Criminal Minds 723: Hit

It's morning in the nation's capital, but the show decides to focus on a reddish sun over the captial dome, so that morning isn't an optimistic one. We cut immediately over to JJ's house, where it's her day off! She and her son say bye to Jr., who heads off to work with his partner. He's a local cop, in case anyone's forgotten.

Then we cut over to Greg, whose girlfriend drops by to spend a little time with him and his son. Gosh, this is all so bucolic that everyone's day off absolutely has to be ruined by a terrible tragedy. Thanks for the telegraphing, Criminal Minds.

Things get super-awkward at the local convention center, when Garcia and Reid, who have dressed up as two Doctors-
Run into Xander and a friend, dressed as Doctor and Amy.

Yikes. Garcia immediately cancels her plans to go inside, such is the awkwardness created by her refusal to marry Xander. During their flee they run into Joe, who was at the center for a different event (or so he claims...). No, he was clearly there for something else.

It seems it's a hotel/convention centre, and their boss is leaving after an overnight assignation, probably with Joe!

Man, this episode is packed with incident and we're not five minutes in! Are they finally just going to give us a crime-free hangout episode of Criminal Minds?

There's more hanging out, this time with Emily and Derek, who are inspecting the new house she was planning to buy. She's having second thoughts because she doesn't want to commit to anything, and Derek encourages her to waffle. Because he's sensitive!

Then the plot starts to intrude, as criminals prepare to rob a bank. We see some happy people and a mother with baby enter the bank just as things are about to go down, so this is clearly going to turn into a hostage situation. Their plan was to walk in maskless, then shoot the guard before putting their masks on. I'm not sure this is a great plan. Are they going to wipe the security system? Hopefully it doesn't record offsite...

The Royal Flush gang's scheme is going just fine when someone calls the cops - and guess whose car is just outside? Man, they'd better not kill off Josh Stewart. His brief appearances are one of the few reasons I keep watching the show. Also, the promise that Xander will turn up from time to time. This is actually a great episode for me, come to think of it.

The gang tries to leave via the side door, but find Jr and his partner waiting. The partner is shot in the head (classy, show), but Jr manages to return fire, wounding one and driving him back into the bank. Things are about to get nasty... right after the credits!

The police have surrounded the bank, and the team arrives to get an update on the situation. The Royal Flush gang has hit 7 banks in 7 months, killing one person each time to get the room's attention. Derek wants to know why they haven't heard about this before. Greg explains that while he feels this qualifies them as serial killers, his supervisors didn't agree, so the case wasn't pursued.

Actually, Derek, how didn't you know about this? Seven high-profile midday bank robberies by masked people who murdered someone IN THE TOWN YOU LIVE IN. How could you not have heard about this? Maybe it's not national news, but again, YOU LIVE THERE.

Oh, and the explain the security camera thing by explaining that the villains hack the system to turn off the cameras before the initial canvas, and then again when they enter the bank. So, first off, that means they've got someone off-site, because the cameras were turned back on when they put their masks on (why do that? Sick performance art?) - so you've got three people inside the bank, and at least one more outside. More importantly, though, if they cut the footage during the initial canvas, wouldn't that tell the bank that they were going to get hit? Did they not notice their footage being cut? Maybe not the first time, but once the gang's MO was widely known (after the first time tapes were checked), wouldn't security people be looking for that? Seems like a super-easy way to find out where the criminals were going to be.

The gang is busy freaking out about their prospects, what with a badly-wounded guy on the ground and no clear way to escape the bank. One of the hostages stands up to protect a noisy baby, and I notice that it's Ed's friend from the show Ed! So I guess he'll be important later.

As the negotiations begin, the FBI is in a strong position - one of the gang members is bleeding to death. Joe asks for the women and children to be released in exchange for medical help, which seems fair, except for the part where a new hostage is added to the mix.

The female member of the gang decides to shoot someone to prove her point-

Which she's able to do despite obeying the ridiculously unrealistic 'trigger discipline' thing that some technical adviser showed her. The funny part? Her hands are too small for the gun, so her index finger won't reach all the way to the trigger guard. So she's got it way up on the slide. Convenient! Why can't someone just tell her it's not a real gun, and she can be as scary with it as she wants?

While the FBI prepares to send in an agent disguised as a paramedic, the rest of the team tries to figure out the psychology of the killers. Greg observes that the guy with the King mask could have run off after trading shots with Jr, but he instead stuck around to help Jack - but no one's paying attention to Queen. Could the two men be related? It's actually pretty common for criminal gangs to have sibling members, so I'll say 'yes'. For their part, Emily, Reid, JJ, and Xander(!) have noticed something else - Queen is the only one who ever shoots people.

Garcia has used that software from 'Psychodrama' to figure out the height and approximate weight of the two men, which she's able to check against brother criminals from the area almost immediately. So now they know the names of 2/3rd of the gang... but will this information be useful? And why is no one more concerned about the offsite hacker?

The FBI agent paramedic heads in, but he's too late to save Jack's life. With his death imminent he goes for his gun, but gets shot a bunch of times anyways. Somehow the cops don't choose this moment to bust in the door with flash grenades and rubber bullets. It's sad that the paramedic got shot, but isn't that the best time to go in, when they're most distracted?

Oh, and when Queen found out that the FBI knew the brothers' names, she took off her mask too, even though she's confident she hasn't been identified. Based on nothing.

