Criminal Minds 913: The Road Home

It's raining... somewhere... as a man writes a note while sitting in his truck. He tried to make something right, and failed, now he's asking for forgiveness. Then he goes to the glove compartment, grabs his pistol and - will he kill himself, or someone else? Well, the pistol has tape all over the handle, which might be intended to repel fingerprints, but who knows?

The man - you may recognize him as the reclusive nerd from Real Genius, or the other guy in Napoleon Dynamite, but to me he'll always be Broots from The Pretender - sees some kids in coasts walking to a gazebo to get out of the rain. Apparently he's in a public park?

The show cuts away before we see him decide to kill someone else instead of himself, and suddenly we're in Joe's office, as he stares at a gun lying on his desk. It's an old-timey semi-auto, and it came with a note. Maybe an old army buddy? I've got to stop making guesses about things that aren't related to the plot, and just watch the show.

Turns out Joe is worried because the gun is a gift from Mescach Taylor (his army buddy from the homeless burner episode) - it's a Vietnam-era army sidearm with custom-made handgrips designed to look like the Vietnam War Memorial! But how could a recently homeless fellow have afforded that? Did he liquidate all his assets and buy extravagant gifts for his friends prior to committing suicide? Joe has tried to get in touch, but Mescach has disappeared, not showing up to work or his at his housing unit! Greg tells Joe to fly out to LA and check on him.

Back at the park, the three youths start harassing the old men playing checkers in the gazebo, and when they flash their guns, Broots appears and shoots them to death! Two of them, anyhow - the third is smart enough to run away full speed.

It's time for the team to get involved! Although they really shouldn't, given the details of the case - he killed the two guys at the gazebo, and chased the third to a gas station a mile away and shot him. That really does sound like the kind of standard gang violence that the FBI is profoundly disinterested in. So they add another person getting shot at a bus stop a little while later to justify the team's interest. It's off to Cleveland!

Where Broots his back at his flop, pouring out his whiskey because he's found self-actualization through murdering scumbags! Just like that Death Wish movie! Then it's off to the gun store to buy boxes and boxes of bullets for his gun! Hopefully some extra magazines as well, because, you know, it's kind of awkward to ask the gang toughs to just hang out while you reload a clip.

What's he going to do with all that ammo? Let's find out after the opening credits!

On the plane is able to figure out that they're dealing with a vigilante because the three gang members were gang members, and the fourth kid had just snatched a lady's purse. I guess they didn't hear the part where the two checkers guys just told them that Broots intervened to stop a mugging. Seems like that would have been a tip-off.

Greg and Reid confirm the vigilante theory by talking to the purse-snatched lady, who confirms that the guy saw the mugging, and while no one else moved to help her, he asked which way the guy went and gave chase!

At the park, they notice a space with a bunch of dead leaves under it, suggesting that the person who was parked there must have been either the killer or a witness, since the parking lot was swept just fifteen minutes before the killing!

That seems like something of a stretch, considering that the sweeper would have had to go into the parking area, drive really close to the car, back out, go around it, and then sweep those two spaces beside it, which the sweeper would probably have trouble fitting into. Wouldn't it be way more likely to just ignore the spaces if there was a car parked in one?

Also, don't street sweepers sweep the streets by using brushes and jets of water to push debris into gutters? The parking lot doesn't have any of those, so where did the debris go? I feel like it was raining in the shooting scene because originally the idea was that the parking lot was going to be wet, except for one dry space, because he'd been sitting there so long, and the rain stopped right as he killed the guys, but they couldn't make that work from a production standpoint for one reason or another, and they just went with this slightly odd leaf solution instead.

In LA, Joe is looking for Mescach - there's a ticking clock because he'll lose his spot in the veteran's home if he's not back in one day!

This vigilante couldn't have any better timing! He stops for a school bus, and just after a woman has put her daughter aboard, the woman's abusive husband turns up, planning to beat her up right on the front lawn of her house! He's not psyched to have had a restraining order put out on him, and he's decided strangulation is the answer!

Broots obviously has something to say about that, so he saunters up and tells the guy to scram. The guy's a thuggish moron, so he doesn't, and gets shot a bunch of times. This naturally freaks out the woman, who screams as Broots walks off.

Over at the police station, they're having a spot of trouble - there were no cameras at the gas station, and all of the witnesses are saying they didn't get a good look at the guy. Because, you know, people like vigilantes more than they should. Then they get word about the new shooting!

The 'vigilantes are good' sentiment is shared by the woman, who reveals that she wears turtlenecks because her scumbag ex scalded her with burning oil! Jeanne wins the Prentiss Award for this line:
Yes, she got a restraining order, and when he found out he showed up and tried to strangle her to death on her front lawn. That's why he needed to be shot - are you not paying attention, Jeanne?

