Criminal Minds 502: Haunted

A child is running, and it's the past - we know this because everything is sepia-toned.

Is this going to turn out to be the 30s? Because I can't imagine any other reason to use sepia-toning for a flashback. Apparently not, because it turns out to be the memories of one Young Indiana Jones:

Indy is at the drug store to pick up some brain medicine, but his prescription has run out. He's unable to deal with this fact, and the situation quickly escalates to the point where he's shooting people with a gun stolen from an incompetent security guard. It's not entirely his fault, though - during the rampage he recalls being threatened as a child by a man with a knife, so he's almost certainly the victim of (child of?) a serial killer who survived his ordeal, but is much the worse for wear.

Over at Quantico the team is waiting impatiently to see when Greg is getting back on the job - we learn that this is a month after his stabbing (so there's the answer to my question from yesterday), and Derek's worried that Greg is coming back to the job too soon. Will he be able to focus while the Reaper is still out there?

I've got a better question - why are you working on anything other than the Reaper case? Why isn't the entire country on lockdown until this famous serial killer (whose face everyone knows) is apprehended?

Garcia and Reid are also talking about the Greg situation - oh, and Reid is still on crutches! They discuss whether Greg's going to be okay after his ordeal getting stabbed by the Reaper, and Reid volunteers that he wouldn't be. Which, you know, duh - that exact thing happened to you and you became a heroin addict.

The team hears about the case of the crazed Indy, and the team heads off to Louisville to capture him! Before that, however, we see that Greg is still living in the apartment where he was attacked, which seems like masochism to me. Oh, and here's a weird note - despite the fact that they know who the killer is, what he looks like, and where he lives, he hasn't been caught yet.

Despite the fact that he's on foot.

At the police station they look over the tapes of Indy's attack, and discover that he doesn't hurt people unless they grab or try to stop him. They imagine that there has to be some significance to the first person he killed, a stockboy who tried to restrain him. The fact that the stockboy had a box cutter in his hand that he was pointing at the killer (and wound up getting slashed with), doesn't seem like enough of a motivation to them. Because they're idiots.

Also, no one is mentioning that he's clearly mentally deranged, despite the fact that on the video he's holding his head like some playing charades trying to indicate “Mental Illness”. Joe and Emily go to Indy's apartment, and discover that he keeps the place unusually clean - perhaps he was in an institution?

Over at the pharmacy, the pharmacist reveals that Indy had been coming there for years, and that he freaked out when he discovered that his prescription had run out. She tried to placate him with someone else's pills, but that only made him angrier! Wait, hold on - if you wanted to placate him, why didn't you just get him his own pills, and then call the authorities? The team is sensible enough to get angry at her over this, but it doesn't answer the question - she knew he was on anti-psychotic medication, and she wanted him to calm down. As a pharmacist, wouldn't she recognize that the best way to do that would be to give him a couple of pills?

Greg also yells at Garcia for not getting the killer's medical records yet - and we're supposed to worry that he's being too harsh, but come on, a crazy man shot people at a pharmacy when he couldn't get his drugs. How was Garcia not on top of this already? It normally takes her 8 seconds to fully violate people's privacy. What has she been doing?

Meanwhile, Indy has headed to his doctor's office-

And someone on the production team doesn't seem to know that Psychiatrists tend to put 'M.D.' on their doors, so as to establish that they're actual medical doctors, and not just psychologists.

Garcia's incompetence gets the doctor and his patient killed, since they try to restrain him when they learn that he killed people. Turns out Garcia isn't the only person terrible at their job. The doctor actual took Indy off his medication to help him remember about his childhood abuse. So really it's bad doctoring that's caused all the violence.

With Indy's doctor dead, they're left without any clue about where they should go next. Garcia has an idea, however - his public records start at age six, and no one has any idea who he was before then? Except for the audience, who by now have to assume that he's the child of a serial killer. Outside, Greg is annoyed that he didn't notice a physical clue on the videotape suggesting that the guy was on anti-psychotic medication, which is all well and good, but the real problem here is that there's no way the pharmacist wouldn't have mentioned it to the first cop on the scene, so Greg really shouldn't even be part of the equation.

It seems Indy was picked up in 1975 on a dirt road, with no memory of his past life - he didn't even speak for a year! Which raises the question - how did they know his name was 'Darren Call', which they keep referring to him as?

The team also acts like it's vitally important that Indy stole his own medical file from the doctor's office, which is kind of a puzzling move. After all, it's not like the doctor did any independent research about Indy's life - he just wrote down things Indy told him, and added a few conclusions here and there. There's no new information in the file that Indy doesn't already have, so while stealing it leaves the cops one step behind (which he couldn't have mean to do), it certainly doesn't put him one step ahead.

His continuing flashbacks show us a lot of cages and children screaming, so, for the record, this is the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, which I'll explain in more detail below. The local cop remembers, helpfully, that a bunch of dead child turned up around the time that Indy appeared on a roadside. Also, one of the children escaped the murderer, and that's how the cops found out about it! Not that they ever caught the guy, or anything.

Meanwhile, Indy has headed to the orphanage where he grew up. Amazingly, even though they've known his background for hours now, there weren't cops there waiting for him. This gives Indy a chance to freak out, think some random kid is the boy who escaped from his father's murder-shed, and abduct him from the orphanage!

Logically the only place he can be headed is the evil farm where he can confront his father (assuming the guy is still alive) - but since the team doesn't know where that is, it could be a bit of a problem. It seems like the escaped child should have had a description of where he was held, but instead of checking the file they just go to talk to the survivor, who Garcia has located.

