Criminal Minds 523: Our Darkest Hour

Scratchy travelogue footage plays as an RV drives across America while Leonard Cohen plays on the soundtrack! It seems that this killer has excellent taste in music. Or at least the music supervisor on the show does. The killer is simply listening to news radio, where he hears that a blackout is planned for that night in LA because of a heat advisory. So the killer (TIM CURRY!) waits outside a large house until the lights go out and heads inside to do some murdering.

It seems no one noticed a crappy, run-down RV parked in the middle of an upper-class neighbourhood and called the police. Which is entirely plausible. Also plausible? That someone would hear a crash downstairs during a blackout and not immediately call the police. Do they not recognize that blackouts are the most popular occasions for thieves to strike? Of course they don't, they're teaser victims on an episode of Criminal Minds, they have no internal lives.

The team is going to head out to LA to deal with this situation, because in addition to the murdered husband and raped wife, two other women were raped and murdered earlier in the week. So it's off to LA to stop Tim Curry before he kills again!

I'm kidding, of course, this is a season-ender, which means it's going to be a cliffhanger. The only one that wasn't was season 2, which was the second part of a two-parter. Since this isn't that, and this season hasn't set up a Reaper who can swoop in right before the credits, it looks like we've got at least one more episode of Tim to look forward to! And the Asian cop who's their LA liason, I assume. Let's check in with him after the opening credits!

Okay, it's not him after all. It's Robert Davi and Eric Close. Who are the highest-profile cops we've ever had. Are they getting a spinoff or something? Or is Davi just there as a nod to now-forgotten show Profiler? In any case, they have no information to offer, other than the fact that the killer is exploiting the blackouts, which we already knew. Also of no use? The testimony of the living victim, who's too traumatized to be of any help.

Eric shows up at the office - JJ has to brief him for an interview. He's something of a media darling, and the press loves talking to him. Meanwhile, a woman is bringing her son home, then isn't surprised when the door she unlocked is suddenly wide open. Because, again, that's not suspicious at all. When you know that there's a mass-murderer running around killing people during blackouts. Obviously, her stupidity gets her killed, but the son is fine.

Well, as fine as you can be when you saw your mother murdered. Eric and Derek interview him about the crime, but don't get much information. Now it's time for the profile! They figure that he's self-conscious because he kills in the dark and turns pictures away. The profile ends with the Prentiss Award-winning line of the night, courtesy of Greg:

Come on, Greg, I cut you a lot of slack, but how is understanding why he likes the dark going to help you find him? Can we at least stay within the realm of plausibility?

Eric drops the last victim's son at a relative's house, and he gets a touching and supportive scene. Way more than you'd expect from a guest star. At the same time Derek is considering whether they should cancel the blackout or not - if they don't, there will definitely be more murders tonight, but at least they'd be in a specific area that can be watched. If they do, the whole city could go dark. Maybe I'm being naive, but couldn't they put out a message saying 'unless you're elderly or sick, turn of the A/C tonight, or you might be murdered by a serial killer? I mean, I love my A/C something awful, but I'd flip it off a few days if there was a killer running around.

Derek also wants to bring the son in for an interview, but Eric thinks he won't be able to help. This leads to a conversation about how Eric knows so much about the kid's emotions. Eric's answer? He lost his own parents in a car accident, so he knows how it feels to be helpless. Derek commiserates about seeing his own father murdered, and then they move on.

Back at the station, Garcia drops a bombshell - Tim has been killing people all across the country during blackouts, never hitting the same city twice! Over 25 years he's killed someone in every state, it seems!

Okay, hold it right there. Let's leave out, for a second, that having a super-serial-killer criss-crossing the country in an RV is a complete rehash of the Frank storyline back in season 2, and just consider his MO. He only kills during blackouts? What kind of sense does that make? While blackouts are not uncommon things during the summer months, unlike LA's rolling blackouts, across the country they tend not to be scheduled. The man is traveling by RV, and he's a serial killer, so he can't be speeding, since he looks like a monster-

-smokes crack, and his vehicle is doubtless full of guns and stolen items. Even if there were a lot of blackouts that were multi-day affairs, which is a rarity, what are the odds that this guy would hear about them, let alone be able to drive there in time?

Or does he just pick a city at random and live there until there's a blackout, kill someone, and then move on to another city? What I'm saying is, absolutely nothing about this guy's stated MO makes any sense at all.

We cut to later that night, where Tim has killed another family, leaving only a baby alive this time. The team runs down his MO, trying to figure out why he's come back to Los Angeles - the first time he's returned to a city in his life. Coincidentally, he started killing in Long Beach all those years ago - what's the connection? Oh, and Garcia has clued them in on all of Tim's murders, which include 200 houses, meaning he's killed somewhere between three and four hundred people. And not once did anyone notice a super-creepy RV in the area. Somehow.

This scene also includes the biggest waste of time in the history of policework:

Yup, they went to the trouble of putting up a paper map of the US, and tagging every single one of his crimes on it. That must have cost fifty dollars and taken 2-3 hours. And for what? The places he's killed across America have no relevance - Garcia already told you the patten: Blackouts. And she can both bring up a map just like that on her computer and send it to your laptops if you'd like her to. So why bother making it?

