Criminal Minds 1001: X

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We open in Bakersfield, California, the site of a famous food riot massacre! Also one of my favorite TV shows. But neither of those facts are relevant to the kid we see running down a hillside towards an abandoned shack!

I've got to assume that this is a location that somebody found, but if it was built by the production crew they did an incredible job for something that's just going to be in a few seconds of the episode! The kid continues wandering around the collapsing buildings, tossing rocks out of boredom - isn't this the kind of 'kids getting into trouble' that video game consoles were designed to solve?

Luckily the kid isn't killed - but his curiosity is rewarded by a lifetime of nightmares, as he stumbles across a human torso! Which, you know, ick.

Then we immediately cut to the killer's hideout, where he's cleaning a knife. The legs are lying nearby. We don't get any info about the arms or head. I'm going to guess what I always do in situations like this: Cannabilly?

We're then introduced to our newest cast member, Jennifer Love Hewitt, playing what I assume is an FBI Agent working undercover, trying to win the trust of a sleazy creep in a bar! She succeeds, and he leads her to his office, where he keeps all of his child pornography! She calls in backup, and he's arrested without incident! Which burns her identity in that circle of child-pornographers, I guess? They make it clear that she's been hanging out with the guy online, and only just now met him in person, so I suppose it's a persona she used just for him? Perhaps I've been watching too much Wiseguy, but now I find it odd when cops on television are all like 'Boom! I was a cop all along!' when they could probably get more done by building up a criminal persona that they use over and over again.

Over at Quantico, the rest of the team wonders exactly who Jennifer is as she heads into Greg's office. For his part, Greg immediately offers her a job - it seems that her undercover work is extremely well thought-of, and he's sure that will make her a great addition to the team! Not sure why, but their last team member was a linguist, so it's not like she could do much worse!

The show then hangs a lantern on its own preposterous timelines, having Jennifer comment that, while she takes months to bring a crook down, Greg and Co. catch a serial killer every week - how do they do it?

That seems like a weird timeline for her, though - is she just working on one case at a time? This latest guy was arrested after months of online correspondence and one meeting. Wouldn't she be juggling a few guys like that? Or was she just working for fifteen minutes a day the past three months?

They have a quick conversation about why the killer might be removing limbs and heads, but it's just theories, so it doesn't come to much. The one useful idea - it's possible he's keeping the limbs, so they should check into sales of chemicals used to preserve human bodies! That's a really good idea, team! Sad that it feels like such a rare accomplishment.

Joe also humiliates himself a little, suggesting that the guy is 'going for a record' by killing three people in the last month. Joe, unless the record you're talking about is 'lowest kill frequency killer in the history of the show' please shut your mouth.

Then we head over to Bakersfield, where a guy we have to assume is the killer, because why else cut to him right now, is seeing his son off for the morning trip to school! The son gets into a minivan, which is either a carpool, or the ex-wife/mother, but we're given no indication of which.

That's not the headline, however, no, the headline is that the killer is Gay Jack from Dawson's Creek!

Yup, it's Greg's one-show-removed brother-in-law!

Anyhow, Jack heads out to the tool shed and pulls out a mysterious footlocker. Oh, and a freeze-frame reveals that he's wearing his wedding ring, so I guess he's a widower and that was just a car pool? Inside the foot locker is a whole leg, which suggests that he's not using it correctly. Although that's really the least of his crimes.

He puts the leg in his lap and strokes it, really getting into his fetish. What could have caused such a bizarre mental break?

Hopefully we'll find out after the credits!

On the plane there's more talk about Torsos, and how much trouble the team is having identifying, where is Jack finding victims who can disappear without being noticed? Also, while the first victim was male, and not sexually assaulted, the rest were female, and were sexually assaulted, leading to the killer leaving DNA 'all over' the corpses. Thanks for that one, show.

Over at the morgue, Derek and Reid get the news - the latest victim was in good shape, with none of the malnutrition or health problems that one might associate with the homeless community! Also they suggest that he might be cutting their limbs off while they're still alive, which brings up unfortunate memories of Suspect Behaviour. Ick, that show.

The headline? The woman had breast implants and the killer removed them so that her identity couldn't be traced! This would tend to back up the earlier theory that all of the victim's mutilations were designed to remove identifying marks, tattoos, or scars!

Joe and Jennifer head out to the crime scene, discussing one of her recent busts! Which involved her brutalizing a particularly unpleasant criminal while he was already in custody! Will Joe be cool with this behaviour? I mean, he murdered Mark Hamill, so he should be, but who knows?

They consider why Jack is leaving the bodies out in the open - is it because he wants to revisit them, and masturbate onto the torsos? Just in case he does, they suggest setting up surveillance around the crime scenes!

