Criminal Minds 616: Coda

More clip packages this week - prominently featuring Angus MacFayden. Will this be the week he finally returns? I certainly hope so! Before all that, let's just focus on the plot of this week's episode, which concerns an autistic boy who tickles the ivories while footage of the various team members starting their day plays onscreen. Most notable is Reid's clip, which features him carrying a book on migraines! So that storyline is chugging along nicely. As is Emily's plot, which continues apace with her discovery that her car is suspiciously unlocked in her building's garage - as usual, she doesn't tell anyone about it, nor ask for any help. No, she just uses a remote car starter to turn the engine over, confident that sending a good ten feet away from a car will be sufficient to protect her from an explosion.

While the autistic boy plays away, a gun wielding lower-class scumbag enters his home, threatens his parents with a gun, and then shoots at least one of them, splattering blood all over the place! How do we know he's lower class? He's wearing a fishing vest and jeans, which, along with pickup trucks, are fairly strong bits of visual shorthand TV producers love. Then the boy walks to school on his own, shocking everyone standing out in the yard when the see the blood all over him.

On her way in to work Emily pauses for a meeting with 'Cia' (? - that's what she seems to say) and Sebastian Roche, so that they can compare notes about the fact that Doyle is coming to murder them. The scene establishes that they know absolutely nothing - and we saw Doyle get to America last week, so we're way ahead of the characters on this - and that they're not great at secret meetings. The first part of the plan - have everyone use a specific set of disposable cell phones for a three-way call, then throw them out - is good enough, although the security of cellphones leaves something to be desired. The rest of the execution is just terrible. Even though they know full well that two of the team members are known to Doyle - Emily was undercover with him and he just murdered Cia's fiancee - they talk on their cellphones while standing and sitting just twenty feet from each other. Since two of them are already known to Doyle, why are they pretending not to know each other while making their conversation less secure by having it over a cell phone? If Doyle (or his operative) was watching from a car or building nearby, he'd see two of the people he's looking for in one place - whether they were talking to each other or not, that's going to draw close attention. And probably draw their attention to everyone else using cellphones in the immediate vicinity.

It's rule number one of spycraft, which fiction can never seem to remember - if you're afraid of the person you're meeting, you meet in a public place. If you're afraid of third parties, you meet in private. Wouldn't literally any random room anywhere in the city have been a better place for this meeting?

Okay, plot time - the team needs to go down to Louisiana to interview the autistic witness, since his parents have disappeared, and he's their only lead! Before we get to the credits, I've got to ask: how can he be their only lead? Unless he lives in a farmhouse with a half-mile of clearance on either side, I really feel like there should have been plenty of witnesses to this crime. The kidnapper fired a gun in a house, then somehow got at least one badly-injured person/corpse out to his pickup truck while keeping control of a presumably uninjured second victim. All of this happened at around 7AM, before school starts, when everyone is just getting their day going. If there are any neighbours at all, how are there not multiple descriptions of this guy?

Hey, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, and they are farmers. Let's find out after the opening credits!

On the plane Reid and Rachel are discussing the popular new Doctor Who show, which is one of the few references of it I've seen in North American pop culture. Then they get down to discussing the case. Apparently there were 'shell casings' by the door, meaning at least two shots, and only the father was injured. Then Rachel Nichols gets her second Prentiss Award in just four episodes with the following shocker:

No, Rachel, the 10-year-old autistic boy couldn't have shot one parent, subdued another, then disposed of the bodies without a trace and then walked to school like nothing had happened. Why are you here again?

At the crime scene Greg and Derek go over the physical evidence, then make some elaborate jumps to conclusion. Yes, it's fair to assume that they were familiar with their attacker based on the fact that they opened the door for him, but no it's not safe to assume that the selfsame kidnapper was intimately familiar with the family based on the fact that he ignored Sammy while subduing the parents. Yes, a person who knows something about autism would know full well that he'll be a very bad witness, but even a complete stranger would get that they don't have to worry all that much about a kid who stared blankly ahead while one parent was shot and the other no doubt screamed her head off.

