The episode kicks off with a blood-soaked figure monstering his way through the woods. Is it a Jason? A Madman Mars? Some other manner of boogins? Nope. He is missing half his face, though, the sight of which manages to scare a couple into running for the hills!
It seems the man was a marine who'd been camping in a private military park, which is apparently a real thing. Who knew? The team isn't able to track down any similar crimes, so they head over to the crime scene to look for evidence. The team tries to figure out how the killer could have crept up on a soldier, who was theoretically a light sleeper! They assume he must have been taking sleeping pills, and move on. They then describe the likely events of his death which, naturally, have nothing to do with helping catch the killer, and are kind of a waste of time!
The autopsy reveals that the man was hammered into submission before his face was carved open, which is a decent clue, but again, not a lot of help. They finally do find a connected case, though - a runaway girl's body was found, with the left side of the face removed! Garcia gets a profoundly stupid line, when she announces that the victim was alive for hours after the attack - how could they possibly know that if the corpse was found weeks later, badly decomposed, having been partially stripped by scavengers?
The combination of wooden hammer and worker's rag leads them to believe they're looking for a blue-collar killer. The fact that an airgun was used to separate the second victim's skin for easy removal, improving over the technology of the knife that was used the first time, suggests to the team that the killer isn't actually trying to kill people, just steal their skin in the best way possible! It's just that he sucks at it. So why could he be fixated on skin? Well, based on the title, I'm going to guess transplant?
They show a family member the marine's effects, hoping for a clue - and they find one! The plastic cooler didn't belong to him, and must be the killer's! This confirms my transplant theory, although I can't blame them for not getting to it as fast as I did. After all, they don't know the title of the episode. Hey, I thought this place was a working gym-
Now they're using it to store an examine evidence (that hasn't been fingerprinted or processed)? Does that creepy old janitor know about this?
For the record, yes, that's Forest picking up - with his bare hands - the cooler that they've just identified as belonging to the killer. Half-wit.
He also has a crazy plan, stupid enough to win him the Prentiss Award of the night:
Okay, first off - you don't know when it finished melting, so what are you going to base the reverse-timing on? Also, you don't know how much dry ice was in there, which could throw off your timeline by as much as hours, even if you had an endpoint. Finally, how do you know he didn't drive a van to his hunting ground, and fill the cooler from a larger container of dry ice only when he arrived? They'd better not pursue this idea, because there's nothing about it that isn't idiotic.
Oh my god, this episode gets stupider and stupider - blonde walks in and points out that the killer can't be looking for new skin for his own disfigurement, it has to be someone else. Why? Because if it was his own skin that was damaged, he'd just use a piece of his own body as the source for the replacement flesh. Which means the stolen skin has to be for someone else!
Wait - what? If there is another person involved (which there is, obviously - title gives that away), wouldn't giving that person a graft from elsewhere on their own body make more sense? This is based on a kind of solopsistic logic that suggests that there's some central difference between yourself (I can only have permanent grafts from my own body) and other people (but anyone's skin should work on anyone else, right?) - more to the point, though, since they're clearly dealing with a crazy person who believes that they can steal skin from people and use it to fix a face, why are they expecting him to have a rational understanding of the limitations of the insane science he believes in?
Meanwhile, the killer shocks a woman to sleep with a taser, and carves off part of her face. For some reason, even though he cooler clearly has a scalpel lying atop all the ice-
The killer elects to do the actual cutting with a rusty, broken razor blade.
Amazingly the woman is fine, and is able to tell them that the killer said he 'promised' to get the skin. Meaning it has to be for a young woman. Given the type, they guess that it's likely a father seeking out skin for his daughter, which is borne out by a cutaway to the home where the killer keeps her captive.
I'm calling it right now - she's perfectly fine under the mask. There are only two possible twists at the end of the story - the mask that he forbids her to remove covers no injuries, or she's just a corpse he imagines is alive. They've already done the corpse thing twice (Mitch Pileggi on regular CM, the lynching guy on this one), so I'm betting she's fine. Why am I so sure that the episode will have to have a twist? It's a terribly written crime show. Of course it's going to end with a twist.
A surgeon confirms that not only can skin not be put in a cooler and expected to survive, but even if you sewed it to someone's face, the recipient likely wouldn't survive the resulting infections. This isn't stopping the killer, though, who's already planning to kidnap the woman who works at the bakery where he's buying his daughter's 16th-birthday cake! Oh, that's right - it's her birthday, and the new face is supposed to be a present!
There's more evidence from the body offering them clues - there was paint in the wounds, which means that wherever the compressed air gun was charged up, there were particles of paint lying around. That's solid evidence which will hopefully point them to his career!
