Criminal Minds 920: Blood Relations

For the second episode in a row, we open on a crying woman, stumbling through the woods! I'd ding them for repetition, but the difference this time is that it's the past (1955), and in black and white!


So, is this another Gubler episode, or is another director willing to do something visually interesting?

Anyhoo, a killer in rubber boots walks up behind her, and then we cut to the present, in West Virginia. Which is probably where the B&W sequence was set as well, but the show didn't actually make that clear.

In the present, a low-rent hunter returns to his trailer with a gun and cooler full of varmints, but before he can grab a beer to reward himself for a good night's work, he hears someone lurking around outside. He heads out to check, and winds up with a noose wrapped around his neck - apparently the killer is strong enough to lift him right off his feet, but lithe enough to move around on the roof without making any sound!

Oh, then the killer murders the guy by turning his head a hundred and 180 degrees around. So obviously we're dealing with a Jason situation here. Or at least a Madman Mars.

Then it's right to the briefing, where the characters get confused about basic terms! Joe points out that it's basically impossible to form barbed wire into a noose the way the killer has, because it doesn't have enough tensile strength. Reid thinks that it is possible, as long as the killer is strong enough!

And he's supposed to be the smart one. Seriously, the point here is not that barbed wire is hard to bend - it isn't, the stuff is shipped in coils, after all, but rather the kind of tight winding you have to do in order to make a noose would presumably cause it to snap, irregardless of the killer's strength.

But let's not get sidetracked - the killer also built a bear-trap-launcher that fired a bear trap wrapped in barbed wire from a tree into the face of another hunter.

There's no way the rest of the episode is going to live up to this awesome beginning, is there?

The team immediately head to West Virginia! I wonder if they'll just drive? We, on the other hand, cut over to a shake where our killbilly, a surprisingly slender man for the feats of strength we've seen him accomplish, sits in front of a fire, tearing the head of a doll using barbed wire!

This just gets crazier and crazier, doesn't it? Hopefully it will keep going nuts after the opening credits!
Wow, that was credits just four minutes into the show - is that some kind of a record?

On the plane, we learn that the two victims were feuding - could one have killed the other, and then a family member offed the first killer? Probably not, since, you know, we already saw the killer. But it's not a bad theory, and since they've got no evidence to base their theories on, a little rambling nonsense is probably the best way to pass time on the flight.

Not sure why we had to watch it, though. I was going to question why they're bothering to fly, but then I checked the maps, and it's like a five-hour drive from Quantico, so that makes sense.

The sheriff gives the team a primer in the long-running family feud between the two dead guy's clans, which leads the team to arrange it so that the two relatives who are coming in will cross paths. Because Greg thinks that seeing people screaming at each other and possibly coming to blows will likely lead to more information than their interviewing tactics.

In the morgue, Derek and Joe look over the two corpses - both have chemical burns on their hands, the type that can come from making meth without using gloves! Could a disagreement over drug sales territory have led to murder? Usually, yes, but those killing don't generally involve barbed-wire deathtraps.

Reid reports back based on interviews with some local farmers who had barbed wire stolen - each one thinks the 'Mountain Man' did it! That's a local Jason whose legend goes back for decades, and they all think of as a Candyman-type figure, who can be summoned by invoking his name. Yeah, this is way too interesting to be anything but a Gubler episode.

Two of the stretches of barbed wire are accounted for in their two existing victims... but who is the third for?

So, if this story goes back that far, is the current local Jason the son or grandson of the guy who kidnapped that woman at the beginning? Or is he... immortal!?!?

Probably the first option, right? But after all, this is almost certainly a Gubler episode, so...

Okay, it is. Adrienne Barbeau is the victim's mother in the next scene, and he's the only director who cares about casting genre legends. Man, I'm such a fan of his work. Is he ever going to make a movie?

Adrienne denies that her son killed the first dead guy, while the other relative, who turns out to be the Jigsaw Killer(!) just asks the FBI to leave it alone so they can settle things mountain-style. Since things aren't productive, they arrange that meeting Greg planned - but what will the result be?

All they get is Jigsaw taunting Adrienne about her dead father! I wonder what the significance there is...

Garcia, as usual, gets them all the info they need - the two families were feuding moonshiners back during prohibition, then started feuding again recently when they all got into the meth trade! Looks like the bloodshed is about to start up again - although this time it's likely to be kicked off by Jason, rather than market forces.

