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!

On the plane, the team discusses that this case feels like overkill, since the killer fired 13 times into the car with a .45! They point out that this would require shooting every bullet in the magazine, and one from the chamber. Which is something you hear a lot in fiction, but doesn't actually happen much.

In order to have that extra bullet, you'd have to either manually slide a bullet into the gun's empty chamber while it's locked open - which is kind of a hassle - or put in a full magazine, load a bullet, take out the magazine, and put an extra bullet into it. Which takes so long, and for so little benefit, that most people wouldn't bother.

So, writers, in the future, just assume people have as many shots as the magazine holds.

Oh, and they also wonder if the killer tried to shoot both the john and his sex worker on the first night as well, but the sex worker got away - possibly becoming a witness! It's a good theory, but you'd think that there would be some evidence if that was the case. Like half of the bullets aiming at the passenger seat, or blood spatter from a second victim, or something along those lines.

Derek and Joe talk to the dead sex worker's pimp, and he claims not to know anything about the murders! Then he blows their theory that the sex worker could have been the target out of the water by saying that the first victim was killed on the east side, well out of the sphere where his associates work.

There's a problem with the scene, though - the photo he's shown is literally just a car in front of a white fence with concertina wire at the top:
So yeah, there's no way he could possibly know where that crime was committed.

Literally all the production people would have had to do was put a tag on the wall, and he could have recognized the location, and said it wasn't her beat, but no, there's no limit to the depths of the show's laziness, so instead it just makes no sense.

Love and JJ finally run into a sex worker who recognizes the first victim, although she lies about it, obvs. It's such a theatrical lie that they're on to her right away, and give each other meaningful looks about how this is a lead to be pursued!

Back to the killer, who's getting drunk while the two women argue about whether he's in a fit state to go out. Are we sure these two people are real? They seem way too into murder to be real.

The sex worker gets a ride home with JJ, who keeps interrogating her! She explains that the victim picked her up, and then the killer arrived, dragged him from the car, and shot him to death! All the info she has to offer is that the guy is white!

Speaking of the white guy, he drunkenly stumbles down some steps in the park, and sees a woman having her purse snatched in a tunnel! He fires his gun wildly at the pair, killing both of them. This guy is just the worst, even by the standards of mentally ill vigilantes.

The next morning, the team checks out the scene in the tunnel and discover that he didn't shoot the woman at all - she just had a heart attack because of the stress of getting shot at! We saw her with her chest covered in blood, though, so he's just full-on delusional. The team gives the profile that he's a crazy vigilante, but this isn't the kind of show where tips help catch criminals, so that's a waste of time!

Over at the killer's apartment, he's looking at a picture of him and his mother while the two neighbours look on. We get some more backstory - apparently his mother was killed because she was the building's landlord! The neighbour woman's scumbag ex-husband came looking for her, and his mother got killed instead. Unless these are figments of his imagination, in which case they all got killed.

It really does seem like they're hallucinations, especially since they take such clearly drawn positive/negative stances. They're either not real, or terribly written.

Garcia drops some knowledge on the team - apparently the mugging was just a couple of friends hanging out - the 'mugger' was an ex-student of the retired schoolteacher that she was helping! Which means that the show is just lying to us, because we heard someone scream in terror before the killer ever saw them. So what, he hallucinated someone needing help, and then run to a tunnel where coincidentally an old white lady and a younger black man just happened to be walking together? That's a weird coincidence!

You know, there's an easy fix for this - have the woman scream in pain, then have the killer rush to the alley and see her lying on the ground and the guy looming over her. He freaks out and starts shooting, because he's drunk and crazy. Then later we find out that the heel of the woman's shoe broke off and she tripped - the friend was just helping her up, but he responded viscerally to the tableau of a black guy looming over an old white lady, and just started shooting.

That way you still get the scream and the reason for his madness, and the team can figure out based on the shoe what really happened!

Back at the killer's house, he shows off that he's cleaned up his apartment and is getting his life together! He gives flowers to the neighbour lady and offers to let them stay in the apartment for free until her murderous ex has been caught - it's just not safe for them outside!

So, so, crazy.

