Criminal Minds 519: Rite of Passage

 It's the wilderness, and a guy on an ATV is chasing a man across it. But why? Oh, the man speaks Spanish and is Hispanic, so this has to be a border thing. A crazy minuteman is cutting people up with a machete for sneaking into America? Timely! He would have gotten away with it, too, if he hadn't made one fatal flaw: leaving three severed heads in a box outside of the police station!

The team is stunned by the news - could it be drug-related, or the minutemen (hey, they mentioned the thing I mentioned! Thanks, Criminal Minds!)? They doubt it, because this show doesn't really do political. More likely it's a local who loves murder, and found the perfect victims in the illegals crossing the border. Which is great and all, but why draw all this attention to yourself? I suppose we'll find out... after the opening credits!

On the plane the team discusses the possibility of drug wars, but since we already know it's a lone guy in a skull mask who hunts people for sport (that's right, he wears a skull mask, because why wouldn't he?), we can skip past all that nonsense.

Or maybe not - the drug cartel are standing in a line in front of the police station, protesting the arrest of their leader. It gets a little tense, but then the killer comes out and reveals himself to them.

How do I know this guy is the killer?The Law of Economy of Characters states that you don't get a line unless it gives vital exposition to the audience, or you need them to remember you for later. There were two deputies in this scene. One served the purpose of pushing the gangsters around, letting the audience see the tense relation ship between them and the authorities. The other merely stood there and said 'yeah', so we would recognize that he exists. The superfluous one must be the killer.

The deputies want to interrogate the local mob boss, who they caught on his way out of town, but the Sheriff, a Latina, won't let them - she's sure there's a serial killer! She also believes that the heads were dropped off as a warning to her, since she's been looking into the disappearance of nearly two dozen illegal immigrants! Then the sheriff gets a line that would have been Prentiss Award-Winning if she were in the FBI.

Um... let me get this straight. We're supposed to think of you as a smart, capable woman, but then you tell us that you thought you could retire peacefully to a TEXAS BORDER TOWN? This isn't like No Country for Old Men, where you'd been Sheriff for years and watched the world change. You voluntarily took this job a couple of months ago. Were you not aware of the literal drug war going on across the border? Do you not watch the news?

Over at the morgue Joe and Reid discover that the victims had sand throughout their nasal cavities, like they'd been running through the desert before they were killed. More important things are happening back at the station, though, where Greg and the Sheriff go to interview the mob boss, while JJ and the killer wait outside. if you're looking for confirmation that he's the killer, he pointedly turns on the intercom so that JJ and he can listen in on the interrogation - more business that wouldn't be there if it wasn't important.

The mob boss claims that he had nothing to do with the killings, because if he had wanted to send a message, he'd do it the 'Cartel' way: gutting them and leaving them for the animals to tear apart. His theory? They're looking for the Saint of Death - which would explain the skull mask. People in the immigrant community are blaming the Saint for people going missing in the desert. Speaking of, that night we see the killer watch a border crossing, and then murder one of the guys who gets left behind to rest. This doesn't seem like a smart play by the killer - the FBI is currently in your town (in your office!) looking into your killings. And you're going to do another one the first night?

And then leaving the severed head on the sheriff's fence? Was this guy just pissed off that someone else got the sheriff's job?

Things get way stupid in the profile, when the Prentiss Award-Winning line of the night shows up:

Okay, here's the situation - the sheriff thinks that someone is killing people in the desert. She has no proof of this. So the killer decides to 'throw off the investigation' by displaying his victims like a cat with a dead mouse? How does proving her suspicions are right in any way hamper the investigation?

Half wits.

The team goes to meet the person with the best ties in the illegal community, an advocate for recent immigrants. He's a hilariously obvious red herring, to the point where he's got a massively over-pronounced limp. He's not the killer, but will he have help to offer? Nope. He lets them know that thre are 'safe houses' where people are brought as part of the journey, but he doesn't know where any of them might be. So just zero help, basically.

Greg goes to the Sheriff and asks for help looking for the safehouses, and she takes the time to whine about her history as a failed homicide detective. She says that in her last year she handled 36 murders and that she was one of 20 detectives in her unit, then suggests that he 'do the math'. Which sounds like fun! 36x20= 720! Wait, hold on, is she saying that there were 720 murders in Brooklyn alone in 2008? Because that's obviously not even close to true. I'm not saying Homicide detectives aren't overworked, but let's keep it within the realm of plausibility, shall we?

