Suspect Behavior 111: Strays

It's raining, and a young woman is standing outside, waiting for a ride. We're supposed to think that she's a shady person, or something shady is happening, but then her friend drives up and chides her for not using an umbrella. Hold on, though, if this is just a girl waiting outside her apartment for her friend, why wasn't she standing in the doorway?

Or at least under the balcony - either one would have kept her from getting soaked while waiting. Anyhoo, the girls drink and drive away from the curb, which can only end well. They're going to a warehouse party, but want to stop by and pick up some drugs on the way so that they can be sure to have a good time.

For those of you not paying close attention to unoriginality when it's on display, this is the exact plot of the film 'Last House on the Left'. I just wanted to let the producers of Suspect Behaviour know that we all know exactly where this is going. And also that they've already ripped off Last House on the Left on regular Criminal Minds. It was called Third Life, and wasn't a fantastic episode.

Okay, where were we? The girls arrive at the meeting with the drug dealer, and get freaked up by the fact that he's wearing a mask. This is the correct response, but, being women, they're too incompetent to simply drive away safely, and wind up running into a dumpster instead of running over the villain. Although this happened because the blonde girl grabbed at the wheel while the red-haired girl was trying to kill that guy, so she's either incredibly stupid or in on it. Since she's got an eastern-European accent for no discernible reason, it could well be 'in on it'.

The next morning Forest rushes into the FBI office on a call from Richard Schiff. It seems that red-hair is the daughter of a judge, and he fears she's been kidnapped. There's even ATM footage of her being forced to take money out! Forest warns the father that this may not be a kidnapping for ransom, and they may want to murder her if they find out she's someone of note! The judge takes this as well as he could, and then Richard moves Forest out into the hall for a private conversation, one that begins with the Prentiss Award-Winning line of the night:

What are we dealing with? You're the director of the FBI! And it was revealed last week that you used to be the head profiler at the BSU! So you're both in charge of the government agency in charge of dealing with kidnappings, and you used to run the branch of the agency which would be specifically called in to consult on those kidnappings - why on earth would you have to ask anyone else what to expect?

Red-hair, by the way, is still alive and locked up in a cage in a basement, where she's being held until she can be tortured to death or sold into white slavery. The show isn't being clear on exactly what's going on just yet. I'm sure they'll let us know after the opening credits.

Over at the judge's house the team is setting up their phone recording apparatus, and waiting for a call from the kidnappers. I'm not sure, but it seems like checking traffic cameras (all this happened in Washington DC, one of the most-photographed areas in the world) would be a better use of their time. Maybe Garcia's already on top of that and is just going to phone in a solution to the case at the 30-minute mark, the way she usually does?

There's a little bit of blather about how estranged red-hair was from her father, and wondering why the other friend hasn't been reported missing. Well, um, she's college-aged and lives in her own apartment, and it's only been eight hours. Who would have called the police - the cat? There's a little back-and-forth about the judge not trusting Simms because he used to be in prison, and Forest reassuring him based on the fact that Simms was pardoned. Which is all well and good, except for the fact that he actually committed the crime he was convicted of. I don't know the specifics of the case (because the show has neglected to mention them - thanks, show!), but just getting a pardon doesn't mean people shouldn't dislike you. I mean, Bush pardoned all the Iran-Contra guys, didn't he? I'm pretty sure we're still allowed to believe that they're scumbags afterwards.

Okay, enough digression. They're able to tell from the case of the crime scene that the second girl was in on the kidnapping, as I'd announced earlier. With that out of the way, Garcia drives down to the preposterous boxing gym/FBI office in order to run the trace while being on site with Janeane, who'll be supervising the call. Wouldn't it be easier for Janeane to go to Quantico, where all the good technology lives?

Tracking through local missing persons database, Garcia finds a dead body and three other women who have gone missing from 'known drug buy locations'. Hey, hold on a second - were there witnesses to these disappearances? How do you know where they were kidnapped from - the message is that since people are being grabbed while buying drugs, no one will notice that they're missing. Great observation and all, but just one problem - if they were all that disconnected from their families, who exactly did they tell where they were going when they disappeared?

The one corpse they've found was beaten and stabbed, which suggests serial killer, but the other three women haven't been found at all, which leans towards white slavery. Very non-committal, show!

