29.7.11

Criminal Minds 507: The Performer


In Los Angeles, a goth rocker named Dante is performing to a packed auditorium. I mean, not really – he's obviously on a very small set, because it would be too much of a hassle to actually get thousands of extras in for the scene. But we get the point.


He starts singing a Joy division song, demonstrating that the producers were too cheap to hire someone to write an original tune in their style.  The singer then retires back to his dressing room where he stares at his reflection in a broken mirror, and obvious it visual metaphor for his profound emotional distress. But let's move on to the murder, shall we? Two girls, pictured here:



Leave the concert hall, still giddy over getting to see their idol. Before heading home together – they're not roommates, they just both live on the same block – they spurn the advances of Ed, the third member of the group, who apparently paid for the tickets. Blonde girl is home for just a moment when she hears a knock on the door. She opens it, and has a moment of pleased recognition:




Before she's brutally murdered by the visitor. At this point the show has, oddly for a theoretical mystery, narrowed the list of suspects down to two people: the singer, who the blonde girl thinks was making eye contact with her all through the show, and the black haired friend. We can eliminate Ed as a suspect because there's no reason the blonde girl would be happy to see him.


So who's the killer? Vampire rocker or black haired friend? I'm leaning towards black haired friend, if for no other reason than because the show enjoys twists, and a vampire themed musician murdering people would be the least surprising twist in the history of fiction.


Especially when it turns out that the bodies have been… Drained of blood!


The team immediately understands the significance of the signature, and I began to wonder if this was, when originally aired, the show's Halloween episode.



During the flight to Los Angeles, where the three murders have taken place, we learn two interesting things: First - there liaison on the ground will be the Asian cop from the first season, as if the show is attempting to rebut my theory that there are never Asians on the show; and secondly, that apparently all clinical psychologists are cowards. Had I know this? According to read the psychological disorder in which a madman is obsessed with drinking blood is known as "Renfield's disorder", even though by all rights it should be called Dracula's disorder. The show doesn't say that they're cowards of course, that is obviously yet another example of intellectual striving to make the world less interesting that it actually is through manipulation of language.


In a final note, read lets the team know that Renfield suffers are almost always obsessed with their victims and would either know them or stock them in some way – their paths would definitely crossed. So obviously the show wants us to think about goth rocker staring at her during the show, but this clue really sends me more towards the friend who lives across the street from her. Because seriously, while she was walking home goth rocker was staring into a mirror full of self-pity – how would he have figured out where she lived?


Speaking of goth rocker, the show then cuts to his palatial estate in the Hollywood Hills, where his manager has dropped by to pick him up for a promotional party he's supposed to attend. They also drop the information that he doesn't remember what happened to them after the show the night before, which is intended to make us extremely suspicious. So yeah, at this point him just calling it, the friend is the killer.





The team arrives at the office in Los Angeles and checks in with their old buddy Lieutenant Kim. Who, to his credit, is polite enough not to ask whatever happened to Mandy Patinkin. He is surprised to discover that Greg is not in charge, though. Derek outlines the plan: make a profile, go over with the witness statements, and perhaps check out the last victim's apartment. Although I'm not sure whether not reinterviewing the last person to see blonde girl alive, who coincidentally lives across the street from her. Oh, right, it wouldn't be a twist if they did.


Party time! It's Dante, that's the goth rockers name, BTW, Joseph of the party and is immediately bored. He puts in a little time, barely able to hide his contempt for his surroundings, before finally ducking out with a waitress, wooing her with promises of a night of drug use and illicit sex.


Joe and Emily swing by the victim's apartment and find a shrine devoted to Dante – which they treat as if it's surprising information. They have witness statements from the blonde girl's two friends though, don't they know that the absolute last thing she did before getting murdered was to go to Dante's concert? How is her fandom a shock to them?


A trip to the morgue reveals that the victims weren't bitten but rather stabbed with a sharp instrument, then the blood was licked from the wound. So, ick. They're doing a DNA test at the FBI, though, so the killers and the system they should know almost immediately. FBI science being way better than LAPD science.


The next morning the killer drags another body out into the middle of nowhere and dumpster next to her ravine. The victim, naturally, is the waitress who ran off with Dante the night before. Which confuses the hell out of me. How could the black haired friend have possibly known the waitress? I suppose Dante's manager could be the killer, but why would blonde haired girl have been happy to see him? Confusing.


