Criminal Minds 1023: The Hunt

The episode opens just where the last one left off, with Love's daughter and her idiot friend getting abducted! Seriously, woman, you went to meet this guy without confirming he even exists? You all have videophones and laptops; you could have demanded a video chat with him at some point before meeting him in an alley.

Meg and Idiot start to get suspicious about the creepy situation, and when they try to escape the van, they're grabbed by the goon hiding in the back seat! God, if this organization is just a single family, I'm going to be very, very annoyed.

Meg managed to text most of her emergency code to Love, and she immediately checks with Idiot's mother! The girls are officially missing, so Love goes to Garcia to start an immediate phone trace! Hilariously, when Love walks into the room and demands that Garcia track Meg and Idiot's cell phones, Garcia instantly does it without having to ask for either of their numbers! Creepy, Garcia!

They unleash all of the surveillance abilities of the FBI to track the two girls down! And Love announces that she's not going home to wait for a kidnapping call, she's going to be working the case, while seven months pregnant!

This can only go well for everyone.

Criminal Minds 1022: Protection

The episode opens with a kid in a hoodie running through a damp parking lot! You know, last episode I pointed out that it never rains on Criminal Minds, but conversely, whenever they shoot at night on a road, it's always just stopped raining! If you've ever noticed constantly wet streets in night scenes of movies and television, there's actually a reason for it - dry black pavement kind of sucks up light and looks ugly as heck, so dousing the streets with water right before rolling the cameras creates a nice reflective surface for the fake moonlight to bounce off of!

Where were we? Yes, sprinting! He's running away from a cop car, and hides in an alley, just out of sight! Things aren't looking good for him either, because he's got blood on his hands! When the guy gets back to his apartment, he runs into a young woman on crutches, and asks to see her mother. The mother asks Danny (because that's his name) what's going on with the bloody hands and frantic look?

We cut away before getting an answer - to a woman running through the woods, glancing backwards! But it's obviously just JJ, so we know there's no reason to be scared. Yup, she's doing a morning jog with Derek! Naturally, they get a call about a case.

In the past three days, there have been three murders in Hollywood! The previous night a man and his sex worker were shot while they were sitting in his car! Somebody had a lot of bullets, and felt they all belonged in their faces. Ick.

Two days prior, a banker was also shot in a luxury car with the same gun! What's the connection, other than people in fancy cars getting shot on skid row? Actually, you know, what? That's a pretty good connection. Carry on.

At his apartment, Danny is a mess. Blood-soaked shirt, gun on the table, drinking straight booze to comfort his terrible headache - yet for some reason the lady on crutches drops by to give him a head massage! That's a good friend, people.

A good friend who's putting him up to murder, I guess? He talks about missing his mother, and the lady explains that he's going to have to keep going out until he gets the guy! I'm intrigued to see where this is going!

Criminal Minds 1021: Mr. Scratch

The episode opens on a dark and stormy night, as a man in one of the Quantico interrogation cells - wait, why would an FBI training facility have interrogation cells? How is this the first time I'm noticing how weird that is? Anyhow, the guy is claiming that he's innocent of whatever he's been accused of. Greg enters to talk to Mr. Merrin, as he's named, and confirms that he's been read his rights.

Greg confirms that the guy knows where he is, and he does, but he doesn't know why. Is this a case of multiple personalities? They don't go to that well very often, so this could be refreshing! Greg asks him to tell the story of what happened two nights ago, and he does!

We're into a flashback immediately, where Merrin's wife tells him to check downstairs because she heard a noise. He did, and remembered smelling burning sage and seeing a demon crawl out of a closet! How is this not the Halloween episode?

One demon runs upstairs to murder his wife, while another dragged him away when he tried to save her! Greg is obviously not persuaded by this story of a murderous shadow monster. By the time he got upstairs his wife had been slashed to death! He claims he passed out, and when he woke up, the cops had him under arrest! Greg explains that this isn't the truth - he just stabbed his wife to death with a kitchen knife!

He's got scratches on his chest from where she tried to stop him and everything - the neighbours heard the screams and called the cops, who found him with the knife still in his hand. This is pretty open and shut, but he seems genuinely confused by it!

Things get crazy a moment later, when Greg pulls out a file - two other people claim to have been attacked by a shadow monster! One stabbed his mother, the other her boyfriend! Is this drugging, mass hysteria, or an amazing plan three people cooked up to get away with murder!

Greg's theory? There's a killer out there who can trigger psychotic breaks in people! But is that even possible? Hopefully we'll find out after the credits!

Criminal Minds 1020: A Place at the Table

The episode opens with an old-time recording of Jingle Bells being played as the camera takes in a well-appointed house full of antiques, ending on a push into a family portrait where pointedly zero people are smiling.

We then see that the furniture has been upset by a struggle! The cops enter, are startled by a cat, and then notice the blood trail that the cat left on the carpet! They follow it into the dining room, where the family's mother, grandmother, and two of the children have been tied up and slaughtered at the dining room table!

Then it's over to Greg's house, where he's thanking his sister-in-law for looking after a field trip after his day off was canceled by this brutal mass murder! He notices that she's troubled by something, but is too preoccupied to do anything about it! Has she finally decided - after five years - that being a live-in nanny to her nephew isn't a fulfilling life, or is something else going on?

In the briefing room, they do a virtual walkthrough of the crime scene for some reason. Like, I have no idea why they're doing this. Bethesda is a one hour drive from Quantico if you have the ability to run sirens, which they do. What could possibly be so time-sensitive that they need a video feed right now?

It's not like they're deciding whether or not to take the case - the mother of the family was an heiress, obviously they've been called in. Why aren't they already there? Unless they want to do a jump scare where they see something surprising through the video feed? Of course, that can't happen, because they'd have secured the house before phoning the FBI.

Oh my god, that's exactly what happens. The other son runs through the back of the frame and is tackled by the cops, so they can do a found footage thing where the camera is kicked and suddenly we go to a snowy screen! Because that's a thing that still exists.

So, anyhow - family murdered at a dinner table, son as a suspect, Holiday music in the background - I'm calling it now, this is an adaptation of the book Scavenger, which I have a very complicated relationship with. Seriously... it's... troubling. Then again, this could be a complete coincidence, because the father wasn't also killed, and I was so traumatized by Scavenger that I'm seeing it everywhere!

Let's find out if it's a rip-off, after the credits!

Criminal Minds 1019: Beyond Borders

A family gets off a plane somewhere, excited about their vacation! The father is somewhat famous actor Tom Everett Scott! The miss the last shuttle to the resort of the night, but just after it leaves a mysterious man in an unlicensed shuttle shows up! This wouldn't bode well, even if this wasn't an episode of Criminal Minds.

The driver gives them all some drugged water, and they promptly fall asleep! It turns out they were from DC originally, and that's why the team will be involved!

Okay, it turns out that this is the backdoor pilot for the Gary Sinese spin-off, because the next shot is him training in the FBI's famous shooting range. No, not the Hogan's Alley thing, just a regular shooting range.

He gets a text on his phone - the Aruba killer has returned! Gary and Esai (who we haven't seen in AGES) go to talk with Greg and Joe about helping out with the case in the Barbados!

Then we meet Lambert (Breaking Bad's Anna Gunn!), the woman in charge of Gary's team - it seems to be her job to deal with the thorny legal issues of the FBI working abroad! They call Matt, the team's Asian guy - specialty yet to be announced, and tell him to meet them at the airstrip! It's all hands on deck, people! Some of the team will search the house in Virginia to see if there's evidence that he's stalking them before they go on vacation, the rest will go to Barbados! They've got two full teams, isn't it worth also double-checking that there isn't more evidence at the sites of his other murders, Florida and Aruba?

Also, you don't need an excuse for Love to stay in DC. We know she's not going on a plane to Barbados, she's five months pregnant. Just have her work the phones on something. Especially since this family couldn't have been pre-targeted. They were only grabbed by complete chance when they were too late out of the airport to catch the official resort shuttle - something the killer couldn't have possibly arranged or planned on.

That's the killer's MO - he kidnaps American families on vacation, kills them, and dumps their bodies! But why, and for what reason?

Oh, and Garcia asks if 'Monty' will be on the case, since she's going to need some help! Wow, they listened to the people who complained about how putting her on the previous spin-off made the show feel too much like a second hour of Criminal Minds every week, and actually got them their own tech person?

Wait, did they listen to me? No, I'm sure everyone made that exact same complaint.

Sucks that Xander couldn't pick up that job, though.

Down in Barbados, the family is being held in a garage somewhere! The father is dragged off by the killer!

Speaking of Barbados, that's a Caribbean island, which makes it weird that at the start of the episode the father promised a mile-long lazy river and 'roaring rapids'. I checked, and there's no hotels with the kind of giant water parks on the island like the one he's describing. Also, Barbados has a giant international airport that huge planes land on, it's not a tiny regional airport as suggested by the show.

