Criminal Minds 615: Today I Do

The episode opens with a lengthy recap of Emily's plotline, which suggests that this is going to be an ongoing thing - which I couldn't be happier about! So, now that she knows that a murderer is out to get her will she take the necessary steps to prevent her own death? We can only hope!

Things begin in earnest with Emily calling a friend in Paris to warn her that Doyle (the evil Irishman) has escaped prison. Then things get super questionable, as the friend assures Emily that there is no danger since everyone thinks that 'Lauren Reynolds' (presumably Emily's alias when undercover) died in a car accident. The friend also isn't worried about her own safety, since only Emily ever met Doyle face to face. For some reason Emily accepts this reassurance and gets off the phone.

Why on earth would she do this? Here's the thing - last episode ended with (and this episode's clip package featured) Emily getting a mysterious gift from Doyle. So Doyle obviously not only knows who Emily really is, but he's tracked down her unlisted address. For some reason she chooses not to share this information with her teammates, putting their lives in danger. With even more danger created by the fact that those two teammates just got engaged, which would add a layer of tragedy to their deaths.

In the office Reid overhears the end of the call and asks about the alias, which gives Emily the opportunity to lie incredibly unconvincingly. Then the briefing starts - a woman has been kidnapped, and her car left in a mall parking lot, just like another woman (who turned up dead) some months earlier! The really strange part - overnight bags were found in the vehicles, meaning that the women had been planning on taking a trip when they disappeared. Oh, and the first victim's hands and feet were smashed for some reason.

Then there's a shot of the victim, chained to a bed while wearing pink pajamas, freaking out as someone is coming into the room. Is she doomed? Probably not, since characters in 'captivity' episodes tend to get rescued, but let's find out together, after the credits!

Speaking of the credits, Rachel Nichols has been added to them. So yeah, despite her being gone for two weeks after making zero impression, she's now a full-fledged member of the cast. Yay?

On the plane they go over the facts of the case, featuring one of the quickest bad-writing reversals in the history of fiction. Not thirty seconds after Derek has announced that Garcia could find 'no overlap' between the victims' lives, it's mentioned in passing that they go to the same university. So yeah. Not sure how she missed that one. Pretty big overlap there.

Down at the police station Greg and Joe go to talk to the prime suspect: the second victim's abusive boyfriend! This leads to the first truly stupid line of the night, as Greg announces that 'it's unusual for serial killers to target someone so easily linked to them, but we'll see if he fits the profile'. Okay, two things, Greg - first, it's not unusual, attacking people who are easily linked to them are how the vast majority of serial killers are caught. Secondly, how are you going to compare him to the profile? You don't have one yet. Oy.

The abusive boyfriend claims that while he had a class with the first victim they never actually met, and had no reason to hurt her. Joe questions him about his love of beating up his girlfriend, and the abusive boyfriend not only admits that the two of them broke up after their last fight, but that the new victim had completely changed her behaviour since the end of the relationship. New clothes, going out at night - a whole new persona! She's almost certainly being controlled by the new man in her life, who will now kill her!

Reid and Derek head to the dump site to see if it can tell them anything about the killer. Sadly, they don't discover anything that wasn't in the fail, making the whole thing a waste of gas. A discussion of the body dump does lead them to the conclusion that the killer wasn't 'dumping' the body (because it wasn't weighted down), but rather 'burying' it in the water, a sentimental activity preferred by female killers. I hadn't actually heard that one - I know women killers like to drown their victims, but this 'just toss the bodies in a lack after murder' thing is brand new. They're pretty sure it's a woman, though.

Joe talks to the latest victim's father (Corbin Bernsen!) who had no idea that his daughter was being abused, and wholeheartedly believed her stories of clumsy accidents. When Joe confronts him with his daughter's dating patterns, and basically accuses him of abusing her, which he vehemently denies.

Emily swings by the victim's apartment and finds nothing of note except for some generic affirmations post-it-noted around the room. Also signs that someone had been living in the same room. Something puzzles me about this scene - Emily seems to be alone in the room. Where's Rachel? We've established the locations of five out of the six profilers, but Rachel doesn't seem to be with any of them - shouldn't she be tagging alone with someone and observing?

Also, the affirmation is 'Today I do, tomorrow I will', which is nonsensical even by the standards of soft-science claptrap.