The killer goes walking by a club, and sees an attack in an alleyway! So he clubs the guy to the ground, and when the woman says to kill her attacker, he shoots the guy a bunch! Presumably this is another psychotic episode, and it wasn't actually an assault. I mean, it could have been, but this episode seems to really want to hammer home how crazy and destructive vigilantes are, so more power to them!

The victim's girlfriend explains the true story to the team, and offers to sit with a sketch artist! Now that they've got two pieces of evidence suggesting that the guy is full-on delusional, they have to adjust their profile... but how?

While they're thinking about how to possibly adjust their instructions to the local cops, the killer guns down what he thinks is a cop, but he's then informed by his neighbour that it was the mailman! She tries to get him to go to the police, and threatens to call them if he won't! Naturally, this leads to him pulling the gun on her.

Garcia searches the list of LA crime victims for schizophrenics who live in the area of the murders, and comes up with just a couple of names! Luckily, the dead mother also had severe mental illness, so she's on the list! This gives them the son's ID. As we predicted, the neighbours aren't real - he was driven to murder when they went missing two weeks ago, and the cops dropped by to question him about the disappearances!

The team rushes over and sees the dead guy out front, then hears the killer yelling at the figments of his imagination! He shoots through the door at them, and claims that he has hostages, but they can't hear anyone through the door. All of the killer's victims show up to tell him to give up, or possibly kill himself, and he has a moment of clarity, during which he surrenders!


And yes, he murdered the mother and daughter, and somehow managed to bury them in the front yard of his house without anyone noticing. Seriously? We're specifically told that the cops 'cleared him' in their disappearances, which means that they found a shifty guy living in filth, and just accepted his complete lack of an alibi? And none of his neighbours noticed him out digging up the yard in the middle of the night? And the cops didn't notice the freshly-turned earth in the front yard?


When the team gets back to Quantico, Garcia announces that they have plenty of paperwork to do! Apparently there's a congressional oversight hearing on 'Monday'! Um... it's Monday now. They established in the opening scene that the characters were out for a Saturday jog. Saturday night, the tunnel murder happened. Sunday night, the club murder happened. They caught him the next day, then flew home.

This is Monday night. And if you mean the hearing is in a week, then they don't have to pull an all-nighter, do they?

Of course, they don't mean that, everyone working on this show is just garbage at keeping their timelines straight.

Anyhoo, Love once again checks in on her daughter, who's once again lying about her whereabouts, this time going to meet the child predator with her friend! But then the child predator sends a text, pretending to be that cute boy, claiming that he's working late, and his mother's coming to pick them up for the concert!

The 'mother', naturally, is minivan lady from the first episode of the season. Who, I guess, drove the minivan all the way from California? Maybe it's a different minivan.

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

A little! They were able to connect the fact that an obviously schizophrenic killer would most likely have a schizophrenic mother as well, and that helped them track the guy down!

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

He would have been caught immediately for killing his tenants. There's no way he gets away with that crime, no matter how sloppy the LA detectives might be.

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

3/10 - You know, this is the second-last episode of the season, and I'd just like to point out that the Matchmaker storyline never got the buildup it deserved. The first episode ended with the craziest premise imaginable - a broker was out there, grabbing women and selling them to be murdered, then picking up the pieces of those murdered bodies and selling them to other people. We even got a montage of all of the people looking to buy victims. It suggested a world of human slavery and serial killing for profit - and then the team never bothered looking into any of it, and the show forgot that it happened.

Instead, we got a couple of episodes about Love's daughter being menaced by what seems like nothing more than a garden-variety child predator, albeit one who's terrible at planning kidnappings. Yes, in this episode we find out that he's connected to the Matchmaker's operation, but that was in no way shape or form communicated by the two episodes in which the child predator appeared.

What the hell happened, Criminal Minds? Did you have a ton more planned, but Love's real-life pregnancy sidelined her for the second half of the season, so you had to cancel all of the action-y plans you had for her character?

Also, it raises the question of whether the Matchmaker's operation was specifically targeting the child of an FBI agent who was tangentially related to the case, or if this was just an incredibly preposterous coincidence!

And hey, remember when JJ murdered a guy because she was PTSDing super-hard, and there were no consequences?

Seriously, this next episode has so many loose ends to wrap up.

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