Also, all of the resorts are on the southern shore, near the airport, and there's no possible reason to have to drive through a forest to get to any of them. Gosh, this episode is getting everything about Barbados wrong! I wonder if it's going to get better from here?

Let's find out together, after the credits!

Criminal Minds 1018: Rock Creek Park

The episode opens with a woman walking down a tunnel and then disappearing through a door - this becomes security footage, and we're told that the woman is a congressman's wife, and she's been missing for twelve hours! She left lunch with her husband, and then mysterious disappeared!

The congressman shows up, and the show is weirdly coy about announcing what party he's from. When listing his enemies, he says that the oil lobby is after him, as is the NRA and PETA. He describes this as being a 'equal-opportunity offender', which is kind of hilarious. You're obviously a Democrat, dude. They wouldn't let you into the Republic Party if you're against guns or oil. As for PETA, they hate basically every elected politician other than Corey Booker. And that's just a guess because he's vegan. They might hate him too, though. It's hard to tell with them.

Of course, it's doubtful that this is related directly to lobbying interests, because this isn't an episode of Scandal or Damages, people don't get kidnapped and murdered to make sure a bill passes.

Garcia drops in with some info - the Library of Congress' video setup was hacked and the footage set to loop - so someone with expertise had planned her disappearance! Of course, that someone had to have known her exact planned route leaving lunch with her husband, so they'd have to be very close. Was she in on it?

I'm worried that they're going to drop the surveillance angle, though, since they have Garcia say that it 'wouldn't take a lot of brainpower' to get into the DC Metro's surveillance system and loop the video. Which is, of course, ridiculous. You'd have to be incredibly skilled at computer hacking to get into a system like that and make the changes without anyone detecting them as they were happening, and you'd have to be even better to do without leaving a trace for Garcia to follow. I'm guessing the show just doesn't want us to think about that, though, so let's move on.

The news has been tipped off about the kidnapping - but by whom? JJ arrives with the last phone message that the wife left - she was calling a lawyer, and we hear her saying 'what are you doing - let go of me!' Unfortunately they don't let us know when this phone call was made, so we can't easily compare it to when she was last seen.

Also, no one has mentioned the GPS in her phone, and how vital it is to know when and where it was shut off.


The team ponders how a woman could have been abducted from the Library of Congress, although they haven't established that she was, since they gave us no info about the call times. Let's say she was, though, that still makes Reid's comment about it being easier to grab someone from a public place kind of silly. He says that if she was drugged it would just look like family members helping a sick person out of the building.

Except no, it absolutely wouldn't. First off, we heard her yell and struggle on the phone call. Secondly, DC government buildings are swarming with police and security all the time. They've been hyper-vigilant since a certain event involving a plane and a pentagonally-shaped building. If the woman was awake at all, the security forces would have seen her struggling, if she was asleep and being dragged, they would have intervened to get medical attention. This isn't a carnival somewhere - this is the Library of Congress.

The only possible way to get it done is if she's still inside the building - every exit is guarded in a meaningful way, so unless all the guards were in on it, this kidnapping couldn't have happened the way the characters are assuming it was.

Greg goes over the congressman's voting record. Is his opposition to fracking causing the oil companies to turn to kidnapping? Obviously not, that would be insane. They announce they're going to bring his family into protective custody - this includes his mother, and his brother, who has lived with her since he got out of rehab. Oh, a dirtbag brother? Will that come up again, or is it just a red herring?

Joe calls in with a lead from organized crime! Russian mobsters were planning a kidnapping today, but there were no specifics on the wiretaps, so the FBI didn't know who to warn? So, wait, it was large burly Russian guys trying to drag a woman out of the Library of Congress? How would that have been possible?

Also, I just looked up the Library of Congress, and - no surprise - they have no public parking. So how did these guys get the woman out of there? There's no street parking at any time, there are gatehouses with guards, and again - no one would put up with you dragging a lady down thirty steps, then shoving her into a stopped car. None of this could have happened like we're being told.

The team recognizes that the Russian connection is their best lead yet, so Reid goes to talk to the agent they have surveilling the operation. Reid is the natural choice to help out, since he has a good memory and speaks Russian, in fact, the local agent says it's a waste for him to have come if he doesn't, suggesting that all the mobsters speak Russian on the phone to each other all the time - which makes it a little hilarious that we already heard two guys speaking English to each other in thick Russian accents.

You don't care about basic consistency at all, do you, Criminal Minds?

Also, just to be a dick, when Reid finds out that the agent is reading Great Expectations for the first time, he spoils the ending for her. You're the worst, Reid.

Joe goes to check on the congressman, who thinks that if he'd just walked his wife to the car and gotten her a cab, this wouldn't have happened! Joe tells him not to beat himself up, but he's not good at comforting people.

Why is no one asking who knew the wife's schedule? This kidnapping would have had to have been extensively planned. There's no way to follow and grab her in the congressional tunnels, meaning they'd have to know exactly where she was planning to leave and when - this requires a minute-perfect understanding of her movements that a couple of Russian mobsters wouldn't have access to - even if the rest of the plan made sense, which is absolutely doesn't.

JJ takes the mother and brother to a secure room, and the brother is weirdly jittery, announcing that he's got a soup kitchen he's supposed to be volunteering at. Also, he's got massive scars on one side of his face. What's going on with this guy? While the mother talks about what a great marriage the couple has, the brother is a sarcastic dick the entire time, and shows no concern whatsoever about the possibility that his sister-in-law has been kidnapped and possibly murdered. Time to get this guy alone for an interview, I'm guessing.

It's almost comedic how shifty they're making the brother - as if the script said that he wasn't able to meet anyone's gaze, and the actor decided to take that as literally as possible. In almost every shot of the guy he makes a point of turning his face away from someone.

At the deer blind, Reid watches the cleaning lady make a phone call home, and the show does something a little clever! By focusing on Reid, they let us know that we're going into his head, and then the audio fades from an African language to accented English. So when we next hear the mobsters we can assume that they're actually speaking Russian, and Reid is just translating for us. Doesn't explain that first scene, though.

The Russians say that they'll be needed very soon, and have to be ready with a truck to go to the 'office'. Instead of immediately calling their superiors to get them ready to tail the vehicles, Reid and the Agent chat about languages and coffee for a few seconds. Then the show cuts away, making them look terribly unprofessional.

Back at the office, Derek reports that gun lobbyists claim that they don't bother with first-term congressmen like the victim's husband. Which is kind of a crazy thing to say - even if the NRA didn't aggressively go after every anti-gun measure at every level of government all the time, the phrasing makes it sound like the NRA is saying that the guy wasn't important enough to have his wife kidnapped, but they'd totally do it if he was more prominent. Which might not be the best message to be sending, lobbyists. The phrasing is even more hilarious, because Derek says he doubts that they'd use the Russian mob if they were involved - because he figures they could get plenty of local crazies to do it, I suppose?

Do the show's producers realize just how anti-NRA this episode just became?

Things get even dumber, though, when we get this exchange, which we'll have to take on step-by-step:

First off, oil isn't 'slimy'; that suggests a level of viscosity that oil doesn't possess. Moreover, your idea about motive doesn't make sense. The guy is against US domestic oil and gas production. Russia is a major exporter of oil and gas. If they want anything at all, it's for there to be less oil and gas production in America, so that prices will rise and they'll make more money. Yes, Russians have involved themselves in American politics recently, but it's not to get Americans to drill for more oil, it's to remove sanctions so that American Mega-Corporations can help them get more oil out more cheaply and efficiently. An anti-fracking bill covering the west coast would be the best possible thing for Russia.

Just then, a reporter appears, demanding an interview with the congressman in exchange for the ransom video she just received? Greg threatens her, but doesn't just take the video and arrest her, since she's actually committing a crime.

The video is simple - wire 20 Million Dollars to a bank account or she'll be killed at midnight!

The bank routing number is in a Cypriot bank that Russians use to launder money! There's some discussion about why anyone would think that the Congressman has 20 million dollars to turn over - perhaps it's because there was a recent announcement that he has a campaign 'war chest' of 50 million dollars? The team brings up the important point - who would be smart enough to engineer a preposterous kidnapping, but dumb enough to think that a politician can pay ransoms with campaign money? Is there something else going on here?

The Congressman is flustered and has no idea what do to - but Greg has a plan! It's to ask for proof of life and to have the kidnappers phone for purposes of negotiation. So his plan is to do exactly what the kidnapping negotiation handbook tells you to do?

Wow. Much professional. Such FBI.

Then it's over to the interview with the Congressman, who breaks down in his interview with the sleazy reporter.

Over at the deer blind, Garcia calls in with some info - the crook they're watching is a brutal murderer! Yeah, no shock there. Reid asks her to check his communication since he arrived in Washington two years ago - whoever talked to him most and helped him out would likely be the "Uncle" he referred to on the call, since "Uncle" is frequently used as an honorific for any senior member of a crime family.

