Criminal Minds 922: Fatal

The episode opens with thrilling action, as a man runs into the police station, demanding protection! He's received a note saying that he'll be dead within 24 hours, and there's no way to prevent it! He's obviously a little worried, and when the cop smells booze on his breath, he immediately dismisses the guy's concerns.

Personally, if I got a note like that, I'd rush to a hospital, assuming that I'd been poisoned, but that's only because I saw DOA at a very young age.

After being told to leave, the man vandalizes a trash can, forcing the cops to arrest him, so he'll be safe in a cell overnight! When he's pinned to the ground, I notice that he's got a wedding ring on. Could his wife be the killer?

Probably too early to be making predictions, really.

The next morning the cops go to check on the paranoid guy, only to find him lying in a pool of blood! I guess it was poison, after all!

Over in Quantico - which the show introduces with an establishing shot of Washington D.C.:

Even though that's 50 kilometers away. Because it's Season 9, and no one who works on this show cares even a little.

-Greg is nervous about talking to his son's class about being in the FBI. Due to that one occurrence where a guy murdered the kid's mother because Greg was chasing him. Really, isn't it kind of insensitive to get Greg to give a presentation? I mean, the kid goes to school in Chevy Chase, one of the other parents must have a similarly important DoJ job, right?

Garcia runs down the case: Wayne Campbell (!?!) is the name of the dead guy, and that scene was set in Long Beach, CA. A week earlier a woman had also received a similar note and then died the next day - both of them with lethal levels of arsenic in their bodies! Between poison and notes, they jump to the conclusion that a woman probably did it - although it's a myth that women poison more often than men.

Also, not for nothing, putting in wacky joke character names is another sign that writers have checked out emotionally and are trying to make their own fun.

JJ thinks that it's super-weird to warn victims before killing them, but Reid points out that there was an episode about a killer that made fake 'missing' posters of his victims before killing them. It seems Reid remembers the show even better than I do! Was that the episode where they get one of the victims on the phone, and send the cops to get her, but can't be bothered to stay on the phone with her until the cops arrive, so she gets kidnapped anyways? If so, that was a terrible episode.

Then we head over to an auto-parts store, where the freaked-out proprietor confronts his friend about the murder threat he received! The friend claims to know nothing about the letter, and the proprietor is immediately struck with severe stomach pains. Now that's timing!

The friend leaves before the guy collapses, though, giving his customer a chance to walk in, see that the guy is dying, and then leave a peace of string on the body, because I guess he was the killer!

Also, was that Kevin from The Office? Perhaps we'll find out after the credits!

On the plane ride they confirm that neither of the victims had anything to do with one another, then are shocked to learn about the latest victim, and the twine left on the body! They take a moment to note the weird acceleration from 'wait a week' to 'two victims in one day', and are somehow surprised, even though ever serial killer is a spree killer in this world.

At the garage, Jeanne and Joe find a hole drilled in the top of the water cooler! So the guy drank water laced with arsenic? Does it not have a taste or smell? Because if I had water from a cooler that tasted anything but neutral, I wouldn't take a second sip. I'm kind of amazed by Kevin's ability to time the death so he could be in the shop when the guy keeled over. It was an incredibly risky move - what if the guy had fallen over, puking up blood with ten people there, all of whom could remember him? Did he know exactly how long it would take the guy to die? Wouldn't that be based on how much water he drank? Also, since he presumably broke in overnight to poison the water, why bother using a drill in a way that could tip the victim off? Why not just take the bottle out, put in the poison, then put it back, and towel up and spilled water before leaving?

At the police station, Derek and Greg discover that the first victim - a rich lady - received a delivery of chocolates, and her eating three was all it took to kill her! Oh, and Wayne had a piece of twine in his pocket, so it turns out that was always a part of the MO. And it seems Kevin is a particularly talented pickpocket, since he was able to place the string without the guy noticing.

At the bar where Wayne had dinner, the owner remembers Kevin sitting next to him, and buying him drinks! They ask the owner if he'd recognize Kevin if he saw him again, but doesn't ask if they have video camera footage of the night before. Which you'd think they would - bars are places where thefts happen, fights start, and people claim they were overserved so that they're not responsible for their drunk driving. Having a camera around helps to avoid all kinds of liability issues, so it's a little insane to think there wouldn't be one.