A team meeting establishes some off-camera-gleaned information. Neighbours saw the unlisted roommate, but no one was close enough to get a description beyond '20s-plain-brown hair', and they're certainly not sketching anyone yet. The decide to go over all their facts, hoping to figure out how adding 'female killer' to the mix will change their take on the evidence. Which actually raises an interesting question: why were they already so sure it was a man? Weren't they jumping to conclusions unsupported by evidence? The facts are 'woman was beaten and stabbed then thrown in a lake'. This is information they already had on the plane. According to them the thing pointing to a male killer was 'brutality', and the things pointing to a female killer were 'water burial, no sexual assault'. That tally already points to the likelihood of a female killer - so why wasn't that their first guess?

Then we cut away to the victim, who weirdly doesn't seem freaked out enough about being kidnapped by a serial killer. I mean, she's tied to a chair, yet she's suggesting that the killer call her dad to tell him that she's alright. I'd let this go as 'playing along with her abductor's fantasy' in the hopes that it will go well, but she flat-out references the fact that the killer has 'done this before', which doesn't seem like something a victim would ever want to mention. Bad writing, or is something else going on?

What the far more important reveal in this scene? Check out the killer-

What important fact was left out of the neighbours' descriptions of her? Here's a tip - if they were close enough to be able to identify her as '20s and plain' is it really likely that they wouldn't mention her being over 200 pounds? Kind of a key identifying fact about the woman, don't you think? Especially because - from a disguise standpoint - it's the hardest thing to change if she's actively attempting to avoid capture.

Anyhoo, back to the plot - turns out that the victim doesn't know she's a murderer's victim. She thinks it's part of a self-actualization exercise. One that she quickly asks to be released from when it proves to be far creepier than she'd anticipated. The killer's response? Hobbling her victim with a hammer to prove who's in charge.

The next day Emily and Rachel have finally gone back to the victim's apartment to look for clues (really? They waited until morning? There's been a 36-hour ticking clock placed on this plot, and you've just wasted like 12 of them.), and immediately find two. Interestingly, I have no idea how either clue escaped them the first time. Rachel notices that the victim had become obsessed with self-help books, and Emily finds a secret box full of pills under the bed.

That's right, the crime scene team that scoured the apartment yesterday, looking for any sign trace of the killer, going so far as to dust every surface for prints... didn't bother looking under the bed. What if the missing girl had been murdered and stuffed under the bed in her own apartment? Would they seriously have missed the body for a whole day?

The box contains pills and a diet journal - it seems that the missing girl used to be anorexic and bulimic, and only recently turned her life around! Isn't that something the boyfriend might have mentioned when being interviewed about her life? Also, he knew that she was dressing differently and going out to clubs at night, but somehow didn't know that she had a roommate? Huh?

Joe questions the first victim's family to see if she'd been following any similar patterns. They explain that she'd gotten happier and more confident right before being murdered. We also learn that she too had gotten way into affirmations as a method for dealing with her problems. In this case it was clinical depression - she'd been hospitalized after a suicide attempt some time earlier! Joe acts like this is new information. Which is kind of puzzling - this is the victim who's been dead for months, how could they not have a complete record on her?

Meanwhile the current victim is trying to make a Caan-style escape despite her shattered kneecap, and it goes just as poorly as it did for Jimmy in Misery. She even grabs a broken piece of bedpost to use as an improvised weapon, should the opportunity arise!

Now that they know both women got into the self-help nonsense the moment that their killer moved in with them, they can profile her as a narcissistic caretaker who likes the dependance that she cultivates in her victims, but then kills them when they stop needing her. They even go so far as to guess that she'd have a caretaking-related job, like a masseuse, hair stylist, or trainer. Interesting - but will this help them catch her and save the victim's life? I'm guessing no, but that's largely because I'm a cynical person.

Joe then confronts Corbin Bernsen about withholding information about his daughter's mental problems. Still not sure why that wasn't in the file they looked at... Finally Corbin spills the information - she was hospitalized for her refusal to eat at the same hospital the other woman was treated for depression! It's nice that Joe bullied this information out of Corbin and all, but this is something Garcia absolutely should have known. When she claimed that there was no link between them anywhere she looked, where exactly had she been looking? Did she even illegally rifle through the woman's medical history the way she does everyone else every week? Also, why didn't her abusive boyfriend mention that she'd been hospitalized? How could he have not known that? Even if the hospitalization was after he dumped her (as a result of said dumping), he's seen and talked to her since...