Which seems like a waste of resources - the three bodies have been discovered and mentioned in the press, leading to Jack being dubbed 'the mad butcher of Bakersfield'. Why would he come back when he knows the torsos aren't there?

When they covered this like eight seasons ago they pointed out that you had to make sure the dump site wasn't publicized, and set up surveillance in the hopes that he'll return. Fun fact: this was a strategy suggested by Ted Bundy to help catch the Green River Killer! They never tried it.

Speaking of surveillance - they're terrible at setting it up!

That's two police cars showing up at the dump site, where an FBI SUV is already parked! I know the killer likely isn't showing up, but maybe try to be just slightly subtle? The mysterious shaggy-haired person who's watching the scene and sketching the building is certainly alarmed by your presence, and leaves as the black and whites arrive!

They manage to identify the latest victim based on A: The surgical scars and - way more importantly B: The fact that her parents reported her missing. I can't stress how much more important B was than A. It's basically not worth mentioning A at all, really, but they have to make it look like the team is participating.

Then JJ wins the Prentiss Award of the night!

My, that's arrogant, isn't it? What about the evidence you've found gives you the slightest clue about how he ensnares his victims? I hate to go back to the well, but Ted Bundy and Gary Ridgeway both famously had little trouble getting women into cars with them, and both of them were every bit as horrible as this killer is to their victims. Hell, Ed Kemper managed to talk women into his car all the time, despite the fact that he was nearly seven feet tall and quite imposing.

You're awful at this, JJ, and your assumptions might get people killed someday.

Meanwhile, Penelope has tracked down everyone ordering preservative silica in Bakersfield. They single out those sending it to private homes, but since all of those men are married with families, they narrow it down further to people with detached garages - since there aren't many basements in California.

Quite a lot of assumptions everyone's making this week. After all, couldn't the guy have an offsite killing house and storage facility? Did they bother checking property ownership records for all of the silica-orderers? And why dismiss guys with wives? Are they willing to risk lives on the belief that no wife would ever sign off on her husband’s serial killing? Have they forgotten how often that happens on the show?

Speaking of the detached garage, Jack is annoyed when his son interrupts him as he's just about to start fondling his leg! So wait, he's got a leg in the garage, but he doesn't have a lock on the inside of the garage door? What's wrong with this guy?

Then Joe and Jennifer show up to interview him! At the front door, not the garage. They ask to see his supply of preservative and he - quite logically - tells them to come back with a warrant! So is Jack not the killer? Is he just a leg fetishist working with/for the killer? It seems a little early in the case to have grabbed the guy. It would be a little funny if this was just the most disgusting wild goose chase in history, though, and he'd just kept a piece of his dead wife!

Once the FBI have left, Jack puts the leg into his car and drives out into the middle of nowhere. Which isn't a long trip from anywhere in Bakersfield. Naturally the FBI was following him, and explain that because he drove onto private property they have probable cause to search his car. It's a funny line, but it's not the most accurate - there's no reason to believe that they asked permission to go onto the private property, and they have no proof that he's there without the owner's permission.

The far more relevant legal exception is that he's got a leg on the passenger seat, making it an obvious case of 'plain sight exception', which means if you see something illegal through a window, you're allowed to investigate.

Then they pop the trunk, and fine two more legs! So no, it's not an innocent memento.

So how is Jack hooked up with the sketcher, and which of them is the killer?

They talk to Jack's wife, who explains that she knew about his severed leg fetish, because she once caught him rubbing up against a legless mannequin in a store she worked at! But she just let it slide, because it's too difficult to break up a relationship over weird sexual fetishes, I guess?

Then they start to ask Jack why he killed all the women, and he claims that he didn't! He just purchased the limbs from a creep online! A man from a chatroom who will get you whatever you want, including a woman's leg!

It's weird that Jack confesses this so readily, since he just admitted to hiring a man to kill three women and remove their legs. That's not any legally different than killing them himself. All it does is implicate another party in his crime. Which is fine, but he plays it as if the revelation is exculpatory, when what he's really done is admit to hiring a serial killer to fulfill his fetish.

Now it's time for more profiling! They go back to the assumption that the killer is a creepy loser that can't approach women, so now he's raping and murdering them, and also the Boxing Helena thing! Garcia says that the creepy fetish community is so extensive that she'll have no chance of tracking him down - although I don't know why they don't have at least a decent lead. After all, Jack has presumably by this point explained where and how he found the killer online - I'm sure there were aliases and whatnot involved, but those aliases - and how Jack sent him the money - should at least be a starting point, shouldn't they?

