The episode begins, as so many do, with people being murdered. This time, however, there are two twists - first, the killer is a son Menendezing his parents at the behest of a pretty girl, which isn't something we've seen on any of these shows yet, and second, this all happened ten years ago, so the killer is safely behind bars! Possibly because the crime was witnessed by the guy's little sister, who escapes being shotgunned to death because one or both of the killers is admirably soft-hearted.
Oh, and they wrote a message on the wall in the parents' blood. We don't get a look at it yet, though.
Meanwhile, in the present, the team are working out in their office which is, again, inside a working gymnasium. Which makes complete sense. They're all waiting around for a job, while Forest Whitaker is talking to Richard Schiff about the murdering woman from the opening - it seems that she convinced three teens into killing their parents, as well as shooting her own mother to death, and Richard's profile contributed to having her sent away. Supposedly this profile has been called into question, and now she's asking a judge for a new trial!
But what could have people doubting the work of profilers? Did people other than me discover that they never do anything?
Okay, let's just pause for a second to bask in the idiocy of the concept that someone would go from the BSU to being the director of the FBI. Okay, done laughing yet? No? Take a few more seconds, because this is about to get really funny.
The judge is willing to reopen the case because Richard put in is profile (and I guess testified on the stand) that the killer's signature (killing parents with shotgun, writing “The Time is Now” on the wall in their blood) was 'unique', but there have been two other copycat murders using the same MO in the intervening years. Which means, I suppose, that it's no longer unique?
How could that possibly get her a new trial? How could copycats years later make that initial profile less valid? That's like saying the fact that there was a Zodiac copycat somehow makes analysis of the actual Zodiac's letters unreliable. Nonsense. Also, let's not forget that there was a witness who witnessed her in the house like two minutes after that murder. Unless they killed the little girl. Which I hope they didn't do.
Richard wants Forest to go to LA and explain profiling (and its infallibility) to the court. Why Forest? Greg is busy on a case in Central Florida. Hey, wouldn't it be great if one of the episodes this season actually took place in Florida? More importantly, wouldn't it demonstrate just how shoddy this show's production is if one of them didn't? Hopefully I'll remember to check when I'm reviewing season six of Criminal Minds. In like seven months.
Forest is heading out on his own, leaving Janeane in charge of the team, which is totally going to lead to wacky hijinks about which I don't care at all!
Then there's a quick scene in the killer's cell, where she's writing her catchphrase over and over again in a notebook:
Is she responsible for the copycat murders somehow? Is that where this is going? Well, since this is an episode of Criminal Minds, I'm going to predict “Yes”. Or she's going to escape. One of the two will happen after the opening credits.
Forest arrives at the courthouse, where the propmaster apparently had an off day, forcing the DP to cover for the fact that no actual protest signs were written.
There they meet the local ADA (Eric Roberts!) who's been handling the appeals on the case. Also there is the former ADA (Giancarlo Esposito! Seriously? Star-studded this week!) who convicted her in the first place! They're hoping to make all this go away quickly, despite the fact that the killer's lawyer is pretty sure that he'll be able to get a new trial, and undo the 'miscarriage of justice'.
The judge questions Richard (seriously, the DIRECTOR OF THE FBI doesn't have better things to do?) about the signature at the crime scenes, which he claimed was 'identical' at each one. I'm not sure how that's possible, since in each crime a different person killed the parents with a different weapon, and she never painted the blood on the wall, but let's move on. The lawyer also points out that the 'signature' didn't resemble the time the killer murdered her mother, a case that they weren't able to link to her with any forensic evidence at all!
Richard announces that forensics don't matter, since the killer stalked her mother, she must have done it, and Forest will testify to the validity of the profile! The defense lawyer doesn't want Forest on the stand, however, since he's apparently got some kind of a shady past, where he was doing classified work for the government. More importantly, though, his basis for calling profiling into question is that two of the jurors only found the killer guilty because of Richard's testimony - if it's false, then she shouldn't have been convicted! He seriously says 'false'. About someone who gave an opinion. Half-wit.
While leaving the court, Forest (correctly) fixates on the word 'false' - he considers it to be something other than bad writing, in fact, he basically implies that the defense thinks Richard is lying! But why would he?
