Criminal Minds 705: From Childhood's Hour

A child is locked in a bathroom, and he begs his mother to stop whatever she's doing. It turns out that what she's doing is searching her dresser for a pair of scissors! Uh-oh. Then it turns out that the kid is in a hallway and I'd guessed wrong about the bathroom thing - but who has an interior opaque glass door on anything but a bathroom?

 Profoundly freaking out, the mother dials someone on the phone, then takes her son out in the car and leaves him on some house's lawn. The child doesn't want to do this again, but the mother says he must, then drives off. Moments later a creepy van drives up - the child is shocked that the driver, who he knows, has come to meet him. Man, she'd better not have sold that kid to a child molester.

At roughly the same time Joe is meeting one of his ex-wives for breakfast. It seems she'd like for them to get back together! But will him constantly being called in to battle serial killers interrupt their lives once again? He invites her over for dinner one night to see if they can work.

Okay, the mother claims the situation isn't as sinister as it might seem - she's called the police, claiming that she dropped the kid off at his grandmother's, but didn't know what happened to him since then. This seems like quite a lie, since the drop-off scene was two days earlier. If she was really supposed to have dropped the kid off at his grandmothers, wouldn't said grandmother have called to let her know that the child never arrived?

I'm not entirely clear why the team is working on this case at all. A single child was abducted two days ago. It's not like they're saying that this is part of a series of St. Louis child abductions, and that they have to put a stop to it. This one kid went missing, and the entire FBI profiling all-stars team showed up? That's super-unusual for this show - unless of course the case is within easy driving distance, like the mall. Then again, in the mall show, they actually suspected the abduction was the latest in a series, even though it wasn't. So I really don't know what's going on here...

The kid is still alive, luckily (although little kids never get killed on the show, so I'll understand it if you're not surprised), and being cared for by a young guy who keeps him locked in a bedroom. He also refuses to tell the kid why he's being held, or where the mother is. Mysterious!


The Hundred-Tenth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

(click to bigify)
I feel like if everybody could just see this image they'd understand why America is the greatest country in the world.

Okay, I don't even know if that was sarcastic.


Castle Vardulon presents: The notes I made while watching The Thing (2011)

- Why did they fly to America? Couldn't they have just sent for her?
- Also, since they found a tunnel leading down to a wholly intact alien spaceship, shouldn't their first priority be to secure it and bring down a sufficiently large team of experts to investigate it?
- I've got to say, for a ship that crashed in Antarctica, it's in remarkably good condition.