Greg bullies him into talking about Indy, and we learn that he helped the escapee get away, but was recaptured by the father because he couldn't run fast enough. Tragic. He'd been too ashamed to talk about it when he was a child, but that he's revealed that Indy was able to just walk around the murder-shack, there's only one possible conclusion to be drawn - that he's the son of the killer! Nice that they got there eventually, huh?

Since there was no mother around, they search death records matching demographic conditions (20s, child in 1969, dead by 1975, lived in the area), and come up with the mother, which naturally leads them directly to the father! It turns out he still lives in the same house as when Indy was a young lad - the murder shack was a machine shop at the edge of town! Now that Indy remembers the house, it's a simple enough matter to head over there to murder the old man!

Because the team is never happy leaving well enough alone, Greg rushes into the house to try and stop him. Because Greg isn't good at his job, Indy shoots the killer to death, giving us one of the show's few happy endings.


Then the grown escapee goes to talk to Indy, and it's all very touching. Except, given the circumstances of the escape we saw, I'm not sure why the escapee didn't mention Indy to his parents and the police. Did he feel guilty about leaving the kid? Sure - but shouldn't his main priority to have been trying to get Indy rescued? He told them enough details to let them find the burial sites, after all, it seems unlikely that the kid who saved his life wouldn't have come up in conversation.

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

Let's think... no. They connected him to a series of murders, and then used simple elimination to discover who the murderer was. Statistics are not psychology.

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

God, yes. It was flat-out incompetence that let there be a case at all this week. Not only was it flat-out unlikely that he could have walked across town without anyone noticing the twitchy mass-murderer, but they found out his entire bio early on, yet didn't station anyone around the locations he had a connection to in case he showed up there. Leading to a kidnapping and a death.

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

1/10 - Even though this episode was specifically about a guy killing because of a simple, diagnosable psychological issue, psychology didn't help them resolve the case in the least! Even when Greg tried it face-to-face, he still failed and Indy surrendered after finishing his 'work'.


The Wineville Chicken Coop murders occurred during the late 1920s, when a villainous rancher named Gordon Northcott and his mother Sarah would kidnap, molest, and brutally murder children from the surrounding area. The main focus of this episode - Indy's travails - is based on the life of Sanford Clark, Gordon Northcott's nephew. Brought down to the ranch to work, he wound up monstrously abused and forced to participate in Gordon's crimes.

The whole plan came apart when Sanford's sister Jessie came down from Canada to visit, as she was worried about the bizarre letters she'd been receiving. Profoundly creeped out by the farm, but unable to prove anything was wrong, she simply told the police that Sanford was in the country illegally, being held by his cousin, and that she would like him returned. The police grabbed Sanford, and while he was in the relative safety of a police station he told them all about the murders he'd witnessed. Gordon was executed for committing three murders, and Sarah was jailed for more than a decade due to her complicity in another.

Sanford's true life story went much better than Indy's fictional one - he went to a reform school for a few years, fought in World War 2, worked for Canada Post, married and adopted two children. Really, he's kind of the poster child for the idea that monstrous childhood abuse can be overcome!

As opposed to Young Indiana Jones in this episode, who sort of suggests that if you're abused, that's kind of it for the rest of your life. Oh well.


The Hoff said...

I see the difference between "Indy" and Sanford is that "Indy" was brought up by crazy, while Sanford had a relatively good life before the abuse started at the had of someone that was not his father. This might make it easier to "get over"? Don't get me wrong the episode was horrible.

Perpetual Beginner said...

One of my least favorite eps, which annoys me, because it's partially set in my current stomping grounds. Come on CM, if you're gonna do Louisville, make it a good episode, huh?

Anonymous said...

The worst episode so far; absolutely no need for the BAU team to have been called in- how incompetent re the local forces that hat can't catch a killer in broad daylight on foot!

Hannah Gillis-White said...

What I find most unbelievable about this episode, what bothers me the most, is that at the end of the episode Darrin goes to his fathers house with a gun with the intention of killing him and the police follow him, knowing his intentions. They swarm the house, set up a SWAT unit at this house, which happens to be right across the street from a damn school, yet they don't tell the school to bring the children inside for their safety? What if there had been a shoot out? Has no one heard of a stray bullet?

BedazzledCrone said...

I am 12 minutes in and this is the worst bunch of Whoooey I've ever seen. It may be just a TV shoe but it purports to have a level of/be based on reality.
I will say that the Count may not understand that in the United States, psychologists can often prescribe medication (depending on jurisdiction) - however, this is not the case in Canada. For certain, this patient would have been under psychiatric care, not seeing a psychologist. But the unbelievably cruel and incompetent therapy being practiced here has made me so angry. If the man was being taken off of anti-psychotic medication, he should have been hospitalized while it was happening. I am so angry at the license that the writers have taken to get .......what! A bad episode - I think that I am beginning to rant like the Count.
And why is everyone so worried about Hotch - he is right on all accounts!
And there isn't a pharmacist in Canada who wouldn't have suggested that s/he would call the physician to get a refill when they saw how agitated the person was - they would have also had a police person (note how few female cops there are on CM) trained to handle these psychiatric clients in a town as big as Louisville well in Ottawa, at any rate.
ARGHHHHHHHHH - and I am now going to watch the rest of the episode.

BedazzledCrone said...

Now, I have found out that the idiot is a psychiatrist - which makes this episode even worse. How did the man ever get his license?