After the broadcast about the 20 million dollar ransom goes out there's some chatter at the deer blind. It seems the kidnappers - that's right, the Russians were involved, this wasn't a red herring - only thought that the ransom was going to be two million, and they're feeling betrayed! This can't go well for anyone!

Back at the office, Love wins a Prentiss Award for this line:

She's absolutely right, of course. Why am I giving her the Prentiss Award for saying something correct? Because it's so obvious that it shouldn't have had to be said aloud. Anyone with the most basic understanding of the concepts of supply and demand knows this. Yet there she stands, holding a legal pad and pen, as if she's been crunching the numbers and has just proven that if there's less oil and gas on the market, then prices will go up!

Dear god, this show.

The kidnappers call in to demand the money, but when they put the wife on to talk, it's through a voice changer, and she isn't able to answer a simple question about their first date - so is the wife even alive at all? According to Love, the call was routed through Chechnya, so it couldn't be traced!

The team goes over the wording of the note to see if they can glean any info from it. Damn, if only Jeanne hadn't quit the team, she could have solved this in a second! I'm kidding, of course, she was never useful.

They notice that the kidnappers mentioned the Congressman's family, and referred to the original amount as 'pocket change'. Was the scummy brother in on the plan, and that's why he's so shifty all the time? Turns out that the brother recently went to jail for trying to rob the restaurant he worked at - he was going to use the money to pay back Russian drug dealers he owed money to!

This is a good lead, but why didn't they have it yet?

Like, the moment you found out the Congressman's wife had been kidnapped, shouldn't doing a background check on everyone involved have been your first priority?

They go to the brother and demand to know where he got the money to pay off the mob - was it by setting up the kidnapping? At the same time, they confront the mother, and Joe uses the word 'jealous' over and over again when he really means 'envious'. Interestingly, we learn that he got the scar when an upstairs neighbour poured a pan of boiling oil out a window. The kid was five at the time.

Was he growing up in the distant past? Who throws boiling oil out a window? Isn't this family well-to-do? Why did they have neighbours living close enough for that to happen? Is that just a story they tell because he was actually badly burned by a family member? Is his brother a monster, and this is all a plan to embezzle campaign money and disappear?

Okay, that last one's a bit of a stretch, I'll admit.

The brother claims that the Congressman paid off his drug debt, but it wasn't because he's a great guy! He actually did it because the brother threatened to reveal that he'd been cheating on his new wife with an intern, and he's actually a dirtbag!

Garcia tracks the phone call and it turns out that the call came from a warehouse abutting Rock Creek Park - perhaps not coincidentally, that's the same park that the Congressman and his wife went on a walk through on their first date, and the caller claiming to be her failed to mention that?

I guess that's why he didn't just ask her what restaurant they went to, which is a much more rational question - if he'd done that, it wouldn't have been a clue for later! Unless, you know, she was being held in a warehouse across the street from the restaurant.

The team searches the warehouse, and finds nothing but a gift laid out on a table - they wait until it's been checked to see if it's an IED, a term I still hate the sound of people using. Just say bomb. It's more honest. Finally they open it, and find a severed ear inside, with the wife's earring! But is it her ear?

Ears are as unique as fingerprints (meaning a decent amount, but not really that much), so it shouldn't be that hard to check if they've got a picture of the side of her head.

Back at the base, the team wonders what the kidnappers' game is - they could have made the call harder to track, but they wanted the team to find the earring, so they'd know who was in charge! Apparently there are no witnesses around the warehouse, either, but no one mentions the proximity between the warehouse and the park the Congressman mentioned earlier.

The intern is brought in, and before they even start talking to her, Greg and JJ go to the Congressman and accuse him of planning the kidnapping with his mistress! Weird place to jump off of, guys, but okay.

They tell two competing stories - the mistress says that they've carried on their affair for the past year, and that he said his wife would be gone soon, while the Congressman says that the intern is unstable and had been stalking him, and he only saw her the previous night because she threatened to kill herself if he didn't come over. So who's telling the truth? Psychology doesn't seem like it's getting the job done, so I guess they'll have to resort to actually investigating!

Hey, does the intern speak Russian? Just a thought.

At the duck blind, Reid overhears the mobster attempting to rape his maid, and he wants to intervene, but the agent explains that if they do that, they'll never get a lead on the kidnapping or the missile launchers that the Russians are supposedly selling!

More importantly, though, the Russian mentions that the maid doesn't smell like cleaning products as she usually does, but rather like flowers or the woods - could she have been out in the park, taking part in the kidnapping?

Has Reid figured this out? Probably not, since he doesn't know about the park.

The team meets up to look over new evidence, and Garcia has found something juicy! It seems that the Congressman bought bullets with his credit card recently, and shipped them to a post office in Virginia! But why, since no one has been shot so far? Or is it the wife or mistress framing him, since they'd both have access to his credit card information!

Before we move on to him being interviewed about this, I just wanted to say wow, Love's baby is growing fast!

She was wearing a baggy jacket all last week to conceal her stomach, so I didn't realize just how pregnant she was! Is this a situation where Love got pregnant during the season and they quickly had to write it into the show last week? Just a quick check...

Yup, she'd just had a child when she started the job, and got pregnant again during the season! Good for her!

They confront the Congressman about the gun, and he claims that he bought it to protect himself from the intern. The intern says that he's lying, so Love comes up with a plan to figure out the truth! She said that they had unprotected sex the night before, and Love says if she consents to be medically examined,  they can prove it, one way or another!

More at the deer blind - they get a call to get the truck and some ski masks ready! Then they find out that the maid was hiding in the closet, listening in! This is looking bad for her!

It turns out that the intern won't be medically examined, so she might be lying! Joe checks with Reid to see if they have any way to contact the kidnappers, and just as he's doing it, the kidnappers prepare to murder the maid for eavesdropping - Reid wants to run over to attempt to save her, but we hear a gunshot!

Naturally, this was the one Russian shooting the lecherous one - as predicted, the forest smells were a big clue. He confesses to a bunch of stuff and Reid hears it all - they identify that the contact was pissed off about being asked for more money, but they're convinced that she'll pay if the wife is killed!

That's right, the person who hired the Russians is a woman! So is it the crazy stalker or the mother? Where would the stalker get a huge amount of money for a professional murder, and why would the mother want her daughter-in-law dead?

They remember that the Congressman said that his mother was a harsh monster, and they go to interview her. The theory? She thought that the woman wasn't a suitable wife for a future president, so she wanted her executed! Which was apparently going to cost two million dollars and involve a ridiculous kidnapping ruse? Couldn't they have just shot her in a parking lot and stolen her car? It's not like there was a time limit on this crime, was there?

Seriously, what was the whole kidnapping ruse meant to accomplish?

They decide to pressure the mother by threatening to arrest the Congressman. What for? Weapons possession and the intent to murder his wife. Okay, here's the thing, Greg, first off, you don't know where the gun is, so the weapons possession charge will be hard to make stick, and secondly, intending to murder your wife isn't a crime. Like, at all. This is gibberish.

Still, the threat of hurting her son's political career gets her to cave - which is weird, because the wife being kidnapped by the mother will also ruin his political career. I'm not saying she shouldn't talk, I'm just saying the there's three ways this can go - the FBI ruins his career by arresting him on bogus charges, the FBI ruins his career by arresting his mother for an elaborate kidnapping and attempted murder scheme, or they somehow get away with it by saying nothing. Why not just roll the dice and hope you get away with it, since the charges against your son won't stick anyhow?

Anyhoo, they rescue the wife, and yes, her ear was cut off. Ick.


The next day, everyone is watching the Congressman thank the FBI, and they comment that his approval ratings are up! Could he have a bright political future after all? Probably not, what with the mother going to jail for life in a giant scandal.

Over at the deer blind, Reid and the agent chat some more, and then he asks her out on a date!

There's a final scene with the Congressman, who visits with his mother! He's grateful that her plan had the intended effect of making people love him, and now he wants her help in planning the next steps of his career!

So he really was evil, after all! Are we sure he didn't burn his brother's face off as well?

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

Not really. They just surveilled the Russians until they found out that a woman paid for the kidnapping, and then looked into the two women involved in the case. Only one of them had the means to pay for the crime.

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

They did.

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

1/10 - So, this episode made no sense, huh? It's actually hard to figure out exactly what any part of the plan was. Like, why did the mobsters ask for more money? Were they planning to give the wife back if the Congressman had come up with it? They knew that it was a fake kidnapping, and the mother was going to pay them to kill the wife, so why risk screwing everything up by changing the terms of the deal?

You can say it's greed, but we're told that they changed it because they found out about his campaign money - but the mother didn't have any access to that, and they were working for the mother, not the son.