- Why are you acting like the EBE is the important find that you have to investigate and document immediately? It's a frigging ice cube. For all you know there could be ten dozen living Things in that perfectly preserved spaceship, waiting to be woken up from their sleep pods.
- Wow, did it make far more sense in the story/original when they accidentally destroyed the spaceship while trying to melt their way down to it. With no spaceship to examine, of course the Thing is the most important find in human history. If there's a just-off-the-lot stadium-sized spaceship lying around, however, who cares about a single alien?
- The thing escapes? What? Did they thaw it out?
- So it can instantly generate grappling hook spears? Is this a Mortal Kombat character suddenly?
- I'm confused - between escaping and getting burned, when did the Thing have any time to replicate anyone? This isn't like The Thing where the dog has all day to replicate Norris/Palmer, depending on what your theory is.
- Are you seriously talking like you want to keep this a secret? You should be shouting this from the rooftops: it's an amazing discovery!
- Wait, why did you attack inside the helicopter? How does causing it to crash improve your odds of survival?
- I can't stress enough how the Thing doesn't have enough alone time with people in this movie to replicate them. It's not like Fuchs' theory was right - it can't poison you with a cell and gradually take you over - so when is all this changing happening?
- I'm confused about the Thing's endgame in this scene: does it not realize that people are going to hear when it starts making screeching sounds two rooms away from everyone else? Also, when it's torn its own and Mary's clothes apart in the envelopment, how is it going to find new ones?
- Hey, wait - why didn't she just bust out some of those grappling hooks when everyone was unarmed and unprepared in that group setting, if that's something she can do?
- This is something The Thing understood, that The Thing simply doesn't - by giving The Thing clear limitations on its abilities, and a comprehensible physiology, it was far scarier than just having the Thing be able to do whatever the scene requires.
- Okay, so they survived the crash, but no one's going to talk about what happened with the Thing that was on the chopper? Seems like a loose end.
- Um, Mary - you saw that in order for the Thing to envelop someone, it needs to basically tear everything to shreds and spray blood everywhere. Do you think that they had a spare set of clothes in the helicopter? Half-wit.
- Why are you sitting at a table, 'working out a test'? You just said that you were going to drop people's blood in with uncontaminated blood and look for a reaction. You already figured out what the test was. Shouldn't you all be in a room DOING the test?
- Okay, you've done the ridiculous 'iron fillings' test - why are you now splitting up again: and doing so without restraining the suspected guys in any meaningful way?
- Man, I bet the Thing is really pissed he didn't attack back when everyone was unarmed, huh?
- Yeah, tearing off arm? Nowhere near as impressive as Norris' chest.
- Oh, good, another super-strong grappling hook arm - why does he wait before pulling that thing out?
-  Hey, remember when the Thing had to put in some effort to transform, and wasn't super-competent in its new form instantaneously? That made a lot of sense, didn't it?
- It fully copied the guy in just minutes without damaging his clothes? Seriously?
- Wow, does that not look like split-face guy.
- Wait... the spaceship WORKS? Why didn't any of the things go there at literally any point in the story up until now?
- You're telling me the thing managed to simultaneously copy the American guy and also be a flesh pillar in the control room? Explain, please.
- Hey, um, American guy? Why aren't you killing her? You have a flamethrower, she has nothing, and you've got no reason not to kill her, what with you knowing you're a thing, while she doesn't.
- If the thing knows about the 'fillings' situation, and there's no reason it shouldn't, why didn't it put the earring back in? And don't tell me it doesn't - the thing that took the American guy over knew about it, and this guy clearly knows he's the Thing.
- You let her live so she'd have a chance to gloat about how clever she is for figuring it out? What?!
- So she's fine? That's the ending? She was okay, then drove to a Russian base? Why not drive back to her own base?
- Wow, that was a disappointment.
- Hold on, why did that guy kill himself when the threat was gone? There really wasn't enough character work in this movie.
- Oh, The Thing (2011), you can't offer a single reason that anyone should ever watch you, rather than 'The Thing', can you?


Criminal Minds 704: Painless

This week's adventure into questionable crime-solving techniques opens in the aftermath of a school massacre, in which a deranged student shot a bunch of people and then detonated a bomb contained in his backpack. There's some artistic shots of the dead students' faces and the empty school, all apparently from the POV of one middle-aged man, who walks out of the building one night, ten years after the incident.

The man returns home and finds a bomb waiting for him in his bedroom! If that weren't bad enough, the killer also shoots him in the leg before he can escape the poorly-timed explosive!  The gunman demands to be looked in the eye before walking way, leaving the principal to be blown up on the floor of his bedroom! Although, who knows? He may have survived - the bomb was small enough that it could be stuffed into a clock-radio, so it was tiny by bomb standards. Let's keep out fingers crossed, huh?

Then next day Greg is at an elementary school having a parent/teacher conference, where he discovers that his son is being bullied by an a-hole. Will this tie in with the new spate of school shootings? One can only hope!

The team gets started working on the principal's death by offering a little backstory: Joe claims that he and Greg were at the school shooting, and had to drag the principal to safety - that's how dedicated the victim was! Which is some nice colour, but it raises an important question: how were you two at the school shooting? The guy shot up his school at lunchtime and then blew himself up - that can't have taken long enough for you to get on a plane, can it? Did you just happen to be in Boise? I mean, the whole Columbine thing was over in less than two hours.

Then something weird happens - this isn't Prentiss award territory, but rather an entirely new category. I wish I had an award to give for 'most inappropriate line reading'. Behold:

Seriously, JJ, why are you so happy about this?

Since the principal was killed by a bomb which supposedly matched the design of the original, the team fairly assumes that the killer is looking to relive the tragedy on its ten-year anniversary! And this is the perfect time to do it, since the school is about to have a four-day remembrance ceremony, which will be a perfect time for this killer to strike!

