Criminal Minds 907: Gatekeeper

It's early in the morning, and a guy is woken up by his alarm! This upsets his bedmate, who is not on a London-based work schedule the way he is. They make plans to see each other again soon, and notably, there's an open window next to the woman's ground-floor bedroom. Who does this? There's not even a screen on it to keep bugs out.

That's a misdirect, of course, because as the guy is walking away, calling his friend to talk about the nice girl he met, he's strangled by the stalker who was watching him leave the building! The killer steals the guy's wallet, takes some photos, and we're out!

And over to a karaoke bar, where 'As Time Goes By' is being sung. Joe and Reid are talking about how this is the bar where Joe met his wife. It's a charming little story about how his wife, who presumably worked at the bar, would constantly write letters to the Beatles to encourage them to come to this tiny dive, and then Ringo eventually did! It's cute and all, but did the producers really think the fans needed an explanation for why Joe had a picture with Ringo Starr in his office in the season-ender? Because they profoundly didn't - Joe's a famous author, it's not crazy that he would meet other famous people at events.

They get a call to come in to work - in the middle of the night, on their day off. Was the dead guy the governor's son or something? Then Joe finds out that his bar is closing, because other bars nearby had siphoned away all the marine traffic! Damn them!

We get the introduction, and discover that three men were killed over some kind of recent time period (they don't specify), but the stolen wallets had nothing to do with robbery, they think, because the killer didn't try to charge anything to their credit cards! Their preliminary pre-file then just gets into some serious nonsense, announcing that it's significant that the killer was well-planned enough to be lying in wait for a victim, but not smart enough to deal with him being on the phone.

Except they have no idea that he was lying in wait. He could have passed the guy on the street, taken out his garrotte, and strangled him, then pulled him into some nearby bushes. Also, how would he have 'adapted' to the phone call? Waited until the guy wasn't talking any more? Used a ruse to get him to hang up? They have no reason to believe that he cared about being heard killing the guy, so why would he? They also assume that he's 'mission-oriented' and has to kill the victims, rather than wanting to. Again, all of this is based on nothing more than three dead guys who were strangled while walking alone at night.

Then it's time to overthink stealing the wallets - is he stripping the men of identity, because he feels he doesn't have one himself? Is he desperate for recognition? They certainly think so, but can't explain why that would matter to the investigation!

Then it's over to the killer, who's making a murder scrapbook while 'itsy bitsy spider' plays on the soundtrack, because someone told the producers that children singing nursery rhymes over awful imagery was effective. Significantly, the killer has stalker scrapbooks of his victims, revealing that they weren't random at all! And the next two pages have some guy with shaggy hair and then a pregnant woman!

But how is he selecting his victims, and why?

I suppose we'll find out after the credits!


Criminal Minds 906: In The Blood

As the episode begins, a modern-day Sisyphus is carrying a boulder up a mountain so that he can add it to the pile. What's under the pile? A woman begging for her life, of course! This is an episode of Criminal Minds, after all. I'd wonder if he considered himself a modern-day witch hunter pressing an evil woman to death with stones, but then he just smashes her head with a rock, so no, I guess not.

Naturally, it's time for a comedy scene, because why wouldn't you follow a woman getting her head smashed in while she begged for her life with some light wackiness? The scene concerns Garcia prepping a Day of the Dead party, and finding out that no one takes her seriously enough to find her attempts to be scary very frightening. More importantly, though, why is she trying to make a Day of the Dead party scary? It's not Halloween.

Then, Reid does his Dirty Harry impression, which involves a man with a supposedly perfect memory botching one of the most famous quotes in film history:

Seriously, who got this wrong? The writer? The actor? The character?

Greg's back from the hospital in time for a rundown! They throw out some random guesses based on the fact that the woman was extensively tortured, and wearing a ceremonial robe. Joe thinks that the stone cairn over the body looks like a tomb, but that's only because no one working on the show knows the word 'cairn'.

They ask how Greg convinced the brass to fly them all out for a single murder. Dudes, last week you traveled cross-country for parental kidnapping. You guys do whatever you want, basically.

Then it's over to the killer's hideout, and I guess I was wrong to dismiss the witchcraft angle, because the dude's got an evil book stand with pentagrams hanging off of it, and a roaring fire going in the fireplace, even though it's morning. The killer tosses his victim's clothes into the fire, and then whips himself severely. So maybe it is a witchfinder general. This is the Halloween episode, after all!

Let's find out after the credits!


Criminal Minds 905: Route 66

The episode opens with two teens making out in a classic car parked out in a field. Because it's the past? Seriously, can't they find someplace better for this? Or is it a fetish? We haven't seen a lover's lane murder since those '60s cosplayers got killed at the start of the Leopold and Loeb Zodiac tribute episode, or if we have, I don't remember. Let's see how this goes for them!

The boy gets a little fresh, and the girl starts screaming - luckily her father is there to immediately smash the guy up with a crowbar! Like, really immediately. As if he'd been hanging out five feet away, waiting for screaming to start. Otherwise his arrival was an incredible coincidence.

Over at the office, Greg is napping on his couch, a file in hand. You work too much, Greg. He phones home to tell 'Jessica' that he'll be there soon. So I guess that's his nanny? Because his girlfirend lives in New York still, right? Also I don't remember her name.

Then he gets a plot-convenient amber alert through an app on his phone-

The girl from the beginning is missing! In Kansas. I don't know how Amber Alerts work, since we don't have them where I live, but don't apps like that normally curate the alerts to where you are? Why is he getting an alert from halfway across the country? If he was browsing facebook and a friend of a friend posted it, that would make sense, but this seems strange.