Just as a slimeball drug dealer gets home, he hears screaming from his garage! Jason has tied up his lady and attached the barbed wire noose around her neck to a chain on a car's bumper. Also her feet are tied to a fridge, ensuring that her head will be cut off when Jason drives off! Which he does. The slimeball tries to cut the barbed wire, but he's not fast enough. We're spared seeing the outcome of the beheading, thankfully.

Over at the police station, Adrienne shows up to claim that her family had nothing to do with the murder, which doesn't really count as evidence. Then, hilariously, the sheriff announces that the entire police department has arrived to hear their profile, and Greg is like 'actually, we're going to need more time with that'. I love this, but I'm also confused - did Greg call them all together assuming that he'd have an idea who the killer was by the time they arrived? Nothing about the case has changed in the past hour, so I don't know why Greg is hesitating - or did they sheriff do this on his own? But why would he?

Also, Jeanne mentions that they profiled 'retaliatory killings', but all of these murders were obviously committed by the same killer - unless a bunch of people from different families preemptively stole a bunch of barbed wire without telling each other about it and just planned to commit barbed wire-themed crimes.

Oh, and meanwhile, the Jason also seems to be a cannibilly, and we see him attach a lady's body to a bed frame and start cutting her open to dress the corpse. I guess for eating, based on the veggies stored nearby-

But perhaps he's just going to stuff the body, because that's his mother and he wants to keep her around. It being his mother would make a kind of sense, since her recent death could have triggered his rampage!

The team decides to throw away their profile and start over - because the death of a woman suggests it wasn't a family feud? That seems like a stretch. Also, why did they ever believe the feud thing? The identical MOs - barbed wire brutality - suggest a single perp? What was their original profile going to look like?

Anyhoo, Garcia digs deeper to find meth evidence against the families - the team wants more backstory, and possibly leverage to use against the warring clans - and she discovers that both families are very stupid, buying the chemicals and lab equipment they need online under their own names. One family is dumber than the other, though - and has all of the incriminating equipment shipped to a single farm in the middle of nowhere! So the team heads out there, not backed up by SWAT or the kinds of chemical/explosive trained officers one would need in this situation.

Because the feuding families aren't the only dumb ones, I guess?

As the SUVs drive up, Jigsaw opens fire with an Assault Rifle, which, how did the team no see that one coming? You knew you were attacking a cookhouse! Jigsaw then claims that he thought the FBI might have been the rival family, because I guess they're known for driving matching black SUVs?

They look around the barn, and discover that what the family is actually doing is turning used cooking oil into ethanol fuel, which they claim is more profitable than meth! Which seems crazy, but I have no idea how much drugs or ethanol costs, so who knows?

Also, the slimeball the previous night said that he could prove they weren't making meth because they'll find no money in his bank account. Now, setting aside that you'd have to be an idiot to put your drug money in your back account, the whole point of this last scene is that the ethanol they're making is more of a moneymaker than meth would be - so why wouldn't he have money?

In a hilarious note, Jigsaw explains that they're secretive not because they're dealing drugs, but because if flatlanders found out how profitable ethanol was, they'd come in and want a cut. Which, you know... duh. If it's a secret then you're not reporting the income, and are criminals, whether the thing is legal or not. But aren't plenty of major corporations already making ethanol? Can a bunch of mountain folk gathering up fry oil from restaurants and processing it in barns really turn out a more inexpensive product that people want to buy? That seems like a bit of a stretch. Then again, I know zero about the east-coast ethanol trade, so who knows?

The Jason isn't eating his mother after all - we see him tossing salt into an open coffin, presumably as part of the preservation I theorized about earlier!

Garcia fills us in on the business end of things - apparently the two families have competing processing methods for ethanol, and each is trying to sell it to a conglomerate? This gets more preposterous by the second. Garcia then finds a single family member left out of the ethanol paperwork, and suspects that he's made at both families, trying to start a war so the deals won't go through. Maybe he's also short-selling the chemical company's stock, because this is drifting far away from the Jason-on-a-rampage the opening promised us.

Then it's over to Adrienne, who's saying some nighttime prayers! She hears a noise and grabs a shotgun, but it's not enough to keep her from getting Jason-grabbed!

Not killed, though - the next scene confirms that she's just kidnapped! Oh, and the family member they suspected has nothing to do with the killings - he's turned his life around and works as a teacher now!