I'm watching a scene with Joe, Greg, and their boss, and it only now occurs to me that Greg's name is Aaron and his boss' name is Erin. I know everyone always calls him 'Hotch', but hearing Joe address 'Erin' while looking at the both of them was confusing for a second, and unnecessarily so. Joe and Greg don't want a full tactical assault on the bank, but at this point it doesn't seem like their boss doesn't have a lot of options. These criminals have shown an excitement to kill people at the slightest provocation, and it's only going to get worse. Do they not trust that the hostages are smart enough to hit the ground the second that gas cannisters start flying through the window?

Or, you know, they could just kill both robbers with no trouble. Check out the gang's confab-

Yes, they're sitting in front of an uncovered window, far enough back from the hostages that snipers in the building across the street have a perfect angle to fatally shoot both of them. So why isn't that happening right now?

The security camera footage gets hacked into by news agencies, which at first seems like it's going to be a problem, but then Sebastien Roche calls to let Emily know that the Queen has a history of robbing banks and killing people in Europe. The difference? She never worked with a crew before... so what's changed?

King gets Joe on the phone and demands an armored car to the airport and a plane fueled up and ready to go to Chad! The Queen insists on Chad. It could be a simple ruse designed to confuse them, but who knows? Emily decides to check with Sebastien about Chad, but he has no immediate idea what it means. He does offer Emily a job running a section of Interpol, though, so that's nice!

Garcia gets a lead on who called the cops in the first place - it was one of the bank robbers! So Queen wanted to create a hostage situation, but why? They also discover that a fourth party (the external partner) has been watching the camera feed this entire time, and Queen's whole act must be a performance for the other partner. The new plan? Confront King with the information and discover whether he knew that he was a puppet.

Joe runs this by King, but Queen is able to talk him into submission, turning him against Joe to the point that he demands all further negotiations be handled face-to-face... with Jr! Jr is willing to go in the hopes of saving people, but everyone else thinks it's a bad idea. And they're right. Jr points out that 4 people are dead because he shot the guy's brother, which isn't true at all - the security guard and Jr's partner were killed before Jr pulled the trigger.

King doesn't like to hear hesitation, so he shoots someone else and announces that someone's going to die every sixty seconds unless Jr goes into the bank. Seriously, why isn't the SWAT team busting down the door at this very moment? It's not like things can go much worse than they already are.

Oh, and King finally decides that Ed's friend is going to be the next victim. Which can't happen, since he has to be the mastermind, right?

SWAT finally gets ready to bust down the door, but before they can get into position (were they not already in position? How?), Jr runs in the front door, hoping to cool things down. Fingers crossed, everyone.

Yeah, he immediately got shot. But he's obviously wearing a bulletproof vest, so who knows? Seriously, why did the SWAT teams not kick the door in the moment Jr was shot? Instead they wait a couple of minutes hemming and hawing.

On the upside, Jr isn't dead, and Ed's friend grabs the paramedic's kit to stabilize him. Let's recross those fingers, folks.

While the FBI is busy not busting into the place and shooting the guy who has absolutely no one standing in front of him as a human shield-

Jr decides to, while grievously injured, make another attempt at turning King against Queen. So he wanders over and asks where the woman has gone to, which is a really good question, actually. He manages to lead King into the back of the bank to look for Queen, giving everyone a chance to walk right out the front door, unmolested.

Then two things start happening at once - King and Jr find queen in the basement, doing something in a secret room (bombing her way into the sewer, perhaps? Yes, I saw 'the Kill Point' too, writers of Criminal Minds). She says they'll find out what she was up to very soon. At the same moment the team prepares to rush the building. Yes, you read that right. The team is going in.

Emily and two other guys went in the side door. Look, I give the show grief for having profilers doing raids all the time, but I really do understand that we're stretching reality to fit an action-packed show format. This time we're watching people with pistols and flak jackets accompanying fully-armored assault rifle-carrying storm troopers FOR NO REASON. They can provide zero assistance in this situation, yet they're going in anyhow. Why on earth is this happening?

Oh, it's because the Queen filled the main floor with gas so that she could detonate it, giving us a cliffhanger ending, since we don't know who survived - and since we've never met any of the SWAT team members, they think we won't care unless the team is in danger.

A flooding that happened awfully quickly, given that none of the hostages smelled gas or showed any adverse effects.

Wait, was Emily already inside the bank?

I guess we'll find out next week!

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

No vital profiling this week. Just some ineffectual people not sending in SWAT teams to resolve the situation.

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

I feel like actual cops would have rushed the place the second the Royal Flush Gang started shooting people. They're not carrying automatic weapons, they've shown no sign of having explosives. Really, there's no reason not to run in and put those two people down right after they murdered an FBI agent.

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

We'll talk next week!

One thing, though - they seem to be acting as if this whole bombing thing was Queen's master plan all along, and she called the cops on herself to precipitate the conflict. This is stated to the point that King doesn't seem to have any idea how they're going to get out of the bank.

Two points:

1- The only reason they weren't able to run freely out the side door was because of the random chance that brought Jr and his partner to the scene. If only one cop had been close enough just the front door would have been covered, and they'd have gotten away just fine.

2- The explosives can only have been brought to the bank inside the big heavy backpacks King and Jack were wearing. Did they not wonder why they were wearing explosives? Would they have seriously put on the backpacks without wondering what was in them? If they knew about the explosives, why were they confused about how they were going to escape?

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