Then the camera pans down to show off his jacket and nametag, as if they're introducing this character for the first time-

That's just odd. Also Greg calls home to say that he's pulling an all-nighter. Maybe he knows this girl, and you can set up an app to prioritize the kidnapping of people you know, whereever they live?

Greg brings everyone in for a chat about the crime, and they're understandably confused about why they're working a parental abduction case. So am I. Greg offers that because the father is an ex-con and he beat the boyfriend nearly to death it's worth looking into, but this is so profoundly not their kind of case that I'm still not clear why he even heard about it. I checked the Amber Alert statistics, and it seems to generally be a statewide thing, rather than a national one. Also in 2013, when this episode is set, there were nearly 200 Amber Alerts does Greg personally look into all of them?

Oh, then Greg faints. Is he working too hard, or is something else going on?

Hopefully we'll find out after the credits!


Criminal Minds 904: To Bear Witness

The episode opens in a garbage and broken-glass strewn hallway where a man in bare feet stumbles along, almost stepping on a rat as he presses himself against the wall. He squints his eyes against a relatively moderate amount of light from the overhead bulbs, so perhaps he's been drugged? He chases a mysterious figure out of the building into the blinding light of day, yelling at the person to stop!

The figure doesn't listen, though, driving off in a van while the stumbling man yells after him. Then a garbage truck arrives, and the stumbling man begs for help catching the van driver before he gets away! Intriguing!

Then it's over to JJ, who's jogging in the park with Esai Morales, who mentions that they have things to discuss. Is he the new boss who's been hinted at for a couple of weeks now? Why else would the old lieutenant from NYPD Blue suddenly be on Criminal Minds?

Over at home base, Reid and Jeanne are doing crossword puzzles to prove how smart they are, and Reid thinks it might be possible to do one without looking at the clues. Which is, of course, the stupidest thing that anyone could ever say, because of course you could - it's called creating a crossword. As someone who does a crossword puzzle or two every day, I'm quite aware that in a standard 15x15 grid, there's only so many ways that the black spaces can be arranged while maintaining the standard letter length and overall number of clues. Any number of crossword puzzles can be built in a normal puzzle grid - without the specific clues, you'd just be building a pattern of interlocking words, with no way of knowing whether it was what the puzzle author intended, making it almost impossible to be right. This is only not the Prentiss Award because it has nothing to do with the case.

Wow, I guess I take this 'crossword as shorthand for smart' thing kind of seriously, don't I?

Joe then asks the standard question 'do you really do those in pen?' which is supposed to be a 'smart person' thing, but I've never really understood it. In this day and age, who has a pencil?

Time for the rundown! The opening incident happened in Baltimore, and involed the stumbling guy having a dual lobotomy! The team talks a little about the history of the procedure, and how it was used to 'cure' people of mental disorders. The guy has a neat little spike hole next to each eye, so the lobotomy was probably done with one of those old-fashioned spike and hammer kits! Which... ugh.

Esai then arrives and introduces himself. JJ pretends not to know him already, so there's a story there, and he invites himself along to work the case with them as a way for everyone to get to know each other! Weird move, since going on a case got the last person who had this job killed, but whatever, it's his life.

JJ stops to chat with Esai after everyone else has left, asking why he didn't warn her he was the new boss! Esai claims that he only found out after arriving at work that very day, which seems hugely preposterous, since this is a fairly major reassignment, and after they decided they weren't giving the job to Greg two weeks ago, they doubtless would have talked to candidates. But why is he lying to JJ?

We then drop by the hospital to check in with the lobotomized man, who's apparently suffering from locked-in syndrome! He tries to talk to the doctors, but doesn't realize that he isn't saying anything!

A horrific image to leave us with before the credits, show!


Criminal Minds 903: Final Shot

The episode opens in a business park at lunch, where a huge crowd of people are milling about. Considering how expensive that is to stage, and the title of the episode, I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that there's about to be a mass shooting of some kind. Another sniper? That would be the show's third, if you don't count mercenaries!

A blonde lady walks over to ask a cute co-worker to lunch, then is shocked when he gets sniped! The sniping then begins in earnest, with people running and screaming and, in some cases, falling to the ground, badly injured or killed. Blonde lady survives, though, by hiding behind a garbage can! Good for her.

The killer, who's pretending to be a painter in an under-renovation office across the street, quickly disassembles his sniper rifle and dumps the pieces into a paint can. He's also wearing a ski mask, for reasons that elude me.

Seriously, the gloves make sense to me, because he wants to leave no evidence, but the face mask would be uncomfortable in the warm September in Dallas weather, making him sweat and risk leaving more DNA at the crime scene. I could see wearing a knit cap or something to guard against losing hairs, but the ski mask is just a terrible choice. It's not like there's a risk of someone seeing him while he's shooting. He stuck a rifle out a window and fired for ten seconds, then fled. No one was watching the rifle barrel.

Over at Quantico, the team rushes out of the office to respond to the mass shooting, while name-checking a bunch of real-world terrorist attacks that happened in recent months, which seems a little distasteful, actually. Greg tries to remind everyone to keep every possibility on the table, but it's clear that the rest of the team is going in assuming that it's an act of 'domestic terrorism'. Which is always a weird phrase to me, as if it makes a huge difference whether a terrorist is from the country they're attacking. Yes, knowing motivation can help you solve a crime, but do we really need a separate word for if an American fires into a crowd of Americans people than if a Libyan does?

Then we get a recap of things we already know, as footage plays of the crime scene investigation while news broadcasters question whether it was the act of domestic terrorism, or the work of a lone madman. As if those things are mutually exclusive.

Then it's time for the credits, which seems a little quick, since we're just three minutes into the episode, but sure, let's get this party started!