Criminal Minds 426: And Back!

We pick up right where we left off last week, as Mongo runs through the woods, carrying the kidnapped girl (whose name I should learn, since she's gone from 'middle victim' to 'designated rescuee') over his shoulder. He pauses to look for something in a clearing, and the girl runs for it, but doesn't get far, since she's too incompetent to keep from tripping over her own feet. The one upside? Derek and Emily hear screaming in the woods - they don't know where it's from, but at least they know it's alive. Meanwhile the team talks to Garret, demanding to know where the victims are. For some reason they let soldier come along with them on the raid. Because that can only go well, even if they make him stay in the car.

Garret demands that they leave his house, as they have no right to be there. He even uses a voice-operated computer to dial 911, which is great and all, but kind of makes the team look like idiots. Why? They don't unplug his microphone. While that might sound cruel, look at it this way - let's say you busted into an apartment, looking for a serial killer, and found him sitting in front of his computer. While assessing the situation, would you allow him to keep typing at that keyboard, or would you, mindful of how easy it is to destroy evidence on a computer, immediately take it away from him? Not only do they not instantly secure the computer as evidence, but Mountie takes Greg aside to complain about the fact that Garret can't possibly be the killer. He even announces that he'll be taking Soldier back to jail, where he's happy to charge the man with murder. This, despite the fact that they found a blood covered table and all of the stolen medical supplies. Moron.

As Mongo hides the girl in an underground bunker, Derek and Emily find a bin with 'over 100' pairs of shoes. Seriously? Over 100 victims and nobody noticed? I know Detroit is bad, but it's not the slums of Rio for god's sake!

Finally they get around to securing the laptop, and Greg calls Garcia, telling her to get on the next plane to Ontario so she can do a forensic recovery. Um... wouldn't it be smarter to bring the laptop to her? I'm sure there's better equipment at the FBI offices at Quantico than she can bring with her on a plane in one hour.

Kelly, the latest victim, wakes to find Mongo huddled and rocking in the corner, so stressed that he can't even communicate. In case you're wondering about his mental state, here is how he elects to decorate his secret bunker-

Again, we're expected to believe that this man successfully posed as a drug dealer in Detroit?

Joe heads into the house to talk to Garret - his first move? Taking down all of the mirrors that he uses to observe the farm, which, admittedly, is a really good headgame to play on a quadripelegic. Garret keeps claiming that Joe doesn't have jurisdiction, but Joe announces that 'almost every cop in Ontario is on there way, and they do' - which is a decent enough line, but way too hyperbolic. You're in Port Huron. You might get cops from as far away as Toronto, but what would be the point in driving eight hours to help search a pig farm? Ontario is big in a way that doesn't really sink in unless you actually have to drive across it.

Joe tries to talk Garret into giving up Kelly - that being his only card to play, since he's obviously going to a prison hospital for the rest of his life. Garret is cagey, of course, it's way too early in the episode for him to give anything up, and this is as good a time as any to point out that Garret Dillahunt, while a wonderful actor, has basically the worst possible accent for the character he's playing. Unless we find out he moved from Virginia to Ontario when he was a kid his voice makes as much sense as having a Spanish person playing the part.

We then cut back to Kelly's travails, trying to calm Mongo down so that she can be taken to a hospital. Mongo proves uncooperative:

Um... did it occur to anyone that portraying Garret's partner as a barely-functional mental deficient might make the entire plot of the first half of this two-parter completely untenable? Seriously, how could that guy have ever convinced anyone that he had drugs to sell them? Or that he was a safe person for a prostitute to get into the car of, for that matter? Did they hope that we'd forgotten the first half of this two-parter when watching the second?

Turns out I was wrong about Garret - he immediately starts spinning his story about his brother being responsible for everything. Which is the least believable premise ever, but let's see where he goes with it. Joe knows he's lying, but plays along, hoping Garret will give up Mongo's location. He doesn't but he tries to get the cops ready to kill his brother, mentioning that Mongo is inhumanly strong and violently insane. It's a clever play, since a dead brother won't be able to say what's really happening, but I doubt that'll be enough to keep him out of jail.