Realizing that the friend was most likely in on the kidnapping, they struggle to get an ATM picture of her better than the one they've got. Which seems oddly unnecessary, considering the unbelievably high-quality of the picture they already have:

That's her on the right. What are the odds of doing any better? Also, they mention having to ask the father for his ATM records, since the daughter has been drawing funds from his account. Which is a little crazy, since the team regularly asks Garcia to illegally search people's medical records - who cares about banking history privacy?

Wait, hold on a second, if her bank accounts were empty, and she was using someone else's card on the night she was abducted, how did they have that picture in the first place? The presumptive way they found it (in fact, the only way they could have) is by searching her banking history, then checking the tape where she'd taken money out. Except she wasn't using her own bank card - so how did they track her to that ATM?

God damn it, Suspect Behavior, can't we get the slightest amount of internal consistency, please?

Simms goes to ask the father about the ATM card - he's sent solely because it would be socially awkward, especially when you consider that there are two other FBI agents just hanging out at the house who could have asked the dad for his banking records. Isn't having Simms drive over there just a huge waste of time? In a situation where every second counts?

The most ridiculous part? Once the judge says yes, it turns out that's literally all the 'help' they needed. Garcia immediately starts searching the files. So why not just call him? Oh, right, it's so that Simms can have a heart-to-heart with the judge about loss and whatnot. Which is totally useful when trying to catch a serial killer/white slaver.

They get a better picture of the friend, although not a whole lot better, and they start sending it around, hoping someone knows her. Meanwhile, red hair is joined by another kidnapping victim - we discover in this scene that it's actually both a serial killer and a white slaver! How is this possible? When the killer takes out a knife, the “friend” protests that he's not supposed to kill them. He's so aggrieved by being told what to do that he stabs the friend to death! Which, in case you needed more evidence, is yet another reason you shouldn't work for a white slaver.

The friend's body turns up in an alley - based on the physical evidence they figure he kept her in line by giving her heroin. Janeane offers the second stupidest line in the episode this scene, when she announces that another woman has been reported missing in a drug alley:

You do have another missing girl, moron. You just said so. What you 'may' have is another victim of the same killer. And how do the police keep getting reports of 'abductions'? Are there witnesses? No? Then why aren't they just missing people?


The show then cuts to the house that the girls are being held beneath:

Which may or may not be the same rooming house that Michael Jai White was staying at in amazing movie Blood and Bone.

The girls in the cages commiserate about their situation, discussing the inevitability that one of these days they too are going to wind up doing what the friend did, and luring girls back to the serial killer for his evil harem. Which is a ridiculous idea, and, if true, would completely invalidate my 'white slavery' theory which, admittedly, is entirely based on the 'friend' having an eastern European accent for no reason.

Now it's time for a profiling scene, where they make broad guesses about who the killer might be. Their terms? He's living in the area (duh), white (of course), has a history of sex crimes, but not violent ones because the dead girls weren't raped (again, duh), and is so shy that he'd be unable to buy drugs from any of the dealers in his all-black neighbourhood, and would therefore have a medical history of being treated for glue-sniffing (wait, what?). This eliminates the suspects down to a single man, who they rush to the house of!

They're too late, though - the house is empty, as are the basement cages! They chase him down in an alley and tackle him easily enough, but where are the girls? He must have turned them over to his buyers already, the monster!

Okay, if this isn't about white slavery, I'm going to be really surprised.

The killer refuses to speak to Forest, possibly on instruction of his lawyer, but I'm not sure, since that guy doesn't have a line, which seems odd, given that he should be protesting his client's arrest, given that they apparently got a warrant to enter his homw based on NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER. Seriously, the closest they got to proof was an unfounded assumption about his personality that they backed up by illegally searching the medical records of everyone in Washington DC. Christ, would it have been so hard to show them interviewing a neighbour who saw the dead friend leaving the house with him? You could have cut that useless 'bank records' scene to get it in there!

The only thing he'll say is that he doesn't know where the girls are, which the team interprets as possibly referring to a psychotic break. And not that he handed them off to someone and is covering for his partner in crime. Maybe it's unfair that they'd get to this conclusion, as they didn't know about the friend's accent, but still... in fact, Forest's own lack of attention to the facts of the case is shown into sharp relief by his response to the judge's questions about whether his daughter is dead. Forest's response? That the guy likes to display his victims, and since he hasn't done that with the daughter, she's probably dead.