Speaking of that kid, it's interview time! Reid and Joe check with the emotionally traumatized lad, but learn only that he's been drawing the letter L (or an inverted 7?) over and over again on a pad of paper. Could that help them solve the case? Garcia immediately begins looking into it! Meanwhile Rachel and Emily stop by the family business, picking up surveillance tapes and learning that the child always came there after school. Oddly, the tapes are actual tapes, rather than a hard drive that they can burn discs from, which suggests that they can't possibly have more than a day or two of footage. Which just makes it stranger when they suggest that they'll 'send' the footage to Garcia. By courier? Are they going to hope that the police department has the equipment to quickly digitize and upload video tapes?

Garcia reports no shortage of people who need money in the area, and the local sheriff confirms that it was common knowledge around town that the family had just gotten a loan to help their business/support their disabled son. Here things get a little weird, as Garcia exclaims that although she froze all of the family's accounts the moment she found out about the kidnapping, someone still managed to withdraw ten thousand dollars from a bank branch in the next town over. So she froze the accounts, but no one notified the bank managers that anyone looking to withdraw from those accounts was probably involved in a kidnapping, and that they should immediately contact the police? What the hell kind of SOP is she using?

At that moment the mother walks out of the bank, ten thousand dollars in hand. She brings the money to the hillbilly in the parking lot, who's far more red-necky than my costume-based profiling could have predicted:

Although they seem to be driving in a plain old sedan, so my pickup truck theory is also wrong. Unless this is the family's car? Although that wouldn't really make sense, since it's not like he could have taken two cars away from the crime scene.

The kidnapper is annoyed that she wasn't able to get any more money, and refuses to let the mother get any medical attention for the father until she figures out a way to produce the rest of it. This part actually confuses me a little. The kidnapper let the mother go into the bank alone, while he waited out in the parking lot for long enough for her to withdraw ten thousand dollars. Which has to be what, twenty minutes? Why didn't she just have them call the cops and surround the place? Of the two outcomes, which is more likely: that a scumbag kidnapper will let you save your husband's life even though you're only able to get him a fraction of the money that he asked for, or that the police will be able to get that information out of him in exchange for him not being charged with murder?

I know it's a stressful situation, but unless this guy turns out to have accomplices that are with the husband, and she was concerned for that reason, this behaviour seems incredibly implausible.

Emily and Rachel head to the bank to talk to the manager, who didn't find it at all suspicious when a woman came in demanding tens of thousands of dollars, and then became hysterical when she could only get a little bit today before the rest was transferred over. Despite being a manager she's apparently unfamiliar with body language associated with people being robbed. They get more security footage, but there doesn't seem to have been a camera on the parking lot, which is just strange.

Oh, and the father is tied up in the hold of the kidnapper's boat, slowly bleeding to death.

The team wastes a few minutes giving a profile to the local cops, telling them that they're probably looking for a family man who was driven to this crime by the economic destruction post oil-spill. Which is all very topical, but also a pretty wild guess. After all, it could just as easily have been a drifting relative of a neighbour who's greedy and unscrupulous, or a workman in the area with a criminal history who was passably familiar to the family and got wind of their good fortune. The other piece of information the team latches onto, the fact that the mother says the ten thousand dollars 'isn't enough' also leads them to the completely baseless (although I'm sure correct) conclusion that the kidnapper asked for a specific amount of money, one equal to his debts. Here's the thing, though - the mother said that the ten thousand 'wasn't enough' because she had asked for all forty-odd thousand dollars she had in the bank. Isn't it just as likely that the killer was simply asking for all the money he could get in exchange for her husband's life? If this team had been working Steve Wynn's daughter's kidnapping was kidnapped, would they have suggested looking for suspects with a  1.5 million dollar mortgage that was about to be foreclosed on?

The team brings Sammy's teacher in to talk to him, hoping that she can open lines of communication. This does get him moving, and he starts fake playing the piano - but what could he be trying to get across? The team suggests bringing him back to his house to play his message, but the teacher is appalled that they would risk his sanity by returning him to the crime scene. Hey, here's an idea - his family runs a music store. Maybe use one of the pianos there? The decision has to be made by Sammy's aunt, who's driven from Texas to help!