Except that there's no way that the ceremony is going forwards. The principal of a school blown up to commemorate the anniversary of a mass murder? Yeah, that school's doors are going to be chain-locked until the killer is rotting away in a maximum-security prison.

Although maybe the cops won't have to bother, since this killer doesn't seem to be particularly careful when it comes to bomb-assembly.

In case the picture isn't clear enough, that's the killer using a block of high-explosives as a steady surface for him to do some soldering on top of. I hope this kid enjoyed having all of his cells touching one another, since apparently that's not going to be happening for much longer.


The Hundred-and-Ninth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Okay, quiz time: Is the ten-year-old boy gleefully consigning those men to one of the cruelest deaths imaginable the hero of the story, or the villain?

The answer may surprise you!


Criminal Minds 703: Dorado Falls

The show begins with a messy house, full of fast-food wrappers and never-opened newspapers. A mildly injured man wakes in a bad state and looks at the sprinklers splashing against the window. He goes out to shut them off, and the camerawork goes wobbly, letting us know that, even as his neighbours greet him, he's deeply psychologically off-balance. When he gets inside he phones someone on his cell, announcing his suspicion that he's being watched by someone. But who, and why? Or is he just paranoid?

The injured man heads into an office and shoots the boss a bunch of times!  Which would be bad enough, but then he somehow manages to kill everyone else in the office without anyone escaping or people in nearby floors hearing the gunshots. How do we know this? Because minutes later a guy drives into work late and gets brutally murdered, somehow not noticing the flood of people who should logically have been fleeing into the parking lot.

At Quantico the team hears about the mass shooting/stabbing, and JJ asks the obvious question - how could no one have heard anything? The response? That the attack was well-planned! Because if one's thing true, it's that planning makes bullets quieter. Moron.

Garcia is able to pull up pictures of all eight victims-
But doesn't have a picture of the one employee who is 'MIA'. This is a ridiculous way to tease the audience. The final employee either is or isn't the killer:

And we'll know soon enough - there's no reason to hide the information from us, since it's something that Garcia would logically have. Hell, that picture should be the focus of their little presentation, since the first conclusion anyone would jump to when hearing that everyone in a workplace is dead except for one guy who's missing is that the missing guy is most likely the killer.

Speaking of the killer, he grabs some SMGs out of storage, clearly hoping to do a lot more damage before getting taken down. Will he succeed? Of course he will! While eight victims is certainly a high enough body count to justify a whole episode's plot, killers on Criminal Minds always commit at least three distinct 'acts', even if those acts are mass shootings. So look forwards to plenty more violence from this guy, who's most famous for being a government murderer on David Mamet's "The Unit", but with blonde hair kind of looks like the poor man's Neal McDonough!


The Hundred-and-Eighth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

You know, when this comic was written Jesse James had already been dead for sixty years. Had there been no famous thieves in the interim, or was he just that central to America's national story?

Perhaps, once again, it's alliteration that wins the day!


Criminal Minds 702: Proof

The time: 1986. The Place: Durant, Oklahoma (better known as 'the sticks'). Two teen boys are discussing girls, and how you have to be able to prove that you made out with one, you can't just say it and expect the claim to be taken at face value. This is the kind of 'dare' that almost always leads to rape/murder in these kinds of stories. One is retarded, the other not. I don't know if that fact is going to be important, but there you have it. The retarded one (now an adult) begins narrating about his childhood, lying about how happy and important it all was while home movie flashbacks tell a different story. The narration turns out to be the retarded man filming himself with a camera, essentially making a documentary about his life. Does this mean that Criminal Minds is finally taking on the popular 'fake documentary about a serial killer' genre? Almost certainly not!

The retarded man enters his childhood hovel, revealing that inside he's got a-

Crying woman tied to a chair! Wow, just 85 seconds into the episode. That's got to be close to a record, doesn't it? She begs for her life, but the retarded documentarian is unimpressed, announcing that he has no plans to hurt her even as he grabs a dropper of clear liquid (acid?) and applies it to her taped-open eyes.