There's a flashback to Kevin spiking the guy's drink with a tiny squeeze bottle of arsenic, and it's definitely Kevin from The Office, so luckily I won't have to go back and remove me calling him 'Kevin' from earlier in the review!

Oooh, remind me to put some Kevin/Criminal Minds trivia at the end of this review! Seriously, if I forget to put it in the final notes, leave a comment reminding me!

Anyhoo, we then find Kevin at his 'bon boyage' party from work! He's belittled by a co-worker, who tells a story about how Kevin almost quit everything to start a new life in the Mediterranean, but missed his flight and just went back to work in a factory for another twenty years! Then Kevin tries to give a speech, but is terrible at it, because he's an awkward weirdo.

The team looks over the sites where the people were poisoned, and discovers that they were all within a 2.5 mile radius in the north part of the city! The sports bar and the garage, sure, but did the rich lady really live within a couple of miles of that part of town?

As usual, no one can identify a way in which this profile might help them find the killer.

Wallowing in self-pity, Kevin brings home his gift basket from work, then throws a mini Grecian bust that was with the foodstuffs against the wall. He will not be mocked! Then we get some voices in his head, which can only be quieted by cutting out new strings for his next murders!

Oh, I get it, he's identifying himself with the 'fates' of Greek myth, and he's ending people's lifelines. That kind of makes sense.

That night, a woman gets home and finds the note - she calls the cops to complain about it, but when the officer answering the phone hears the content, she calls Joe over to talk to the lady! Kind of amazingly lucky that the call was being answered in the very room Joe was in, rather than one of the other 20 stations in LA. Or at some kind of 911 dispatch office.

Hey, since they know that there's a mad poisoner on the loose, shouldn't they have warned the public about this whole 'note' thing? I mean, they can call every cell phone in the state if there's a missing kid or storm coming, could they not offer a similar warning about the notes and arsenic?

Joe counsels her not to eat or drink anything, and to lock herself in her house. Which seems like a bad idea to me - shouldn't you tell her to be with a lot of people until the police arrive? It doesn't matter, anyway - Kevin was in the house, and stabs her to death because she's obviously not going to eat anything.

Wait, was he just going to hang out for six hours until she died, or has he given up on poisoning and is now just a stabbing-themed killer? Also, if he'd planned on poisoning her, how could he know what she was going to eat or drink that night? The first three victims track - chocolates delivered as a gift are likely to be eaten. He literally dropped the poison into the second guy's drink, and you can assume that the auto-parts guy was eventually going to have some water from the cooler. That last one's a bit iffy, though - there's a good chance you'll kill a bunch of other people, and there's no way to time when to show up and watch the guy die.

But in this case, did he poison everything in the fridge? Or has he really moved on to stabbing?

Also, doesn't LA have thousands of cops? She was on the phone with Joe for like two minutes, shouldn't there be cops on the scene in time to catch Kevin?

Joe takes the death pretty hard, what with her having been on the phone with him when it happened. He's on the ball enough to observe that vicious stabbings often lead to the killer cutting their own hands, so that's something to check out with the local hospitals!

At the start of the next scene Derek points out that the geographic profile - as always - is useless, since the newest victim lived ten miles away from the zone they drew around the other three. How is he finding his victims? No leads on that, but Reid notices that the strings are each as long in centimeters as the age of the dead people! This leads them to the Greek mythology connection, and it's time for a profile!

They announce that the guy is obsessed with Greek Mythology, and suggest that the city should be warned about the poison pen notes! Little late on that one, Greg, but it's nice that you're trying!

Oh, and Kevin spends the profile flipping through a mythology book until he comes across a picture of a labyrinth! What could he be planning? To breed a monster man to hunt people throughout the LA subways?

Probably not.

Garcia finds a connection with the latest victim - she bought a coffee in a shop next to the university, which is inside the predicted zone! This immediately makes them think that the killer must be an academic, and Garcia starts searching every single student and faculty for red flags for serial killing! Which should go relatively quickly, given that there can only be so many tubby middle-aged guys at the university.

