Criminal Minds 622: Out of the Light

Well, thanks for ruining the episode, opening. The first shot we see is Derek performing CPR on someone, demanding they not die, while Greg warns that there's no pulse. Then the show wants us to cut to 'three days earlier'. Except there's basically no point in doing that, since we already know that the team is going to find the woman (because it's always a woman) they're looking for, and that she'll almost die while it's raining in the woods, and that the narrative arc of the show demands that Derek will save her, redeeming himself for failure in not saving Emily. Even though she's not actually dead.

Those three days earlier, a blonde woman is running through the woods, trying to escape her captor. Because this is the teaser, it doesn't go well, and she plummets off a cliff during the attempted escape, landing dead on a highway some fifteen feet below.

This brings the team into the case - although there's a little bit of Greg's real-life stuff, with him being asked to coach his son's soccer team. Joe points out the obvious - that he's never home. For gosh's sake, the guy's sister-in-law had to move to Quantico so that there would be someone to raise the child. Not that the show seems to remember that.

The good news? The woman, despite being raped, tortured, and plummeting from a cliff, managed to survive! The bad news? The local cops had found similarly a brutalized corpse in the woods some time earlier, suggesting that there's a serial killer living in their small resort town who abducts women for extended periods of time!

Attempting to put a ticking clock on the show, the team announces that if the killer has a torture room, he won't leave it empty for long. Which they have no way of knowing. It's not like torture rooms stop working if they're left unattended for a few months. More importantly, the only information they have is that he definitely killed a woman three years ago, and now another woman has escaped from him soon after being abducted. Maybe he works on 3-year cycles?

More importantly, now that the killer knows that one of his victims has escaped, wouldn't he be less likely to kidnap someone when police interest in him is at its highest? This is the exact time a killer would elect to keep his head down. So what's the rush?

Oh, and meanwhile the killer is off in the woods, spraying something from a backpack while collecting decomposed corpses. Then something weird happens - the killer gets a text message from 'Mom':

He types back 'Oh My God. So much fun!'. I'm not sure why, though. Unless this is actually the killer interacting with his mother (seriously unlikely), we're dealing with a guy trying to make it look like his victim isn't missing yet by answering her E-mail. Which is just a terrible idea. People know their friends and relatives extremely well. Writing something even slightly out of character would alert them that something more suspicious than 'my daughter is away from her phone' is going on. Once, when a friend was out of the room, I answered an instant message for them - writing exactly what I was told to say. The person on the other end of the conversation knew it wasn't their friend actually typing based solely on the fact that I capitalized words and used punctuation. Yet this killer thinks he can get away with pretending to be a coed?

At this point he probably doesn't know whether his latest victim is alive or dead - just that she's out of his sphere of influence. So wouldn't getting rid of the phone be priority 1? After all, given that it's got five bars, he's got to be near a cell tower, meaning that the phone's GPS could be easily used to locate him. Why couldn't this message from the mother be a trap?

This actually happened last week, although I didn't comment on it - with the killer suddenly tweeting for the victim, suddenly going from bubbly nonsense about cookies to goth-y claptrap about being in a dark place. Obviously everyone knew something was wrong in that case, but this wouldn't be any less strange.

Also, can you actually text easily while wearing thick work gloves?

You know what? I'm thinking about this too much. Let's pick it up after the credits.
On the plane Reid completely botches his geographical profile.

He guesses that because one victim was found in the woods at that X, and the other one was found at the base of a cliff at the arrow point, the killer most likely lives between the two points. This is ludicrous. First off, you can't use two points to make a pattern. Second, one body was a dump site, the second was an escape - because the killer didn't intend for her to be there, you can't ascribe meaning to the location. Beyond the obvious, of course - that she was travelling east when she went of the cliff, suggesting that she was being held somewhere to the west. And not that far, since how long could she have been running through the woods?

Also, he says that she was on the 'south side' of the lake, but according to the map, that's the north side, since the blue is below her location.

Then Rachel asks a perfectly reasonable question - 'could the 2008 victim have been his first?', and Reid and Derek team up to respond with complete non sequitors.

That's all well and good, but in no way answers her question. And her question isn't as useless as it might seem - after all, if they can identify her, they might be more likely to discover the killer, since the farther back you go, the less careful the killer is likely to be about victim selection and methods of abduction.

Greg, Joe, and Reid go to see the victim - who's paralyzed. She wakes up and tries to communicate, talking about hurt, and how 'he has mercy', which confuses the team, making them think that he'd played mind games with the victim. Of course they don't even consider the other possibility, that the word should be capitalized, as the name of his other victim. The victim then dies into before she can clarify her statement.

Rachel and Derek go to the 'crime scene', which isn't actually a crime scene, of course, just the place where the victim was found. The Sheriff mentions how weird it is to be working this kind of case, since he assumed that by moving to a small town, he'd just spend his time writing speeding tickets and 'citing locals for growing pot'. Do you just cite locals in North Carolina, though? Or do you send them to jail for years on dealing charges? It's not like California where pot is essentially legal.

