Criminal Minds 1101: The Job

The episode opens in Seattle, Washington as action-packed music plays! Will we jump in on a footchase? If not, this is badly-wasted music. It is, in fact, wasted - we just find two cops arriving at a meth lab. Yawn. They find a dead body at the crime scene with ridiculous black and white face paint. The cop is happy to assume that it's an OD, but Joe strides in and announces that it's murder!

The whole scene is set up to establish why the BSU are the best, because Joe was able to link this case to one in Albany, New York the previous day. Except, you know, the detectives are just arriving at the crime scene. Which, given that it's a drug lab, would be fairly high priority, so the beat cops must have been there just an hour or two earlier - how on earth did info about the specific face paint already get into the kind of national database that would be required for VICAP to notice it and Garcia to inform the team?

Not to mention how long it takes for Joe to actually fly out there. I mean, maybe he was visiting his daughter in San Francisco when he got the call, but still, there's no way he could possibly be there this fast.

A theory confirmed by the fact that Derek is also there. Yeah, their appearance at this crime scene makes zero sense. Oh, and they found a giant syringe that the killer used on his victim, then left behind for some reason.

They immediately fly back to Quantico for a meeting - they acknowledge that they're two profilers down, so this will be harder than usual. Because, you know, the quickest way to solve a complex, multilayered problem is to throw a bunch of people with the exact same skillset at it. Also, I guess JJ is on maternity leave?

Do you think they're ever going to mention her PTSDing so hard that she murdered a guy ever again?

Then Joe says something that makes me super-sad-

No offense intended, but Garcia isn't a 'brain' in the way you mean it. She's a database. Well, technically she knows how to work a database, but that's it. There's no reason to have her in the room with you, looking over files. Right now she should be scanning travel records to find anyone who could  have gone from Albany to LA and committed the murders with that incredibly tight timeline.

Meanwhile, in a basement somewhere, a man loads a pistol! Then a blonde woman comes downstairs, looking for him. She offers him a manilla envelope she was told to bring, and then he lets her leave! Notably, his disguise is a black scarf pulled up to his nose, which obscures the bottom half of his face, and mirrors the makeup that he put on his victims, which had blacked-out skin below the nose, and a white mask-like effect above!

The woman goes upstairs and freaks out - why does she have a murderer living in her basement if she's obviously not happy about it? Does she owe money to the mob or something?

The killer uses a fingerprint scanner to open a briefcase and looks over his murder tools, which include more of the horse syringes from earlier! Why leave that at the crime scene? Do you want to get caught? Although he's going out of his way to link two crimes from opposite sides of the country with the face makeup thing, so maybe yes, he does want to get caught?

In the round table scene, we get some info about the deaths! The guys died of heart attacks, and it's not clear why! Is it possible that the makeup is concealing how the poison was applied? Probably not, you've had the last victim for two days, presumably you've removed and tested the makeup by now, right?

Reid offers some comments about Commedia Del'Arta, the famous Italian clown theatre discipline, and says that the mask could resemble the Harpo-style trickster figure! Could the killer be playing tricks on people who tricked him in life? This leads Greg to suggest that they're dealing with a guy on a vendetta, rather than one who's compelled to kill. Well, it can be both, but of course he's on a vendetta - you don't travel cross-country to murder people on a whim.

Oh, and Garcia wonders aloud why she's even at the table. Because she shouldn't be. Go back to your database, Penelope.

JJ calls to talk to Greg about when her maternity leave should end - I guess this is set like six months after the last episode? She wasn't even showing then. They somehow get through a whole conversation without mentioning whether or not the little boy is named William Lamontagne the 3rd! Come on, show.

Anderson - the guy who got Elle shot, but still somehow works there, comes in to tell Greg that the new applicants for the team are waiting outside. Greg says they'll have interviews, but one of them is Aisha Tyler, so obviously that's who's getting the job.

The mistake on House was that they should have cast more recognizeable actors in his crowd of possible hires. Then we wouldn't have been so sure right away that the final choices would be a famous guy, a well-known character actor, and the most beautiful woman in the crowd.