The next day cops are searching the grounds for Mongo and Kelly - they even bring bloodhounds, which won't be as effective as bloodhounds actually are, or else this would be a very short episode. Turns out they have 89 pairs of shoes, and now they've got to try and figure out who they belong to! Oh, and a side comment lets us know that yes, they're Ontario natives and Garret's accent makes no sense. He's a compelling actor, though, and his monologues about how inconceivably vicious his brother is are fun to watch. I hope the humourous effect created by the counterpoint between these scenes as the depiction of a stumbling dope are intentional, because if not, someone needs to introduce the producers of this show to the concept of 'tone'.

Okay, it wasn't on a decomposing corpse, but my prediction about the dogtags being used to confirm the death of soldier's sister was completely accurate.

Searching for some clues about Mongo's mindset, Reid searches his loft above the barn, finding more crayon drawings - each one featuring a creepy eye up in the corner. So I guess he feels like he's always being watched by Garret? Reid is able to determine that he's childlike and retarded, although I don't know if it counts as 'insight' when the subject is like 40 years old and his main avenue of expression is crayon pictures.

Derek and Emily walk through the woods, looking for some sign of Mongo's hideout - I'm confused about Garret's plan. If he wants them to shoot Mongo, why isn't he telling them where Mongo is? Maybe he's waiting, hoping that Mongo will kill Kelly, and therefore become more shootable, but for a clever guy, his reasoning kind of sucks. Who's more likely to provoke a shooting reaction in the police? A confused retarded man stumbling through the woods, or a vicious, threatening retarded man who's actively keeping a girl hostage?

Also, during the search Derek feels like he's found the correct time to complain about how no matter how many serial killers they catch, there's always more out there, making him feel like Sisyphus. Which is a hard problem to feel empathy for, since Derek lives in a fictional world that is literally full to bursting with serial killers, necessitating a group of 24/7 obsessives to track them. By comparison, in the real world there aren't that many serial killers, and it doesn't really matter how hard profilers work, since they've never actually helped catch one.

Hey, remember how I announced that if the dogs should have been able to find him with relative ease, because that's what they do - easily find escapees? The show tries to explain why that doesn't happen by suggesting that Mongo crossed a river. There's a problem with the location chosen, however.

Yeah, it's only two feet wide, barely qualifying as a creek. Now, Mongo's not smart enough to walk through the water for an extended period of time, so there's no way this would stymie the dog, but even if he did, the river is so shallow, slow, and narrow that there's no way his scent would be all over either bank. Oh, Criminal Minds, is there anything you can't get wrong?

There's some more stuff in the basement, where Kelly can't stop crying about her predicament, and Mongo tries to apologize to her. He's just dumb, you see, and doesn't really know what he's doing - so she tries to make friends with him, in a twist that can only turn out badly.

Oh, hey! Garcia has finally cracked the laptop's encryption, and discovers what Garret was doing! He was using his brother to perform experiments to repair his spinal column! Garret freely admits what he was doing, asking 'would it be better if it was for nothing'? Hey, hold on a second... does this mean he's been shooting spinal fluid from all these different people into his body? Shouldn't he have AIDS by now? The scene ends with Garret announcing (supposedly) chillingly that no jury would ever convict him because who could believe that he was able to kill anyone?

Um... they'll believe Joe, when he testifies that you confessed to him, which you just did? And Garcia, who just witnessed the confession. Are you not paying attention? Also, there was a cage full of rats in the farm attic - did you confirm this whole 'spinal fluid tranfer cure' thing with them, or go straight to human testing? If so, shouldn't you be dead from transfusion reactions by now?

Unfortunately for Garret, while he's gloating about not being convictable (and mentioning, correctly, that jail will be no different from his regular life), soldier is sitting outside the window, listening in! Man, that cripple's going to get so murdered! He's additionally motivated by Greg being terrible at his job, announcing that, in his expertise as a former prosecutor, they might not be able to get a conviction against Garret, since he obviously didn't touch any of the victims. Um... neither did Charles Manson, but he's in jail forever. Are you forgetting that he's got a laptop full of evidence detailing the evil surgeries he forced his brother to do? His defense that Mongo was an evil medical mastermind isn't going to hold much water in court, methinks. Maybe I'm overthinking this, though - the goal here isn't for any of this to be the least bit plausible, but rather to motivate soldier to kill that guy.