The team goes through a list of people who might have knowledge about how to remove body parts - morticians, doctors and the like. The most hilarious part? The second they hear that there's a doctor of anatomy - who fits all of their skills set but none of their psychological criteria - they're like 'hey, let's just kick down that guy's door!'


I've rarely wanted to see a visit to a judge more than this one:

JUDGE: What is your basis for wanting a no-knock warrant for this professor's home?
GREG: He has a set of skills that would allow him to commit the crimes we're investigating.
JUDGE: That's it?
GREG: Yes.
JUDGE: No witnesses? Fiber evidence? Tire tracks? Connection to any of the victims? Testimony about him confessing to crimes? Related criminal history? DNA evidence? Fingerprints?
GREG: No, none of that.
JUDGE: Does he at least fit your profile?
GREG: Quite the opposite! We profiled a loser with zero social skills and a failed career who attacks women out of frustrated sexuality, and this guy is a professor of anatomy at a medical school, proving that he's achieved a high level of training in a specialized field and works well enough with people to succeed at teaching.
JUDGE: So you have no reason to be kicking down his door in the middle of the night, then.
GREG: No, we do not.
JUDGE: Well, go ahead and do in anyway (signs form).

Searching the killer's house, they find a bunch of sketchbooks of the crime scenes! They've got their guy! Too bad their terrible warrant will lead to him going free in about 30 months! Maybe we'll get lucky and they'll shoot him?

Over in the killer's lair, he's tormenting his latest victim. But there's no reason to dwell on that, is there?

The team searches the apartment, but doesn't find any clues about where the killer might be! At the police station, Derek notices Reid rubbing his neck wound, and asks if he's okay. Reid says he's fine, but is he? Could he be dealing with some PTSD phantom pain?

The M.E. has come through with some evidence! There wasn't just leather in the victim's stomach, but some horse hair as well, suggesting that an actual bridle was used for restraint! That suggests that the killer is hiding out in a stable somewhere!

Derek wonders aloud how many horse farms there are in the area, but really isn't it 'how many people own horses' that they should be looking into? It's not like horses are exclusively owned by breeders, after all.

Then it's over to the killer - his victim is already missing an arm! She tries to talk to him, but he freaks out and grabs the bridle - but she manages to talk him down, addressing his loneliness, and offering to stay with him! So we're getting deep into the Boxing Helena-type stuff, aren't we?

At the killer's apartment, the team tries to figure out why the killer has so many family photos everywhere, when they profiled him as an extreme introvert! But that profile was based on NOTHING! How many times do we have to go over this?

Anyhow, they're right that it's inconsistent, the doctor is actually the male victim, and we still don't know who the killer is!

Then things get just so dumb all over again, so it's time for a breakdown!

1 - He didn't frame the victim. He just used the guy's apartment for a while after killing him. To frame someone, you need to lead cops to him, and there was no reason for the team to kick this door down, nor any reason for him to think they ever would.
2 - You didn't think the first two victims were connected, because there was no reason to think that.
3 - If there was a young woman from Bakersfield who went missing right around the time a young woman's torso turned up two weeks ago, why didn't you already connect the two?
4 - She doesn't look like the second victim. You're looking at a picture of her head, which is missing.

Garcia checks, and she'd filed a restraining order against the killer! How has this man not been caught already? Garcia sends them the killer's address, which is a slaughterhouse at the edge of town, where he's from!

Over at the slaughterhouse, the victim tricks the killer into taking her for a walk, then headbutts him and runs off! Good for her!

The victim runs out into the road and makes it to the team, who secure her and then charge into the slaughterhouse to find the killer! Inside, they discover her arm, which is in the process of being preserved by the killer:

Wait, he also bought silicate to preserve the body parts? Why didn't he show up on their search earlier? I've got to say, if you're looking for a 'mad butcher', and one of the places that preservatives were being sent was 'the creepy abandoned slaughterhouse at the edge of town' wouldn't that be like, the first place you'd check?

Anyway, the killer attacks Jennifer and Greg shoots him to death.


On the plane ride back, they do some chatting about their various injuries, which leads to a mention of the time Derek got thrown out a window! That was fun.

Back at Quantico - which is still being identified with a stock shot of Washington D.C., because, again, no one cares!

Back at the office, Jennifer asks Greg where the latest victim was from - it turns out she was from San Diego, which is really far from Bakersfield! Could that creep really have driven all the way down there, clonked her on the head while jogging, and then driven back? The other non-local victim was from Riverside, which is also a significant distance away!

