Criminal Minds 504: Hopeless

A group of three rednecks are drinking beer and watching a video of the time they murdered a bunch of yuppies in their house. Unlike the 'Funny Games' people from season three, these guys don't dress neatly or have some scheme behind the killing. They just rush in and beat people to death.

The team hears about the case - it's a poor neighbourhood where there's been a lot of vandalism going on lately! And the victims were part of the gentrifying force changing the place for the better? What could the motive be? They point out that it's unusual for vandalism to escalate to four murders overnight - and spree killers (which all serial killers are, remember) rarely stop with just one house full of dead people!

The team heads down to the crime scene, where they meet Brad from Prison Break, the detective in charge of the case. He's understandably upset by the state of the bodies inside. Based on the number of people attacked, and the ease with which it was accomplished, there must have been at least three killers. Assuming that the same group was responsible for all of the vandalism, the team notes that they escalated from cars to businesses to a home before killing people. The killers, meanwhile, are busy at their job working construction - taking time to be super-creepy to everyone around them.

The team runs records for impoverished men between 25-45, but wind up with 700 names. Which they act like is an impossible figure to track down, but they've got a police force of thousands to work with - even if just seventy officers were tasked with helping out (not unreasonable given they're trying to stop a spree killer), that would be just ten guys for each of the officers to talk to. Tell them to look for guys who are particularly resentful of authority, and who live or work with at least two other men (This kind of pack behaviour requiring constant reassurance), and you'd narrow it down to the point where any cop could probably spot the guys.

They don't do this, of course - instead they talk to the families of the victims,  hoping that they'll have information about threats or clues to the identity of the killers. Derek winds up talking to the pretty black lady-

So expect complications from that down the line.

Over at the crime cave, the rednecks are looking at a video that one of them has made of the murders, all full of loud music and bright flashes. One of the rednecks is still brooding about being yelled at on the job site that morning, and decides that they should all go out and do some more murdering! Naturally the other two are happy to go along. First they head to an all-night liquor store, but miraculously don't hurt anyone. The woman leaving a store and the boyfriend picking her up aren't so lucky, however-

They boyfriend is in a car when they're first accosted, though, and could easily drive away from the attack or run them over. I suppose running people over doesn't come naturally to most people, however, so it's perfectly believable that he allows himself to be beaten to death by a trio of rednecks rather than use his car as a deadly weapon.

The next morning the team rushes to the crime scene to meet with Brad and look over the corpses. Brad is so shocked by the violence that he's eager to kill the rednecks - if possible, but Greg warns him that the level of violence on display can have a 'mirror effect' on the police, dragging everyone down to the killers' level. Which is an incredibly unhelpfull thing to say, primarily because what he means is so maddeningly unclear. If he's saying that they shouldn't beat the rednecks to death when they find them, well that's just stupid, of course they should. If he's saying, however, that the cops shouldn't let all their interactions with the public and suspects involved in this case be coloured by this super-aggressiveness, well then that's a good point that he should have made more clearly.

Now it's back to the office for Derek's plot to inch forward! When he gets back to the office, pretty black lady is waiting for him!

This seems to happen a lot on the show - them just letting people into the actual FBI offices. Is that really plausible? I'd like to think there was a little more security at the FBI, and that if I came to visit an agent, they'd make me wait in the lobby until the agent came to get me.

She wants to know more about the case, and is obviously forming an unhealthy attachment to Derek. He gives her the profile while Greg is giving it to the cops - the idea is that the rednecks love murder for murder's sake. The pretty black lady asks if their profiles help catch these people, and Derek lies and says that they do. Which is understandable, since he's trying to reassure this woman. Penelope, who just happens to be standing nearby when all this is going on, looks troubled by how close the two of them are becoming.

Immediately thereafter she discovers something shocking - a riot is planned for that night in downtown DC! Could this be unrelated, or are the killers trying to create a large distraction? Greg and co head down to the riot scene to talk to Brad, who's dismayed by the pointlessness of all the violence. By searching the cell phones of the rioters, they think they can find the people who organized the riot and eliminate them as suspects, but Brad is having none of it! He can't imagine that the riot isn't related to the murders, and insists that doing anything but pressing the rioters until one of them confesses is a bad idea.

In case you were wondering, Greg goes out of his way to say 'I told you so' about the cops not getting too violent. Which probably factors into Brad telling them to take a hike. While on their way out, Derek once again runs into pretty black lady, who's making a fuss, demanding to know if the rioters were involved in her brother's murder. It's up to Derek to get her home, which is only going to escalate things, I'm guessing.