Even though the 'scent trail' goes towards the city, Derek suggests they head further into the woods, since the killer might have taken forensic countermeasures. Here's a better reason to go into the woods - that's where the top of the cliff is, and that's what she fell from. Going into those woods they find the mass grave the killer was working on, and smell the ammonia he'd been spraying everywhere. Some of the graves turn out be up to ten years old, meaning Garcia has to spread out her search criteria.

No one mentions how weird it is that although the killer had a mass grave where he dumped a bunch of bodies, and theoretically brought his latest victim to be killed and buried, the body from three years ago was found miles away.

That expanded criteria of Garcia's comes up with the Prentiss Award winning line of the night, delivered by Reid:

Remember - the search criteria haven't been narrowed at all. They're literally searching for all possible women who could be this guy's victim, and the only demographic restriction is 'teenager'. Yet apparently in the past ten years, only eight teenage girls have disappeared without explanation in both North and South Carolina. I don't even have to look up the numbers to know that's completely ridiculous.

Garcia does actually have a real clue - an abandoned car that the victims had borrowed from one of their parents. The one they've found is named Angela, and her missing friend is named 'Marcy', finally explaining what the injured girl said, and making all of their Stockholm Syndrome guesswork seem pretty stupid.

Oh, and Marcy? She's been held by the victim in a cellar, being forced to call her abductor 'Daddy', while he sits in front of a stained-glass window and sketches from a photo of her. Ah, the killer who loved lightboxes. Terrifying!

Since the killer went hundreds of miles outside of town to find his victims, they figure he might originally be from out of town, and look for current town residents who have sex crime records outside of town. This turns up a guy worked as an art teacher, and peeped on his female students. And he's currently working as an art teacher at the local high school! Combined with the sketching and lightboxing, he'd be an excellent suspect, except for one thing-

We've already seen the killer, and that's not him.

Half the team searches the pervert's house, while Greg and Joe head to the high school to confront him. The pervert is obviously a creepy guy, and somehow involved in the crime, since he shows his students what's clearly a photo of one of the victims-

During his lesson about photography. Meanwhile the team searching his house comes up with a bloody sweatshirt from the college that the victims go through. Which would all be incredibly damning evidence, if the team had any legal ability to discover it. After all, there's no way they could have possibly gotten a warrant this quickly - or at all. Beyond a history of perversion, there's absolutely nothing connecting this guy to the crime, so how could they justify a search of his house?

They arrest him for the kidnapping, obviously not worrying about any of it holding up in court, and take him down to the station. There's a weird interchange between Joe and Rachel as the pervert is brought in - she observes that it's only been an hour, and people are already gathered outside. Joe explains that it's a small town, and word gets around fast.

Yes, guys, it's a small town - so why did it take an hour to get a handcuffed man from the the high school to the police station? I live in a large town, and there's not a school in it that the cops at the main precinct couldn't drive to in twenty minutes.

In the police station the Sheriff expresses his interest in beating a confession out of the pervert, but Greg is having none of it, and tells the Sheriff to keep away. Joe goes in to talk to the pervert, and is quickly given some ammunition for the interrogation when Derek and Reid discover the pervert's darkroom, which features many photos of young girls. He claims that they're innocent, and taken by the students, but no one believes him. Joe tries to use psychology to badger a confession out of him, but since we already know he's no the killer, it's just wasted time.

Then there's a flashback to the abduction - they stopped so that one of the womens could answer nature's call, and the killer attacked them - he'd been following them, you see. One of the girls vacationed in the city during the summers, and Marcy had even taken the pervert's photography class for four years! Wow, there are too many connections for this not-killer to not be involved.

Also, we see Greg talking to the abducted woman's parents, and points out the inconsistent text language that I theorized about earlier. That's right - the parents didn't notice a complete change in the way their daughter communicated. Oy. Apparently the killer did get rid of the phone, though, but it would still be worth checking out where it had been recently.

The most damning evidence turns up when we find out why the killer was grabbing a skull from the mass grave - he was using it to frame the pervert! Devious! Except for the fact that the team immediately realizes that it's a frame.

There's a quick cut to the killer raping the victim again, in which we learn one piece of useful information - he calls her 'Rose'. And makes her call him 'Daddy'. So he's replacing the daughter her used to regularly molest? Wow, this is unpleasant even for Criminal Minds.

Now that they know they're not looking at the pervert, they have to figure out how the killer knew to frame him. They presume that the killer must have had some knowledge about the pervert's ephebophilia, but don't really explore how. By which I mean they don't search the pervert's house until they find something illegal that they can use as leverage against him, forcing him to give them any information he knows about anyone who could be the killer. The pervert is reluctant to help them figure out who the killer is, which makes the need for leverage all the more vital. Still, the completely lack of a warrant doesn't ever come up.