She even begs for more pity, exiting on the line 'there really isn't anywhere to go where people aren't killing each other, is there?'. Well, again, if that was your priority, maybe you shouldn't have moved into a town thirty miles from a war zone? Maybe keep that in mind next time?

They figure out where the safe houses are by asking Garcia which places are both owned by known criminals and have unusually high water and power usage for isolated rental properties. This leads them to the group out of which last night's victim was plucked. Except how they found the safe house makes absolutely no sense, since the house the team goes to has just one inhabitant, and the actual immigrants are kept behind a chained door in a stable without electricity or running water.

God, this show doesn't even care a little, does it?

Bringing the coyote in, the team threatens to charge him with kidnapping, rape, and weapons violations if he doesn't help with the investigations. The victims have more help to offer - the child explains that he saw 'The Sun', despite it being the middle of the night. But what could that mean?

The killer knows! That night, when the sheriff is locking the station up the killer arrives, and claims that he just 'remembered' a barn with a mural of the sun painted on the side, just fifteen minutes outside of town. The Sheriff thinks they should drive out and check on it. In the middle of the night. Without telling anyone where they're going. Yeah, this is going to go well for her.

As expected, the killer murders her (after she notices his bad leg), which makes me question just what the villain's plan was. Did he really expect she'd go out there in the middle of the night without backup? Even though there's no reason not to wait until morning or bring more people when a killer is running around? Sloppy, guys.

The next day the team discovers that the sheriff is missing - the killer pretends to find her, all cut up the way the mob boss had explained! Well, except that she was shot first. Greg remembers the MO that the mob boss described, but still doesn't think he did it. Luckily JJ is there to let them know about the killer's extremely suspicious behaviour! They've got their man!

Sadly he didn't stick around - instead he's headed over to the mob boss' garage, where he murders everyone he finds while his partner passively watches it happen. Man, that guy deserves to get shot so that the killer won't have any witnesses. Which is what happens.

Now it's all down to the chase - the team arrives at the scene and instantly thinks it was staged. Why do they think this? Because there aren't any powder burns on the mob boss' hands! Which is something that Joe can tell with a simple glance at the corpse from ten feet away. There's a fun fact, huh? Bet you didn't know that when you shoot a revolver your hand gets covered in black soot, did you?

No, wait - I'm thinking of cleaning out a fireplace... what was Joe saying again?

While Garcia tries to track the radio the team heads to his trailer, looking for some clue as to where he might be going. He's got pictures of the barn with the sun on it in the trailer, so it's an easy enough connection to make, given what the child said in his interview. The team heads out to the warehouse and shoots him.


Except for one dangling plot thread. When the Sheriff was getting all self-pitying earlier, she was looking through a scrapbook about her most troubling unsolved case-

But she never mentioned it to the team, nor did they swear to look into it in her honor. Weird, right?

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

Well, it's back to normal this week, with psychology not factoring into the crime-solving in any way, shape, or form. now that's the Criminal Minds I've come to know and judge harshly!

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

The guy killed a bunch of immigrants and then aggressively sought police attention. The actual crime was solved when they talked to a child whose tip was inevitably going to lead them to the killer's lair. So the killer murdered the sheriff in a way that only made him look more guilty. There's no way this couldn't have been solved.

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

1/10 - The family was crossing the border on foot, and saw the killer's hideout on the way into town from the south. According to the show, the warehouse was ten miles north of town. Explain.

More to the point - why was the murderer so concerned about people finding the sunshine warehouse? I called it his 'killer's lair', but that's not exactly accurate. The killer butchered people in his trailer on the edge of town, and then buried them directly outside of it. Seriously, there were like a dozen shallow graves just sitting out front of his trailer - what was the point of the warehouse? Setting aside how the little kid saw it, what does it matter that he did? Did he see anything incriminating? Did he associate the killer with it? No? Then why does he care?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This location is in no way anything like Terlingua, Tx! Too much vegetation and WAY too many people. They didn't even bother to go to google maps to see what it looked like! There is nothing in Terlingua