Also, let's not forget that kidnappings are much harder to get away with than murders - if the whole point of this was to get sympathy, a wife murdered in a carjacking is just as high-profile as one killed by vicious kidnappers - and it gives the cops less to investigate afterwards.

More importantly, why did they do the kidnapping in the most public place, in the most public way? Couldn't you have just grabbed or killed her in a parking lot? Or was there some cachet in kidnapping her in a way that would almost certainly have wound up with the criminals being captured?

Again, why was any of this necessary?

Absolutely nothing in this episode could have happened, and it was just a mess of an episode all around, Criminal Minds.

Criminal Minds 1017: Breath Play

The episode opens with a woman jogging! Is this finally a return to the Matchmaker storyline? Maybe not, because she successfully makes it home after her jog.  While she's showering, a creep sneaks into her bedroom and grabs her underwear - but how did he get into the house?

The same way every killer on Criminal Minds does? Magic?

The lady goes to bed, unaware that the killer is in the room with her! He puts on some night-vision goggles and poses with the sleeping woman, then takes out the rope he'll be using to do something to her!

We don't find out what, because we immediately cut to the next day, where Love is dealing with the continuing adventures of having a daughter who's growing up too quickly in this crazy modern world! This time, the girl has tried to do a bellybutton piercing herself, and it's causing problems! Luckily Derek's girlfriend was able to see her immediately, because she works at a hospital that takes the FBI's insurance!

Love heads out to work a case, and her daughter is left with Derek's girlfriend. Yes, girlfriend, because he somehow still hasn't proposed. Derek. Ugh. The doctor offers to counsel the daughter on how hard it is to have a loved one who's always traveling and fighting crime! What a sweet gesture!

At the office, Derek and Love talk about the trials of parenting, where Love complains that her daughter has never been 13, and she's never parented a teenager, so she doesn't know what to do! Echoing Ron Howard, Derek points out that there are literally thousands of books on parenting, but I'd go a little farther, and remind Love that she's already been a 13-year-old girl, so she should at least be able to empathize with what's happening here.

Also, it turns out that Love is pregnant, and they think that's why her daughter was piercing her bellybutton! Wow, way to make everything about you, Love.

Garcia goes over the details of the case - in the past two weeks, three women have been tied to their beds, raped, and strangled to death! That's right, the woman last night knew that two women who lived within a mile of her had been brutalized inside their own homes by a serial killer who was on the loose, yet she was still out jogging alone.

Because no one in the world of Criminal Minds takes even basic steps towards self-preservation.

The team goes over their usual wild guesses about the crime, then we gut over to the killer, who's smelling a souvenir elastic from his victims, before he's interrupted by his daughter, who needs a ride to school! He adds the elastic to the others hung around his rear-view mirror, and then they head off to face the day!

Fun fact: This episode is set in March, in Wisconsin, but all of the trees are covered in leaves!

Criminal Minds 1016: Lockdown

The episode opens in a prison or mental hospital in the middle of the night. A guard wonders where one of his fellow workers has disappeared to, but doesn't seem as concerned about it as you'd think he would be. Then the guy finds a trail of blood leading into a closet! He goes to check it out without waiting for backup or turning on the lights in the room. Because he's an idiot, I guess?

The guy finds the missing guard - he's been stabbed in the neck and had a sock stuffed in his mouth. Weird!

The next day Greg and Joe field a call about the crime - this is the second such murder of a guard within three months! Wait, the guy who killed the previous guard wasn't caught? How is that possible? Are there not security cameras all around the place?

Joe asks the question, which, thanks, and the warden doesn't have much of an answer - he says that the first guard was killed during a riot, and the prisoners had briefly shut the cameras off, but that doesn't explain this second murder not being on film.

It seems that the prison is one of those awful private affairs, which is why the cameras weren't working - absolutely everything at the prison is done terribly in the hopes of maximizing profit!

So the team's going to a Texas prison! Hopefully this episode will be the scathing indictment of the prison-industrial complex that the subject deserves!


On the plane, they talk about how it was almost certainly a gang that did the crimes, since the guards were overpowered and went down without any injuries suggesting a fight. A month before the murders a notable gang boss was transferred to the prison... coincidence?

Reid spouts some statistics about how private prisons are a good money-maker, and the company running this particular jail has quadrupled in size in just a couple of decades! Joe's reaction, while it's supposed to be a joke, still wins the Prentiss Award of the night:

Running a private prison is legal, Joe. It really, really, really, shouldn't be, but it is. And you're terrible at jokes. Especially since, you know, you've become a millionaire exclusively by exploiting the victims of crime.

Fun fact, the criminals who work in the prison are being paid just pennies an hour, because slavery is still legal inside of prisons!

At the prison, the team is met by the head of security and the warden. They lock their guns away, and head in to see the crime scene! Suspiciously, the head of security doesn't go with them, claiming he has things to do first. Also, he's played by William Ragsdale, star of best vampire film ever Fright Night and the titular Herman in TV's Herman's Head, the show that inspired Pixar's Inside Out!

They get a rundown of the prison - notably, cell phones don't work there. Too many people were smuggling in phones to the prisoners, so they set up some jammers!

In the morgue, they learn something interesting - in addition to the sock and neck wound, both victims had exactly seven fingers broken! Could that be significant? And why didn't they have any other defensive wounds? JJ goes to find the criminally lazy prison doctor and demand a full autopsy.

Derek and Love point out the lack of security cameras in the hallway leading up to the place where the guard's body was stuffed, and Herman explains to them that the suits in charge of the prison won't spend a dime that isn't essential, and to them, saving the lives of guards isn't essential. Of course, even if the guards don't have a union, this is the kind of massive oversight that multi-million dollar lawsuits are made of, so hopefully the team finds enough evidence to give the families of the dead guards a rock-solid case! After Herman leaves, Derek and Love bring up the previously unspoken possibility that guards could have been involved in both crimes!

Shouldn't this have been a bigger possibility from the start? I don't know about the first murder, but the second crime seems to have taken place after lights out and lockdown - so how could a group of inmates have possibly done it?

Over in the prisoner area two guys are complaining about their situation - the whole place is on lockdown until the guard's killers are caught! The old con who drops off lunches takes a moment to threaten one of the prisoners - don't tell the feds anything, or else. It's more likely that this is a contraband ring than part of the guard murders, but who knows?

Derek and Joe go to talk to the gang leader, who claims ignorance about the murders - but he has details that weren't supposed to be released outside of law enforcement, like the socks in mouths! He implies that the two dead guards were especially brutal, and no one's sad to see them go, and then we get a weird bit from Joe - he says that the gang leader should help them because he's already a snitch, and when he was convicted he turned on his compatriots to get a 'lighter sentence'. Except the guy's in jail for life+30, so he didn't get a lighter sentence, he just avoided the death penalty. So why not say that?

We get a look at the workspace within the prison - there's files stacked all over Reid's table, but I can't imagine what they're of. It's not all of the prisoners, since there's nowhere near 2000 files, but it can't be the guards, since there's way too many for that. Maybe it's every violent incident that happened in the prison in the past couple of years? There's an embarrassing montage of Reid speed-reading, the result of which is there's a prisoner who disappears from the records! Just before the first killing a prisoner stops appearing in files, but he isn't recorded as either dying or being released!

Elsewhere in the prison the threatening old con is somehow alone in the showers, enjoying a relaxing spritz. Suddenly the lights turn off, he has a sock stuffed in his mouth, and has his hands and feet bound with duct tape! So yeah, there's obviously more than one guy doing this. They don't stab him to death, though - instead they lie him under the shower and adjust the temperature behind the wall so that he'll be scalded to death! Which is one hell of an escalation.

Herman has an answer for the missing prisoner - apparently he was transferred to Florida, and record-keeping at the corporation sucks. Oh, alright then. Then they hear about the newest victim, and once again, seven of his fingers are broken! Also, he was the first victim to be raped! The team asks how he was out so late, and he's told that the guy was a snitch, so he had special privileges in the prison. Greg and Reid are forced to face up to the possibility that this newest victim was meant specifically to taunt them!

Over in the guard's locker room, one of the guards finds that a picture of his daughter has been defaced! A threat to keep quiet, no doubt!

Derek heads out of the prison to get on the phone with Garcia - I'd suggest that he should have just used a land line, but since they're prison phones, they'll all be tapped, so this is probably the best choice. She's discovered that the two dead guards had specific matching bank activity before the first one died. One would take out a certain amount of money, and like clockwork, the other would deposit it! Almost as if, she posits, they were paying off debts!

Wow, this is a ridiculous stretch. We're expected to believe that whatever kind of business these guys were doing, gambling or whatever, they always made a point to immediately deposit the money they were given in the bank, and only ever took out the exact amount they had to pay? That's just madness.

Let's say I owed a guy 400 dollars because I'd lost a bet. I'd have to take that money out of the bank, sure, but wouldn't I grab a couple of extra dollars for when I bought lunch or went to a bar? Likewise, wouldn't the other guy, being handed the money, occasionally pick up a pack of smokes and a tank of gas using the cash he was given, rather than heading straight for the bank?