Then we take a glimpse back to Washington, where wacky office stuff happens. And again, like Greg's brother (was he a chef?) showing up that one time, I don't care at all!
A little later on, Eric is headed to his car, and discovers that it's been vandalized! Blood is smeared everywhere, and the windows smashed! Is he in danger?
Amazingly, no! And he even refuses protection for his family, despite the fact that the killer only ever uses surrogates to kill people for her, and there have already been copycats of her crimes - so how could he possibly be in danger, really?
The whole team arrives in LA to help out, finding the new copycat while Forest works on Richard's profile. Amazingly, no one saw the vandal, because if there's one place there aren't a lot of videocameras, it's a courthouse parking garage!
We finally get a little more information about the original case, looking at Richard's interview with the teen who murdered his parents in the opening sequence:
Please note not just the disgusting gore shots (of which we get multiple angles), but the fact that Richard's beard hasn't changed at all in a decade! You find a look you like, and you stick with it, by gum! You know, I'm being sarcastic, but he pretty much looks the same now as he did on The West Wing.
It seems that Richard couldn't break any of her murder associates, who she seduced into killing people for her. So she was convicted entirely based on the little girl's testimony? I'm confused. It seems that the killer was abandoned at birth, grew up in the foster system, was homeless for a while, then tracked down and murdered her mother! She then found seemingly normal but secretly damaged teen boys, and convinced them to murder their own parents - and she was charged with all nine murders at the same time. Forest goes over all of the evidence, trying to get a sense of what the hole in Richard's profile is that has the defense attorney so confident it will all be thrown out! There doesn't seem to be one, however, since the killer seemed to be recreating the mother's murder over and over again, but Forest is sure there's something he's missing!
This leads to Richard offering the Prentiss Award-Winning line of the night:
So they'll shut down the profiling department if this case doesn't go well? Presumably the idea is that if Profiling isn't useable as evidence in court, they won't be able to justify keeping the BSU open. Which would make sense, if profiling was ever used as evidence in court. It's rare enough in real life, where real evidence rules the day, but in the world of Criminal Minds, every single killer is caught red-handed. Often literally.
That night someone breaks into Eric's house and paints the message on a bedroom wall while he and the wife are asleep - and somehow they're not awoken by the fact that the prowler shines a flashlight in their faces-
Who could this mysterious prowler be? Giancarlo Esposito, who has no reason to be in the episode so far? Nope. How do I know? Well, Eric and his wife have a sullen and resentful teenage son-
Just the type that the killer likes to recruit! But how did she get in touch with him? And why didn't he kill his parents?
Forest goes to see the killer in her cell, and they chat a little about her crimes. She's calm enough talking about her psychology, if not her specific crimes. The killer is less comfortable discussing her mother, however, and completely freaks out when the topic of her death comes up! Could this be the flaw in the profile Forest was looking for? He calls up Penelope, asking her to search through the mother's murder files, hoping to find some clue to the killer's behaviour.
It's another busy day at court, with Eric Roberts now wearing a bulletproof vest, and the now-grown witness showing up to talk to Richard! Okay, she's alive, good. I've got to ask, though, how did this lawyer even get a hearing on this case? This is a woman who was publicly dating three boys who murdered their parents, and a witness saw her at the crime scene. How vitally important could the profile have been, let alone the wording of his testimony? This is the most rock-solid circumstantial case of all time.
Oh my god, remember what I was saying about the bad protest signs earlier? Check out this scene-
That's a bunch of peace signs glued to some construction paper. Did they just reuse protest signs from another show? How cheap are these people?
Forest finally gets around to testifying about the killer's narcissistic personality disorder, but the judge again focuses on the word 'unique', reminding Forest that her actions have been copycatted since. As if that somehow invalidates the profile. Look, I know judges are elected in parts of America, but this kind of bad logic is possibly the stupidest behaviour I've ever seen attributed to a fake jurist. He talks some more nonsense about the 'signature', but since he's never explained just what this 'signature' is in this case, or how it differs from those in the copycat cases, he might as well be making a high-pitched whining sound for all the information he's getting across.
