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.

The testimony continues, and reveals that Derek's been working for months tracking down Doyle by looking for his missing son. Which seems like a terrible idea. I'm not saying that Doyle is another 'Reaper', but if you know he's looking for his son, why would you create an avenue for him to find the child by looking for the son yourself? If you're late it doesn't matter, and if you're early, the only move is to use the son as bait, which is profoundly not cool.

Then Derek is being grilled by the (it-turns-out) Senator about his 'vendetta' - Derek explains that he went outside the system because of this week's Prentiss Award-Winning line-

Really? The INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST who a killed FEDERAL AGENT and opened fire with AUTOMATIC WEAPONS in the streets Washington D.C. wasn't at the top of ANYONE's list? Is there any place that this show's world intersects with reality?

Derek figures out that the best way to track the child is by figuring out how Emily hid him. He reasons that he must be living somewhere in the Washington D.C. area - after all, Emily could have gone to work anywhere when she left the counterterrorism field, why would she move to the Capital unless she wanted to keep an eye on the child who she could never risk coming into contact with without putting his life in danger?

There are a few flaws in this reasoning, the most important being Derek's complete misunderstanding of the concept of witness protection - wouldn't Emily keep the kid as far away from herself as possible?

Still, they do something logical and check out the forger that Doyle murdered - remember, the one that he somehow magically knew to go to and stake out? It's a good lead, since sitting among the forger's files are Doyle Jr's passport-

And the nanny's driver's license-

Hey... um... what were those doing there? Did the forger not give them to the people five years ago? If not, what were they for? I don't know much about the forgery profession, but what purpose would making extra copies of passports and driver's licenses and holding onto them for half a decade serve? Other than to incriminate you if the police showed up, and compromise the identities of everyone he's ever worked for. Also, why did you list the child's place of birth as Ireland? He's four - it's not like he has such a thick accent that it's not going to go away soon. You're trying to hide this kid, after all, so aren't the fewer connections to his old life the better?

And heck, isn't it incredibly lucky that Doyle didn't take even the most cursory look into that guy's files while waiting for Tsia to show up? That would have ruined Emily's entire scheme!

Armed with the identity of Doyle's son, Derek immediately starts stalking the kid, hanging outside the house and school, and setting up remote cameras for whenever he was out of town. He tells the senator that this was all to 'protect' the son that Doyle would inevitably find, but it seems more like the kid and his adoptive mother were being used as live bait. Sure, the plan was to lock down the kid once Doyle showed up, but what if Doyle showed up while you were on a jet to Texas? What would have happened then, since you and Garcia were apparently the only people who knew this was going on?

Amazingly, this terrible plan works, catching a shot of Doyle as he slowly drives past his son's school. So the team needs to come up with a plan to catch him, and they want to bring Greg in on it! This means calling him in Pakistan!

I'm not sure why he's there, rather than doing Strauss' job like the cliffhanger suggested, but he approves Derek's plan, and we get the scene of them storming Doyle's apartment and arresting him without incident. This, despite the fact that Greg had warned that it might have been a 'trap'. Although that wouldn't have been a great one - a trap that requires Doyle to know the FBI are following him, but electing to arrest him at his home where he has control over his surroundings, rather than in his car, where he doesn't? That would not be much of a plan. Actually, why didn't they just grab him in his car?

Meanwhile, Joe and Reid headed over to the kid's house to secure him (Reid wasn't off the team? But the senator said it was down to four members, and he makes five...), only to find that he's missing and the 'mother' and the two FBI agents who were watching the house are dead! Oh, so that's why they didn't want to just shoot Doyle in the prologue, they wanted to find out where the kid was. Not that Doyle could possibly know - if he'd taken the kid, he wouldn't have gone back to the rathole apartment.

The senator then makes a bizarre statement - that Greg's telling the team to arrest Doyle somehow put an innocent child's life in danger. Are they going to say that the FBI somehow leaked the kid's location? I don't so how Derek could be responsible for the kidnapping/murder otherwise.

Now it's Joe's turn to be interviewed by the Senator. He poses a rhetorical question - since Derek saw Emily 'die', was it really immoral for him to want to kill Doyle? It's a great think piece and all, but since Derek didn't actually kill Doyle, what was the point of asking it?

Derek goes in to interview Doyle, and it takes a moment for the killer to believe that his son has been kidnapped, and that this isn't just some ploy. Although I'm not sure what the plot would be in service of, since the team doesn't actually need anything from Doyle. More importantly, no explanation is offered for how Doyle found his son. None at all, beyond him saying that Emily liked cul-de-sacs. Are we to believe the FBI's most wanted criminal drove down every street in the Washington burbs until he stumbled upon his son?

If that's the case, doesn't it put sharp focus on how stupid it would be for Emily to 'hide' someone within driving distance of her house?

Doyle claims to have no idea who might have abducted his son, and JJ believes him. Why? According to her, Doyle's carotid artery jumped when he was given the news. It's a nice attempt to bring a biological component into the science of interrogation, but it doesn't quite hold up to scrutiny. Why?