Okay, this show just went off the rails. While talking about how the killer might be trying to remake a face not because it's injured, but rather because it's not beautiful enough (idiocy! Although it's tipping off the twist ending), blonde starts making the case all about her, and complaining that at her sister's swearing-in ceremony, their dad referred to the sister as 'the smart one', making the blonde 'the pretty one', it's explained. She plays the victim for a little while, wondering why her father doesn't know how much she's hurt by things like that, and I'd like to point out that maybe he's not entirely wrong. I mean, if you were the smart one, maybe you'd be a judge too, and not fifth banana on a team of dangerously incompetent would-be crimestoppers.
They try to figure out what kind of profession might allow people someone to think that they're a decent enough surgeon to sew a new face on. Mick suggests that he might be a tailor (like in Silence of the Lambs!), while Simms offers 'Taxadermist'. They decide to run with taxidermy, looking for anyone violent in the area. They find a guy just a few miles from the park - a man so crazy that he attempted to kill a bear with a knife! Apparently it didn't go very well, although I'm not surprised, give the guy's weediness:
The team heads out to talk to him, and winds up ambushed for their troubles.
Yup, he blasted out their front window with a shotgun, yet managed to miraculously avoid harming any of the three people inside. How is this possible? Terrible writing! You know, writer/producers - you could have just had him shoot out their radiator.
The show then goes all edgy and handheld to show their action packed raid on the house. Which includes, and I'm not kidding here, Forest Whitaker throwing a flash grenade - which he apparently carries at all times - in through the window. Also notable in this scene? Mick still idiotically refuses to put his finger on the trigger of his gun, despite being literally three seconds away from firing.
Cool that he bought James Bond's gun, though. Got to give him that.
Busting in two things because immediately evident. 1: It's too early in the show for them to have caught the real killer, and 2: this-
Is profoundly not the weedy guy from the viewscreen earlier in the show. Check it out-
What's going on here? Was the role recast or something?
While the team figures out that the poacher isn't the killer, the captive breaks into her dad's workshop, and finds some bloody tools and butchered pig parts - it's the victims for the transplant practice he's been doing! Which for some reason includes a string of razor-blades connected by plastic.
The captive confronts her father about the dead pig, and it turns out that he's the weedy guy from the screengrab earlier-
So, what, they just stole a shot of Simms in front of the board from later in the episode? Weird. Anyhow, he berates her about not messing this his stuff, and demands that she not question his plans to use madness-influenced surgery to fix her face.
Out at the poacher's cabin, an amazing coincidence leads them to the killer - it turns out the poacher ran a stitching class, and one of the students wanted to pay by trading some painting services! That matches the paint in the wounds! This should lead them right to the killer - who, BTW, heads over to the bakery and kidnaps that girl. This leads to the second-most preposterous line of the episode-
Yeah, 'unsub' is a ridiculous niche term that profilers invented so that they could pretend they were smarter than people who say 'suspect' or 'killer'. No way on earth a uniformed cop uses it.
Based on the name from the cake, they start searching for painters with a daughter with the unusual name 'Kristi Anna'. Oh, and this scene back at the base is clearly where that shot was stolen from. Blonde continues making the case about her - to the point where Forest has to follow her out of the room to discuss her daddy issues. Yawn.
There's just one guy with a history of spousal abuse, and it turns out that after kidnapping his daughter, he held her face too close to a stove! Yikes! Since they know that he owns an air compressor, they reason that the kind of painting he does must involve airbrushing, so they make the leap to stencil work! This gets them the name he's living under, and the team rushes to the house, just in time to save the teen who's about to be cut up!
Wait, what? Time was of the essence, and how were there no police officers closer to the house?
Well, whatever. It's time for the reveal of the big twist, but before it happens, the show reveals that it has maybe the worst message of all time. In trying to address her own daddy issues, blonde (whose name is Gina! Hopefully I'll remember that when writing about next week's episode. Although since it's the last one, I doubt it will matter) explains to the daughter that her father was motivated by love, and that 'some fathers will do anything for their children'.
Yes, she actually says that. She tells the daughter that it's essentially her fault that those two people were murdered, and the third mutilated. At this moment she could have said 'it happened because your dad is a madman whose guilt drove him into complete psychosis - making him completely responsible for all his actions, and you are every bit as much of a victim as the people he killed'. She didn't, though. Because she's a horrible psychologist.
Oh, and as predicted, the daughter's face is fine-
Except for another three minutes of Gina making the case all about her, and asking for approval from Forest, her father figure.
1 - Was profiling in any way helpful in solving the crime?
Um, no. Carefully gathered evidence and amazing coincidence were responsible.
2 - Could the crime have been solved just as easily using conventional police methods given the known facts of the case?
They were - except for the unbelievable coincidence.
So, on a scale of 1 (Dirty Harry) to 10 (Tony Hill), How Useful Was Profiling in Solving the Crime?
1/10 - Even if there had been good psychology used, I'd have docked this episode all of its points for the incredibly bad job Gina did of comforting that victim. You suck at life, Gina.
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'?
Another week, another Suspect Behavior that could have served as a massively disappointing Criminal Minds script.