Meanwhile the kidnapper stops by a cheque-cashing place, hoping that they'll let the mother cash a thirty-thousand dollar cheque with no questions asked. Which seems like a stretch, even for that industry. Especially when the mother tries to escape and the kidnapper has to subdue her. So a creepy looking guy escorts a freshly-punched woman into a cheque cashing place after dark, forces her to write a thirty-thousand dollar cheque, and demands it be cashed - and that goes just fine? Didn't the cops get the word out to all these places something like five hours ago?

Despite all of the logic and established plot points getting in her way, mother is apparently able to cash the cheque just fine, because in the next scene they're at the kidnapper's boat, where he plans to tie the two of them up until he can get his kids back, cross state lines, and then call the cops to rescue them. The sad part about his unbelievably stupid plan? I totally believe that plenty of criminals this stupid actually exist. Of course the plan immediately falls apart when they discover that the husband has already bled to death, making him a murderer! Will he also kill the mother, to cover up his crime? Of course not. This is a kidnapping episode, and they never end unhappily. Okay, yes, the husband died, but he never had a line, so he doesn't really count.

The next morning the team finally gets to the cheque-cashing place, where they learn that the villain was only able to get twenty-five thousand dollars from the unsecured cheque of a battered woman. She tried to write a thirty-thousand dollar cheque, but he balked at that, apparently. Once again the team tries to figure out why forty thousand dollars is a significant number, just assuming that the kidnapper didn't simply want all their money. Oh, they also find the crowbar that the mother used when trying to escape, and it's rusted extensively at one end, which Derek immediately recognizes as something that happens when fishermen use them to pull crab buckets out of the water. This is information he has because there are so many venues for salt-water fishing where he grew up. In Chicago.

Hey, more Emily stuff! Sebastian and Cia have found the footage of Doyle landing at the private airstrip. They actually explain that he was able to get into the country via a fake ID, which still doesn't seem all that plausible to me, what with him being a wanted international criminal and all. They don't have facial recognition of any kind going on?

They wind up taking Sammy back to his house, and ask him to answer yes or no by pressing certain keys on the piano. He's reticent to answer, and instead obsessively plays the same song from the beginning of the episode. That doesn't matter, though, since Joe makes another, more important connection while hanging out with the aunt - Sammy uses flashcards to plan his life because he lives entirely visually! Which means the Ls that he's been drawing were secretly clock hands, representing the time when he met the kidnapper!


The other two sketches he did were the anchors on Reid's socks and the tread of Joe's boots - wouldn't the Ls far more likely represent something visual about the killer? I guess I'll let them have this one, though, and just move on - back to the music store, where he always goes after school, as the clock hands suggested. So who showed up at the time Sammy was trying to suggest? A hillbilly-looking deliveryman! He must be the killer!

The team splits up, rushing out to his house and boat for the confrontation. Of course, he's at the boat, where SWAT surrounds him. The killer wallows in self-pity, knowing that the game is up. So he asks the mother to shoot him so that his children will get his life insurance. The mother insanely refuses to do it at first, claiming that she 'knows the difference between right and wrong'. As if there's some moral code under which it's 'wrong' to kill the guy who kidnapped you and murdered your husband. Finally the killer taunts her enough about her dead husband that we're able to get the happy ending we've been waiting for, with the killer dead in the hold of the boat!


Other than some family wrap-up, and shots of the team coming back to the office and returning to their lives. Oh, and more Emily stuff of course.

So, what's she up to? She goes down to that plaza from earlier in the show with two cups of coffee. Why two? She was waiting for Doyle to come and meet with her!

Yes, you read that right, he sits down and threatens her, announcing that he'll have her team killed if she were to shoot him at the meeting. Although that would kind of be a stretch to accomplish, since four of the six people he threatens are actually inside FBI headquarters while they talk. Also, where are Sebastian and Cia during this whole sequence? Shouldn't they be busy killing Doyle or at least his henchmen?