If they paid each other with cheques now and again, you'd notice suspicious transactions, but supposedly most of these were cash, so why would they match up so perfectly?

Also, in a fun note for those who pay too much attention - yes, they're using the bank template I pointed out a couple of episodes ago:

But this time they've actually remembered to give the bank a fake name! They also slightly changed the formatting of the second statement to make the whole template thing less obvious!

The team breaks down the latest info - once again the lights were all turned off, and the cameras avoided. Since you need keys to access the lighting grid and the water room attached to the showers, obvious a guard must be involved. But is it a conspiracy of guards, or just that guy being threatened? Well, since the way the guy was threatened was by someone defacing a photo in a guards-only area, it's probably the conspiracy.

Then we find out that the missing prisoner used to be the cellmate of the latest victim! Also that he'd had no history of violence before coming to the prison, but after he got there he was extensively picked on by the dead guards and frequently sent to the infirmary for fighting-related injuries!

So I guess the guards are running a fight club where they bet on the various prisoners, and the missing guy died, and this is all part of a cover up? Will that be their next guess, or am I right, so they'll play it out a few more scenes?

JJ and Joe go back to the talk to the lazy doctor - apparently the missing con was regularly beaten up, and even raped one time! But he would never tell anyone who was responsible... So the team goes to talk to guys he knew - the first one says he was an alright dude, and the second turns out to be the guy that the latest victim threatened!

It seems the threatened con used to work in the library with the missing con, but he was recently reassigned by the dead guards. Suspicious! He also tells a long story about how the missing con was a great guy - so Joe confronts him with all of the disciplinary reports! Joe asks the threatened con what's really going on in the prison, but he refuses to talk. Part of the problem might be the guard standing right over Joe's shoulder - they're operating under the theory that corrupt guards are involved in the murders, right? So why not go to talk to these guys in private?

The threatened con goes back to his cell and looks at his prized possession - a copy of the Count of Monte Cristo (get it! Because he's a prisoner!) that the missing con smuggled to him from the library! Sweet of him to have done that.

In a nice note, the cover of the book is missing - books that aren't sold can be returned to publishers for a refund, but publishers generally don't want them back, so the deal is, if you tear the front cover off of a paperback and send that, they'll refund your money. As a result, no books can be legally sold without a front cover, and these coverless books are frequently donated to charities and prisons!

The team finally gets around to the possibility that the missing guy was part of a fight club that the guards are running! It's about time!

Meanwhile, Herman has two of his goons toss an inmate's cell. Is this part of a pretext to execute him and frame him for all the murders? No, it's a little more complicated! Herman gets him alone and demands to know who's working with him - so the inmate is trying to get revenge for the missing con? This is seemingly confirmed when the gang boss mentions that Herman was responsible for his disappearance!

Not psyched about having his authority questioned, Herman beats the inmate to death with a nightstick.

The team is not convinced by the setup at all - they find it weirdly convenient that the guy's cell was filled with socks, knives, and duct tape. How could he be the killer when they profiled that it was a group of people!

Except that it wasn't really the 'profile' that said that - they haven't actually done a profile yet. No, it was the fact that victims were obviously restrained by multiple killers, all of whom had access to secure areas of the prison. So how could it have been this guy?

Interestingly, the new dead inmate was in jail for a non-violent offense, and then had his sentenced increased from five years to twenty when he killed someone inside! More sudden turns towards violence - but what, specifically, was the cause?

Reid has a theory - no, more of a guess - the room that Herman was taking the inmate to is isolation cell 34 - could the seven broken fingers be a reference to that cell, since all three times it was three fingers on one hand, four on the other? If that's the case, is there some significance to that cell, which would make it the perfect place for Herman to hold his human cockfights?

Now certain that Herman is involved in a series of crimes, the team has to re-assess its plan, and call in some serious backup, since no one at the jail can be trusted! I'm kidding, of course, that would be the smart thing to do. No, instead, they just plan to keep doing interviews and hope someone talks before too many more people die.

Fantastic plan, guys.

Then we get a scene of Herman threatening to kill the nervous guard's daughter. Because we needed a second one of those to get the point, I suppose?

This encounter has made the guard extra-nervous, so when he goes to talk to Love and Derek, he's practically sweating bullets! They comment on his nervousness and keep badgering with questions, but these supposed masters of human behaviour somehow don't notice that he keeps glancing at the security camera in the corner of the room, through which Herman is watching and listening to the proceedings.

Finally the guy cracks and begs them to protect his daughter. This sends Herman into a rage, and he rushes down to bring a proposition to a convict! But what could it be? Other than getting them to kill the guard, of course.

The nervous guard spills the beans - Herman and his goons were running that fighting club, and when that missing prisoner died, they cremated his body in the building's furnace!

Because the team is terrible at their jobs, while they're getting their confessions, Herman has opened up all of the cell doors in the area next to the interview rooms, which allows the group of hardened criminals to attack the room! They stab the guard non-fatally and take Love and Derek hostage!

Luckily the gang boss from way earlier has a good head on his shoulders, and arrives with his entourage to remind everyone that if they kill FBI Agents, they're all going to get the death penalty. Herman sees all of this and knows the jig is up - so when Joe comes knocking onto the control room door to arrest him, Herman kills himself!

Happy Ending!

Except for a couple of vignettes where they find the burned skull of the missing dead guy, the library convict gets his books back, and Love flees the prison, traumatized by her threatened rape at the hands of the inmates.

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

They never actually got around to doing any profiling. They just asked who did it until an incredibly shifty guy told them.

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

Um... yes? You'd just have to look into who was where at the time of the crimes. It wouldn't be that difficult at all. Of course, in the real world, it wouldn't have gotten that far, since the corrupt guards would have murdered the inmate who was forced to kill his friend the moment one of the corrupt guards turned up dead.

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

1/10 - They literally just asked people who did it until someone told them. They didn't even catch the vast majority of the killers.

Seriously, here's the plot of this week's episode - the guards were running a fight club, and they forced buddies A and B to fight each other. A killed B, and was traumatized by the act. Nervous guard witnessed the crime and felt guilty. Weeks later, nervous guard gave A a set of keys and info about when the worst of the corrupt guards would be alone, and A and his friends - who are never identified - murdered the guard. There was apparently no retaliation from the corrupt guards. Months later, they did it again, bringing in the team, and escalating things until A was murdered by Herman and the whole thing fell apart.

We still have no idea who the other killers were, or what the significance of '34' was. You see, 34 was just one of the cells, and the fight happened in the secure cell hallway, not any one of the cells. So why fixate on that number? Especially when it wound up having nothing to do with how they solved the crime?

And how on earth can the team justify not calling in backup and securing Herman once they were 100% sure that he murdered that guy downstairs to keep him quiet?

Just a weak episode all around, folks.

Criminal Minds 1015: Scream

The episode opens with a reminder about Love's daughter, and said daughter's online flirtation with what might be a regular pervert, or what might be an operative for the Matchmaker. They show the whole scene with her and her friend, including the ridiculous idea that this guy:

-could be a high school senior. The number 24 is in his screenname, people.

Now it's on to the prologue, where an OCD dude is making his bed just so and setting up his breakfast plate in an incredibly fastidious fashion. Could he be the Matchmaker? We're fifteen episodes in without any real movement on that case - who the hell knows how many female joggers have been abducted in California without anyone noticing?

The guy eats his breakfast while glancing, annoyed, at the front door of his house. We find out why that is as he does the dishes - there's a thump from the door as a paper hits it! He's annoyed that it was late! As if paper delivery people can be counted on to do a minute-perfect job every day.

Also, it's broad daylight outside, shouldn't paper deliveries be done by dawn?

OCD guy heads down into his basement, puts on a bloody butcher's apron, and goes to menace his tied-up victim. Oddly, she's not bloody at all. I guess he kills a lot and doesn't wash the apron much?

The woman's hands are almost out of her zip-ties, so maybe she'll turn the tables on him? Anyhoo, the guy turns on a record player and makes the woman play-act a performance where she's a negligent wife apologizing for not having his dinner ready for him when he gets home from work.

Sounds like he's repeating patterns he saw as a child from an abusive home!

Anyhoo, he smashes her head with a baseball bat, so I guess the loose ties were there for no reason?

Over at Love's house, the daughter asks her and her husband (TV's Greg Grunberg!) if she can go to the mall with male friends after school! Love isn't cool with it, but Chris (that's the character's name, I'm not going to muddle things by adding another Greg) signs off on the plan.

Garcia announces the case - two victims in small-town California. She also badly botches sentence construction in a way that makes me quite sad. The team goes over what they know about the two dead women. There was a three week gap between the first victim and the one found this morning, but the show doesn't even bother pretending that the killer isn't already after his next victim.

