9.6.18

Criminal Minds 915: Mr. & Mrs. Anderson

At a cold gas station a backpacking young woman walks up to a familiar character actor and asks if she can get a ride with him. He demurs, and starts to drive away, then stops and invites her in. So which of the two of them is the killer? Probably him, right?

He offers to take her as far as he can - which is the motel up the street where he and his wife are staying. It has a bus stop out front! She immediately agrees to this, which is a little suspicious, since that's not much of a ride.

During the ride, the man asks questions designed to reveal whether the young woman has anyone waiting for her, or if anyone knows where she is. It's a no in both cases, just FYI. They get to the motel and the man gives her some cash to take the bus, but then his wife comes out and invites the woman inside, saying there's about to be a storm, and she'll freeze out in the cold waiting for a bus!

So, is the wife the one who's more psyched about killing in this pair? Because the husband wasn't trying very hard to get this lady into their motel room. The show cuts away before we see what happens.

At Quantico, Garcia and Derek talk relationship stuff, and then run into JJ - it's her first day back after getting tortured last episode! Time for the case rundown! Two women have been thrown half-naked into ditches at the side of the road - please note the complete lack of snow, even though both were killing in and around Pittsburgh, and the show went out of its way to show a bunch of snow on the ground in the first scene.

The women were strangled, stripped but not raped, then wrapped in shower curtains. Joe intuits 'a lot of rage', although the women weren't tortured in any way other than the strangling that killed them, so I don't know what Joe is basing that on. The team wonders why no sexual assault, since the vast majority of serial killers are rapists, so they guess maybe the killer is impotent. But they can't figure why the killer would cover the bodies, which is usually a sign of remorse.

We've got a pretty good idea about that already, since we saw that the wife was a little more into killing than the husband, but to be fair, we have access to more information than they do.

Also, the two bodies were dropped in the past two days, so yes, they're already spree killing.

Then we see the couple with a marriage counselor, who interrogates them about their homework to put the spark back in their marriage. Have they been working on that? We see a flashback to the murder, and it's revealed that the reason the women aren't being raped is that the sexual component of the crime is that the couple has sex after the husband strangles the women to death.

Thanks for that, show.

On the plane, they wonder why the killer dumped the bodies on the interstate. Could he be a long-haul trucker? If he was, would he have killed two women in the same city in two days? They find out that the victim was last seen at a gas station, looking for a ride - which is pretty impressive, since one scene ago they didn't even know who she was. That suggests that the news showed extensive pictures of the corpse's face, the gas station attendant saw it, and then called the police, and the information got to them - all within an hour or two. Seems like a bit of a stretch.

We then get a flyby establishing shot of Pittsburgh, which makes me sad for two reasons.

1: They didn't bother springing for a 'winter' shot of the city, so despite the fact that there was snow all over the previous scenes, we're now looking at leafy trees and verdant lawns.
2: Seeing that river makes me wish I was watching Jack Reacher instead. Is it weird that I've seen Jack Reacher so many times that I immediately recognized that river in the background?

Greg and Jeanne get to the police station, where they look over the pictures of unknown victims 1 and 2. Jeanne laments that they were just looking for a ride, and had no idea they were about to be killed. Except you don't know that - you think that's the case with one of the victims (although it's a stretch to believe you have that information), but you have no idea how the previous victim met her killers. And I don't want to profile based on clothes, but given her lime green leopard-print bra-
Don't you think there's the slightest possibility that she was a sex worker? Just maybe?

Also, there's no way they don't have the killer on camera, just saying. We're told that security cameras saw her at a gas station, but didn't see who she left with. Which is impossible. She approached the killer at the pumps, and he let her into the car at the pumps.

Gas stations will generally have cameras aimed at and around the pumps, so they can identify anyone who tries to drive away without paying. If they're pay-before-you-pump, then they might not have the cameras, but the killer either used a credit card at the pump, in which case they've got a list of suspects that's not very long, or he walked into the gas station to pay, in which case they've got his face on camera. Long story short, because of the gas station scene, there's no way they don't have film of this guy.

Also, Greg stupidly asks the local cop to check if there are other killings with this MO, since this may not be the killer's first victim. Yeah, Greg, that's your job. Matching crimes to killers by MO is the entire point of VICAP, which is your guys program, and the reason you even have this job. It's the only actual practical tool the FBI has in the fight against serial killers. Why are you asking the local guy to look into it?

JJ and Reid go to the motel where the killing took place, and the parking lot is a beautiful example of a set dresser trying to make it look as wintery as they can with as little shaved ice as possible.
Also, please note that the extras are decked out in parkas and scarves while JJ and Reid can't even be bothered to pretend for a second that it's cold.

