21.12.18

Criminal Minds 924: Demons

Part 2, y'all!

We get a look at the carnage in and around the diner as the gunfight continues. Esai's friend the sheriff was shot in the head! Reid's badly injured, but sees the real killer, Anders, walking calmly along the sidewalk, because the guy's too dumb to worry about stray bullets! Naturally he finds this peculiar, but is he too injured to share his suspicions?

Derek - who was only hit in his vest - shakes off the cobwebs and helps JJ shoot at the preacher. Who runs out the back door of the diner, because no one bothered circling around the building!

Jeanne goes to check on Reid, and notices that he's losing a lot of blood from his neck wound! She tries to hold his attention and convince him to stay awake, but it doesn't work! This might have something to do with the fact that she calls him 'Ethan', which is not his name.

Is that like a pet name that she has for him that I've forgotten about, or is she conflating him with someone else who she lost in a tragedy? Whatever the reason, it's super-weird.

JJ and Derek have a foot chase with the preacher, eventually following him into an abandoned building and killing him! Despite the fact that they're both wearing ear radios and microphones, they don't update the cops on their position as they race through backyards and hovels. Despite this oversight, the cops still manage to rush into the room with them less than ten seconds after they kill the preacher.

In the ambulance Reid start babbling about a tea kettle, but then he loses too much blood pressure and starts to crash. Was he trying to send a message, or was it just rambling?

Also, I'm not a medic, but shouldn't they have cut that vest off of him to ensure better access to the whole wound area, rather than just removing one strap? It's held on with elastic straps and velcro, you could get it off in like three seconds with your clothes scissors.

Notably, when Derek also demands that Reid 'stay with him' he uses Reid's actual last name. Will that prove more effective? Hopefully we'll find out after the credits!
At the hospital, as Reid is being treated, Jeanne is obviously freaking out a little. Jeanne thinks that it's her fault because Reid pushed her out of the way. But that's not how bullets work, he didn't throw himself in front of you, the shot might have missed you or hit your vest if he hadn't tried to help, so blaming yourself is both foolish and not accomplishing anything.

Hey, Garcia is there! While I get why she'd want to visit Reid, she can be way more useful in Quantico up until the killer is actually caught. Flying out just cost five hours that could have been spent working the case, lady.

Derek has a reveal from his hospital bed - the 'teakettle' Reid was talking about was the whistle of a distinctly different type of bullet than the ones the preacher was using. So Anders must have shot the sheriff in order to ensure the gunfight started, which is why he had to remain on the scene! Greg explains that the preacher was a narcissistic sociopath, which is why he continued the gunfight even though he knew he didn't start it - since he thought he might be able to win or escape.

Except, the weird thing is, Anders starting a gunfight actually gives the preacher less of a reason to start shooting. Standing in a room full of guns and dead bodies is pretty suspicious, but once someone who isn't you starts shooting, you suddenly have proof that you're being framed. All you have to do is toss the guns and lie stomach-down on the ground with your hands spread wide. Now, when the cops come in, they'll find you with no residue on your hands, guns that haven't been fired, and a lack of shell-casings.

Even if the local cops are trigger-happy, your best/only chance of survival is immediate surrender. I'd say that we can believe that the preacher would do something this dumb since he was a coked-up scumbag, but he was also a guy who ran two successful pimping organizations in different countries and was good enough with people that he was able to become the trusted pastor of a small town. Isn't that a guy way more likely to try to talk his way out of a situation than shoot?

The team announces they're going to track down the madam to see what she knows about all of the dead sex workers, but before they can arrive Anders busts into her house. She knows him as 'Owen', and begs for her life, assuring him that she won't say anything. In response, he drags her out of the house and loads her into his truck, which is a police vehicle! So I guess he was one of the cops, after all?

Joe and JJ search the madam's house, and discover that the first thing she packed as a picture of a little boy! Her child, or someone otherwise significant? Then it's over to the station, where we discover that Anders did, in fact, bring her in, claiming to have caught her as she fled town. One problem: Her truck was still at her house! One of the local cops suggests that she was behind all of the crimes, and was trying to pull a 'power play' to get rid of the preacher.