Joe finds Mescach in an abandoned bar that served as their haunt back in the day. Mescach is despondent, and doesn't want to go on living, for reasons I'm sure we'll get to!

Broots heads into an apartment building - getting caught on a security camera - and walks past a lady who's just come from a door with loud music blaring out of it - she's nervous to have been seen there! This attracts his attention, so I guess this is his building, and now he's identified some criminals super-close to home?

He knocks on the door, and the drug dealers open it when they see a harmless-looking old dude, even though their drug-packaging operation is literally right out in the open, fully visible from the front door, which it's like ten feet away from.
Gosh, these guys are bad at crime, huh?

Broots announces that he's been waiting a while to kill them, shoots everyone, then leaves. So maybe it's not his building, and he had a specific grudge against these crooks, to the point where he was keeping track of where they were?

Next we see the team arrive, and confirm that the dead guys were all degenerate criminals. They have footage of Broots going to and from the crime scene, including him standing at the apartment door of the drug dealers and shooting everyone. That's right, the degenerate drug dealers who operated out of this building were fine with having a security camera pointed directly at their door, catching the comings and goings of everyone who visited their crime hovel.

Doesn't it seem like that camera would have been smashed like five seconds after it went up?

More with Joe and Mescach: Joe opens a fortune cookie, and quotes a joke proverb that - in an amazing coincidence - showed up in a video game I was playing yesterday. Weird. Anyhow, Mescach sees no value in life because he doesn't think he's going to be able to reconnect with the son he abandoned decades ago during his extended 'drunken loser' phase. Joe then drags Mescach out to see him.

Then it's over to the police station, where JJ is on a secret phone call about her dealings with Esai, but then pretends it's child care stuff when Reid walks up. How many more episodes are they going to keep us waiting?

Garcia finds video footage of Broots' car and gets an ID! His wife and son were killed by a scumbag meth head a decade earlier in a home invasion robbery gone wrong! Somehow the guy got just ten years for a double homicide, including a rape of the mother and the murder of a teenager, and that was presumably one of the guys Broots killed.

Seriously. He got ten years for that. But he wasn't one of the guys in the apartment - that was just the dealer! The double murderer was killed in prison right before his release, which is presumably what triggered Broots' self-destructive tailspin before he found vigilantism.

The team gives a profile, which seems like a waste of time, since they know who the killer is, and it's just a matter of getting his picture out there until he's spotted, which psychology can't really help with.

Then they find Broots' car, and the suicide note he left in the car, figuring out the plot we saw twenty minutes ago. Not useful, but at least they're finally up to speed?

They also find a notebook where he was counting down the days until the murderer got out of jail so that he could shoot the guy! They correctly intuit that since he's started killing the meth-head friends of his target, he's probably expanded his targeting criteria outwards, and is only going to get more violent and clever from here!

Back at the station, they make a list of all of the double murderer's known associates, and say they should start rounding them up. Also the jury and the judge on the case with the stupidly small sentence. Although really only the judge is to blame there. Seriously, ten years? Was he bribed or something? That's crazy.

Joe check-in: He goes to see the estranged son to try to talk him into seeing Mescach.

Back at base, the team starts addressing the 'second killer' theory - could Broots be trying to track down the double murderer's partner in crime? The one that the double murderer swore didn't exist? I mean, maybe, but a good way to do that would be to talk to his meth friends instead of shooting them. They can't give a lot of leads if they've been shot.

Broots continues not asking people for information as he shoots a guy just as he comes home from jogging, announcing that he's been wanting to kill him for a long time. Could the guy be a lawyer? Jury member? Probably not the judge. He's middle-aged, though, so who knows? Weirdly, he confirms that he's got the right guy by asking if he's 'Mister Hines'. Is Broots an alien? An agent from the Matrix? Who talks like that?

JJ and Derek go to the latest crime scene, and discover that the couple in the house only recently moved there from Hawaii - what could the connection to Broots be? Derek worries there might not be one, and he's just killing random people now. Of course, since he knew the name of the guy and was lying in wait, we know that's not the case.

Mescach check-in! The son doesn't want to have the grandson be disappointed over and over again the way his father did. Joe's advice: teach your son to keep giving people chances over and over again no matter how many times they prove to not deserve them.

I mean, I know we like Mescach and all, but I get why the son is annoyed. Joe tells Mescach to be patient and keep trying, rather than just killing himself, and he agrees to go back to his veterans' home.

Back to Broots, who's sitting at a bar, trying to figure out what to do next. Then the guy at the next stool talks about getting back at parents for something their son did, and he leaves, I guess to kill the parents of the guy who killed his family?