The desk clerk in the hotel explains that they have no cameras, and are cash only because it's a sex-work focused establishment, then Reid asks to see the room missing the shower curtain! We're not told how many motels they tried this in before, but this time it works!

They find a used condom in the toilet - the killers are bad at getting rid of evidence, it seems, and it will probably be easy to find their fingerprints all over the place. Knowing that sex was had but the victim wasn't raped, the immediately recognize they're looking for a team! We don't hear the clerk's response when he's asked who rented that room. Actually, we're given no reason to suspect they ever even asked the question.

In the morgue, Derek and Joe already know about the sex in the room somehow - I guess they're texting each other constantly and we just never see it? Derek figures it can't be two men, because sexual sadists would leave the women naked to humiliate them. Except you have no reason to believe that they're sexual sadists, since they don't rape or torture the women, just kill them super-efficiently and then have sex. Still, this puts them onto the track of thinking that it's a man and a woman who like killing as foreplay, although it's a stretch to assume that based on anything other than statistical probability.

At the next counseling session, which is happening after dark, BTW, the husband taunts the counselor about her own marriage breaking up, because there's no way in which he isn't a terrible person. She advises them to try to be romantic, so they have a dance night at home! The wife wants to pick the victim and use her own ruse to capture her tonight, and the husband agrees to go along with it, because he's trying to make the marriage work!

The detective comes into the work room with some information - ten more murders, with only four identified victims! They started in 1994, and stopped in 2010 - which we have to assume is when they separated, which the counselor mentioned. But why the dormancy? How would they get back together after such a long period of not killing? Reid thinks they might be married, which would keep the connection going, even if they were separated. More importantly, why have they gone from ten murders in sixteen years to one murder every night?

We then catch up with the couple in another shady motel. The wife brings home a male sex worker who she's hired to service them! They dispatch him to the shower, as is their MO, then dispatch him permanently when he comes back out!

After the commercials it's off to the dump site, which is perfectly situated to show both a pile of snow and a leafy tree in the same shot!
Seriously, why not just set this episode in Atlanta, and start doing northern murders again in April?

They assume that the wife picked the new victim, since he's a different gender than the previous ones - could that cause problems in the relationship? The other partner taking charge for the first time?

At the next therapy session, they talk about the value of compromise, and the husband agrees to work on that! Can they really make this relationship viable again?

Then, during the profile, Reid wins the Prentiss Award of the night-

VID 21:10

Yeah, they did not kill 19 people. Now, if you're talking about the total number of victims of both the Scarborough rapist and them serial killing as a time, it would be higher than that, but if you're just talking about the murders, it was probably closer to six.

Fun fact! A guy spent eight years in prison for killing his girlfriend, but was finally let out when they were able to prove that Bernardo had done it! At his first trial their defense was that the Scarborough Rapist was the killer, but it wasn't until Bernardo was in jail that they were able to put enough evidence together about his guilt that they could get the guy a second trial.

They finish the profile, suggesting that the husband will be doubly insistent on getting his own way now - and also they should look for other strangulation murders that happened during the dormant period, in case he'd kept committing crimes not as part of a team! Perhaps a change in MO could give them a clue about his identity?

Over at the couple's house, the husband gets home late from work - but he's brought jewelry! Then he gets a text on his phone, and says he has to go out for a half-hour job. But his wife is worried that they'll miss their movie! Could it be a secret murdering errand he's going out on?

The team finds some cases where women were raped, strangled, and stabbed, that they think might be related to this case, even though they're all over the state. They also talk about how this must be the husband is keeping busy during the dormant period. Except all of the cases they mention - except for the murder five years before the couples killings started - happened while they were killing as a team.

Jeanne comes up with a surviving victim from the files! JJ interviews her, and the victim remembers that there was a tow truck parked next to where she was attacked! The killer must be a tow-truck driver! And he had a name tag on his work suit that said Allan!

The cops rush to his house (turns out there aren't many tow-truck-driving Allans in Pittsburgh) and arrest the wife!

They talk to the wife for a few minutes, and get some background - she's had a hysterectomy, so why the condoms? Turns out the husband got an STD from one of his independent rape/murders, and that's what caused the split back in 2010 - he's been careful ever since!

Okay, things then get weird, as we see the husband getting into his truck, presumably having finished the job he was on. He sees the message his wife was leaving for him when she was arrested, and realizes that he has to go to ground!

