Criminal Minds 1006: If the Shoe Fits

The episode opens - unexpectedly - with an adorable dog! A couple is taking a golden retriever out for a stroll in the woods, when things take a dark turn - the woman announces that she's going to tell the man's wife about their affair, perhaps to ensure that he leaves her? The man is not psyched about this - will he kill her, then make it look like a serial killing, giving the team an ABC Murders-style case to investigate?

That would be incredibly off-brand but also super-intriguing!

The answer, of course, is no - these characters are only important insofar as their dog discovers a dead guy next to a car with a cell phone stuck into his mouth. There 's blood on his shoulder, but other than that no obvious sign of what might have caused his death! Also, and this is in no way relevant, but man, does this guy have some well-shaped eyebrows.

Over at casa de JJ, there's some innocuous conversation between her and her mother about what exactly 'the cloud' is. Somehow, despite being a professional who works with computers every day, JJ says that data is transmitted 'wirelessly' to a server, which is just plain wrong. I mean, obviously her laptop is wirelessly transmitting to her home router, but after that the process is entirely wire-based. I think she's trying to describe the fact that files aren't stored locally, but on a remote hard drive, but she does a terrible job of explaining it.

That's not the point of the scene, though - what's going on here is that Henry - who's also there, FYI - sees a picture of JJ with her sister (the one who killed herself) and things get awkward quickly. Grandma wants to know why he's never heard of his long-dead aunt, and JJ responds that she and Jr. wanted to wait until Henry was old enough to grasp the concepts of life and death before talking about the suicide of a woman he'd never met. Which is actually a pretty solid position to take - great job, JJ!

Her mother goes a different way, however - equating JJ not telling a 5-year-old about suicide with the way she and her husband ignored their daughter's depression until she killed herself. This is a crazy comparison to make, of course, but before JJ can tell her mother to get stuffed, she gets a call to head into work in the middle of the night!

I'm so excited to find out what it is about this murder that necessitates bringing people in on their off hours - is the dead guy rich, famous, or do the writers just not care, and enjoy writing scenes where family drama is interrupted by pagers?

At Quantico, Penelope gives them a run-down of the case - the dead guy is a student at the local college, and the local cops are worried that this is part of an escalating war between students and townies! A month earlier a rich kid ran down a shopkeeper, then got away with it because of his connections. Soon after, a frat was firebombed! Is this new stabbing the next instance of the conflict?

Joe thinks there's something significant about the fact that the dead guy's car had its window smashed - why bother doing that if you've already stabbed a guy to death? Of course that assumes that the window was smashed after the guy was dead - isn't it equally as likely that the window was smashed to frighten the guy out of the car, after which the stabbing occurred?

No one seems focused on the cell phone stuffed in the mouth, which seems like a far more relevant piece of the signature than the smashed car.

And yeah, I was right - there's nothing time-sensitive about this case that would keep them from waiting until the morning to fly out.

Then, because every serial killer is a spree killer, we cut to another guy, drugged in the passenger seat of a car, as he's pulled out to the ground and has a cell phone stuffed into his mouth.

We can't guess much about the killer based on arms alone, other than the fact that they're white. I would suggest that it's probably a woman, however, a guess that revolves entirely around how loosely those work gloves are hanging off the killer's hands. Could easily be a small-boned man, though.

The killer stabs him a bunch with a set of pruning shears, then it's off to the credits!
On the plane, they go into some details about the victim - he was almost certainly gay, based on the kind of pornography he liked, and had no history of run-ins with the locals or police, so this might have nothing to do with the hit-and-run. They mention the fact that there wasn't a lot of blood at the crime scene, and suggest this means that the body was killed somewhere else, then dragged into the woods and dumped. Which is a strange leap to make, considering that the guy was found dead next to his own car. This suggests that the killer either had an accomplice with a second vehicle, or was so comfortable in the woods that they'd be fine walking out after abandoning the car in the middle of the night. This basically screams that the killer has to be a local that knows the area well, perhaps even someone who lives near the dump site.

Oh, and JJ laments the lack of a 'cooling-off period' which, again, is a concept that should not exist in the world of Criminal Minds. I know I say this every time, but it's always true, so I'm going to keep doing it.

Reid and Joe head out to the new crime scene, and discover that this car was even more beat up than the last one, suggesting that yes, violence to vehicles is just as important a part of the signature as the phone is!