That's the image of Doyle he's looking at. Please note that the whole 'carotid' area is entirely shadowed, not to mention covered in stubble. So not exactly visible to even the dedicated observer.

Joe and Reid are still at the crime scene, trying to figure out who managed to get the drop on two agents. Garcia finds footage of someone cutting the camera on the telephone pole across the street - which makes it seem all the more like an inside job. They theorize that the killers could have posed as the next shift, since it was a male/female team. Two things there - one: how do you know it was a male/female team? The camera was cut after you saw a man's face hidden under pantyhose. B: Why would the FBI agents there assume that their replacements would be demographically identical? Also wouldn't they be surprised by the sudden arrival of replacement that they weren't expecting? I'm pretty sure FBI agents don't just show up and announce 'hey, we're here to take over' without at least calling to warn them. And if there was another shift, where are they?

Oh, Criminal Minds, I've missed asking completely reasonable questions of your terrible writing.

They also assume that the killers had a personal grudge against Doyle since the nanny was stuffed in a closet instead of being shot. Also there are men's suit jackets in the closet - who do they belong to if supposedly no adult men were living there?

Doyle asks for some time to go out and find the killers, but he's obviously rebuffed. Garcia's able to identify someone who's involved, however - despite the pantyhose, the guy on the video was completely identifiable as a gun-running rival of Doyle's. Doyle remembers him, and says that the only person who knew the gun-runner really well was Emily! Which means it's finally time for Greg and JJ to reveal that she's still alive! Which is especially good timing, as she's already flying into town, since Doyle Jr. called her while he was being kidnapped.

So she was in regular contact with him? Does she have no idea how to hide someone? God, Emily.

The team is happy to learn that Emily is fine, but feels a little betrayed over the whole 'we were lied to' thing. But then Emily walks in, and everyone's happy again!

I hadn't mentioned it before, but Reid's hair is even worse this year. Sure, it's finally a little shorter, but he's not even bothering to comb it. Also, who told him to go to congress in a ridiculous sweater-vest? Can't he be cited for contempt for doing something like that?

Ah, Emily explains that the kid was being raised by a friend of hers, and that's whose jackets were in the closet. So the maid was just still in service? Weird. The guy is safe and out of the country, though. This is her idea of hiding a child? Sending him to live with someone she knows well, who lives in the same city? If she's trying this little, why not just have the kid move in with her?

The team tells her about the gun-runner, and how they expect his partner is a woman (based on nothing, remember?). Emily then explains that the woman must be the 'alpha', as the gun-runner wouldn't be competent to arrange something this complex. Or, you know, they're both working for a third party.

Emily and JJ play catch-up - it seems Rachel was reassigned, and JJ's husband Junior is aggravated by her returning to long hours with the team. Other than that, it's back to normal!

Going over  a list of women that know both Doyle and the gun-runner gets them too many names to be useful (seriously?), so finally the obvious question is asked - what's going on with the kid's mother? The show uses a psychological basis for this guess, the maternal figure having been beaten to death while the others were shot, but I'm surprised this didn't come up earlier, since the vast majority of abductions are custody-related between parents.

Emily finally goes to face Doyle, and demands to know who the mother is. Doyle thinks she can't be responsible, since she'd tried to have an abortion. How could she want the child now? Naturally the next scene confirms that mom is, in fact, the killer, and she ensured that her son would be sent home from boarding school by bringing a tray of tainted cupcakes to his class!

If there's one thing Emily wouldn't have done with this terrorist's child, it's put him in a boarding school with good enough security to bother checking the ID of people who bring in baked goods.

Also, there were only 12 cupcakes, and everyone who ate them (all of them in Doyle jr.'s class) got horribly sick - this didn't raise any red flags with anyone? The FBI agents supposedly safeguarding the kid, forinstance?

Since the mother is a monster, they try to figure out why she'd kidnapped her child. Doyle has an explanation, though - she wants money, but would it be from Doyle or some of his enemies? Doyle offers a list of of mom's associates who have plenty of money, and then the show tries to pretend that Garcia is useful this week by having her search that list against people who might have a bone to pick with Doyle.

What does she come up with? A rival arms dealer whose brother Doyle stabbed to death. Couldn't they have just asked him about this?

Emily: So, in this list of contacts, does anyone hold a grudge against you?
Doyle: Well, I brutally stabbed that guy's brother to death in a bar fight. Do you think that could be it?

And don't tell me he personally offended all of them - if that's the case Garcia's attempts to narrow things down would have been fruitless. Oh, and there's a news story about the stabbing that's hilarious enough to warrant a 'fake journalism' article in the near future.

They check if the latest villain owns any property nearby, and it turns out that - amazingly - he's got a warehouse in Baltimore that would serve as a perfect hideout for criminals. It's at this moment that the senator who's been questioning the team becomes my hero:

Has this character been reading my reviews? This is something inexcusably stupid they do over and over again - it's gotten people killed in the past. Please note that Greg offers no response, because there literally cannot be one that makes any sense. Nice to see that the writers are aware of that, isn't it?

