Criminal Minds 425: To Hell...

We're back with the homeless and disenfranchised this week, as a wounded black man (bad legs) goes searching through the slums of Detroit, looking for someone. He's got a gun - is it a victim he's searching for, or something more benign? I'm guessing the second, because they rarely show us the killer's face in the first second of the episode. While he's busy searching fruitlessly, the real killer is abducting a drug user-

While driving a car similar enough to the black guy's that you'd almost suspect that the show was imply that he's the killer! And you know what? Maybe they are, and I'm just so used to the show's structure that I'm immune to their games. In any event, guy getting strangled is, like all teaser victims, not long for this world.

The black guy calls it a night, heading for the border to Ontario at Port Huron. He gets across the border with no trouble - because we're not crazy about that stuff - but then he freaks out, pulls a U-turn, and smashes through a checkpoint booth-

Which is way worse-constructed than you'd expect it to be! The black guy surrenders peacefully to the Canadian authorities, and suggests that they call the FBI, since he's apparently responsible for ten deaths in America! He's lying, of course, but I don't know why he wants to create an international incident. Presumably he has a good reason. More importantly, though, if you're ever considering doing something like this, don't do it at the border crossing - crash your car through something in front of a police station on the other side of a border. When the border cops hear that you're a mass murderer they might decide they don't want the hassle or paperwork and simply toss you back to the Americans.

The black guy claims that he's been abducting homeless people and dumping them in Canada - turns out he's a soldier, and he's missing a left leg. The team profiles him on spec before flying to Canada, but none of their insight is important because he's obviously not the killer. Who is the killer? We'll be finding out after the opening credits!

The soldier apparently kept careful details of the people he's been abducting, which I assume means that he's really looking for those people - while he was driving earlier he had a flashback to a woman, and he's just back from Iraq, so I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that his sister was one of the guy's victims, and now he's tracking other victims in hope of finding a connection! I say out on a limb, but what else could it possibly be?

The team arrives at the RCMP office, and we know that's what it is, because they're nice enough to put a poster of what they are on the otherwise completely undecorated wall-

It seems the head detective was trained by Joe in a fellowship for profiling in- whoa... hold on a second. Get a look at this!

Is it just me or is that the fakest backdrop you've ever seen? Where is this building that a street could possible be at that angle to the window? Also, the view seems to have wrinkles.

The team debates the likelihood of soldier actually being the killer - there's some talk about him 'fitting a profile', because you'd have to be clever and mobile to manage a border crossing, and his military background would give him the skills necessary to manage that. Okay, as far as I can tell, the only 'skill' he'd need would be to stuff a dead body into the trunk of his car. Not a huge investment of time or effort in that, is there?

They elect to play mind-games with the soldier, letting him stew in an interrogation cell while the team looks for evidence in Detroit. Talking to the homeless reveals that people have gone missing - but don't let us hear what's said. This is so we can be surprised when Greg reveals the information in their interview. That information? He was obviously trying to look out for the homeless people, not murder them. It seems the Detroit cops weren't interested in searching for indigents. As we guessed, he's looking for his sister, a drug addict who's been sleeping rough! It turns out that she tended to wear his old dog-tags for luck, which is a detail that wouldn't be mentioned unless we were going to come back to it later - so let's all look forward to the depressing scene where they use those tags to identify a decomposed corpse!

Now that the FBI are investigating, Soldier reveals the evidence he's been hiding - a phone call she made from the trunk of the killer's car! In a note that passes by uncommented-on, Soldier reveals that he pulled the whole 'Canada' thing because he got an army buddy to trace the call, and he found out it came from a Canadian tower. Why do I find it disconcerting that no one comments on this? Well, if what he's saying is true, the army not only has the ability to trace calls within the United States, which, you know, kind of violates their constitutional prohibition against doing just that, but that random soldiers are completely willing to toss aside their oath to defend the constitution if someone asks nicely.

Garcia comes up with a list of all the people who crossed the border on the days of the disappearances, but apparently hundreds of people made the crossing on all of those days, so the list won't be too useful. Unless, of course, you eliminate anyone who can be easily alibied (drives a bus across the border, passed the bridge as part of a longer haul), no motorcycles, hatchbacks, or two-seaters (she was in a trunk), crossed the border within an hour of the sister's trunk phone call (her cell tower was just over the line), and here's the big one - if the killer is bringing people over the border alive, then it stands to reason he wants to do something with them that requires some time - so look for people who match all those criteria, but didn't cross the border the day AFTER one of the abductions. Make those simple logical eliminations, and you'd go from a list of two hundred to something like ten. Easy enough to track down and interview ten people.