Jennifer and Greg go to meet the local detective - a blonde woman dressed incredibly inappropriately for the job she has- 
Tan leather jacket, wide open shirt, chain, hanging earrings - every single thing this woman is wearing is completely unprofessional, and makes it hard to take her seriously as a homicide detective. What is going on with the costuming people this week?

Greg meets with the first victim's boyfriend, who explains that the dead guy was deeply closeted - apparently absolutely no one knew he was gay. The guy took it so seriously that he had a fake straight social life, and even dated women! That's the kind of commitment to a role that you'd have to respect if it didn't so frequently lead to misery and suicide. Also, sometimes, Hollywood stardom.

Oh, and the boyfriend claims not to know anything about the newest victim. Jennifer pops into the room, announcing that they've got evidence from the dead guy's phone! Greg leaves the boyfriend to go and check it out, which makes me wonder just how long they're going to leave that guy alone in the interrogation room.

The phone contains videos of the dead guy having sex with women - who apparently weren't aware that they were being filmed. This leads to an operating theory that the killer might be trying to target anyone with a deviant sexual lifestyle, be that homosexuality or amateur pornography. The question left hanging is just how could such a killer be targeting their victims, since neither of these guys were super public about their 'deviance'. This conversation plays over footage of a creepy guy sitting on a table on campus, watching a pretty lady sitting on a bench.

Is he the killer, or perhaps the next victim! More likely the second, since the killer seems to be targeting men.

As yet undiscussed: how super-weird a weapon the pruning shears are. Or they might be tin snips - we only got a good look at them after they were already in the guy's chest.

In the autopsy scene, we're told that the men weren't drugged before being killed, but both had a tapered puncture wound in their neck. Could that have been somehow responsible for their incapacitation? Whenever I hear about tapered puncture wounds on dudes, my first thought is the many, many times I've seen guys get stabbed with stiletto heels in movies, so maybe that's what's going on? Not that it would be a notably incapacitating injury.

Oh, and it turns out that the killer didn't leave the shears on the body after all, which is why they hadn't been discussed yet.

Back on campus, the creep brings a flower to the pretty girl, who was busy reading a romance novel. She seems charmed by the gesture - but is that just because the next victim has come to her, rather than her having to go look for him?

Finally they get around to talking about the fact that the killer had to walk home, suggesting that they may live in the residential area that's incredibly close to the kill site. In an aside that doesn't make much sense, we learn that the beeping coming from the phone on the first victim wasn't a phone call, but rather an alarm that was set for midnight.

Why does this make no sense?

Two reasons - 1: there's no phone alarm that keeps ringing for 8 hours. That just doesn't happen. The couple didn't find the body until the morning, so the alarm should have stopped ages ago. Secondly, the show tries to make Reid look clever by having him announce that they asked forensics to check if the second phone also had an alarm set.

Except, you know, forensics already would have known about that, because the alarm would have gone off while they were working with the evidence. While we don't know exactly when the body was found, Joe and Reid got to the crime scene at 3:30AM, and we see them remove the phone from the mouth, so either the alarm was ringing when the body was found, it went off while the cops were investigating, or the very first thing that would have shown up on the screen when it was turned on would be 'missed alarm'.

No need for Reid to do a thing, is what I'm saying.

JJ rushes in, coming to the conclusion that the conical wounds are probably from a stiletto heel! Yay! This raises the question of whether they're dealing with a cross-dresser or a woman!

As if to provide an answer to that question, the show cuts back to the pretty girl, who's wearing high, but in no way spiky, shoes! The creepy guy asks to lunch... but is she the killer?

Jennifer goes to talk to one of the second victim's friends - a guy who was sent the amateur porn! This is the show doing what it always does - having a woman interview the sexist scumbags to put them in their place, even though they need help from these people, and sending in Derek, a sexist scumbag himself, would be far more effective at getting that.

So how does Jennifer get the info? She lies to the guy and says that one of the girls was two weeks shy of being 18, which means that he had child pornography on his phone! She threatens to charge him unless he helps them!

A few problems here:

1 - Greg's first rule is don't lie to people in interviews, both because it can cause problems later if they find out the truth, and because it lessens the office of the FBI to do it.

2 - The guy announces that he's pre-law, so he'd know full well that he's in no way culpable for what his friend sent to him, and could easily make the case that he had no way of knowing that it was child pornography - these charges absolutely wouldn't stick.