There's more abuse back at the killer's cabin, where the villain is berating the victim for being in an abusive relationship. Since this woman obviously isn't going to resolve the situation for herself, none of this is particularly relevant.

Garcia finally gets around to searching the women's medical files, now that their families have signed off on opening up their medical records (again, what? What happened to the Garcia who searched the prescription histories of EVERYONE IN AMERICA?), then grabs surveillance footage of the lobby, hoping to catch the killer stalking her victims. While she starts sifting through hundreds of hours of footage looking for their victim, Emily gets a phone call - her friend's fiancee is dead, poisoned by the nefarious Doyle!

For the record, this is entirely Emily's fault. Even though she knew that Doyle had returned, identified where she lived, and started threatening her life, she shared none of this information with her former teammates, leaving them without any sense of how much danger their lives were in. Great work, Emily. On the upside, she does tell her friend to go cash-only and get to America as fast as possible. Which is a great idea, but let's see her get on a trans-atlantic flight without using her ID. Also, how is this guy who recently escaped a Russian gulag able to find these people so easily, and potentially trace their financial transactions? You know what? I'm overthinking again - they'll explain it all when it's time to do an episode about this.

While Emily was on the phone Garcia did, in fact, track down the killer, who struck up conversations with the victims when they went to the hospital pharmacy to get their prescriptions. What a happy coincidence that she approached both women in the one place that they both went which also had high-definition security cameras! Now that they've got the woman's picture, it won't be long until she's been ID'd, so it's almost not worth mentioning that the killer has also inserted herself into the abusive boyfriend's life as his new girlfriend. Isn't it lucky that they never bothered giving him the description of the killer that they'd gotten from all the neighbours, huh? After all, if they'd followed that totally logical investigative path then this scumbag never would have gotten the comeuppance that I'm sure is coming his way!

That ironic fate turns up in the very next scene, we find the abusive boyfriend chained to the killer's bed. She taunts him with a videotape of their romantic liaison, announcing that it will finally be the proof the victim needs that her boyfriend is a worthless dirtbag who deserves to be thrown out of her life for good. That's right - if beating her so badly that she needed to be hospitalized didn't break his hold on her, then finding out that he slept with another woman weeks after they'd broken up is sure to do it, right? Not that the logic really has to make sense - she's crazy, after all.

Garcia then looks for people who live in the area around where the first body was found, and check it against women the correct age. I'm not sure why they're not simply running their (really good) pictures of her against driver's license records, but so long as they get there... They discover a woman whose grandparents had a cabin by the lake, and her picture matches the surveillance footage! So it's just a matter of driving over there and arresting her, mere seconds before she kills her latest victim!

Hey, speaking of the victim, she's just watched the sex tape, and it's motivated her to stand up to her captor, once and for all! She tells the killer to take a long walk off a short pier, then pulls out the piece of jagged wood. Sadly their showdown is interrupted when the scumbag boyfriend runs into the room and knocks the killer to the floor. Instead of finishing the job (or showing even minor surprise at finding his kidnapped girlfriend in the upstairs bedroom), he turns his back on the killer, allowing her to rally and start a wrestling match with him. Instead of helping out, the victim runs away, dropping her weapon as she goes. Why? Because I hate her, that's why.

While half the team drives down to the lake the rest stay at the office, discussing the killer's profile. Who she is, what motivated her to start killing, blah, blah, blah. I'm really not sure why A: they're having this conversation at all (not like knowing a motive will help bullets be more accurate), or B: half the team didn't bother going to the rescue. Did they feel like this particular victim wasn't worth putting on a bulletproof vest for? Hey, speaking of bulletproof vests, how exactly does Reid wear one with his ridiculous habit of strapping his gun to his belly?

After the killer has finished off the scumbag (comeuppance achieved!) she chases the victim down the driveway and hits her with a car. Amazingly this still doesn't kill the woman, so she drags her down to the lake to finish the job. When the team reaches the house and sees no one there, they race down to the lake, realizing that's the likely place for her to dump the body. Actually, I'm not sure how they missed the killer's car on their way up the driveway - had the victim ran down a different paved road, and the killer somehow knew that and followed her? Where did that scene happen?