Anyhoo, it's time to meet the killer, now that we know it's not the soldier. It's a huge pig-farmer who ties people to tables so he can torture them somehow-

Also, there were a few shots from inside the house where the sound of a respirator played, so it's possible that he's doing all this murdering to somehow help a really old person. Head transplant like in that X-Files movie, maybe? Well, whatever the plan is, it involves smashing the hammer into the base of the guy's skull, and then presumably feeding the body to pigs. So what I'm saying is, I'm against it.

Poor teaser victim.

Just so we're absolutely clear that the killer is some kind of a deranged Leatherfacian mongoloid, the next scene shows him stumbling out of bed (he sleeps on a couch!) and having breakfast (which is pieces of ham torn off a cooked pig head!). Then, of course, there's the inevitable part where he removes something from the dead guy's body with a syringe. But what, and why?

There's some tension back at the office, as the Mountie doesn't want to release the soldier into the FBI's custody, although I'm not sure why. Okay, he wants to make sure that the guy is charged with driving a car at border officers, but it's not like the FBI are going to let him go. They'll let him help with the investigation, but then it's off to jail! What, is the Mountie worried the guy is going to run away? He's only got one leg. He won't get far.


Oh, and my 'eliminating everyone who doesn't go the next day' thing would have totally worked, since we learn in this scene that, like all the killers on Criminal Minds, this guy is a spree killer, and he's working in 2-3 day cycles. Half-wits.

They start working the streets in Detroit, and-

Christ, Reid, would you at least tuck that under your cardigan? You're in a foreign country, jerk. Have a little respect.

Garcia phones with info, referring to herself as Watson to Reid's Holmes (um, you've got that backwards, honey - do you not notice that you're the one solving these cases?) and it turns out that people have been robbing medical facilities right before every robbery. Based on the items that he's stealing, they figure that he's a 'sexual sadist' who uses the equipment to keep them alive so the torture can go on and on.

Of course, we already know that they're completely wrong, and that he kills the people with a club before extracting a white fluid from them. I'm going to guess based on the fact that he's got the corpse lying face-down that it's spinal fluid, although I have no idea what that looks like.

The team gives their pointless profile to the cops, telling them to look for doctors (because of the medical training, natch) who volunteer to perform extensive, painful procedures, since this would likely arouse them. What's wrong with this scene, other than the profile? They're giving it to the Detroit cops:

But why? Don't you know to a relative certainty that the killer lives in Canada? He's bringing the living subjects there to do his 'experiments' on them, after all - would he really risk the border crossing if that wasn't where his home base was? Why aren't you giving this profile to the RCMP?

Look, I know this show makes a lot of mistakes, but this is the worst one since they wrote the wrong name in a script (and then filmed it that way) back in the Season 3 premiere.

After the profile is given, Soldier has an acting moment when his mother arrives - but it makes no sense! He's upset that they called in the mother, telling her about the likelihood that her daughter has been the victim of a serial killer. His rationale - which is stupid enough that I'd give it the Prentiss Award if he were an FBI Agent - follows:

So you'd rather she think the daughter was on the streets than a victim? If you can get over bad news, but will be crippled by hope, wouldn't you be better off telling her that her daughter's dead, then giving her the hope that she might return from the streets one day? Start making sense, damn it!

Oh, and to remove all doubt, the show then gives a look at Mongo cutting up a dead body with a jigsaw and feeding the pieces to pigs. Because it's classy like that.

I know I say this a lot, but why is this allowed on television, even at 10 O'clock? Most episodes of Wire in the Blood weren't this graphic. Gosh, I miss Wire in the Blood. I should read those books.

That night the team searches the streets of Detroit, hoping to find out who's been stalking people. They also try to figure out how he's getting the men into cars - the women they get, it's as simple as abducting prostitutes, but how is he abducting men?

Yup. None of these FBI Agents have ever heard of male prostitutes. Also, possibly, none of the people who work on the show.

Half-wits. All of them.

They identify three missing prostitutes - two went with johns, and the newest, youngest one has mysteriously disappeared! In another clue, they notice that men were being abducted right after getting their welfare cheques! Aha! That's what the opening scene with a guy cashing a cheque at a motel was about - the crooked owner lets you get money there so long as you don't actually take the room!