Down in the root cellar, Kelly talks Mongo into going for some food and leaving her untied - this is her chance to make her escape! But how? She tries the trapdoor, but it's locked pretty securely, and there are no other exits. She finds a working cell phone, but doesn't have time to use it before Mongo returns, so she hides it in her coat.

There's a ridiculous misdirect where the team sees someone stalking a rabbit in the woods, but it turns out to just be a random hunter. They ask him about Mongo's whereabouts, but he doesn't have any information to offer. Not that they question him very intensely. The hunter says that he'll just wander home eventually, which is great and all, but no one follows it up with 'is there an area he likes to wander in, or go hunting, or anything like that?' Half-wits.

This proves especially negligent when it turns out the root cellar is a sort of preposterous underground hunting lodge that his family build when they were younger. Then he brings up, out of nowhere, that he wasn't responsible for Garret's injuries, which means he was, naturally. Garret fills Joe in on the situation in a cutaway, claiming that Mongo was enraged by his plans to sell the farm to pay for a new medical practice in the big city. That's what he gets for enraging a frightened mongoloid.

Kelly manages to talk Mongo into letting her outside to 'go to the bathroom', while Garcia tries calling Mongo's cell phone over and over again. It's going to work now, since Kelly's outside of the cellar! She tries dialing the phone, but its keys are locked out - all it's capable of doing is dialing the laptop - so she tries that! She talks to Garcia, but doesn't have a lot of information about her location to offer - but it doesn't matter, since Garcia was able to get a precise location from the cell towers!

The team rushes into the woods, hoping they can save her in time. Which they can, because they always do.

While the team looks for signs of the entrance, Mongo breaks down in tears, angry with himself for hurting his brother. Kelly tries to comfort him, and get him to turn himself in, but there's literally only one way this can end - which is exactly the way it does: They notice markings on the trees directing them to the entrance (although you'd think the wooden planks on the forest floor would have tipped them off-

Then the team storms the bunker and shoots Mongo dead when he rears up, surprised. Derek is distraught by the SWAT Team's actions, but I'm not sure why. Would it really have been better to lock the retarded guy in a tiny prison cell for the rest of his life? Is that the ideal outcome Derek was hoping for? Remember, this is Canada - there's no death penalty, so he would have been in that cell for like 40-50 years.

Meanwhile, back at the farmhouse, soldier finds himself an unattended shotgun - yes, that's right, someone left a full-loaded shotgun just leaning against the porch, that really happens in this episode-

And kills Garret with it. You know, writers, if you wanted this to be less preposterous he could have just stabbed Garret. Or pulled his oxygen tube loose. Hell, he could have unplugged the machine. It's not like anyone would have noticed until the guy was long dead. Also, that would have made Garret suffer, which matches soldier's emotional state a little more closely.

So, with all the bad guys dead, the episode is wrapped up with everyone flying home, seemingly unhappy with the result of their investigation. This leads to Greg doing a voiceover that counts as the Prentiss Award-winning “line” of the night!

I like the whole 'we couldn't find a quote' for this episode conceit, but the rest of it is just nonsense. 'She'll never go back to being a child'? Yeah, she was already turning tricks on the street for drug money. Pretty sure that ship has sailed. 'Gave the rest of himself'? Um, between emotional distress and the fact that the guy he shot was the worst serial killer in Canadian history, somehow I doubt soldier is going to be spending much time in jail, Greg.

Also, not cool counting the murderers in among the victims, dude. That's an insult to their suffering.


Oh, except for the cliffhanger when the Zodiac Killer shows up in Greg's apartment and shoots him.

Which was pretty shocking, I'll admit, but it would be more of a nail-biter if I wasn't perfectly aware of the fact that Greg survives to next season. I've been really good about avoiding all spoilers about future episodes, but between seeing Greg in ads (on mute) and having him mentioned on Suspect Behavior, this isn't the most effective cliffhanger to watch in retrospect.

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

Yeah, not at all. I think the numbers are going to show that this was the least profile-y year ever for the show, and this episode is the perfect capper for that trend. Absolutely no profiling going on in these past two weeks. They were wrong about every prediction, and just kind of stumbled into the killer.