What about the three other missing girls over the past six months, Forest? That's a total of seven girls and only two bodies - why are you assuming the dead ones would have to have been found?

Richard orders Simms to try and talk some information out of the killer - the reasoning being that, as a criminal, he'll be able to offer some new information. His trick? Draw a chalk line on the floor, so that the killer will be able to see just how tiny the cell is going to be in! This is the worst plan ever, since he can't offer a deal of any kind - the guy is going to jail forever. Seriously, all Simms says is that if the guy gives up the girls' location, he can have a one-man cell. Which you can also get by stabbing your roommate, if that's important to you. Unsurprisingly, no information is received.

That night they head over to Forest's creepy one-room loft where he does his odd shadow paintings. He points out what we noticed last scene - if the five girls are dead, where are the bodies? They finally come to the only logical conclusion - white slavery - but it's based on incredibly obvious evidence that we weren't told about. It seems the prison area was filled with alcohol wipes, towels, and hair brushes, so as to better maintain the girls' appearances. Yet they weren't raped. Yeah, there's only one thing this could mean, and they should have been there hours ago.

Now they have to figure out who runs the crime in central Washington! Mick sends out pictures of the dead eastern European woman, hoping she'll be on Interpol's watchlist. She is! Now they just have to figure out which of the local drug lords that the friend was working for! They go back to question the killer, and confront him with their knowledge about who he's working for. Richard and Forest play a little good cop/bad cop until the killer gives up the name of his boss - although, as always, I'm not sure why he does it. They're not offering him anything but life in prison, and it seems odd that he's sign up for crossing a mob kingpin based on guilt alone.

Nonetheless, the team rushes over to the warehouse where the girls are held, although Richard has to be dissuaded from coming along. Forest thinks he's too close to the case, what with the victim being his goddaughter and all, but I've got a better reason for him not to go. He's the DIRECTOR OF THE GOD-DAMNED FBI and should be busy PROTECTING AMERICA FROM TERRORISM. Seriously, this is super-president level stupidity.

The cops bust in on the warehouse, a guy who's played a hispanic mobster in every other show is in the middle of running a slave auction:

One guy gets shot, operating under the insane belief that you could win a gunfight with the FBI. One problem, though - red-hair and her blonde friend are missing! They've already been taken to the brothel of an evil Russian mobster in the suburbs! However will they find her? By mentioning to the head mobster that red-hair is connected to important people, meaning that if he doesn't give it up, he'll be tortured to death in Guantanamo!

This leads to a quick raid of the brothel, and the rescuing of all the girls there! Including red hair, who was just seconds away from being raped by a fat guy - he's a fat guy just so the show can punctuate that she was in a bad situation. As if we needed that visual cue.


They head to a bar to chat about the day's events, and Mick comforts Janeane over shooting someone. She's slightly bothered about the fact that she's okay with having shot a guy to death, but Mick correctly reminds her that there are bad people in the world, and sometimes they need to get shot.

Meanwhile, Forest works in his apartment on one of his creepy paintings.

Yes, that's right, every time he finishes a case he does a creepy painting representing the facts of it, with the killers as black shadows, and the villains as white outlines.

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

In a sense, yes. It was a little on the magical side, since they found the guy by jumping to the conclusion that he'd have a history of being too cowardly to buy real drugs, which was both correct, and based on absolutely nothing. Especially when you consider that

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

The goddaughter of the director of the FBI was kidnapped. In real life Washington would have been placed under covert martial law until she was turned up and everyone involved was behind bars.

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

4/10 - Profiling definitely came in handy, although I have to dock them points for it being the fake, utterly magical kind of profiling.

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'?

You'd think, what with this being a kidnapping case with a high-end victim and political relevance, this would be the perfect place to show how a 'Red Cell' operates differently than the normally team, and is somehow vitally important. Except back in the first season a senator (governor?)'s daughter was kidnapped, and the regular team was there like five minutes later, keeping things quiet at the behest of the higher-ups.

So no, I'm still not clear on why they exist.

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