The defense tries to discredit him by alluding to the 'lost time' in his records, but it's complete fishing - the guy knows nothing about Forest's backstory. Which make's Forest's volunteering that he's been trying to 'make amends for the things he's done' by catching serial killers kind of a bizarre move. Way to kneecap your own credibility, genius. Then he asks if the killer has taken responsibility for the death of her mother, and she freaks out again!
Penelope calls Forest during the recess, and it turns out that she's discovered the reason Giancarlo Esposito is in the episode - he covered up the fact that a man was seen fleeing the crime scene when the killer's mother was gunned down! The team thinks this makes their case completely fall apart. Even though the killer's MO is to have men do the killing for her. They immediately report Giancarlo's malfeasance to the judge, which causes this show to do something that completely rewrites the scale for bad writing. Seriously, I don't know the last time I've seen something this stupid-
The judge lets her go. That same day. Because there's a possibility that she might not have killed her mother.
What about the six other murders? She was circumstantially linked to four of them, and an eyewitness saw her at the site of the last two - at best, this revelation could get her a new trial. She'd never be out of custody, though, not until she was cleared. Which she wouldn't be.
Man, is there no depth to this show's stupidity - in the very next scene, Richard explains why the killer was let go - she was only convicted of the murder of her mother! Wait, what? They had the best circumstantial case in the history of crime, and they only managed to convict her of the one she (maybe) didn't do? The little girl offers to lie for them in court, and say that she heard her brother and the killer plotting the crime - Richard dissuades her, suggesting that she could go to jail for perjury. Well, only if you tell on her, dick. More importantly, though, she doesn't have to lie - she saw the killer at the crime scene - that's enough evidence! Also, couldn't they get the other teens to testify against her? Sure, ten years ago she seduced them into killing for her and keeping quiet, but it's been a DECADE. Those three boys have been in jail all this time, more than long enough for at least one of them to have had a change of heart about their eternal love for the serial killer that made them kill their parents.
I don't care how this wraps up. This is the worst-written episode of Criminal Minds: Suspect Behaviour yet. I can't imagine how the next three could lower the bar any further.
Also, there hasn't been a murder this week.
You know what? Let's just wrap things up. The son painted pig's blood on his dad's car, not because he had any connection to the killer, but because he wanted attention, and picked the worst way possible in which to ask for it.
The killer went over to the little girl's house, and confessed to all the murders. Yup, she just wanted to get out of jail so she could confess to all her crimes as a free woman. Oh, and by the way, in the scene where they were rushing to the house to arrest the killer, guns raised, Richard Schiff, the DIRECTOR OF THE FBI went with them.
Because it completely makes sense for him to go on a raid. I now hate this show.
Oh, it turns out she really didn't murder her mother, and Forest offers to look into the crime for her. Sweet, right?
Then things wrap up with more office hijinks and- ah, screw it.
1 - Was profiling in any way helpful in solving the crime?
No crime, no solving. Oh, wait, the vandalism, right. Yeah, they solved that by checking who'd been buying pig's blood lately. The son had been.
2 - Could the crime have been solved just as easily using conventional police methods given the known facts of the case?
They asked a butcher who did it. Pretty sure a couple of uniforms could have handled that, and they didn't have to waste twenty thousand dollars in jet fuel.
So, on a scale of 1 (Dirty Harry) to 10 (Tony Hill), How Useful Was Profiling in Solving the Crime?
N/A - I'm confused, was she found not guilty of the six parent murders? They said she was charged with them, but not convicted. If she was found not guilty, she can't actually be tried again, but if there was just a hung jury on those charges, and she was convicted of her mother's murder, I suppose the ADA just didn't bother re-filing, although that should have been cleared up in the actual...
You know what? I've spent more time thinking about this episode than the people writing it by like a factor of ten, so I'm just going to let it go.
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'?
Oh, good lord no. This episode actually full-on states that the only reason Forest is on the case is because Greg is busy. Excellent work making your characters seem like hollow, pointless fill-ins, show! I mean, they obviously are, but it's weird to hear Richard Schiff actually saying it out loud.