So, is this guy grabbing the women himself, or is he buying them from the Matchmaker?

No clues yet, but we do get a shot of the victim bashing his head against a cabinet over and over again while listening to something on a child's tape recorder! Not a stable guy, even by the relatively low standards of serial killers.

Criminal Minds 1014: Hero Worship

We open with a 'previously on' letting us know that people are still going to be sad about Mandy this week. And why wouldn't they? But will there be any follow-up about Joe and JJ murdering people in recent weeks? I'm guessing not.

Also, am I forgetting someone, or is Reid the only core team member that's never murdered anyone? Derek set up his molester to get killed, Greg crushed the Reaper's skull with his bare hands, Joe's got two bodies to his name, and JJ murdered that rando two weeks ago. Garcia's basically never in the field, so she doesn't count. I'm thinking everyone but Reid has killed someone in cold blood.

This is not a stable team, nor is it a particularly good place to work, I'm thinking.

On his way out of the office one night, Joe notices that Reid is still fiddling with a chess board, perhaps trying to game out how his and Mandy's final game might have gone. Which is kind of sad, especially because he stopped playing chess because he missed Mandy.

Again, he could have gone over the guy's cabin at literally any time and just played a game of chess, but I'm not going to pretend that this isn't touching.

Joe points out that Reid is working too late, and Reid explains that he likes to wait until rush hour is over so the subways won't be crowded. Joe points out that it's 10PM, and Reid has lost track of time, but I'd like to focus on something else: Do the writers of the show think that these people work in Washington DC?

I always joke about their stupidity in using an establishing shot of the capitol building to suggest Quantico, when that's an hour away, but this suggests to me something beyond laziness... do the people working on the show actually not know where Quantico is?

Where do they think Reid lives? Because the closest subway station to Reid's workplace is two hours away - and you have to take a train and two buses to get there. It's only a 40 minute drive, apparently, but why would he have a car just to take him from the subway station to work and back? Do they think he's commuting from downtown DC out to Quantico every day?

To be fair to the people working on the show, there actually is an FBI building in the middle of downtown DC. It's the headquarters. Fun fact: because it's old and insufficient for the Bureau's needs, it was going to be torn down and the lot turned into a luxury hotel, but then Donald Trump became president, and he had them cancel the plans because he didn't want another hotel near the White House competing with his own!

So I get why a person just throwing a script together might get confused about which FBI building the team works in, but that's what editors are for. The show was developed under the title 'Quantico'. They have an airstrip on the premises. How could anyone not realize that they work out of the training facility in Quantico?

Anyhoo, Reid spends all night staring at the chessboard.

The next morning, in Indianapolis, we find a busy diner where a demanding crowd is being served by a single overworked waiter! Based on the arrangement of the door at the corner of the building, I'm wondering if this is just a redressed version of the bar that suicide kid shot up a while back. I'll try to remember to check later!

The diner might not be important, though, since it's a building across the street that explodes! Making me wonder why we just spent a minute inside the diner. Is one of the characters involved in the explosion, or was the production just psyched about throwing money away?

It would be hilarious if they thought they were making a misdirect, and tricking the audience into believing that it was going to be an episode about a harried waiter who shoots his impatient customers.

The team gets word about the bombing - it was in a coffee shop, and six people were killed! The week before, a custodian found a bomb planted in a school and was blown up! Tragic way to go, but he's kind of a hero, since if he hadn't found the bomb during his overnight shift, there's a chance plenty of other people could have been killed during school hours!

Then JJ says this, and I'm forced to just shake my head all over again:

Fundamental groups. They couldn't do another take of that so she could say the right word? Or did the person writing the script make the mistake, and everyone was in such a rush to get the episode out that no one noticed? It's 'fundamentalist', Criminal Minds. Jesus.

Reid mentions that bombs are relatively easy to make, and namechecks the Anarchist's Cookbook - which it seems like the killer is working from when we cut over to Indianapolis. He's got a workstation all set up and opened to the page about Nitroglycerine-based explosives! On his wall, there's a list of targets - museums, landmarks, war memorials, all targeting the basements for some reason! Does he want to hit a gas main, or is he actually trying to minimize damage to the structures?

Oh, and in case you're wondering how much they're going to focus on calling this terrorism, the killer is white, so I'm guessing not a ton. Despite white right-wing people being the largest cohort of terrorists in American history.

Criminal Minds 1013: Nelson's Sparrow

It's late at night and an old-timey car rolls slowly down a dirt road. Is this a flashback? More Killbillies? A wealthy car collector about to get murdered by a serial killer who also collects antique cars? I can't wait to find out!

It's Reid, who apparently bought an old car because he doesn't have anything else in his life to spend money on! He's looking rough! But why?

We get a brief cut over to the team standing around a body of a black-haired man as a sheet is pulled over it. Did Mandy kill himself? That would be terrible. Would it be better if he'd been murdered, and they have to catch the guy?

Well, since Reid walks into the room and starts crying immediately, yeah, I guess that's exactly what happened. Ugh. Rough.

Garcia and Derek arrive, and Greg confirms what we'd all figured out. Mandy is dead! But was it suicide, as suggested by the gun next to the body, or murder? Let's find out together, after the credits!

Criminal Minds 1012: Anonymous

The episode opens with a flashback to Joe's homeless army buddy, Meshach Taylor. Remember, Joe got him off the street, then was worried he was going to kill himself, so he reconnected the guy with his kid? That character! I guess we'll be seeing him a third time - unless this episode was shot after the actor died, in which case it's more of a tribute.

Then it's time to get into the episode proper - but before we do that, let's just all take a moment to remind ourselves that last week JJ was PTSDing so hard that she couldn't be trusted to drive a car, let alone carry a gun, and then she murdered a suspect. This didn't make her feel any better, in fact, at the end of the episode she had a psychotic break and was talking to a manifestation of her PTSD!

Will she be off in therapy for the next few episodes, the way she should be? Or, you know, on desk duty to make sure she doesn't murder any more suspects? Probably not!

Anyhoo, the episode: a guy is driving a lady to the hospital, telling her not to die on him! Then, instead of pulling up to the emergency room, he stops a hundred meters away, props her up against a tree, and claims that he's going for help. Instead, he shoots her with a pistol. Does this guy want to get caught? Because you could have done that anywhere. Any time of day or night, there's a good chance of a cop being close enough to a hospital to respond to a gunshot in a couple of minutes - less than a minute if they're inside, which they often are.

I can't wait for an explanation for this madness.

Over at the office, Joe and Derek are chatting about a trip Joe's headed out on that day! This leads to a bizarre moment, where Derek mentions that it's surprising that Joe is 'stopping to smell the roses' - has finding out about his daughter softened him? This is kind of crazy, since Joe is - by far - the least obsessive member of the team. He takes plenty of time to himself to write books, he relaxes in his mansion with fine scotch. This isn't a man who seems like he takes his work home with him - other than to the extent he has to in order to write the books that allow him to mine extreme extra profit off of his day job.

Garcia rushes in to give David the bad news - there will be no vacation... Meshach has died! This means Joe is headed out to LA before visiting the fam up in San Francisco. Will he find out about a serial killer in LA and drag the team along with him, or will this be a split focus episode?

Time for the case - which is in Tallahassee! Split focus, people! The killer caused an accident to get an excuse to bring a woman to the hospital - again, that's the kind of thing that draws a ton of public attention, and makes him hugely likely to get noticed. Oh, and the previous night, he'd killed a guy by beating him up, then shooting him on the steps of a church.

Information that might be relevant - the two victims are black, and the killer is Italian - the actor who played the dumb Miami capo on The Sopranos.

Speaking of that actor, he calls 911 on himself, then walks up to a guy in the middle of the street in broad daylight and shoots him! This guy is white, so there might not be a racial component to the crime.

On the plane, they find out about the white guy - and hear that he was just leaving a counseling session, allowing the doctor to witness the crime! Gosh, this guy shouldn't be hard to catch at all, should he? It's almost like they didn't even need to bother coming?

Also, why are they going to visit the medical examiner? All three victims were shot. The first two were bludgeoned and crashed into first, but I'm not sure how talking to a doctor about their injuries could possibly provide a lead.

Greg goes to talk to the counselor, who explains that the guy had problems, but nothing that would suggest he was being targeted by a murderer. He notes two odd things, though - first, that the killer clubbed his victim first, then carefully pressed the gun against a specific part of his head before shooting, and second, that he heard sirens before the shooting, which made him turn around.

This is ludicrous, of course - the guy made the phone call announcing the location of the shooting less than thirty seconds before shooting the guy. That would mean the dispatcher would have had to put out a call for responses in that area in less than twenty seconds after the killer hung up the phone. Response times can be great, don't get me wrong - but 20 seconds is pushing it.