But if he wasn't already aware that the cops were on to him, how is he not under arrest? They found his address by checking into his business - meaning they should have been able to contact whoever sends him out on jobs and figure out exactly where he was right then - after all, the dispatcher knows where he's sent, and also where the truck is being towed to. Even if they didn't do that before rushing to the house, the minute he wasn't there, wouldn't you get a GPS location on his phone or his truck, or just ask the dispatcher where he is? If there's time for the wife to have been brought all the way to the police station, be let stew in a cell for fifteen minutes, and then have an interrogation session, there's ample time to have caught him.

This scene would make so much more sense if it had been placed immediately after the arrest scene and before the interview scene. Put here it makes the team look like idiots.

Jeanne tries to get wife to talk, but the wife explains that she and her husband have a healthy marriage now, and she can't be tricked into betraying him. Joe recognizes the language she uses as being from marriage counseling jargon - could they currently be in counseling? I'm not sure why this is a surprise or a revelation - you were assuming they were a married couple who split up and got back together, relationship therapy is pretty standard. Also, why do you think it's important that they're seeing a therapist? Right now you're tracking down a wanted fugitive, not trying to figure out what's going on in his marriage.

After all, it's not like he's going to go and try to rape and murder the marriage counselor - after all, he doesn't know where she lives or have her home phone number, and since she's one of the few people who can be connected to him, there's no reason to think the police haven't already contacted her to ask about him, since even a cursory check of their finances would have revealed that they've been paying for her sessions. Whether that was by cheque or credit card, it's easy enough to find. Of course, this is all moot, since he's not dumb enough to go after her, right?

I'm kidding! Of course he is - they decide that he must be feeling emasculated, and so he would naturally lash out at a woman in a position of authority, even though he'd know that it would be the last thing he'd do before going to jail for the rest of his life!

Even more absurdly, we then cut to the doctor arriving at her office well into the nighttime, because she got a message from the husband about them needing an emergency marriage counseling session? And she answered that call? What's wrong with this woman?

Anyway, the team rushes to the therapist's office to rescue her - which she needs, because after stabbing the husband in the arm, instead of just running for the staircase and getting out of the building she tries every door in the hallway, even though it's nighttime and the long weekend. Idiot.

The team shows up and arrests him alive. Sad ending.

Then we get a little more with the wife, who Jeanne offers to get a reduced sentence if she testifies against her husband - she reveals that he's continued cheating on her, raping and killing a woman to get the jewelry that he gave her a few hours earlier! It doesn't work, of course, because the wife is a creep, too.

Why even offer the reduced sentence? You know she was a full participant in the crimes, and you don't need any help charging the husband. Even if you were just lying to her and had no intention of making a deal, it's a pretty weak bluff. Still, the wife does slap the husband and throw the necklace in his face. In case you were wondering, yes, they were letting a serial killer walk around a police station not wearing handcuffs, because they're all terrible at their jobs.

Also, when was the husband supposed to have killed the woman and stolen the necklace? The show's timeline is:

Night 1: Hitchiker is killed.
Day 2: Team arrives.
Night 2: Male sex worker is killed.
Day 3: Team finds surviving witness.
Night 3: They are arrested.

If he's supposed to have raped and murdered this woman to get the necklace because he was mad about the male victim, when did that happen? I can't imagine he had time to get away after that kill. And it couldn't have been between work and him coming home to give her the necklace, because there's no way the cops had the time to find a body, identify who it was, contact next of kin, find out about the missing necklace, and then confront the wife with it - especially since his MO is to take away victims' ID so that it's harder to figure out who they were. Also they say he killed her 'last night' when they're talking to her.

There's literally no point in the story at which this murder could have taken place - especially since he had to go out and buy a presentation box to put the necklace in!

You're terrible, Criminal Minds.

Back in Quantico, Derek and Penelope each take their respective dates out for a drink at the same diner! Cute! Apparently this was the Valentine's Day episode?

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

Kind of, although it's pretty ridiculous. They caught him because he was identified by a victim, and they should have immediately had him, but then they actually got there because they figured he's want to rape and murder his therapist. This is a crazy assumption to make because it goes against every element of his personality and MO, but they make it anyway, and they're right! So I'll give them small partial points.

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

One of the victims remembered he was a tow truck driver named Allan. How was he not arrested six years ago? Are the Pittsburgh cops just terrible at this?

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

2/10 - I'd do a Criminal Minds factcheck here, but since this is the second time the show is doing a Bernardo/Homolka story it's not really relevant.

That's right, we've reached the point where Criminal Minds is going back to the well and basing episodes on serial killers they've already covered! Who's next for a second look? Leonard Lake and Charles Ng?

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