So I guess a creepy guy on the internet is providing victims to would-be serial killers for a fee? This scene has Jennifer coming to Greg like there's an unanswered question still bothering her, but she shouldn't be the only one worried about this! The killer lived in a creepy slaughterhouse and had zero social skills or resources. Is he really the type of guy to set up an elaborate online persona in order to find a guy who wanted to buy the severed limbs of his victims? Or is it far more likely that a businessman is hooking up serial killers with both victims and people who want souvenirs?

But no, they act like the case is all wrapped up, even though they have zero evidence that the killer and Jack were ever in contact with each other, or that the killer ever received Jack's money! Also, Greg says there's no evidence of a partner, but they haven't actually looked - the woman did not identify the killer as the one who abducted her, and they've found zero evidence that he was driving all over the state. It seems like you're really half-assing this one, Greg, just because you need the season-long-arc to be a complete mystery until Jennifer figures it out, since what else is her character there for?

Oh, right, she's a specialist at contacting creeps online, so of course she'll be the one to uncover the guy I'll be calling 'Matchmaker' until the show gives him a name. And I might keep doing it even then, if their name is bad.

Then Jennifer arrives home, and we see that her teenaged daughter is napping - she fell asleep on the couch while doing homework! Has she been alone for two days? Also I guess it's not her daughter, since she calls Jennifer by her first name, Kate!

Then it's off to California, where yet another female jogger is attacked, by a whole family of murderers, including an old lady who asks for directions, and her monster son (I assume) who grabs her from the back of the van!

Then we see a guy in his kitchen somewhere, shopping for victims online!

Well, I say online, the production designers did a bad job here, and didn't cover up the line that shows that the 'website' is just an HTML file in the guy's system folder.

We see another few interested parties, and finally get a look at the latest victim who has appeared on the site, and is open for bidding!

I guess this is going to run all season, but how could it? How can they overlook the fact that Jack has already told them about the Matchmaker, since the killer was obviously not the one selling him body parts?

Well, let's see how it goes, huh?

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

No. Their profile had zero useful information in it, and then they disregarded it completely to go after a random person, which led them to the killer, somehow.

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

A woman went missing. A female torso showed up a few days later. The woman had a restraining order against the killer. How had he not already been caught?

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

1/10 - They caught the guy because they kicked down a random person's door who turned out to be his victim. But they only kicked down that door because the killer's victim amazingly turned out to have a job that pegged him as a possible killer - which was a complete coincidence. So they only got a lead because of the most random chance imaginable.

Also, the episode suggests that a creepy guy with zero resources who lived in a literal abandoned slaughterhouse killed his romantic obsession in a weird way, and then thought 'hey! I should go on the internet and find someone to sell me another victim!' and then the condition of the sale was that he give the limbs back to the person who sold him the victim?

How did he think to do that, and why would the Matchmaker think to himself - "Hey, this random broke creep who lives in a shack and has no resources is the perfect person to go into business with! After all, if the cops catch him, they'll definitely kill him before he mentions the website that he went to in order to purchase victims, right? There's no way this could possibly go wrong!"

How did slaughterhouse shack guy afford the victim? The auction site doesn't tell us how much the victims are going for, but it's got to be a pretty significant expense, right? Was he paying by offering murder and leg removal services to them? Although I don't know why they would need that, since they've got plenty of murderers on the hook already, and if they're just selling limbs, they could do that themselves. This is the kind of operation where adding a bunch of steps only serves to make you way more catchable.

Nothing about this makes sense, people. Especially the ending, where another woman is grabbed while jogging. That's three women in California abducted while jogging - isn't that worth looking into? Are Matchmaker's collectors doing research on victims, figuring out who won't be missed, or really performing any basic due diligence? What if one of the women they grabbed was an FBI agent? Now, if it wasn't obvious that this week's killer was the one grabbing joggers already, wouldn't the fact that another one went missing literally the day after the guy was shot to death tip off the authorities that something bigger was going on?


Unknown said...

I didnt get why they make it look like the creepy guy they shot was connected to the first AND second (out of 3) victims, ie he must have killed them himself then had the 4th victim as well.

So the ring of people selling humans for torturing /killing has only done 1/4 we know about in this episode? It's like they started off making the creep the episodes serial killer then decided towards the end they'd change it to a bigger network but didn't bother editing out the first 2 victims connection to him...

Anonymous said...

threw me off when you were saying jenifer (as in lovehewit), mind went automatically to jj lol.

Vicendum said...

I thought one of the bigger inconsistencies with the slaughterhouse guy was that the first limb he cut off the woman was her arm. You would think, if he doesn't want his victims to get away, that the first limbs to go would be the legs. If he was preserving the limbs at his farm then he had no reason to chop an arm off first.

...but then we wouldn't have the "you go girl!" scene in this episode.