3 - The age of consent in Montana is 16. While I'm sure that wouldn't matter if the video was transmitted across state lines and through federal jurisdictions, it again muddies the waters so much that this guy would have nothing to fear, even if Jennifer hadn't been lying.

Anyhoo, the guy says that the victim was planning on sleeping with/taping a townie who was super-weird. Doesn't have a phone, is very old-fashioned, wears dresses with tags on them so she can return them later. Probably a killer type, then.

Over at the pretty girl's house, she's tied the guy to the bed. Which he's somehow okay with. I don't get fictional men, sometimes. The room is filled with childish art and has stars painted on the ceiling, increasing the strangeness. If the guy was a psychology major he'd realize that this kind of arrested development was a huge indicator of childhood sexual abuse, but apparently he's not, so he signed off on being tied to a bed in a crazy woman's room.

The killer then enters the room with her face daubed with ashes. She announces that the man is defiling the purity of love (remember the romance novel?) and she starts stabbing him with her shears!

So she's killing them in her house? That's great and all, but how is she moving these bodies around? This woman is half the size of the guy she killed, and we're asked to believe that she's dragging these guys to their cars, belting them in, and dumping them in the woods? That all seems like a stretch, unless she has help.

Oh, and this latest corpse she drove to an alley in broad daylight, dragged the body out of the car, and smashed it up somehow, all without anyone noticing. This is just getting preposterous. They do notice the ash on the guy's arm, though, which is new.

They go over the profile - it's a young woman, probably a rape-revenge situation, where she's lashing out at men who are like the one who attacked her. They tell the cops to look into sexual assaults where the guys got away with it because they were rich and connected. Although it's obvious that Garcia will be the one doing that.

At her workplace, the killer is scolded for being late yet again - murdering takes a lot of time, boys. Her co-worker, the owner's son, tries to ask her out, but she turns him down. She's got plans... murder plans! Also, it's important to mention that she works at a dry cleaner, which is where she borrows the nice dresses that she uses to the lure men.

Which kind of contradicts the whole 'still have tags on them' thing the other guy mentioned. Maybe she does both?

Jennifer has a flash of insight! Shoe-based injuries, new dresses, a fancy car, now ashes (or 'cinders'), the woman sees herself as Cinderella, and is killing failed princes! The obvious conclusion - the killer must be a foster child who was put in a home with biological children who the parents favored over her! Which is exactly the kind of thing Garcia can search for, right? The interpersonal relationships within foster homes?

Back at the dry cleaners, the owner discovers that the killer has stolen yet another dress, and announces that he's going to fire the killer! The son offers to go and get the dress back, and fire her more gently. So I guess he'll be the one rescued in twelve minutes?

That night, the killer goes out to another bar to find another victim, and yet another college guy takes the bait. Did they not inform the public that a crazy woman was running around town, murdering college guys that she picks up? Isn't that something you'd want to tell all the bartenders about?

There have been 3 brutal murders in the past 48 hours, all within the college ghetto - why is no one in this town acting like this is the most shocking thing to have ever happened? People are just out casually drinking? Are all of these people monsters?

Back at the office, JJ and Reid talk about JJ's problems with her mother. Hilariously, she says that they got into an argument 'a couple of nights ago'. It was last night, JJ. You were called away from the fight to work on this case, and you haven't gone to sleep yet. Hell, in your brain, it probably feels like the fight happened earlier today.

Damn it, writers, how are you so bad at basic continuity?

Reid thinks that sugar-coating fairy tales removes their ability to impart lessons on children, and that kids should be exposed to the gruesomeness of the world early on. This causes JJ to wonder if she's wrong to not mention her sister's tragic suicide to her 5-year-old son. Setting aside - for a moment - the fact that he doesn't even understand the concept of death yet, why on earth are you taking parenting advice from Reid, JJ? This man is the least emotionally stable person you know, and it's because his father abandoned him with a dangerously unbalanced woman who raised him with bizarre ideas about chivalry.

Do not take parenting advice from Reid. Do not take life advice from Reid. You may take advice about chess from Reid, but that's it.

Wait, he consistently mis-explained the concept of Zugzwang. Don't trust him about chess, either.

Just don't take advice from Reid, people.