And who's cashing her cheque there just now? It's the new girl who's gone missing! Now they know how he's finding his subjects - although since she's a prostitute, it seems like he should have found her that way... also, who would trust a bizarre Mongoloid who smells of pigs enough to buy drugs off of him? I mean, this is the ghetto - there have to be other people to buy drugs off of. More to the point, since it's not like this guy is likely making a living as a drug dealer (being a mongoloid pig farmer and all), why would anyone go to him? Shouldn't the people on the streets be getting a bad vibe from this creepy guy who no one has ever successfully bought drugs off of?

Also, the soldier has been scouring the streets for weeks, looking for anyone suspicious - and no one mentioned the creepy guy who smells of pigs and has been offering to sell drugs to people?

Okay, that was kind of a tangent. Girl gets kidnapped (although I'm not sure why she gets into the guy's car - or any of them for that matter - can't you deal drugs through a window? This would make more sense if he was hiring a prostitute), and the team just misses her - will she suffer the fate of all middle victims?

They get a description of the guy's car from the motel manager, and then alert the authorities - but the information comes too late, and she's already being loaded into a boat and moved across the river! So that's how he's getting them across! Although you'd think that would actually be harder than just using the bridge, what with all the patrol boats looking for smugglers. Also, at any point the victims (who are totally alive and awake at this point) could just jump out and swim for it, and there's not much the guy could do about it. I mean, sure, he's got a gun, but it's dark and firing it could attract a lot of unwanted attention.

So with the border covered, they try to figure where he may have crossed the river. The only guess that makes sense? He must have used old underground railroad crossing points! Why them, rather than any other random point on the river? For no reason! Seriously, this is just nonsense.

They find the car hidden in the bushes, and even though it's missing the license plates, they're able to immediately track the VIN to a farm in Ontario. Wait, if the car is so traceable, why lose the plates when that just draws attention when it's on the road? The team rushes to the farmhouse, and their cars heading up the drive keep Mongo from killing the girl - he instead runs off into the woods with her before they get a look at him. Which leaves the team to search the place. In the barn they find the medical instruments and bloody operating table, and in the main house they discover the evil mastermind behind the scheme-

Popular character actor Garret Dillahunt! But how is he running this whole evil scheme while being paralyzed from the neck down? I guess we'll find out next week, since this is a two-parter!

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

Is pattern recognition profiling? I'm pretty sure it's not. In fact, all of their profiling was wrong in this particular case. So there!

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

It was - although not as quickly as it might have been. The killer is a giant Mongoloid pig-farmer who has apparently been dealing drugs. How did a canvas of the area not reveal him? Also, who would buy drugs from that guy? Again, there must be less disgustingly creepy options, mustn't there?

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

We'll rule on this next week, yeah?


Anonymous said...

I love the part where Morgan calls Prentiss over to look at a shelf of medical supplies, saying, "This is definitely the place" (or words to that effect), then she turns a few degrees to her left and, shock horror, a gigantic table just dripping with blood! Writers: blood smells, and it's very bright - they'd have noticed the table first.

Anonymous said...

Also, Reid talks of clusters of men followed by clusters of women, but if the killer's only taking one man every two weeks when their welfare cheques come in, and he's taking ten victims a month, that's really more like man-woman-woman-woman-man-woman-woman-woman-man-woman which is quite a different pattern from what he implied.

Anonymous said...

How is no one commenting on the map of Canada!?!? Canada is not an almost island!! And Ontario is not in the middle of Canada!! Yeeeesh!!

Anonymous said...

Just a thought, don't use the word mongoloid. It's incredibly offensive. I haven't seen the episode but if he has Downs, say Downs, or go further and say Trisomy 13, but don't be a dick and use such an offensive term. You can't preach about the word gypsy over Romani and not follow through with respect for other groups of society.

Anonymous said...

"Well, whatever the plan is, it involves smashing the hammer into the base of the guy's skull, and then presumably feeding the body to pigs. So what I'm saying is, I'm against it." LOL you are THE best recapper.

Hanna said...

I think you missed an obvious Prentiss award moment when Reid says: "You don't just randomly know how to hook up a line to an infusion pump" and Dave answers with: "Or that O-neg is the only safe blood type for any victim"

Maybe I am overestimating the US public school system but doesn't everyone who paid a little bit of attention in science class know that? Also anyone who has ever watched any kind of hospital show. And people who have seen these cute little infographics that get posted on message boards from time to time. They already said that it is an organized unsub. So let's assume the unsub is capable of using google. Where does Dave get the idea that how blood types work is some highly guarded secret of the medical community instead of common knowledge?