Adrienne is tied up in a chair when we next see her - and there are buckets full of rocks tied to the side of it, which is either a prelude to witch-drowning or a clever way to make the chair so heavy that she can't rock it over with her own strength. Jason drags the body over to show Adrienne, hoping that she'll recognize his mother. Still no confirmation that it's the lady from the opening, but we do learn that he's got a monster face:

Okay, things get a little weird now - the prodigal son wanted to turn his life around, and Adrienne recommended that he change his name to escape bad family juju. This gives Jeanne an idea: maybe Adrienne and Jigsaw are brother and sister, since there was a missing member of Jigsaw's family, and they couldn't find any evidence of where Adrienne came from!

Her proof? The dialogue between them in the elevator scene, her interpretation of which earns her a Prentiss Award:

Yeah, Jeanne, literally zero about that interaction suggests that they're talking about the same person. You absolutely couldn't have gotten that about the way they deal with each other.

More importantly, though - why is this a secret? Everyone in both families knows that Adrienne is Jigsaw's sister who married someone from the rival family, how is it a twist that the team is suddenly finding out?

We get an exposition dump from Jigsaw and the Jason - Jigsaw and Adrienne were siblings and lovers, she got pregnant and had to run off so no one would find out about the monster baby, who she entrusted to a hermit lady in the woods. The Jason is pretty angry about being abandoned at birth, and so wanted revenge on the other children of his parents. Jason decides to kill Adrienne now that he knows the whole story, but I've got to imagine that since Jigsaw has told the team about the secret hovel where they used to meet and the baby was born, they're already on their way.

While the team rushes out into the woods, Adrienne offers to help Jason escape if he'll just not strangle her with barbed wire. Which is a pretty fair trade, actually. The team arrives at the cabin, and for one of the first times every they actually bring a SWAT team with them, but that's only so a random cop and not one of them can be killed by the trap set up in the doorway.

They chase the Jason into the woods, and all split up - because they're idiots - which allows Jeanne to get tackled into the a pond. The rest of the team shows up and starts firing wildly into the water, but the Jason has already escaped! Because I guess he can hold his breath for a really long time? In the next scene, JJ assures Jeanne that Jason must be dead, but that's a pretty dump assumption to make - if he was killed by bullets, he would have floated to the top of the pond, or been easily found. Neither was the case.

Anyhoo, we leave Jigsaw and Adrienne at the hands of their families, who are pretty pissed-off about the incest baby who was murdering up a storm, although I'm not entirely sure who told them about it.

Then it's over to Kentucky, where a couple is heading to a getaway in their rural cabin! Unfortunately, it's where the Jason has been squatting! He grabs the husband with some barbed wire, and demands the keys to his car!


Seriously, that's the end of the episode. So I guess next episode is about hunting this guy down? Because if it's not, then wow, is the team just terrible at their jobs!

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

Kind of - although the way they got there, with Jeanne having an insight about Jigsaw and Adrienne being siblings was completely out of left field, and should have been already part of the information they got when looking into the families. Again, everyone knew that Adrienne was Jigsaw's sister, whether they talked about it or not, so it's tough to credit the team's methods.

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

When Adrienne was kidnapped, Jigsaw just told the cops where to find the killer. I have to imagine that would have happened whether the team showed up or not.

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

1 - Seriously, the episode just ended with them giving up on finding the guy - a guy who had just killed a police officer! But no, the team is like 'let's all go home and level the Jason being free to kill again'. If he killed that couple, it's entirely the team's fault. We'd better get a resolution on this, show. Then again, this is the show that never resolved the spin-off's cliffhanger, so maybe they just hate their audience?

The show has put characters in kind of a huge bind here - if the Jason killed that couple, then that's two innocent people dead because the team was too lazy to chase down a cop-killer. If he didn't, then their report of a monster-faced barbed-wire-themed Jason running around the woods would have necessitated the team following up on it.

Random shows can get away with a 'but then the killer was still out there!' endings, but Criminal Minds can't, because it's a show about people using the entire weight of the federal government to catch those killers.

What I'm saying is, all of these people are terrible at their jobs.

Except for Gubler - while this episode wasn't as stylish as his usual, and there were no interesting music cues, it was once again more interesting and grimy than anything else the show has to offer!


Anonymous said...

The Jason is never heard from again.

woodchuck2004 said...

I think that the main problem with Criminal Minds is that profiling a victim and/or a criminal does not really "solve" a crime or stop a crime spree. What solves crimes are physical and circumstantial evidence, combined with advanced science and technology. Using profiling may work when trying to stop a suicide attempt or something like that, but using it to stop real crimes is futile, as this show demonstrates.