A few hours later Reid prepares to give the profile while JJ heads out to visit with the black haired friend, in hopes of learning more about blondes social life. The fact that she goes alone, which absolutely never happens on the show, suggests that she's about to be attacked by the killer. I guess we'll see.


Over the latest body dump site the team is called in to help with the profile, but not before they learn that this is the second body to feature a "the liar" bit of blood graffiti. What's the significance of it? Reid has no theories offered by his profile, which merely focuses on the killer's vampire obsessions. The key clues they can look for? Killing animals to get blood, and cutting their own arms. He also thinks that the killer would be living in a large home, big enough to have a spare bleeding room. Reid is sure that there'll be a caretaker involved in the killer's life as well, usually an older woman like a mother grandmother or aunt – it's impossible, he explains, for such a severe mental problem to go undiagnosed. During this whole sequence the show intercuts to Dante lying drunken in his bedroom and then being taken care of by his manager, as if were supposed to think he fits the profile. Which he absolutely does not – especially since we've heard nothing about Dante having a childhood full of mental problems.


Other than the ones that would lead him to become a goth rocker, of course.


The team finally finds out about the Dante connection by going to the party venue from the night before. It turns out "the liar" is the name of Dante's new album. Wait, hold on, how did they not know this? Sure, none of them are fans, but shouldn't Garcia have caught this one anyhow ?Wouldn't a simple Google search of the the liar + vampire have made this connection for them? It seems like, given the fact that the third victim was last seen leaving a Dante concert he gave in support of his new album 'the liar', this is information they should already have had.


Also, in an achievement of questionable prop design, get a look at Dante's album cover:





Yikes.


It seems all of the victims were big fans of Dante, except the waitress, who just met him at the party. The team rushes over to his home to follow up on this lead, and on the way Derek takes this opportunity to win the Prentiss award for the episode:





Come on Derek, is your ego really so fragile that you can't admit you guys are wrong almost all the time? Sure, your second profile is often right, but that's only after you've gone off in a completely wrong direction based on your bad assumptions. This is like Doctor House claiming that his first diagnosis is always right.


Anyhoo, the team gets to Dante's house and finds him unusually helpful. In fact, he's completely willing to come down to the police station and answer all the questions they'd like - he doesn't even ask for a lawyer when it's revealed that the latest victims car is sitting in his driveway! Which, you know, for murder suspect, is pretty cool. Then again, he knows he's innocent, so what has he got to be afraid of? Oh, and guess wise, I guess this means the black haired girl and the manager were doing it together? Not sure how that makes sense.


By the time Derek, Prentiss, and Kim get Dante down to the station there's already an army of reporters waiting for them. Everyone seems shocked that they all managed to get there within the thirty minutes it took to drive from Dante's house – actually, that's an incredibly good point. If Dante didn't call a lawyer, or anyone, for that matter, how does anyone know is being brought in? Did the manager call?


Dante is tossed in the interview room, and the team tries to figure out the best way to gain his confidence. The plan is to send Emily in, pretending to be a fan of his, hoping that will get him to open up. It doesn't work at all, because they're not good at their jobs. Even when confronted with photos of the dead women, they can get any useful information out of him. Annoyed by the pointless interrogation, Dante finally asks for a phone to call his manager, so that he can lawyer up. The team is left without options and retreats to plan a new attack.


Just then, JJ arrives at the friend's house and it's clearly the kind of place a serial killer lives:





Wait… Hold on… JJ's only getting to the house now? How is that possible? Let's plot out the timeline, shall we? JJ left for this house (which is close enough to downtown Los Angeles that it was within easy walking distance of a large musical venue) when Reid announced that the profile was ready. At that time Derek was at the new body dumpsite, and he had traveled back to the police station for the profile – let's call that half an hour. Now add half an hour for the profile and Q&A session afterward, an hour to Dante's place and back, and the twenty minutes they let Dante stew in the cell while Jo talked to the police and they plan their strategy. That's a total of two hours and twenty minutes – how could it possibly have taken JJ that long to get to the house? Did she stop and see a movie on the way?