For that matter, where is every member of the FBI? Emily knew that she was going to meet Doyle, and understood that she might be killed at the meeting`- so why isn't the whole area a trap for him? It's not like Doyle's existence is a secret, or there aren't multiple governmental agencies out to get him. We've heard about both Interpol desperately searching for him, and the German Anti-terrorist group GSG9 nearly missing him when he faked them out by taking a different train. So obviously he's a most-wanted international criminal. What could Emily possibly have to gain by not bringing the entire weight of the federal government to bear in capturing him? There's a hint that she has something to be guilty about - Doyle accuses her of taking from him the only thing he ever loved, which suggests that he had a child who was tragically killed during the police raid when Emily's people captured him.

I don't know why that guilt (if it even exists) would keep her from trying to catch this guy, however. This guy has enough money and contacts to sneak into the country while on Interpol's most-wanted list - was Emily's plan for dealing with him seriously sitting in a plaza and hoping that he came to meet her alone and unarmed? Is she an idiot?

Wait, why am I even asking that question? There's an award for stupidity named after her.

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

Not especially, no. I will give them some credit for using a patient application of child psychology for dealing with the autistic lad, and figuring out how to deal with him on his own terms. They used all manner of psychological guesswork to figure out that the kidnapper was an impoverished fisherman looking for a big score to save his family, but it was all rendered moot when the traumatized son of the victims just flat-out told them who the killer was, albeit in his own way.

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

Well, let's see - they immediately figured they were dealing with a kidnapping, but didn't bother actually contacting the banks and telling them to warn the police if the victims in question showed up, trying to get the ransom. Then, after missing the villain and victim at the bank, they said they were going to inform/surveil all the cheque-cashing places in town, but didn't actually bother doing it. The only way they they didn't catch this guy far more easily is by not following the basic rules for dealing with kidnapping.

The rules invented by the FBI. Because dealing with kidnappings is what the FBI is FOR.

God damn it, show.

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

2/10 - I'll give them this - at least they treated the autistic kid with dignity and weren't at all condescending! Unlike me, obviously.


Anonymous said...

More misrepresentations of autism. Not very surprising from a show that includes the infamous Reid - could they make a decision and stick with it? He's got to be either autistic or "normal" - they can't just pick the traits they like from autism and ignore all the others.

Anonymous said...

Slowly working my way through this show and your back catalogue of recaps. Very few episodes have been so terrible as to force me to turn them off, but this was one of them. As someone from the town in Louisiana in which this is set (well actually the parish. I'm not sure why they keep saying Lafayette Parish and not the city of lafayette. A parish is basically a county), I can say that this episode was particularly poorly researched. I didn't get past about minute 15 but:
-New Orleans has no say in whether the BAU should be sent to Lafayette. It's is not the state Capitol and it's not even in the same parish.
-The establishing shot of the bridge in the beginning is in Baton Rouge. I wouldn't really care except it's marked "Lafayette Parish, Louisiana."
-Gargia claims "that area was hit particularly hard by the oil spill" (or did she say Katrina?). Doesn't matter because neither are true.
-the shots of all the rundown shotgun duplexes? Yeah, that's New Orleans.

I didn't even stick around to hear the show's terrible attempts at Cajun accents. I got enough of that on True Detective.

feenix219 said...

Too funny. She was afraid to escape while in the bank, but tried to escape later on her own. Makes NO SENSE! :D

Hanna said...

There is one thing I don't get: how do they dismiss the idea that maybe the mother shot the husband and then fled, dumping the corpse somewhere? Maybe I missed that part but I dont remember it being discussed at all.
The spouse is always a suspect and I cant imagine that changes when you vanish. Doesn't that make you look even more suspicious?

I also thought it was a nice touch when Derek explained to the lokal cops that the area had been hit hard by the oil spill. They are local cops. If the FBI guy hadn't told them maybe they would have never known.

slaget said...

Ok. The gun on Reid's hip thing. Who shows up to interview a traumatized kid who witnessed a shooting, with a big gun sticking out of your groin?? I thought the kid flinched because of the gun. That would have made perfect sense. The costumers should give Reid a ten gallon hat, by the way.