Okay, this episode just toppled over the cliff into stupidity. I seriously can't believe how ridiculous what just happened was. Let me lay it out for you: Tim is back in town specifically to taunt Eric Close. Because 26 years ago when he started killing, Eric's parents were among his first victims. And somehow Eric didn't know that. And even though they've known for the better part of a day that he's been killing people all across the country, it's only just now occurring to them to check the names of those early victims to see if there's a connection.

Now they're saying that Tim must be familiar with Eric because he's a media darling, which shoots a hole in the entire premise of this storyline. There is - full stop - no way that Eric couldn't know that his parents were murdered. If he's a media figure that the news interview a lot, at some point his name would have been typed into Lexis-Nexis, and the result would have been 'dead parents'. That would have been the next question asked of him. There's no way it couldn't be.

Look, Criminal Minds - either Eric Close is a media darling with enough attention paid to him that Tim Curry would be able to remember him as the survivor of one of his first murders, or Eric Close doesn't know how his parents died. You can't have it both ways. Without being terrible writers. Which you are.

Okay, I'm calling it quits on this episode. Let's zip through the rest. Even though it's now clear that Eric Close is the focus of Tim's attention, he makes no effort to secure the safety of his family, which includes his younger sister and a daughter (he's a single dad).

By the time it occurs to them to look into this, the sister and daughter have been kidnapped (how did Tim know where they lived? Cops tend not to have addresses listed in the phone book for exactly this reason) and brought to the house in Long Beach where his parents were murdered. Which is conveniently empty. Because of the blackout that takes out the whole city, somehow there isn't a single cop in the city closer than Derek and Eric, so they have to rush to the house alone. They find that Eric's sister has been raped and brutally beaten while the daughter was forced to watch. Tim gets the drop on both Derek and Eric, he knocks Derek out and kills Eric.

Cliffhanger achieved!


By the way? This is some of the worst writing in the show's history. Remember that time Frank had the brilliant plan to hide Elle Fanning in the one place on earth she could possibly be found? This is worse.

The entire team is in the police station (which is full of cops!) when they realize that Eric's family is the target. Yet when we cut to the arrival at Eric's house to find that they've been kidnapped-

Only Eric and Derek are there. Why aren't they breaking down doors with a swat team and rushing in en masse the way they always do?

Oh, that's because if they weren't alone for no reason at all, the producers wouldn't get the ending they want.

Seriously, I have no idea how this happened. In one scene they're all in the police station, planning to go to the same place. In the next they're in three separate cars, all in completely different parts of the city, acting like the lack of cell phone service is a problem. As if they weren't all in police cars. With police radios.

God damn it, Criminal Minds.

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

Nothing solved this week - the only psychology that came into play was helping Eric remember a thing that he couldn't have not known. Oh, and Greg - you never found out why he needs the darkness, and it didn't help lead you to him. So whatever.

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

You saw that picture of Tim Curry. He lives in a beat-up trailer that he parks in swank neighbourhoods whenever he goes to kill. He shoots people - not right at the end of an attack, but during the repeated rapes and torture. There's no way that neighbours couldn't hear those gunshots. How can I be so sure? His entire MO is that he kills people during blackouts when they leave windows open from the heat. Even if he closes the window of the house he's in, the people next door and across the street have theirs open. And gunshots are LOUD. There is no way the police wouldn't have caught this guy.

Christ, at least Frank was subtle about it.

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

N/A - No resolution this week, so I can't offer any kind of a ruling on it. Let's figure it out next time!

Criminal Minds Factcheck: The Night Stalker!

I guess we'll cover it when he actually gets caught in two weeks. So check back then!


Anonymous said...

Technically Eric did know how his parents died but he lied to Derek about it in the beginning.

Unknown said...

It is mentioned that Curry causes the "blackouts" himself like he did about half way through this episode.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how Derek's father started off as a guy who went to the corner shop for milk, heroically tried to intervene in a robbery, and got gunned down. In fact, I think at the beginning he wasn't even intervening, just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Later on, he was a hero cop, killed in the line of duty. Now, he's a hero cop gunned down in front of his young son.

Can someone please talk to Derek about his need for attention, which apparently is so intense he has to keep embellishing the details of his father's death?

Kalieka said...

(Anonymous 2): Wow, you have done your research on Derek's dad! All I could remember was he was a cop, he was killed and died a hero. They do mention his father a lot it seems.

(Anonymous 1): I do not think Eric lied to Derek about how his parents died. It took one of those cognitive interviews for him to remember some of what exactly happened. He said he had lied to himself about it so much, he began to believe the least traumatic scenario of what happened.

(Blake): I am with you on that one. I remember That much. lol

Overall, I agree. A run down RV in the middle of upper-class neighbourhoods That many times over the last 20 year, the fact no one Ever heard gun shots, and why it was only Derek and Eric at the house... just to name a few from the original post... not really plausible. Enjoyable, yes, but likely, no. Still love the show, and still love the reviews!

Btw, when you wrote,"unless you're elderly or sick, turn of the A/C tonight, or you might be murdered by a serial killer? I mean, I love my A/C something awful, but I'd flip it off a few days if there was a killer running around," I had to LOL Your writing style makes me laugh every time.

jk2013 said...

Tim Curry walks up to a guy who is calling triple because he got caught with a flat... and they don’t even let him say “well how bout that”