I know why this unbelievable contrivance happened: they needed JJ to not be there for the profile, so she won't immediately recognize the killer's house when she sees it, but wow, is this some artless handwaving to get around a giant timeline error.


So, anyhoo, JJ goes into the house and finds the black haired friend talking to herself in a crazy fashion. The killer then wanders off through the warren of garbage that fills the house. Even though the black haired friend is obviously mentally deranged, as well as being the last person to see the victim alive, it never occurs to JJ that she might be the killer, so, rather than call for backup, she simply follows the crazy lady through the house.


Halfwit.


Over the police station the DNA tests come back, and they discover the saliva on the victims belongs to a woman. Announcing that the profile has never been this far off before (ahem…), Derek tells Reid to go back to the drawing board and rework the profile assuming a woman is the killer, to see if he missed anything. Or, alternately, in addition to that, you could simply look at the basic facts of the case and noticed that the last person to see the third victim alive was a woman who is obsessed with Dante.


Dante, for his part, calls his manager, who claims credit for the record selling incredibly well and assures him that there's nothing to worry about police wise – the whole thing can't be tied to him in any way. So yeah, the manager got a crazy vampire lady to kill people to promote Dante's new album. Which seems like a really, really questionable promotion technique, even for someone in the marketing field who, by definition, doesn't have a soul. As the manager finishes his call with Dante he gets out of the car in front of the killer's house, obviously planning to murder her and fake a suicide so as to neatly tie the whole thing off.


It was a decent plan, but manager didn't count on two things: 1) JJ's there. 2) Dante immediately tells Emily the manager did it.


Everyone else comes to the conclusion the same time, Reid, Garcia, everybody. So they're able to rush over to the killer's house in time to save JJ, who was clonked over the head by the manager. They're actually slightly too late to provide any assistance, not that it matters, the manager was such an ineffectual murderer that JJ was able to get up, find her gun and arrest the two of them before reinforcements even arrive.


Emily then explains the situation to Dante, who offers to help both his manager and the crazed killer. Seems like he could for a little cash to the families of the other dead girls, but hey, I'm not a goth rocker so what do I know?


On the plane ride home they suggest that Dante should really retire the Dante character, since it was partially responsible for the death of four people. Because the artist is completely culpable for the actions of a schizophrenic and an opportunistic sociopath. That's why you can't buy a copy of Taxi Driver any more, don't you know. Because artists are required by moral imperative to withdraw any art that inadvertently leads to violence.


They also do a little more handwaving to explain why JJ went interview the suspect alone, letting the audience know that there's no way they could have imagined she would be violent. Because the last person to see some alive is almost never the killer. And a simple check into her background wouldn't have demonstrated a lifetime of mental problems.


God, this is a terrible show.


(Almost generally always - ~7:30)


23:10 - have your profiles usually been this far off? 'they haven't been yet' - man, are you lying.


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


Um, no? This is a bit of a weird one, since the psychological description of what a Renfield killer looks like was dead on, but profiling couldn't actually help, since they never actually gave that description to the cop that interviewed the friend. So how can I possibly credit it with a win?


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


This is where the killer lived, right across the street from the third victim:





This is what the killer looked like when the cops came to talk to her:





Whether or not the LAPD have the slightest idea about Renfield syndrome and its defining symptoms, how would they not have arrested this woman one minute after meeting her?


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


1/10 - I seriously have no idea why they were called in on this case. There has rarely been an easier case to solve. Also this week we have a runner-up for stupidest thing said by an FBI agent.





Is there an episode where Reid doesn`t say some complete crap that everyone accepts just because he`s supposedly brilliant?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

no comments eh? because nobody has read through 40 paragraphs of this drivel to get down as far as the comments section... you, angry troll man, need to get laid!

Anonymous said...

Those are the episodes that make me glad I'm from France, and thus watch either the subbed or the dubbed versions. We might have crappy dubbers, but the translators keep a little of the stupidity away.

Of course, Criminal Minds being made of gorn, bad psychology and worse investigations is what makes me love it. There's a reason I always laugh while watching it !

Julianna Kopa said...

I love this "drivel".

Julianna Kopa said...

Haha I lost it at almost generally always

Jon Carter said...

Did you realize that the lead singer of Bush, Gavin Rossdale, was Dante? I thought that was pretty cool, that they had a musician play the part of a musician.