Meanwhile at Quantico we learn that JJ has completed her training to be a real profiler, rather than just the team's secretary and PR person! So are they still not going to have one of those? This is a puzzling choice - after all, it's not like the team needed a sixth profiler. As I mentioned about the inclusion of Rachel last year - does having six interchangeable viewpoints somehow seem more convincing than five?

There are only two distinctive roles on the team - Reid presents geographic profiles (although really anyone could use a compass on a map...) and Garcia reads a computer screen out loud over the phone after it's decided who the killer is. There used to be a third distinctive member of the team, and it was JJ, who presented the cases and sometimes talked with grieving family members. But now that she's back, she's just going to be another generic profiler? Weak, Criminal Minds.

Or, and Reid ducked out on brunch with JJ over the weekend because of some tsuris involving his mother. Will we be seeing more Jane Lynch? Have they killed her off? I can't wait to find out!

Garcia and Joe are chatting about Italian food on the way into the conference room, where everyone's appetite is quickly spoiled by the details of the case - women are being brutally tortured, blinded with acid, then murdered! The team blathers on about the possible meanings of eye gouging, wasting a little time before Greg has a good idea: have Garcia check into who has access to Sulphuric Acid. Oh, and the two victims died within three days. So it's another spree killer - also, after one blond coed in a town of 16 thousand people was raped and tortured to death, her battered body dumped in an alley like garbage, other women who look exactly like her weren't chilled to the bone, nor did they start taking greater precautions.

Seriously, the women were abducted like five blocks apart:

Although this is a case of the show being a little inconsistent - Garcia says the abduction sites were 'five miles' apart, but the map makes a profoundly different argument.

Then it's back to the retarded documentarian, who's brought his camera to film his brother, who's presumably the 'alpha' in this serial-killing team. The show hasn't really pointed in that direction yet, but it would make dramatic sense for the retarded brother to be kidnapping these women, confining and blinding them so that the older brother can torture them at his leisure. It wouldn't make logical sense, though, since we'd be expected to believe that a retarded guy is capable of kidnapping young women off the street in broad daylight without anyone noticing.


Criminal Minds 701: It Takes a Village

 We're back for season 7! And man oh man, am I ready for the big changes! I assume there will be some, based on the fact that the whole 'last season' clip package revolved around Emily's departure, suggesting that she'll return, and then they played the scene of Greg telling everybody that they were free to take other job offers in the FBI, since their department might be cut back. Oh, and then JJ returned in the last scene. So I'm also supposed to be looking forward to more of her?

Just kidding, JJ - I've seen Ripper: Letter from Hell like a hundred times.

Alright, onto the show! Which opens in a hearing room (I'm not sure if it's senate or house), where JJ is being interviewed about the summer's cases. Yes, while we weren't watching apparently the team was down to just Joe, Derek, JJ and Garcia, and they managed to work 17 cases in 14 weeks!

So is Greg gone? And Reid? I'm really excited for the opening credits montage/group shot. Wow, I forgot about Rachel.

The guy leading the investigation mentions that a case involved JJ being suspended, then we cut out into the hallway, where the aforementioned three cast members plus Strauss (Greg's suddenly-not-evil boss) and Reid are waiting for news and worrying about having to testify.

It seems that the (congressman? Yeah, I'm going with that until I know more) is investigating all of the man-hours they secretly spent on a case while pretending that it was closed. Then they ran with the case over the course of two days after the subject was identified. That subject? The nefarious Doyle!

JJ and Derek apprehend him without incident - the congressman is pissed about this. Why? Because they chased Doyle down without consulting 'Homeland Security' and now six people (including two of her agents!) are dead!

Homeland Security? Don't you mean her superiors at the FBI? I'm fairly sure terrorism is their jurisdiction. More importantly, why was JJ running a secret 'find Doyle' operation? What I mean to say is, how was there not a non-secret everyone's-working-on-this 'find Doyle' operation? Just to recap, a known terrorist snuck into America, killed two entire families and a few government agents, then ran away into the Boston night. Why was anyone NOT looking for him?

Oh, and who got killed?

According to the opening credits, it's none of the main cast! Hell, one of them came back from the dead! Seriously, though, it's nice to have Emily back - who else would I use as a baseline for FBI idiocy?

Other than literally any other member of the cast.