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?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You were right about the killer, Ray Abruzzo, being someone Joe knew. Joe directed him in a webisode of a short-lived series called Quickbites in 2011. The episode was called Faceless & also starred Bobby Costanzo. Joe also directed this CM episode 1012, Anonymous, so presumably hand-picked him for this role. The 8 minute webisode can be viewed on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0N4E_GolEA