The team notices that Broots didn't have any pictures of his son, just of his wife. Then they discover that after his son got in trouble at school, he took him on a parental bonding/scared straight nature hike! The team comes to the conclusion that the son must have met the double murderer on the hike, set up the robbery, only to wind up being killed by his partner when it started going south.

Based on what, exactly? The fact that the kid's wrists were tightly bound, but there was no ligature marks or bruising? So they're saying it was a team crime, then he killed his partner and tied him up to make it look like he wasn't involved? Why would he do that? I honestly have no idea what the killer thought he was accomplishing by tying up a corpse. That doesn't make it look more like a robbery gone wrong - the teen could have been beaten to death at any point during a robbery gone wrong, and not needed to be tied up. This is terrible evidence they're using.

The team now believes that the reason Broots was going to kill himself was because he knew that his son got his wife killed, which made him feel like he was guilty of the crime. Which is just a huge stretch. Why would he believe that? Wouldn't he need some evidence of the crime to suggest that, which the police absolutely didn't find? Or was the son still alive when Broots got home, and he confessed, and Broots killed him? That would explain the guilt, I suppose.

Okay, the show just got real, real, stupid. Broots has his conversation with the mother of the killer, and talks about loss and how this wouldn't have happened if they'd both been better parents. I still have no idea how he knows his son was involved in the robbery/murder. Then the team busts in and announces that he killed the wrong jogger! He'd been looking for Morton Hines, a DA who took a bribe to suppress evidence at the trial to ensure the killer didn't get life in prison - but he wound up killing Jeffrey Hines, that guy's innocent brother who recently bought his house!

Okay, so that's why Broots rather strangely asked if the guy was 'Mr. Hines', because if he'd done what any sane person would have done in that situation, and said are you 'Morton Hines' the guy would have just said 'no', and not gotten shot. Also, how did Broots know about this guy's bribe-taking, and where he lived, yet not know what he looked like? And since he was confirming his identity before shooting, why not use his first name?

Seems like some pretty preposterous steps to go to in order to make Broots look like a bad guy, because they were worried the audience might be on his side. Which, you know, we were.

Anyway, Broots kills himself without shooting the mother first, and the show ends!


Except for more with Joe! The son has come to the veteran's home in order to have his son meet his father!

Oh, and JJ goes to a clandestine meeting with Esai to discuss their spy stuff, but instead of a secret conversation, she gets abducted by someone we don't see! In the middle of a public plaza! I predicted all of this JJ stuff would come out in episode 15, but it looks like I was one episode off, and it's going to be addressed next week! Does that mean more Josh Stweart? Please?

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

Not really. I want to give them points for figuring out that he'd get around to targeting the mother, but it was such a stretch! There was no evidence that his son was involved in the crime, so it's impossible to think that Broots would have believed that to be the case. Yet everyone immediately jumps to that conclusion! The crazy thing is, this all would have been believable if the show hadn't been so desperate to include twists - if the killer had just said that the son was involved in the crime at the trial it would have explained Broots' guilt and given them a reason to direct their attention towards the surviving mother.

But he didn't claim that at trial, all so everyone goes around acting with certainty based on evidence they couldn't possibly have had. It's a mess of an episode. A messisode, if you will.

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

Probably, although there wasn't a lot of 'solving' to be done. After all, Broots plan was to kill a bunch of people, and then kill himself, and he managed to do that. I'd say you can credit the team with saving the mother's life, but honestly, the way Broots was playing that scene, it was fifty-fifty he just wound up killing himself in front of her whether or not they showed up.

Also, it's possible that competent cops would have, while they were rounding up a bunch of criminals, jury members, and a judge - literally every single person involved with the case - remembered to round up the mother of the killer as well.

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

.5 out of 10.

That's right, it's a rare half-a-point, because I can only credit them so far for the partial save at the end, and they get no points for the figuring out the son was involved, because there's no way anyone could have done that.

Seriously, though, what possible evidence could the guy have covered up to affect the sentencing by the judge? The casefile lays out that the guy - during the course of a home invasion, sexually assaulted a woman, then beat her and her son to death. That's the facts the judge had, and he gave the guy ten years? What more evidence would the judge have needed to give him a sensible sentence?

Wow, would this plot point have made so much more sense if it was the corrupt judge who was bribed - but in that case, Broots couldn't possibly have gotten the wrong man for their terminally stupid twist, so they had to generate a preposterous situation even worse by raising the pointless question of missing evidence.

Two weeks in a row the show's terrible writing absolutely let down wonderful performances from their lead killers.

You're the worst, Criminal Minds.

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