Rachel goes to the family's cabin, looking for clues about who might have stalked Marcy. Two clues - she was in the church choir, and collected glass wind chimes that they sell at a local art festival. Church and glass wind chimes - both stained-glass related items, which go back to that window in the killer's lair! Of course, the team doesn't know what we do, so it's up to the autopsy to fill in the blanks. The victim had lead in her blood, and the wounds were made with glass - all this points to someone working with stained glass! And there's only person on the pervert's list of 'everyone he knows' who works with stained glass!

Although, really, did they need the list? How many stained glass workers are there in the entire town?

Going through the guy's records, they discover that he moved to town after his wife and child were killed in a car accident - and the daughter had blonde hair, like his chosen victims! So what does the team do? They drive out to the diner that the killer owns, hoping to capture him. For some reason they go with sirens blaring, which alerts the killer and gives him time to flee.

Why would they do this? All you accomplish by doing this is to let the killer know you're coming - which is the opposite of your goal. They also did it last week, even though it put the victim in danger. What is it with this team and screwing up their own arrests?

Oh, and they didn't have someone staking out killer's house at the same time, so he's got more than enough opportunity to drive back there and grab Marcy. While the team is driving around, Garcia provides the backstory - he was molesting his step-daughter (that makes it better?), and the mother killed herself and her daughter by driving into a lake. The only possible conclusion? The killer is going to try to drown himself and his victim! This isn't actually a stretch for them to guess - he's actually made a glass window of a woman drowning, and sketches of one in which the two drown together.

But where in the lake will the drowning take place? Greg hopes he can just drive out and find them on the road, asking Garcia to let him know what make and model the killer's car is.

You didn't know that already? When you were on the way to arrest him?

They catch up with the killer at a checkpoint by the bridge, but he's able to drive past it, and heads into the lake. Luckily Derek is able to dive in after the car, pull the victim out, and then rescue her with CPR!

Okay, I just glossed over something awesome, so let's backstep a little. When Derek is pulling the woman from the car, the killer grabs at her leg, and it looks bad for a second until-

That's right, Greg dove in and shot a guy underwater. Is it any wonder he's my favorite character?


Other than a baffling coda, where the pervert is in his darkroom, developing a photo that the killer took of his latest victim in the cellar.

This would be super-creepy, if it made the least bit of sense. Here's the thing, though - it's not like the pervert was super-great at hiding away his complicity in the crimes. Check it out - he even had envelopes clearly labeled as containing the murderer's photos.

Are we seriously believed that the team (and local cops) stopped searching the pervert's house when he started co-operating? The guy was clearly perving on his students, why wouldn't they keep tearing the house apart until they found evidence of it? Also, since the victim would undoubtedly mention all the pictures of her that the killer had been taking, and the pervert is expressly stated to be the only place in the whole city where you can have film developed.

How could the cops/team not have made this connection? Seriously, what's going on with this coda?

And then there's a final scene with the child soccer league, where Greg and Joe are coaching!

What's apparently an 'away' game, since it's clearly taking place in Southern California.

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

Nope. They talked a lot about the kind of person that a serial abductor/sadist is, but that had absolutely nothing to do with how the killer was caught. Hell, they never even gave their useless theories to the local cops.

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

They found glass in the wounds, and lead in the victim's blood. There was one guy in the small town who worked with stained glass. Shocker!

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

1/10 - Oh my god, did their efforts have nothing to do with the solution. They even made things worse by not taking the bare minimum of precautions to avoid spooking the killer. Also, their main clue was given to them by the killer, who drew their attention to his partner in crime!

Not that he could have known the cops would illegally search the guy's house...

Hey, wait a minute, if the pervert was a full partner in the murdering (the only possibly implication of the film development scene), why did the killer frame him? Why would you frame a man who could easily tell the cops who you were? Sure, the pervert would have implicated himself in the crime, but what motive would he have for keeping quiet when facing infinite jail time? This is a perfect opportunity to cut yourself a deal since you didn't actually physically kill or kidnap anyone.

Wow, this week's episode makes no sense.


outahere said...

I only used to ever be subjected to the final moments of Criminal Minds when tuning in for the desired program being shown next.

It got to be a joke with us, the "Uber Angst" moment, with mega-bummer vibe music. Yes, we'd enjoy a brief laugh at the TV version of The Door of Hell closing to appropriate music.

You have made this program an accessible "hit" as a true comedy favorite!

I keep waiting for the line: He died hungry.
...since nobody ever actually eats anything!

5 Stars 100% ~ keep up the fantastic work!

Anonymous said...

That girl was literally in the water for less than a minute. How did she almost die? Unless she was somehow just faking it in order to get mouth to mouth from Morgan... in that case I say good work!

gevinshaw said...

"thinking about this too much"? Kind of your thing. And a good thing, too.

Anonymous said...

The last couple of paragraphs are my thoughts exactly lol

Dominick said...

You can pick in between a couple of various websites polk county inmates mugshots, however, there actually are just a pair that are great. This will certainly not take long and also you will certainly have your record quite swiftly. It is a fair trade-off to invest a bit of cash and also a brief quantity of time to see to it you, your family members, and also your properties are secured.

Jeremy B. said...

Away game. Nice one