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

It absolutely was. They tracked the victims to a common location, and the motel owner gave them a description of the car. When that car never crossed the bridge, they found it by the river. Not a complicated series of events, this one.

Also, I just want to reiterate one last time that the depiction of the killer as such a drooling moron that I was justified in dubbing him 'Mongo' is completely 100% incompatible with everything he's supposed to have done to grab victims in the first episode. No one would buy drugs from him, no prostitute would get into his car, nothing like that could ever have happened.

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

1/10 - I'd give it a zero, but this wasn't egregiously stupid.


Canadian farmers feeding prostitutes to pigs! Yup, it looks like they're broaching the Robert Pickton murders in the broadest way possible!

Robert Pickton was a British Columbia pig farmer whose hobby revolved around bringing prostitutes and drug addicts out to his farm, raping them, and then cutting their bodies up and feeding them to pigs. Sadly the details of the case aren't widely known due to a publication ban on the trial, but the short version is that many, many women were going missing from the streets of Vancouver, and the police were struggling for years to figure out who was doing it. Finally comments from a variety of prostitutes about Pickton's violent behaviour got the RCMP interested in him, and they wrote up a charge they knew they could get him on - possessing illegal firearms. This got them onto the farm legally, which provided them with enough incidental visual evidence that they were able to then go to the courts and ask for a warrant to look into him for the missing persons charges. Personal effects and decomposing corpses were found on-site, and that was it for Pickton.

Interestingly, his case had one of those maddening close calls that frustrate me to no end - in '97 Pickton had been charged with attempted murder when he handcuffed and stabbed a prostitute in the stomach. She'd managed to turn the tables on him and stabbed him repeatedly - they both wound up in the hospital, and the cops charged him. He was never brought to trial, however, because the victim was a drug addict, and her testimony wasn't considered to be viable in court.

Just why the cops never bothered to get a warrant to search his property at the time, based on the idea that someone who'd hire and then stab a prostitute might well have done it before and planned on doing it again in the future, is unclear, although since he'd already killed at least two other women and their bodies were poorly-hidden on his property, doing so back then would have likely saved somewhere in the neighbourhood of of 40 women.

Oy, that's depressing.


Anonymous said...

Actually, I don't think you were entirely justified in dubbing him 'Mongo', though I understand you did it for effect. He's clearly not a mongoloid (not that anyone uses that term for Down's Syndrome these days), and I really dislike that word. But, poetic licence and all, I acknowledge your right to do so and that the nickname did kind of aid the flow of your narrative.

He's also clearly not autistic, which that idiot Reid tried to suggest. Nope, no difference at all between autism and a severe learning difficulty (those were not the drawings of an autistic person, for reasons I won't go into here).

And yet another continuity error! The same drawing was in the bunker and in the loft - did he really draw the exact same picture of a purple horse twice? That's at least three times now I've noticed the same letter/picture/newspaper ad show up twice in the same episode, just because the props people were too lazy to do several different versions. Apparently we're not meant to be observant.

Anonymous said...

I love Criminal Minds but God this episode was dumb.

Tom from Detroit said...

The classic of the night by Reid: "Don't you get the idea that this isn't going to end well?"

Sheesh, with 100 pairs of shoes found it sure didn't start off well. What an idiot.

BTW, as far as I'm concerned, Greg was way better off with Jenna Elfman than he is with this bunch. Just Saying.

Tom from Detroit said...

I was exercising my remote fingers today and these two episodes were on again. Something you didn't mention (not that I can blame you -it was pretty dreary) was the part that Mongo was robbing medical supply stores. And getting away clean. Wow. Talk about stretching credulity beyond all limits.

Reid mentions these places were in the Cass Corridor. I lived in Detroit for 45 years, I can't think of ANY medical supply stores there.

It's episodes like this that drove me away from watching the show.

Anonymous said...

Port Huron is in MICHIGAN (an hour away from Detroit)!! The Blue Water Bridge, which looks nothing like the opening scene, links PH to Sarnia, Canada. Why would he drive to PH and take a boat across the St. Clair River (another writing error) and not cross the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, having him live in Windsor?

Also, they continued to state that PH was in Canada, even though the opening scene title was correct. Shoddy writing and timeline!!