Which is, you know, just a crazily dumb idea, since it was a prostitution ring, and if you want to take it over, you don't accomplish that by killing the entire stable of sex workers. It's such a dumb idea that I guess the cop must be in on it? Or just, you know, terribly written. It's a fine line.

The big takeaway from the information dump? They need to talk to the madam - although you'd think talking to the cop who brought her in would be a higher priority, since it would sort out the car situation, which seems super-relevant. After all, who starts packing to flee, then stops and flees without their car?

JJ tries to get some info out of the madam, but she won't talk, and scoffs at the idea of protection. Then she really clams up when the acting sheriff walks in. This is partially JJ's fault - she could have mentioned that they have a plane waiting, and if she's afraid of someone in town, they can have her on a plane headed to Virginia within the hour.

When the team gets outside, we get more info - the dead druggy was on the books as an informant for Anders! Which ties him to the body in a way that it doesn't tie the preacher. The team further theorize that the 'they' the women were afraid of was the entire police department (other than Esai's dead friend, of course)! Well, that makes a lot more sense than Greg's theory that they used the term 'they' because the killer was copycatting a style of cutting that the women weren't aware of.

God, that was a dumb line.

While I get that Anders killed druggy to keep him quiet about setting up the preacher, why put the body in the diner? If you're framing a guy (pretty badly) for serial murder, why add in an extra body that has no connection to the preacher but a big connection to you? Couldn't you have just thrown him in a ditch somewhere?

Also, I'm not sure why the corrupt cops wanted to kill all of the sex workers in town. What did they gain by doing so? Are they just crazy? If they wanted to kill the preacher, they could have done that at any time and gotten away with it. To frame someone, at most you have to kill a single person whose death you can pin on the guy. Throwing in more bodies just creates more things that can go wrong.

Unless their plan required the FBI to show up? I'm so intrigued to find out what that plan was!

Anyhoo, Anders finds out that Reid isn't dead, and says that he'll 'take care of it'. Although I'm not sure why that's a priority. If I made eye-contact with guy who'd just been shot in the neck, I wouldn't be super-worried about him being able to identify me. Especially if I had every reason to be where he saw me, considering that I was a cop.

Here's something cute: Garcia brings Reid Doctor Who toys to see when he wakes up! Including two Daleks, which are kind of a scary thing to wake up to, really.

The team has a small meeting - they figure that the madam's son must be being held hostage somewhere, which is why she isn't talking! This makes her seem pretty cold, since it looked like she was about to flee town when Anders caught up with her. Their plan: find the kid, get her out of the city, use her testimony to bring down the corrupt police department!

In the hospital, Reid jokes about how he'll look like Boris Karloff once he's out of the hospital! Because he was famous for having a small scar on the side of his neck? It seems to be a Frankenstein reference, but I'm pretty sure that the surgeons didn't give Reid neck bolts, so if it is, it's kind of a reach.

The interim sheriff walks over to the team to ask what they were talking about outside, and the team proves to be terrible actors as they say it was nothing. Also, Garcia discovers that the madam's mother has a first-grader enrolled in school, which must be the kid! So maybe she was going to drive over to her mother's to grab the kid? Of course, if she was going to get her son before fleeing, why would she need a picture of him?

Okay, things get real dumb now. It turns out a year ago the old sheriff died in the hospital of a drug interaction, after being shot in a drug raid gone awry. The team jumps to the conclusion that the sex workers witnessed the murder of the previous sheriff, which is why they all had to die! Except there's zero reason to suspect this, and it kind of blows a hole in everything that happened last week.

If the sex workers knew that the cops were into murdering people, why would they stay in town once their fellow sex workers started getting murdered? Why would the cops bother murdering the sex workers unless they had concrete evidence of the murder of the previous sheriff? It's not like their testimony would be worth much against the word of an entire police department.

Most importantly, though, why bother with the whole 'frame the preacher' charade? There's a million things that can go wrong with that plan, but if you just grabbed the sex workers, killed them one at a time, and buried them in the desert, no one would ever find out it happened. And it's not like you'd have trouble getting them to go with you - you're cops.

Now it's time for the team to make their move! JJ tells the madam they're going to secure her son, and Derek gets a photo of Anders so that Garcia will know which cop is dirty! Of course, this isn't the best plan, since they're operating under the theory that literally any of the cops could be dirty, so couldn't they just tell her not to let any cops into the room with Reid?