Back at the office Greg thinks that they should stay on the case, even though they've been asked to leave. His logic is that the rednecks, who love the attention that their murders have given them, will be jealous of the press coverage of the riot, and definitely go out that night for more murdering! Naturally, this is exactly what happens - Greg's premonitions almost never help them solve the case, you see, but his frequent announcements that 'there will be more murders' prove eerily prescient. The guys see a newspaper talking about the riots, and immediately walk off their job site! This should be trouble...

But not before Emily gets the Prentiss-Award winning line of the night, on the subject of their frustration in anticipating a new attack.

So by that you mean it's exactly like knowing lightning is going to strike? Moron.

The guys head over to a bar and murder the owner, as well as a daytime drunk. They make a mistake this time, though, using a nail-gun in their crime! This tips off the team that they're almost certainly construction workers!

It's important that the team was there, you see, because only they could notice that the nails weren't hammered all the way in, but rather a nail-gun must have been employed! As if it wasn't perfectly obvious from the residue on top of the nails.

Now that they've identified the killers as construction guys, Derek remembers the strange choice of the vandals to attack public places and then moving to a private home before turning to murder. Why the private home? They rush over and discover the reason - it was to cover up the fact that they hid the corpse of their boss in the wall while finishing one of the rooms?

           (note that, as usual, Emily is not wearing a gun!)

Wait, what? No one found it suspicious that the entire house was trashed but one of the room was left completely untouched? Also, no one noticed that this guy was missing - not family, friends, other people who worked for him? He was a contractor, after all, you'd think someone would pick up on his absence, even if he'd only been gone for a few days. Didn't the police want to talk him about the vandalism committed when he and his team were the primarly people with access to the house?

Hey, speaking of which, how is this family moved into the house when the team gets there? As with all episodes of Criminal Minds, this one is set (roughly) when the episode aired, on October 14. It's established early in the episode that the house was 'completely trashed' before the renovations were complete on October 3rd-

Yet when the team gets t here roughly ten days later, not only are the renovations finished, but the family has completely moved in!

So in a maximum of two weeks they found a new contractor, had the renovations re-done, and then moved in? Doesn't that timeline seem a little right?

Anyhoo, time to wrap things up. They check into who worked for the contractor, and get the names of the three rednecks. One of the three is there at the trailer, waiting to be arrested, forcing them to track down the other two. That's going to be quite a hassle in a city the size of-

Six seconds. That's how long it took to track down the car. For the record, six seconds is how long it takes to read a license plate out loud. So unless one of the cops hearing it on the radio was literally parked behind the car, staring at the license plate, this seems implausible. Unless they'd like to believe that every car in DC has a tracker in it, and it was simply a matter of the dispatcher typing the plate into a computer to get the current location. In that case, fine.

The guys are holed up in their latest work site, planning to get the cops to shoot them to death. Joe and co. see this coming, and try to warn the cops. Brad just isn't listening, though, so the FBI walks away in disgust as the DC police gun down the brutal mass-murderers.

Yeah, I'm not sure why this is supposed to be anything but a huge win for them - yet the show treats it like it's so stressful that the images of bodybags and the guy being sent to jail have to be accompanied by sad music, and the team all heads into Greg's office to share a drink and commiserate.

Christ, you whiners, what are you so upset about? Bad people are dead! What's the downside here?


Oh, except they resolved the whole Derek/victim's sister storyline by having Derek go over to her place and tell her in person about the killers getting taken out. This could lead to rouble, if we ever see her again. Will that happen, or will she go the way of Greg's brother?

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

The central clue that led them to the killers was the fact that the vandalism and murders were committed by the same people. I can certainly award them partial credit for the insight into the ever-escalating nature of violent outbursts.

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

I'm not sure how they weren't caught already. It seems like even the most cursory investigation into the cases of vandalism would have alerted the cops to the missing contractor, which would have inevitably led to the rednecks working for him.

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

3/10 - Wow, you know Criminal Minds has been terrible lately when a three counts as a fairly impressive score.


Anonymous said...

Emily doesn't regularly wear a gun? She certainly seems to always have one handy when it's needed! Reid should learn that trick from her.

Vardulon said...

Hell, I don't even know why she walks around with her jacket done up. It seems like a weird restriction for someone in her line of work.

Kalieka said...

She is also the one who is always wearing high heeled boots to both crime scenes and the occasional chase-down of a murderer. I am a female who has a pair or two of the kind of shoes Emily wears. You cannot run in those boots/shoes and they are not effective in the kicking-down-doors-at-a-crime-scene thing either. Just saying...
She looks good tho! At least she is dressed professionally!

Anonymous said...

You're really a buzz kill

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