Anyhoo, the team rushes down to the lake and distract the killer long enough so that the victim is able to swim away, allowing some local cops to capture the villain without incident. What, it would have killed you to shoot her a few times, just to be safe?

Then, proving that they're not at all concerned with the victim's well-being, the cops carry her out of the lake in what must be the worst possible posture for someone who had their leg shattered and was then hit by a car.

 Then, adding insult to injury, they wait something like two hours before putting her in the ambulance.

After all, what does her health matter when she's got a chance to reconcile with her emotionally distant father? Also, they let the killer get close enough to yell that everything was done out of love. Why was she even still there? Shouldn't she have been on her way to jail like an hour ago? God, you people.


Other than a little more Emily stuff! Will Angus show up to help out? Nope, she just gets a text message from an unknown caller with a threatening message. Meanwhile, Doyle lands in America, having taken a private jet from somewhere, thus explaining how an internationally wanted fugitive was able to get into the country. After all, it's not like private planes have to worry about things like customs or immigration, right?

Hopefully it'll turn out that this guy was secretly working for the American government somehow, thus explaining them giving up their own agents and letting him into the country so as to protect his network of sources.

Or, you know, maybe the show is just badly written?

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

They talked a whole lot about the killer's motivation, but it didn't actually come to much. They didn't even have to talk her out of a hostage situation using their knowledge of her mind. Weak, guys. Very weak week.

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

Oh, absolutely. Because it was. They figured out what the victims had in common, got a description of the killer, then used that to get a good photo from the surveillance camera and then searched for women who looked like that and lived around the dump site. Pretty by-the-book stuff.

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

2/10 - I hope they don't play this Emily thing out for too much longer. It's already off to a worse start than the Reaper was, so the faster it gets going, the better. Also, this is another week in which Rachel Nichols has failed to make any impression at all.

And hey, just for fun, let's take a look at what Syracuse, NY looked like in January 2011!

Now let's see what the show thinks it should look like!

Oh, Criminal Minds, you rascal.


Anonymous said...

Are there going to be Criminal Mind recaps for 6.13 and 6.14?

Vardulon said...

Sorry I've been so slow posting - 13 is up now, and 14 should be up tonight, followed by this one tomorrow (which would be monday the 1th of March, 12, 2012).

Anonymous said...

I love the comparison shot at the end. Couldn't they set their northern-state episodes in the summer, and travel to warmer places in the winter months? I'm sure serial killers prefer warmer weather as well.

Perpetual Beginner said...

The description from the neighbor was believable, but very inaccurate. Basically, she substituted "plain" for "fat". The woman in question is strikingly pretty, and fat - but fat and pretty are opposites to a lot of people, so she was described as plain, and the fat not mentioned.

People are weird, but I've seen descriptors work like that IRL before.

Vardulon said...

You're right about descriptions being super-subjective. That's why I'd expect the police to ask specific questions, such as the height/weight of the person in question, and whether they remember anything she was wearing.

Anonymous said...

Rossi really isn't a people person. Why is he even allowed to talk to grieving relatives? The mother and brother of a recently murdered young woman are invited in to answer a few questions about her. After only a few months, they're still grieving, still adapting to life without her. What does Rossi do? Bearing in mind this man thinks he's a psychologist.

Does he find a comfortable room, invite them to sit in comfortable chairs, offer them tea/coffee, before asking some sensitively phrased questions about their daughter/sister? Or does he take them into an office, leave them standing, seat himself on a desk, and demand to know whether their dead loved one had any friends while checking his phone?

This episode presents quite clearly (and painfully) the enormous amount of stigma still attached to mental illness. You'd rather say your daughter was "moody" than that she was depressed? One's a negative personality trait, the other's a genuine, recognised and treatable illness. For a show that purports to be about psychology, CM does nothing whatsoever to dispel any of the myths and misunderstandings shrouding mental illness.

And I agree with the comments by Vardulon and Perpetual Beginner re the killer's size and appearance. I'm glad it wasn't just me who thought she was actually an attractive woman - it's true about the fat/pretty blind spot so many people seem to have.

gevinshaw said...

I guess our cast has a Don't Get Wet clause in their contracts. Not often the local police get to rescue the victim unless, it seems, it's really uncomfortable.

Anonymous said...

the killer is nowhere near 200 lbs let alone being "over 200lbs" please get your eyes checked thanks.