Also, they're all really sure that Anders is coming to kill Reid, and he is, but they have no reason to think that's happening. Reid hasn't mentioned Anders to anyone - only Anders knows that he's been seen, yet the team is acting like Reid's life is definitely in danger. It's one of the many, many times on the show in which the writers get confused about what the audience knows vs what the characters know.

The point is, Garcia puts Reid in a wheelchair and gets Reid's gun out of his personal effects, just in case.

They've known all of the cops are crooked for at least an hour at this point, yet we've heard nothing about hundreds of FBI agents racing towards the town. Texas has plenty of FBI agents, and Esai is high up in the justice department. Where, exactly, is their backup?

Joe and Jeanne talk a little about the stresses of the job, then realize they're being followed! The acting sheriff checks with Anders about what to do in re: them heading for the kid, and at the same time Garcia pulls a hospital fire alarm and tries to escort Reid out amidst the ruckus!

You know, Anders isn't very good at this planning stuff. If you needed the madam alive for some reason, wouldn't putting the bag on her son be, like, your first priority to take car of, hours ago?

The dirty cops pull Joe and Jeanne over, and they get ready for a gunfight. Then when we come back from the commercial, it turns out the action happened off-screen, and Joe and Jeanne rammed a car and drove off, shooting the corrupt lady cop in the arm!

And it must have just happened, since the deputy is looking at her still-bloody arm when Anders drives up, even though they were well on their way to the grandmother's house when the phone call with Anders happened, and Anders was still in the hospital at that point.

So the gunfight with the team happened less than a minute after that phone call, but it must have taking Anders at least ten minutes to arrive at this roadside tableau. Have the corrupt cops really just been sitting there for ten minutes, looking at a wound? Even if you're not going to the hospital because you think you might have to flee, why not bandage her arm while you wait for Anders?

Right, because the people making this show don't understand that time passes between scenes, and imagine that everyone is just teleporting everywhere. I always forget that, because it's so profoundly inept.

Anders shoots both of the cops, so maybe there weren't a lot of other dirty cops? Although I don't really see the value of killing these guys - Anders knows that he's burned, a couple of witnesses won't matter. The only real explanation is that they might have information about where/how he's planning to run, which would make this make perfect sense. So let's give them the benefit of the doubt this time.

Fun fact, this scene takes place on one of the densely-forested sideroads that are super-common in the Texas desert!

With the son safely squirreled away, the madam talks! Anders runs all kinds of crime and contraband through the pool hall, so he needs her alive! But she passively confirms that she and at least the first two serial killer victims witnessed the old sheriff's shooting. Oh, and a bunch of other cops at the station are corrupt as well, but not all of them, so Greg and JJ are able to take the madam out of there.

The 'frame the preacher' theory still makes no sense - according to the show's own internal logic, just two-three sex workers and the madam knew about the assassination of the sheriff. And they needed the madam alive to help run all of their contraband. They could control the madam by threatening her son, but why not just make the other sex workers disappear? How does committing high-profile themed murders help make a problem go away, when the problem is attention being brought to your crimes? They could have made the sex workers disappear without anyone batting an eyelid, but instead they came up with the most preposterous frame job in history? I say 'most preposterous', because at any point in the past year the preacher could have discovered that when his employee was killed someone cut a pattern into their back which looked like his famous method of torture - and he would immediately realize he was being framed, and have every reason to skip town and possibly even tell the feds about the corrupt cops that he had dealings with.

Every part of Anders' plan was overcomplicated and made it less likely for him to succeed. Damn, Criminal Minds, this is a bad two-parter. Not the worst. Of course not the worst, but damn.

The madam says that Anders will want to clear all of his cash out of the junkyard he uses at the edge of town before fleeing, but Greg thinks he'll arrange a distraction to make sure he gets away!

What kind of distraction? Well, we cut back to Reid, who's lying in bed as a mysterious doctor comes in to give him a mysterious injection! It's weird they didn't already mention that Anders probably had a doctor on his payroll, since the previous sheriff was killed by drugs at the hospital when he survived the shooting, but I guess they wanted this to be a surprise?

