30.11.19

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.


On the plane, they delve into the dead couple's backstory. They were bland people in their 40s in a lot of debt, and apparently the husband had a gambling problem. Will that relate to their murder? Even the team thinks it's unlikely.

JJ and Greg check in with the local cops, who reveal that the couple had been out of town at a marriage retreat, and they returned a day early due to illness. Perhaps they surprised a robber? Who knew that they were going to be out of town? Then we get something a little weird - they're told that the bodies were reported by a neighbour from across the street, and that neighbour also heard what they thought was a car backfiring at around 2AM.

This suggests that the murders were at 2AM, but this makes Garcia's statement from earlier sound a little weird - she says that the bodies were found 'four hours ago'. Now, let's say that this briefing scene is taking place around 10AM, EST. That would put the local time discovery of the bodies at 4AM (because Utah is on Mountain Time). How did the neighbour find the bodies at 4AM? Why not just have the neighbour find the bodies and call the cops basically immediately at 2? It's completely realistic for someone to be woken by what they think is a car backfiring, go to a window and see someone driving away in the middle of the night, think it's suspicious, go to check on the neighbours, find the bodies and call the cops.

Instead we're asked to assume that the neighbour heard a 'car backfiring' at 2AM, hung out for two hours, then, for no reason we're given, headed over to the victims' house well before dawn to check on them. This is just weird - having the neighbour see the killer leaving wouldn't give them any information - at that time of night the person would look like a dark shape.

Derek and Joe go to the office building where the security guard was stabbed. For the record, there is nothing 'chaotic' about the crime scene. A guy got stabbed and died almost instantly, collapsing to the ground. Two different sets of bloody footprints are visible. But was the second set from a witness, or an accomplice? Hopefully this is evidence that Andy is real!

Reid and Love are at the house, where they discover that the killer entered the house from the back yard, and killed the couple with shots to the chest, leaving them lying in the back room where he encountered them. There's nothing even slightly out-of-place about the house's furniture. No broken glass, knocked over furniture - nothing. Once again I find myself wondering why they called the crime scenes chaotic and disorganized.

I'm also additionally confused as to how the neighbour found the bodies. They were obviously in for the night, and their dead bodies were only visible through French doors from the back yard. Why on earth was the neighbour wandering around their back yard at 4AM? Weird.

In the back yard they discover a series of holes had been dug - so the killer must have been looking for something, and been surprised by the couple and killed them! Then Reid announces something truly bizarre - "based on what JJ said, he kept digging for another hour after killing the couple."

What are talking about, Reid? All JJ could have told you was that gunshots were heard at 2AM, and the bodies were found at 4AM. You don't know when he started digging, and you have zero evidence that he continued digging after the murders? Why did you say this? It's based on nothing!

Garcia checks out the title records of the house, and discovers that over a decade ago, it was owned by a notorious murderess! She and her younger lover got high on drugs and raped and murdered the guy's sister! The guy went to jail, but she fled and hasn't been seen since! Oh, and her partner is the current killer, just FYI. He looks exactly the same now as he did twelve years ago when he was arrested. Right down to the stubbly half-beard. Oof, guys, if you're not going to do a good job with the mugshot, maybe just don't have one?

Then it's back to the killer! He apologizes to the two kidnap victims, who are apparently the children of the woman he killed? He claims that it was his partner who did the actual killing, and he was only blamed because she escaped. I guess he's their uncle, then? Andy continues being amazingly helpful, offering the cabin of a friend near Park City to stay in.

We get a few more details about the case - apparently the killer got just 12 years for the brutal murder because he was young, and willing to testify against his accomplice. Except they didn't catch the accomplice, and generally you don't get credit for being willing to testify against someone, but not getting a chance to do it. Oh, and since the woman was raised as a survivalist, everyone assumes she's just out hiding in the wilderness somewhere.

Garcia finds evidence that she's fled to Canada, but the trail went cold five years earlier. She's then tasked with checking out the killer's known associates from prison! Meanwhile the team checks on the killer's family, and finds that his father is dead, and the two grandchildren are missing!

They look over the crime scene, and piece together that the father was stabbed during a confrontation during a tense family dinner, and assumes that the kids were likely taken as hostages while he tried to figure out what to do next!

In a fun note, during the flashback, the stabbing takes place at a completely different part of the room than where the body was found! TV production is hard, people.

Oh, and the place where the security guard was stabbed was the building where Andy's therapist was. Why they'd be going there in the middle of the night is anyone's guess. Oh, and Andy has been corresponding with his uncle - that's why the uncle thought it was safe to come back home after being sprung from prison.

Then it's over to the car, where Andy is driving, and the killer is trying to rationalize his actions to Rebecca in the back seat. Andy asks if the killer found the money that he was digging up the back yard looking for, and the killer confirms that he did. Then the cops pull them over, and I realize that we're getting pretty close to the '12 hours later' timeline thing, so Andy may have a ticking clock over his head.

It turns out to have just been a taillight issue, because I guess they're not driving the grandfather's car? If they were, then this would mean that both the team and the cops would have forgotten to put into the system as stolen by a murderer, which is incompetent even for them!

I'm kidding, of course - they really are that incompetent! Andy hands over his license and the car's registration, and it's either his car or the grandfather's got the same last name, because the cop sees it and sends him on his way with no further questions. So yeah, they didn't bother putting out a state-wide alert for the car that the killer is definitely using. Ugh.