But will it continue to happen nonetheless? Probably.

This time the scheme doesn't turn out great - by the time they arrive at the warehouse mom and son are gone, with only the gunrunner's body left behind. They seem to be completely out of leads, but Reid has a daring plan - let Doyle out of jail to draw his nemesis into the open! Recapping this to the senator leads to a hilarious exchange-

Here's the thing, Reid - I know you have the emotional maturity of an especially petulant child, but that's a senator you're talking to. He represents a hundredth of the entire country. Also, it's not like you're a medical doctor. You just have a couple of Phds. If people are feeling polite/charitable they can call you doctor, but you demanding the title just makes you look pathetic.

The team rallies to make the trade, heading out to the nemesis' private airport. They only ask permission from Strauss after they're already on the way, which certainly speeds things along. On the plane the nemesis is offering exposition, saying that mom was supposed to bring Doyle, not the kid. She responds that the feds got to Doyle first. Is that really true, though? You must have been planning your little 'cupcake grab' scheme for at least a little while - why do that instead of simply watching the house and following Doyle when he showed up? How could that possibly have seemed more risky than trying to kill two FBI agents?

Anyhoo, the team arrives at the plane (finally with backup), and offers to trade Doyle for the child. For some reason the possibility of that completely freaks out mom, so nemesis shoots her, and grabs Doyle jr. I have no idea why she goes nuts - getting Doyle was always the plan, we learned as much thirty seconds earlier. It's not like nemesis said he wasn't going to pay her or something.

It seems to happen solely so that mom can ruin things by interrupting the hand-off, lumbering out of the plane and shooting both Doyle and nemesis, before being herself shot by the team. So, happy ending?

Now the whole team is being yelled at by the senator, who doesn't like that they acted completely without supervision. Emily thinks that they should get a pass because they eliminated four international terrorists (well, one - mom actually killed the other three all on her own before you killed her), and the senator announces that he has some hard questions to ask Emily without the rest of the team present, so they file out-

And we cut back to the office, where Emily and Joe are joking about taking her picture down from the 'dead agent' wall. So I guess she's back on the team? That was anticlimactic. In good news, however, it turns out that Garcia has been looking after Emily's cat! I feel like they could have mentioned that last season. Then Strauss shows up to announce that their supervisors can't allow a 'rogue team', but Emily managed to convince the senators that they were anything but. How did she do that? Check it out:

She read the FBI oath. That's it. She offered no excuse for what they did, no real extenuating circumstances, nothing. She just read an oath, which was somehow convincing for the panel. God, this show sometimes.

It's good to have you back, Emily.

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

I'll give them partial credit this week for assuming that it was probably the kid's mother based on the violence wrought on the maternal figure in his life. Of course, statistically it was almost certainly the mother, so this isn't most impressive logical leap.

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

Let's see, had they gone through the forger's possessions at the time, they would have been able to find Doyle's son immediately. I wonder why it took them months to think of that? They used surveillance to catch one criminal, but then they stopped the surveillance before the job was over - had they just kept it up there would have been no problem, and the other two killers would have been grabbed.

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

3/10 - Emily said that the team were the only ones who could have 'pulled off' this job. But wasn't the job a nearly abject failure? Two agents got killed because the team didn't set up protocols to keep them safe, then both of the people they would have liked to have arrested were gunned down by a third criminal because the team didn't bother to have sharpshooters watching the plane. Hell, it's just utter dumb luck that the child they were trying to save wasn't caught in the hail of bullets. And for this, she wants to give them credit?

Seriously, though, couldn't basically any team have 'pulled off' the relatively simple job of watching a house and then arresting the terrorist when he drove past it? It's not like they did anything to identify the nemesis beyond asking Doyle who really, really didn't like him.

Finally, are we really supposed to believe that both Doyle and mom happened to find out where Doyle jr. lives within a week of each other by pure coincidence? The show never actually established how either character found their son.

Because god forbid this show ever make sense.


Anonymous said...

I wish they'd explain how Reid was off the team, then suddenly on the team. The senator pointed out that Reid was the only team member who hadn't applied to be reinstated. What does that mean? Had he left the team, then decided to return? Where did he go? Or were they all suspended, and then they had to reapply for their positions? How was he suddenly back on the team at the end, and why did JJ say that he wasn't on the team, when we saw him working on the Doyle case?

Also, as you rightly pointed out, they made another of their wild assumptions re the gender of the fake agents/killers. The only reason I can think of for this is that American cop shows always feature male/female teams - presumably so they can try to introduce some sexual tension. The fact that this device has become so ingrained that apparently psychologists would use it to make assumptipns about killers' identities is kind of hilarious.

Anonymous said...

When they said 4 people they were not counting Garcia. Also im confused about why you call Hotch Greg....

K said...

The actor was well known for playing Greg on “Dharma and Greg”, hence the nickname.