But if Anders had a doctor ready to kill for him, why did he go to the hospital at all? Was his plan to walk into Reid's room and shoot him?

The guy tries to give Reid the suspicious injection, but Reid pulls out his IV and Garcia shoots the man! Don't worry, the doctor had a gun sticking out of the back of his pants, so it's fine.

Still not sure why Anders wanted Reid killed. Again, at this point he's burned, so what does it matter. They tried to buy this by having Greg talk about him arranging a distraction, but Reid having an allergic reaction to medication isn't the kind of high-profile event that would keep feds from swarming the town looking for him.

Seriously, where is that backup? Esai has disappeared from the episode at this point.

Oh, look, there he is! He's at the safehouse, and he confirms that FBI agents are an hour away, but the Texas Rangers will be here in half an hour! That timeline means they really waited a long time before calling them in.

Derek calls Greg to let him know that Reid is fine, and they hang a lantern on the 'distraction' thing, even though that makes zero sense. They act like killing Reid was part of an 'endgame' to keep the FBI guessing while he made his getaway, but if that's the case, why did he go to the hospital himself earlier?

You're bad at writing, Criminal Minds producers.

At the junkyard, there's a gunfight with Anders and his henchmen! This includes a scene that's kind of hilarious, as JJ shoots the driver of the truck they're trying to escape with, and it turns out the precious cargo is... immigrants? Why were they taking immigrants with them? Did they really think that trying to sell people was worth going back to the junkyard?

Also, why would smuggling people across the border be one of this guy's main moneymaking activities when Silverton is more than six hours away from the border? It's not like a random sheriff's deputy from North Texas is likely to have any juice with the border patrol.

Wait, was this episode supposed to be set in or around a bordertown, and a Bruce Campbell fan on the writing staff discovered there really was a Briscoe County and decided to blow a hole in the plot with the reference?

Anyway, all the bad guys get shot.

THE END

Except for a bunch more scenes!

Everyone heads back on the plane, ready for a break. But Greg gets a mysterious text, which makes him look over at Jeanne! Did her husband leave her? Joe just told a story about how his wife left him because he was always flying away, working on cases, and that's exactly what she did at the start of the episode!

Jeanne brings Reid back to his apartment and gets him settled in. Reid finally asks her about the 'Ethan' thing, and it turns out that's her dead son! She's sad when talking about him, and she left her ID with Reid, so I guess she's quitting the team so she and her husband can move to Boston and not focus on grimness any more! And she decided to quit by texting Greg from the other side of the plane? Not exact cool, lady.

Good luck, Jeanne, I can't say we'll miss you, because although you did perfectly well with what you were given, your character never helped solve a crime.

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

No. Not at all. Reid and Derek heard a cop bullet start off the gunfight, and just started investigating the local cops, all of whom immediately began acting super-suspicious!

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

In a realistic world, the cops would have just killed the sex workers and buried their bodies in the desert, and no one would have ever known they were dead. So no, this one wouldn't have been solved. Hell, people wouldn't have even known that a crime had happened.

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

1

Wow, did this two-parter make zero sense. It all comes down to the complete lack of motivation for the evil cops to do literally anything they did after killing the sheriff.

Also, what kind of a setup was the death of the sheriff that like three or four people saw it happen? That's some terrible planning right there. Then you've got the crazy idea of inventing a serial killer to get rid of your witnesses?

That made sense in the ABC Murders because the killer would be an immediate suspect unless there was something bigger going on, and it only sort of made sense in From Hell because the killer was a raving loon who felt divinely inspired to kill in the most elaborate way possible.

Here, as cops, they have the perfect way to make the witnesses disappear, no questions asked - because they're the ones who'd normally be asking the questions. Instead, they come up with an elaborate M.O. that only serves

It's not like the cops were thinking 'people are going to demand answers for the death of these sex workers, so we have to invent a serial killer'! Most sex worker murders go unsolved, and there's no public or governmental pressure to change that. Besides which, if they just got rid of the bodies, no one would be sure the sex workers were killed at all.

And on that depressing note, let's just leave the season with the realization that Criminal Minds only has two types of episodes - egregiously stupid ones, and egregiously stupid ones that are visually interesting and packed with horror icons, because Matt Gubler directed them.

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