who's in a nursing home, able to do nothing but stare blankly ahead. Since he plans to kill himself he tries to do away with her first, but chickens out when actually pushing the pillow into her face. He stalks off, unsure what to do next - but then out in the hallway he sees another guy with glasses!

What's the twist? This time he doesn't kill the glasses guy, but the bald guy he was walking with! The team rushes to the scene, trying to understand the change in MO. Has the glasses guy been kidnapped? Is the body nearby? What's going on?!

Larry calls back, hoping that Forest can explain this compulsion he feels to murder. Then he announces that he has ten victims! Forest points out that there have only been five, and Larry responds that even if he didn't hold the weapon, he's responsible for all of them! Janeane thinks they should look into other unsolved murders in the area, even though she's supposed to be a psycho-linguistic expert, and he's pretty clearly stated that he's talking about something he didn't do, but feels responsible.

Garcia comes up with the five bodies Larry is talking about - there was a serial killer a few years back, and it was Larry's son! Okay, so it's his son that he's killing, not a younger version of him! That makes sense. They rush to his house, looking for clues to where he might be! In a needlessly confusing twist, it turns out that his interview from the beginning was something he did with his son a few years ago, and not his own interview after being caught! Well, at least that explains the bizarre structure stuff, right?

And hey, didn't Garcia say that she'd be able to track the phone if he called again? What happened with that?

Forest and Janeane go to check in on the wife, while the team takes apart his house. They find the threatening letters and dead animal - so who's stalking Larry? It turns out there's an angry father of one of his son's victims who's been messing with his life in every way possible - he must be the only logical next victim!

The team rushes to the house, but the dad didn't actually require saving. Larry just went to the house hoping that the dad was going to kill him. He tries to provoke the guy by talking about his daughter's suffering. For some reason the team tries to talk the dad out of killing the mass-murderer. Tragically, they're successful, and Larry is taken off to jail.


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

Not especially. They spent a lot of time discussing the victimology, but it wasn't until Larry actually called them and started revealing personal details that they had any idea of his identity. I'll give them a little credit for having the mother go on television, but since he'd already apologized to her, it doesn't really count as insight.

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

Had the team never gotten involved the same number of people would have died, and Larry would have been killed by the angry dad, rather than arrested. Which, all in all, would have been a better outcome.

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'?

God, not in the least.

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