In LA, Joe calls his daughter to announce that he's going to be delayed because of the funeral prep in LA. She's obviously disappointed to hear that. Joe heads in to the halfway house where Meshach was living to start packing up his belongings - the son is on the way.

Okay, my bad, the medical examiner did have something interesting to say - the bullet didn't kill the first victim, it just grazed the side of his skull - it was the vicious beating that killed him! I feel like that should have already been in the autopsy report they were sent. Actually, that makes me wonder how they matched the bullet. If it didn't penetrate the skull at all, that means it slammed into the concrete wall behind the guy, and would likely be so damaged that it couldn't be matched to anything.

It seems like it was just a fluke that the guy died - according to the ME, he was hit surprisingly lightly with a tire iron, and the bullet did no damage. This is also true of the second victim, who was put into brain death by the bullet without being fully killed - Derek and JJ go to talk to her husband in the hospital room where she lies!

Derek offers the working theory that the killer was attempting to bring the woman in for treatment, then changed his mind for some reason and shot her instead. I have no idea why he thinks that, since there's no evidence to support that theory. Then the husband leaves the room to sign the paperwork to cut off his wife's life support. Ugh. Rough. Is that the killer's theme? He's trying to damage their brains just enough that they'll be put on respirators and their families will have to make the tough choice? That could be why he called the police before the shooting - to ensure that the ambulance arrived in time to stabilize his victim!

There's some more of Joe going through Meshach's stuff and having flashbacks - if you're wondering why they're spending so much time on this, it's because Joe directed in the episode. The flashback is nice, though, with the young Meshach reminding Joe that people aren't necessarily defined by the worst thing that ever happened to them.

Then the son shows up and they chat about their friend and father. They retcon some stuff - announce that Meshach knew that he was dying a year ago, and that's why he was trying to reconnect. No, we all saw that episode, he was hopeless and suicidal because of the mess he'd made of his life, not because of a terminal diagnosis. Don't rewrite this just because the actor died, people.

Joe offers to organize the funeral, and the son explains that it would be nice if the rest of his platoon was there - he'd been trying to reconnect with them since he got his diagnosis, but hadn't had much luck. Weird that he didn't just call up his buddy who's an active federal agent with access to military pension databases.

Then it's over to the killer, who's watching news of his murder. He's disappointed that the cops didn't manage to save the guy's life, even after he went to all the trouble of calling them in advance! His daughter hears him yelling at the television and comes to check on him. They mention that the daughter is on medication, and she used to have a drug habit! Also, her mother died, and she's brought her or the ashes??????? with her to move back home. So much exposition in like 20 seconds! She then says everything is going to work out!

New theory: The daughter's liver has gone kerplunk, and in an attempt to save her life, he's trying to cause brain deaths in people who could conceivably be organ donors for her! Of course, that's a bit of a stretch, because he'd have to know about specific people who were tissue matches.

Although maybe he does have that information, since we know absolutely zero things about him!

JJ, Love, and Reid get together to discuss the details of the case, but other than noticing that the three sites of the murders correspond to mind (therapy office), body (hospital), and soul (church), zero new information is offered or theories put forth!

The killer heads to another house to kill a guy, whom he finds sleeping on the couch. He makes the 911 call about a burglary with attempted murder, then shoots the guy in the head! Maybe the organ thief theory is bunk, because the guy's house is full of booze and prescription pill bottles.

Greg and Love get to the crime scene, and we learn that the killer shot this guy a bunch of times! Then Garcia phones up and we learn that the church where the first victim was found should have had a service starting just half an hour after the assault, but it was canceled because of an emergency - so even the first crime was supposed to be discovered immediately! I'm torn - he just shot this latest guy to death, so the organ thing seems like a stretch, but maybe all the drugs and booze made him realize the liver was no good, so he just executed him?

Yeah, the daughter is definitely terminally ill - she brings a guy home from her 'group' and he's wearing a pump that shoots air right up his nose constantly. This is a support group for people with serious medical stuff, and the dad's trying to save her.

Gosh, I'm going to look silly if I'm wrong about this.

I turns out I'm not! Yay?! Watching the tape of the lady being dropped off at the hospital, Greg tries to profile his body language - he looks like he's just a good Samaritan until he notices that she has a medic alert bracelet revealing that she's an organ donor - then he kills her!

Wow, this is so, so, so very stupid. He didn't have a change in body language, idiots, and he wasn't trying to save her. He caused an accident. Then, instead of driving her to a hospital, he drove her to 100 meters away from a hospital, so that people would rush out when they heard the gunshot and make sure her organs were saved.

This was not a spur-of-the-moment decision, and the show acting like it was, and that Greg was able to discern that from the killer's body language, is absolutely insane.

In the 'giving the profile' scene, they once again present the obvious lie that the guy only killed the second victim because he noticed her organ donor bracelet at the last possible moment. Except that's absolutely not what happened, and I don't know why they're pretending that it is.

They state that they have no idea how the killer figured out the other three victims were organ donors, but they're working on it. Maybe start by looking for 50-something white guys who work in medical administration roles in the Tallahassee area, drive gold sedans and probably have a gun license?

Meanwhile, the daughter gets a call saying that the lady's liver went to someone else - the daughter is philosophical, since plenty of people are sicker than her, such as her friend Keith! Is the killer going to murder Keith to bump her up the list?

Also, organ transplants are only useful if the dead person is the same tissue type as well as blood type - shouldn't the team have noticed that all of the victims have the same subtypes, and narrow their target list down to people and relatives of people with failing organs and similar subtypes? Unless the father doesn't know those things, and he's just randomly killing people in the hopes that they get lucky.

Yeah, in the very next scene, the dad murders Keith to move his daughter up the list. How he found out where Keith was going to be is a mystery to me, since he catches him walking across a completely empty park in broad daylight.

For those keeping track, this is the third person he's gunned down in broad daylight today. How is this happening?

Quick cut-in as Joe calls Penelope to ask her to track down the platoon for the funeral. Although they cut off the scene before he actually asks her, as if it's supposed to be a surprise that that's what he's doing? Weird.

The show tries to pretend that it would be super-easy to find targets who are organ donors, since any cashier could see a mark on a driver's license. Except that almost zero businesses require you to show ID. Then Reid says that anyone with even 'basic computer skills' could get into the organ donor database, which is just an obvious lie. The organ donor list is covered under medical privacy laws, and has to be just as secure as any other record.

Love then says something super-confusing-

What is that even supposed to mean? "They would know friends, family" - of whom? For what reason? Are you suggesting that the friends and family of people who work at the organ center have access to donor lists?

This is madness. I really hope that the show isn't trying to get away with this, and is actually going to give us a reason that the guy was able to target donors.

Then Love and Reid get called out to the latest crime scene! Which they somehow know is involved, despite the fact that there wasn't a 911 call, no one saw the shooting, and there hasn't been time to match the bullets to the previous victims.

Hey, remember when that guy who was killing people and leaving them on the beach killed a woman with a completely different MO, but the team still showed up at the crime scene, even though there was no way to know that the crimes were connected? And how the producers noticed the problem, felt shame, and then looped in some nonsense about 'matching the knife blade' to justify them showing up?

Yeah, the producers don't feel shame any more. Or perhaps they didn't even notice their mistake. Sloth or incompetence, take your pick, in either case, there's no reason the team should be at this crime scene!

The shocking thing is that this is such an easy fix. All you have to do is loop in a line of dialogue about someone hearing the gunshots, seeing a guy who matches the description of the killer run away from the crime scene, get into a gold sedan, and speed away. There - 1-2 lines of looped dialogue and this scene isn't complete gibberish.

Finding out that the victim was high on the list of people desperate for organs lets the team figure out that the killer is trying to get an organ for someone! Which is the theory they should have been operating on already, since it's crazy to imagine that a guy would be going around committing super-high-risk murders in rapid succession just to get more organs out there generally.

The killer gets home and finds his daughter on the floor of the house! She's suffering liver failure! Hey, what do you want to bet the episode ends with the guy killing himself so that his daughter can get his liver?

No, that's too perfect. Especially since if they were a match, he could have already donated half of his liver to his daughter, and it would have grown back into a full liver for each of them.

The team notices that the blood types of all of the victims were varied, meaning that the person they're looking for must have AB+ blood, which is true, but doesn't take into account tissue matching, the far more relevant issue. Okay, at least they mentioned the living donor thing, which allows them to narrow down the list of suspects who tried and failed to donate half a liver.

They then point out that the recipient list is even more highly-guarded than the donor list, so the killer must have known Keith personally to be able to murder him. I still maintain that there's no way he could have gotten ahold of the donor list, but whatever.

Oh, and at the hospital the killer is told that his daughter has - at most - weeks left to live.

In LA, Joe's daughter comes to visit him and help with the funeral stuff! There's some nice chatting about his life, and it's all touching, but it's not like that's what we're here for. The scene ends weirdly, proving that there are no good writers on Criminal Minds. Joe offers to take his daughter to an eatery where they only play Tony Bennett. She claims not to know anything about him. Somehow, Joe's next line isn't "You live in San Francisco".