Luckily the coffee shop has a surveillance camera - which the team gives the manager a weirdly hard time about. He awkwardly explains that they've had a problem with short cash registers, and they're trying to find out who's responsible - as if he needs to explain the presence of a security camera.

Is this episode set in a bizarre alternate dimension where it's weird for businesses to have security cameras?

They discover that when the latest victim bought her coffee, all of the other victims were in the same lineup! And now there's a fifth person they have to track down!

They don't mention that they definitely have footage of the killer, though. Here's the angle of the camera:
Note that the doors to the establishment are clearly visible. Since they record all day long, that means they have him walking in and walking out. I know they don't know which one he is exactly, but how many dumpy 6 foot middle-aged guys could have been in the coffee shop within the time window?

Also, how did he find out how all the people were?

Kevin is busy writing his next note when the bully from work drops by to pick up the factory keys. The bully, BTW, is not played by Anthony Michael Hall, despite looking almost exactly like him:
That's weird, right?

Oh, hey, Kevin then finds out that the bully got him drunk on purpose, so that he wouldn't go to Greece broke - now he can travel with money and insurance! Also he looked after his dying mother, which he couldn't have done while in Greece.

Kevin doesn't take this news well, and seemingly immediately kills the bully. Because, you know, duh.

They do eventually get around to looking for the killer on the video, but when no one can find him, the team assumes he might have been outside, in the parking lot, writing down people's license plate numbers as they left the coffee shop!

So, wait - all of the people in that particular line drove to the coffee shop and drove away immediately? Nobody walked from a close by location where they were doing something else?

Then they consider that plenty of people in scrubs walk in, because the coffee shop is next to the University hospital as well. This leads to the conclusion that the killer must be murdering people because he found out he has a terminal illness, hence his obsession with the threads of fate!

I'm sure they're right, but wow, is that a huge leap. Anyhoo, Garcia violates some medical records to find out everyone who got a terminal diagnosis on the day of the coffee shop incident, and immediately identifies Kevin!

Reid watches the footage until he sees the final victim - it turns out she's a nurse at the hospital next door, and her nametag says Taylor! But wait, if she works at the hospital next door, then she definitely didn't drive to the coffee shop, so how could Kevin have found out her ID if he was basing it on license plates?

When the cops get to the nurse's house, there's no arsenic anywhere! But what would make Kevin shift his focus? Obviously the bully, who we now learn isn't dead yet, but rather has become Kevin's target! So Kevin shows up at the office and gives him so poisoned liquor!

Kevin explains his motivation - there was tragedy when he was a kid, he found out about the fates afterwards, you know, the usual self-justifying nonsense. He also confesses to all of the stuff we already know about.

Then there's one more twist about fate, proving that this show is just hilarious: the bully saved Kevin's life! The airport shuttle he missed because of his hangover crashed, and everyone died! It turns out the bully gave him another twenty years! Of working in a warehouse and getting asbestos-related cancer. But still!

Kevin is arrested without incident.


Then some more chatting on the plane - Greg has arranged a field trip to the FBI, which we then see!


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

Kind of? They made all of these crazy leaps to get to cancer, but since there'd be no way to find out patient information, I'm not sure that it would have helped save the Bully's life.

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

Everywhere Kevin went would have had video cameras. No, they would have had no trouble catching him.

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

2 - Seriously, this was an entire episode about pretending that security cameras didn't exist just so they could make profiling seem useful! That's a weird stretch to go to. Also, thanks for not telling us whether fake Anthony Michael Hall survived his poisoning! This show really stops caring about all the other characters the moment the killer is caught, doesn't it?

Right, the trivia!

Okay, so before The Office started, Kevin was in an episode of Arrested Development, playing a gun dealer who sells Tobias a Tranq rifle so that he can hunt a wolf to impress his wife! It was a good episode.

Anyhoo, the point is, Tobias accidentally tranqs his wife out in a park while she's on a date with a TV star, who worries that he'll be blamed for harming her when a couple of hikers see him standing over her. The male hiker?
Matt Gubler, working as an extra shortly before getting the Criminal Minds gig!


Yes, absolutely.


Paige said...

Thanks for keeping up with these, Count! I check every week to see if you've posted a new one, they're a high point in my day :)

Unknown said...

I love the trivia! Thanks for including!