Also, Reid, the killer isn't murdering because she 'thought that fairy tales were real', but because she was sexually assaulted. This isn't the fault of the fairy tales.

Over on the killer's date, she's once again assaulted by her date, and she kills him as well. This time she doesn't have her kit, so she just clubs him with a rock and sticks the shoe in his neck. Where is she getting these fancy shoes? Isn't that a decent lead to track down? I mean, she's able to steal the dresses because she works at a dry cleaner, but high-end shoes seem like a way more difficult thing to snag.

The team tries to figure out why the killer's MO is vascillating so badly - the first victim was a frenzied attack, the second two were planned, the fourth was another frenzy... but why? This is a really good question, especially since the first victim was a gay guy who was only pretending to go out with women, and likely wouldn't have assaulted her in private, or even gone back to her house with her. So what set her off in the first place, and why does she keep switching MOs?

The co-worker shows up and drives the killer to the cemetery to visit her father's grave. This can only go well for the guy.

When the team hears that the bartender said the killer's dress didn't quite fit, they realize that if she'd stolen it from a store, she would have stolen one in her size - she must work in a dry cleaner's! Penelope immediately checks the national database of people who work in the dry cleaning industry, which is totally a thing, I swear, and find out who the killer is!

The twist? Her father isn't dead at all, he just abandoned her at a mall! This gives Derek an idea - they found one of the killer's hairs at a crime scene, and since that instantaneously got them a DNA profile, Garcia can use the nationwide database to track down the dad - maybe he'll have clues to offer!

The co-worker is in for a spot of bother, since as the killer is reminiscing about her dead dad, he notices that the grave is from a lady who died in the 1920s. Being an idiot, he decides to confront an obviously deranged woman with this information. He is clonked on the head for his trouble.

Oh, and Garcia gets a DNA hit - the dad died in jail, where he was serving time because of all those little girls he raped. Surprising no one.

The team busts into the killer's house, and sees all of the fantasy princess dresses she makes for herself, raising the question of just how horny all those guys must have been to not nope out after seeing her house, which is constructed entirely out of metaphorical red flags.

They check out the co-worker's cell phone GPS (his dad told them he was with the killer), and that leads them to the cemetery! They rush there just in time for Reid to pretend to be Prince Charming, giving her the shoe she left in the last victim's neck, and leading her placidly away. Which is great and all, but it's kind of more trouble than you needed to go to - she could have easily been shot or tackled without any threat to the co-worker.


Then it's back to JJ's house, where she's talking to Jr. on the phone, wondering if maybe her mother wasn't right? Again, she wasn't. JJ isn't trying to erase their daughter from memory, she's just waiting until her son is old enough to know the moon isn't made of green cheese.

Still, she takes the bad advice on board, and tells Henry a bedtime story about her dead sister.

Great work, grandma.

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

Nope. They managed to figure out her obsession with Cinderella based on subtle clues, but that didn't help solve the crime, it just let Reid pull off a strange way of talking her down.

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

They had a physical description of the killer and enough information to let them know she worked at a dry cleaner. Also, I really feel like tracking down those super high-end shoes was a good lead that everyone ignored.

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


Seriously, what did the gay guy do to incur her wrath? I can't believe he tried to force himself on her, and she only killed when she was assaulted or when someone actively tried to break through her psychosis. I can't believe the gay guy would have come back to her house with her, and it's not like she would have brought the shears along on her date. What the hell happened there?

Also, the third dead guy went to a public restaurant with her right before getting murdered, and almost certainly paid with a credit card. How did they not have a description of her way earlier?

Such a sloppy week all around, people.


Anonymous said...

the thing is is that none of her shoes were high end they were all stripper heels, big miss on the costumers part lol.

Vicendum said...

I don't know if you noticed, but most of the episodes of S10 were either omnivores or featured exclusively male victims. Heck, a lot of episodes after this season followed this pattern to a degree. I criticized CM for doing this, not just because it's unrealistic (70% of serial killer victims are female) but also because CM seems to do this to make them seem like they're "taking a stand against misogyny", when all they're doing is just virtue signalling. A disposable victim is a disposable victim- it does not matter what gender they are.

This particular episode I found to be the worst example of this trend, since it featured a truly implausible situation. Just like you, I couldn't buy that the killer was strong enough not just to subdue her victims but also to carry them out and dispose of them- all without getting caught.

Just another example of CM's sloppy writing.