Every part of this show is inept.

In the police station, Greg suggests they refocus on how the guy found his victims. Derek makes an exclamation that earns him tonight's Prentiss Award!

What do these writers think shopping is like? When Donald Trump said that you have to show ID to buy cereal, was he basing it on dim memories of this episode of television? Here's the number of times I've had to show my driver's license to buy something in the past year: 0. Zero times. As long as you look old enough to buy booze and cigarettes, you will never have to show someone your driver's license in a store.

Renting a van? Sure. Buying bullets? Probably, but maybe not in Florida. But every store? Good god no.

Greg notices something useful - one victim just recently got a temp license, and another just moved in from out-of-state. Could the killer work at the DMV?

I mean, this is something Garcia could have been checking twelve hours ago - it was only your stubborn insistence that 'basically anyone could have this info' - when that's obviously idiotic - that kept you from finding this guy right away.

They immediately find the killer, just as he's finding his next potential victim - will she be saved in time? Of course, there's just eight minutes left in the episode.

Oh, and he might get to give the liver to his daughter after all, since he was rejected for living donation because of high blood pressure. Which doesn't matter if you kill yourself.

The team drives up and asks him not to kill the lady, since she's also a mother. Which the team definitely doesn't know! They're probably just lying to get him to surrender, which is a nice choice. Anyhoo, as predicted, he shoots himself so that his daughter will get the liver! Although the show tries to pretend he shot the lady for a second, because they think we're idiots!

I feel like changing diet, getting exercise, and taking steps to lower your blood pressure would be a better move than serial killing, but what do I know?


Except for the funeral, which Joe set up. There's an honor guard and the old platoon, so it's sweet!

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

Kind of! I mean, guessing that it was about organ donation helped them figure it out, but then again, their weird assumption that it would be hard to track down the killer by access to info actually made it take longer to catch him!

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

The guy kept committing crimes in broad daylight, in no way disguised, driving his own personal vehicle. There's no way on earth that he shouldn't have been caught right away.

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

2/10 - How brutal would it have been if the dad's liver had gone to someone else? I'm sure he had a living will saying that his daughter gets his liver in case of an accident, but it would have been at least a little darkly humorous.

Actually, they missed a great opportunity for a truly heart-wrenching moment, with the killer asking the team if they're the FBI, then making a verbal living will/dying request that his liver go to his daughter. It would have been wrenching and beautiful, but the show didn't do it so that they could have a stupid fake-out about the woman he grabbed.

You're terrible, Criminal Minds.

One last time - it's ridiculous that the killer wouldn't have been caught so quickly. Once they figure out it's about organ donation, all they have to do is get a list of everyone who works at the organ centers, DMV, and hospitals, and check the list against 50-something white guy with dark skin and black hair, who drives a gold sedan and either needs an organ or knows someone who does.

Also, they know how tall he is, because they have video footage of him.

Hey, I wonder if the killer was another actor Joe Mantegna knew? I mean, they're the same age and both Italian guys who've been in Hollywood forever... let me check... Well, there's nothing easily googleable that connects them, so who knows?

Criminal Minds 1011: The Forever People

The episode opens with a man and a woman sparring in a gym! Could this be a return to Forrest Whitaker's hideout from Suspect Behaviour? And we'll finally discover what happened after the end of the cliffhanger? Of course not! That would require anyone who worked on the show to care about anything that happened when Bernero was running the place.

During the sparring, the woman has some flashbacks to being tortured, and it's only at this moment that I realize that it's JJ, who's PTSDing about the events of 200!

The team assembles to get the case and worry about JJ's wrapped-up knuckles! There's a dead body they pulled out of the water next to Hoover Dam - is that Lake Mead? I feel like that might be Lake Mead.

Derek wins an early Prentiss Award when he asks this question about the frozen-solid corpse-

Okay, so, first off, you heard that the corpse was frozen solid, right? And since the water it was in wasn't frozen, then by definition, it can't have been the water that froze her. More importantly, though - this person was killed, wrapped in plastic, weighed down, and dropped in a lake. It makes little to no sense to even be open to the possibility that the freezing was unrelated to the rest of the crime.

Love almost wins another, when she announces that 'hitmen usually leave evidence of an efficient kill'. What on earth is that even supposed to mean? Most hitmen just shoot people. That's by far the most popular way for hitmen to commit murder. What is she even talking about?

JJ then notices that the dead woman has an electrical burn on her chest - which somehow everyone else missed, despite the fact that it's a prominent red mark where the rest of her is white. They immediately jump to the conclusion that the victim was killed by freezing them to death, and then the killer tried to prolong the torture by shocking them back awake over and over again.

There hasn't even been an autopsy yet. These are strange conclusions to be jumping to. The killer could have poisoned or electrocuted the woman and then frozen the body later. This theoretical MO is based on little to no evidence, and just reinforces how sloppy these people are at their jobs.

Over in what we have to assume is the killer's town, a man waits at a bus stop - but when the bus arrives, he doesn't get on. Is he waiting until a person gets off alone in the middle of the night in the hopes of targeting them for murder? Or is something less sinister going on here?

Why am I even asking that? This is Criminal Minds!

Wow, it's something far stranger! A guy in a van drives up, puts a bag over the guy's head, zipties his wrists together, and then throws him in the back of the van! The strange part? It's all consensual! It's part of some kind of initiation, where the man has signed away his freedom, and he has to go through the freezing torture to advance to 'level 2'! We watch him being moved into a walk-in freezer, then get a reverse angle which suggests the freezer is in some kind of private residence, then the door shuts and we're off to the credits!

Criminal Minds 1010: Amelia Porter

We open with a car driving on a dark road as gospel music plays! The guy driving the car has a rosary hanging from the rear-view mirror, so it looks like we're in for some religious mania! Or maybe demons are back? We haven't heard from demons in a good long while. I guess that Halloween episode that Gubler directed? You know, with Beaver?

The guy pulls the car into an empty field, then wakes a confused woman in the back seat. She's not sure what's going on, so the guy explains that she was in an accident. She asks about 'Andy', and is told that he didn't make it. He then gets some road flares and gasoline from the trunk and douses the car with it. The woman is not inside for this, which is kind of a departure for the show!

In the nitpickiest thing I've pointed out in a while, they light the guy with red from the tail-lights when he opens up the trunk-

But we saw him turn off the car, so there shouldn't be any light. Seriously, editor - just cut out the shot of the car being turned off, and you don't have this problem.

Anyhoo, the car burns, the guy drags the woman away, and we cut to 12 Hours Earlier, where Greg and Joe are talking about the fact that Greg's girlfriend moved to Hong Kong for a job, and they broke up months ago. Weird to do the '12 Hours Earlier' and cut to something completely unrelated, but I'm guessing that they're just seconds away from being told about the events that will lead inexorably to the car fire.

Garcia presents the case - a security guard was stabbed to death, and the guard's gun was used to shoot a couple a few hours later! They describe the crime scenes as 'chaotic', and use the meaningless term 'disorganized' to describe the killer, despite the 'organized/disorganized' framework having been discredited and abandoned like 20 years ago.

Then we get some weird nonsense from the characters - could the fact that the crime scenes were chaotic mean that the killer is under time pressure? Um... no? Do you think that killers frequently trash houses while killing people, and then carefully clean them up, but this guy just didn't have time to do that? I know that happened last week, but you pointed out how strange it was in that case.

They also suggest that the 'lack of forced entry' suggests that the killer might have known his victims. Which always seems like such a stretch to me. It's like the characters have no idea how easy it is to get someone to open a door just by knocking on it - then you point a gun at someone, and step inside. Look - you just got into the house with no forced entry! You'd think they would have clued into this by now, seeing as things like that happen literally all the time on the show.

Oh, and here's a fun note - these murders happened just four hours ago, and the team is already on the case! Why would the local cops throw in the towel so quickly? There's no serial element to this crime yet, the victims weren't prominent, and state lines haven't been crossed. Why has Garcia even heard about this crime yet, when four hours in, the local cops should still be doing preliminary interviews?

Now it's time to check on the killer, who's washing blood off of his hands in the desert. Huh - how'd he manage to get blood all over his hands when shooting people? Or was it still there from the stabbing eight hours earlier? If so, this is one messy dude.

The killer motions for another guy - presumably Andy - to come out of the bushes. Andy expresses a desire to help the killer, and reminds him that he didn't have to kill the guard or the couple. He even suggests that they get food and water for Rebecca, the girl in the trunk. Andy is super-helpful! Is he this guy's other personality, and it's a twist that the other personality is a helpful dude trying to stop murders, rather than the normal version, where the hallucination is trying to get people to kill?

I'm probably reading too much into how calm and helpful the guy is when dealing with a blood-soaked maniac.