Hilariously, they eventually do get around to announcing the car's involvement in the crime, but they only do that during a press conference, hours after they knew about the grandfather and the missing car! You people are terrible at this! As part of their briefing, they announce that the guy killed the security guard to obtain a weapon, which seems like a weird thing to say - if that's the case, why drive all the way to an office building with a connection to one of the people you've kidnapped. Shouldn't there be more to this? Also, the father was a guy living in rural Utah, it seems like there's a pretty good chance he should have had a gun lying around.

Back in the car, it seems that this is all the fault of the evil teens! They planned to lure their uncle out of jail, get him to dig up his money, and then kill him! Andy signals to Becca to put on her seat belt, and then he purposefully crashes the car, hoping to knock out the killer! The plan succeeds, for like a second, but then the killer shoots Andy, shoots a stopped good Samaritan, and flees in the new car!

Wow, these teens suck at planning, huh?

When the team gets out to the latest crime scene, it turns out Andy survived, which will make it easier to arrest him later on. JJ and Reid wonder why he's bothering to keep Becca alive. Probably some sick murderous psycho-sexual nonsense, given how much she looks like her mother. You know, the woman he raped and killed? I mean, sure, maybe the girlfriend put him up to it, but he still did it.

Love and Derek go to check on Andy, who directs them to the cabin that the killer might be headed towards. Since we now know that this car was stolen literally moments before the first, isn't it unbelievably lucky that its trunk contained gasoline and road flares?

The killer isn't headed towards the cabin, though - the burned-out car is discovered fifty miles in the opposite direction! Lucky that he burned the car, huh? I mean, if he's just driven it off the road two hundred meters and parked it under a tree, no-one would have discovered it for ages, and the cops would have no leads. But since he decided to burn it for literally no reason, people managed to spot the plumes of smoke and get to it almost right away!

Joe and Greg head out to the burned car, and find tracks leading towards a trail headed into the valley. They wonder just where the killer and his hostage could be headed. Did someone in prison tip him off to a safehouse? Does he remember a place from childhood? These are the two options he goes with, rather than assuming his murderous survivalist girlfriend might have taken him on hikes to a place out here.

There's a brief scene where the killer almost kills some hikers, but then doesn't. The killer mentions his desire to always get payback on people who have wronged him.

JJ and Reid get some info about the killer's time in prison. Apparently he never joined a gang or hung out with people, remaining a loner. They find this puzzling, because of the natural human need for connection. This leads them to a theory - what if he's been in touch with his girlfriend, the murderer? They decide to search for women of her age moving into the area.

How could she have been in touch with the killer, though? All mail is read and calls monitored - and she was living in Canada until very recently. The cops are actively looking for her, after all, how could she have reached out without anyone noticing her?

Also, if they really are going to meet the girlfriend, maybe he's planning to kill her for betraying him? That sounds like something he would do.

The killer and Becca arrive at the girlfriend's secret house, where she's hiding out! She seems surprised to see him, which is a little odd, considering that she must have told him where she was living - what did she think was going to happen were he to get out of jail?

Garcia tracks down women who've moved into the vicinity of where the car was dumped in the past five years, and find just two - so they go to check on both houses at once! Which team will be at the right one?

Ah, it turns out that the girlfriend told him about the secret house when she was drunk, so she really didn't expect him to turn up! Also, she's not happy to see him at all, suggesting that they weren't in touch when he was in prison, blowing a hole in their whole theory track that led them to look for her.

Wait, if she'd told him about this house, why weren't they able to trace it to her? I mean, she must have owned it in some roundabout way, right? How else could she have known it would be empty and ready to use whenever she needed to bug out? If she didn't, what, exactly, had she told him? If I ever have to disappear, I'll head to Canada for a few years, make some money, then come back and buy this specific house? That can't possibly have happened.

While on the way, the team starts to second-guess itself for no real reason. They wind up assuming that the killer was the real dominant one in the relationship, and he just dragged his girlfriend into the whole rape/murder thing. Seems like a fair guess, since, you know, it was his sister that was attacked, rather than someone she had a connection to.

Also, you know, the fact that he's been on a murderous rampage for the past two days might point to the idea that he's profoundly not a good guy.

At the house, the killer announces his plan to have his girlfriend help him rape and murder the niece. Just then, the cops bust in, and he points a gun at the niece's head. The girlfriend says the killer was responsible for everything, the team asks him to put the gun down and pretend to believe that none of it was his fault, and then the niece shoves the gun backwards, and the killer accidentally shoots himself in the head.

Seriously. That's what happens.

Come on, show.

THE END

I guess the teens really were just kind of dumb and bad at surviving, and not after his money? Huh. Weird that the money factored into the plot at all. You'd think that the guard at the office building and the way it pointed at Andy's mental problems meant he was going to be involved somehow, but no, it really was just a story about a crazy guy who loved murder. Weird.

Back in Washington, Joe takes Greg to a jazz club to meet ladies! It's nice?

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

Barely. Let's face it - when you set aside all extraneous and unpleasant information, this is a story about a guy who gets out of jail and goes on a killing spree, and then they catch him at the house of his one known criminal accomplice. The fact that all their guesswork was wrong - he wasn't in touch with her, he wasn't submissive, all of that - didn't keep them from solving the crime.

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

A guy went on a killing spree and they tracked down his one known accomplice. If they'd checked into people matching the girlfriend's demographic data to women who'd recently moved into the area, they'd have been waiting at her house. Of course, if they'd reported the car stolen hours earlier he'd have already been in jail, and one less person would be dead, so there's that.

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

1/10 - Not a great week for profiling, overall.

Hey, why was there still money in the backyard? I mean, I get why it was stashed there - she's a survivalist, and wants to be ready to flee at a moment's notice. But she's been back in Utah for five years. Couldn't she have dropped by one night and grabbed it?

No comments: