Criminal Minds 910: The Caller

A woman is woken from her rest by a phone call. On the line is a child-like voice saying 'I'm gonna get you', It's obviously been happening a lot lately, so she hangs up the phone in anger. Her husband enters the bedroom, asking about the call. She says that it's frustrating that cops wouldn't investigate the calls. Would you have to investigate them? Couldn't you just check your call display? Also, making harassing phone calls is a crime, and there's no reason they wouldn't be able to file a police report, especially if this has been going on for some time.

The wife asks the husband to talk to the retired cop at his workplace and see if there's anything that can be done. Although I don't know what that would be, if they live in a place where cops won't charge people with crimes.

Anyway, the husband says it's not worth worrying about, and that the kid will get bored of calling. I don't doubt that the guy would be this much of a jerk about his wife's concerns, but it's still rough to watch. Also, maybe he made the call? He walked into the room immediately after it ended, so that's not impossible. Like how in Scream they wanted you to think Dewey might be the killer by having him be unreachable in his room while the killer was calling Sydney at Tatum's house.

The next day when the couple wakes up and preps breakfast, they're dealt two nasty surprises! 1: Their son is missing, and 2: their front door is covered in blood!
The only conclusion? Their son has been kidnapped by people who are very bad at reading the bible! It's the people with blood on their doors who don't lose their kids, dummies.

Moments after the discovery of the door, the child voice calls back to claim responsibility for the crime! The dad is standing right there, though, so obviously he's not the one making the calls.

We cut immediately to the briefing room, where Garcia is running down the case. Has she gotten a raise now that she does twice as much work? I certainly hope so.

They try to explain the police's non-response by saying that they had determined no laws had been broken. Which is just wrong. It's absolutely a crime to phone people and threaten them, even if you're just a child. The problem is that there's no way for the writers to get around this problem - for the story there need to have been a bunch of calls, but if the cops had looked into it they'd have either found out who the criminal was, or that they were using extreme measures to disguise the call's origin.

Of course, if the second was true, they'd have escalated the case, because a child wouldn't have the ability to mask a call, and an adult making these calls while pretending to be a child is immediately more threatening.

So the show just gives bad advice to the audience, telling them that if they're getting days worth of creepy and intimidating phone calls, there's nothing they can do about it.

Thanks, show.

Then we get an interesting reveal - Mandy dealt with a case just like this fifteen years ago! Creepy calls, abducted kid, the whole thing.

Joe and Greg then win a Prentiss Award for this exchange:

Um, if that's the case, you don't need to rush. He's already dead. Here's the timeline - the parents notice the child is missing, and call the police. The cops show up, talk to them, realize how serious the situation is, decide to call in the FBI. That goes through proper channels until it gets to Garcia, who approves the case, and calls the team together.

That whole process had to have taken at least two hours - especially since Garcia has had time to put together a visual presentation including a photo of the kid and the bloody door:
So even if, miraculously, the child was abducted one second before the parents woke up, it's still been more than two hours since the abduction, since the parents had to spend at least half an hour getting dressed and ready for the day.

Also, the team is now going to spend more than two hours on a plane heading for St. Louis, where this all happened. So yeah, if the killer is known for killing kids within two hours, you haven't got a prayer.

Then the show cuts to some footage of the investigation, for no reason that I can think of.



Criminal Minds 909: Strange Fruit

A couple is in bed - still awake - when they hear some kind of a loud crash from outside! The man gets a gun from the nightstand and tells the woman to stay in bed. Which is just a crazy thing to do. If you're together, then you know where the other one is, and there's less chance that one of you ends up shot because you forgot the other one. Also, you know, you can both help each other fight, so there's that.

He gets to the door and looks outside, then tells the lady to call the police... but why?

The show is teasing us pretty hard here, because it immediately cuts to the next day, where it turns out that it was just a broken water main. Which is absolutely worth calling 911 about, but not in an alarmed tone. Seriously, before you told your wife to call 911, you'd say 'it was just a water main breaking, don't worry about it'. Unless you like tormenting her, I guess. This sets up what will presumably the real crime this week, since the city hydro people have to tear up the neighbour's yard, but the neighbours haven't been seen in a little while...

Buried in the yard? Dead in the house? What will it be?

More sneakiness with JJ and Esai - she wants to tell people that the two of them are on a special assignment, which is why they keep sneaking off for chats, so that people will stop thinking they're having an affair. I predicted we wouldn't find out their backstory until at least episode 15, but maybe they're speeding things along!

Confusingly, JJ and Garcia meet Joe coming off the elevator. Garcia chides him for not reading his text messages better - the crime scene is just five miles away! But, wait... it's a work day, isn't it? I mean, JJ and Esai were already there having a meeting, so it's not the morning - there has to have been time for the water guys to find something in the neighbours' yard or house, and by the time they started looking it was already broad daylight... did Joe just not bother coming in to work today?

It seems that there were two bodies buried in the back yard of the house - well, skeletons, really - and there's no initial clue as to how long they've been there! So the couple who's been in the house for 35 years might be on the hook, or might be in the clear!

More importantly, though, why are six FBI agents hanging around in a back yard? This is two very old skeletons. It might not even be murder, let along serial murder. This is the definition of a local matter. If they'd found three or more bodies, that would be one thing, but this is just weird.

It's like there's a sub-theme this year about how half the cases don't seem like something the team should have been called in on. Between the parental kidnapping, the killed mass shooter, and now two skeletons in a yard, that's a third of the episodes so far this year where it absolutely strains credulity that the FBI would be involved at the stage the team shows up.

In what has to be the most confusing phrasing I've heard in ages, we're told that the Johnsons have lived in the house for 35 years, Mrs. Johnson is currently home, and 'The husband and son work at the father's construction company, they're on their way home now'.

Wait... is that the husband's father, so the grandfather? Or is the husband also the father in that sentence? If so, why would you change how you referred to him halfway through the sentence? Also, irrespective of who the owner is, why not just say 'the family construction business'? Why do you have to make everything so difficult, writers?

Anyhow, when the son hears about the dead bodies, he runs off down the street, but Greg catches him really easily. Oddly, he had to walk away from a truck that he had the keys for to flee on foot. Why not just get back in and drive away?

I'd say we'll find out after the credits, but we absolutely won't.


Criminal Minds 908: The Return

It's night, it's Chicago, it's a diner - are people about to be mass murdered? Hopefully not, since a little girl with a teddy bear just entered along with a woman who we'll assume she has some familial relationship to.

While the mother and daughter try to decide on a pie, the waitress pours coffee for a brooding man by the window, who does little more than stare at his middle-of-the-night breakfast plate. Is it just a coincidence that another man enters and takes a seat from which he can watch hoodie man?

Maybe it is, because the new man is a cop, and the hoodie guy gets super-nervous when he hears the waitress reveal that information! So nervous, in fact, that he starts shooting the place up!

Yeah, it's not often a crime show starts in a diner without the place getting shot up.

Chicago containing the scene of the crime means we'll be getting a lot of Derek this week, so it's right over to him, waking up at his girlfriend's place! She's headed in to work for a doctor emergency, leaving him to walk her dog! They're a cute couple.

Then he gets a text from Penelope saying that they have a prefile meeting in thirty minutes. Which is just crazy, because it's 2AM. She didn't even call, yet she expects him to be up and looking at his phone? Maybe she would have called if he didn't immediately text back, but it's a weird assumption to make, thinking that someone who works a 9-6 job is going to be awake at 2AM.

Also, he's got to shower, get dressed, and drive onto a military base. That's probably going to take more than an hour. Why does the show keep pretending that these cases are important enough to wake them up in the middle of the night? It's a mass shooting - yes, it's important, but what are they going to accomplish at six in the morning that they can't accomplish at noon?

One last point - if it's such a vital thing that they've got to get on top of it immediately, why are they going into the office at all? Why aren't they meeting on the plane? They've got a three-hour flight waiting for them, can't they get the briefing there?

On the way into the office, Derek complains that his lady rushed in to work in the middle of the night, and Penelope points out that it's a hilarious thing for him to complain about, given that he's at work at 2:30AM. It really is, and it kind of makes him look like an idiot or a jerk for not realizing it himself.

Here's the twist: The killer is already dead! The cop shot him moments after he shot the waitress, so he wasn't able to kill everyone! Why is the team being brought in? Because the killer was a 16-year-old who'd been missing for four years, and security cameras caught someone dropping him off at the diner just before the shooting! Could it have been an assignment from the creepy cult leader who abducted him?

Probably, given the show we're watching, but it's a weird leap to make, and doesn't seem high-profile enough to warrant a middle-of-the-night wake up. Think about it - as far as the cops are concerned, there is not a killer on the loose. There's a dead mass shooter on the floor of a diner. Yes, they have footage of someone dropping him off, but who knows what that's about? Maybe it's a friend giving him a ride who didn't know about the crime. Absolutely you should want to talk to him, but given the facts in evidence, is this something you'd want to bother the FBI with?

Now, if the camera had picked up the guy handing the kid the gun, then yes, you'd know he had a partner in crime, and that he was probably following orders, and a massive threat was still out there. But they don't have that.

These are the kinds of problems you can solve at the script stage, people. Your show doesn't have to be this bad.

We then cut to Chicago, where the mother and child are being interviewed by the press. Watching them from the crowd is... A black guy in a hoodie!

Are we supposed to be terrified? I mean, I guess it's probably the driver of the car, but since the cops already know that the driver is a black guy in a hoodie, shouldn't they be singling this guy out to ask some questions of? Really stupid for him to hang around the scene of the crime just now, isn't it?

Maybe they'll have caught him by the time we get back from the credits!