In her interview, Aisha explains that her previous job was using her skills as a clinical psychologist to interview serial killers in prison and awaiting trial. Now she wants to employ those abilities to catch killers! By which we mean 'join the crowd of voices all saying interchangeable things'.

Derek goes to see the ME, who explains that the men were killed when someone injected Ensure into their veins, causing a blockage that gave them an aneurysm. He did it into their necks to make sure that it was fatal. Apparently the injection marks were under the neck paint, but said paint obviously wasn't intended as a forensic countermeasure, as someone suggested, because the autopsy picked it up immediately, and any killer sophisticated enough to use such a ridiculous murder method would have known that.

Joe and Reid talk victimology - one guy was a single father, the other a meth cooker. Why attract attention by killing people in the same unique way and then painting their faces? Joe points out that the clown the facepaint might be based on couldn't speak, which means he was likely also the first mime! I don't know if I'd go that far, but okay. Reid has an inspiration because of this observation of Joe's, which means it's time to cut away to build suspense!

The hostage lady drives the killer to his next victim's house. We discover that he's the one who needs the ensure, and he's only able to eat by using a tube hooked straight to his stomach - so perhaps the mask is cosmetic, and he lacks a functional mouth or throat!

When we get back to the table, Reid has deduced that the guy must have a feeding tube in his stomach! Which is one hell of a stretch. He could just have mouth and throat damage that keeps him from being able to chew or speak, and so he drinks the Ensure by necessity. It's quite a leap to assume that he has a stomach valve as well.

Derek assumes that the guy must be a contract killer - which we already knew, because of his introduction - but why would a contract killer use such an easily traceable method of killing people? Derek theorizes that it's to send a message to his customers, but that doesn't really make sense - the message is that the person they wanted dead, is dead. Anything else is just going to attract attention to yourselves.

Sure, there's some intimidation value in mutilating victims, but that wasn't done here - and it's only really useful if you're trying to scare people within a criminal subculture or the police. After all, the gruesomeness is only likely to be known about by other crooks and the cops investigating the crimes. A contract killer with a theme is just a terrible idea. Also, there's no reason to think that the clients will ever hear about the face paint, because that's definitely a detail the cops are keeping for themselves.

The Iceman, for example, did have a theme - freezing people's bodies. But that was a forensic countermeasure. Throw a dead body in a freezer for months, then toss it in a ditch one day, and the cops will be completely unable to tell when that person was murdered, making the investigation that much more difficult. What could this signature possibly accomplish?

The killer, meanwhile, has tied the guy to a chair and is writing out questions for him. "Who was it?" he wants to know. When the guy professes that he didn't betray the killer, the killer takes off his mask, and - truthfully, it's not that bad an injury.

I mean, it's going to be a nasty scar when it's fully healed, but I don't know that this wound would keep you from being able to eat. His jaw is definitely wired shut to help him heal, but why not take the ensure with a straw?

I was expecting his jaw to be fully missing, which seems like the only way to justify the feeding tube.

Also, fun fact, apparently the wound can't be more than a week old, since the dressing on his mouth still has blood on it - yet the tube on his stomach has no marks around it whatsover. Shouldn't that be equally bandaged? If stomachs heal right away, and I'm all wrong on this, just let me know, because this seems strange.

The killer does the whole 'I believe you' and then kills him anyway thing. Yawn.

Greg makes a big leap when he gets to the new victim's house and hears that he recently spent forty thousand dollars - he must have fired a hitman! And the killer is murdering the people who hired him, presumably because one of them set him up to be killed!

Yeah, I don't rally buy this leap - we're supposed to believe that Greg figured it out because the guy had a real estate brochure on his table, but why would he have that if he'd recently put a down-payment on a house! Also the victim had hired the guy to kill his father, who had molested him growing up. So the victim was kind of the real hero here!

I'd have accepted this leap if either of the two other victims had mysterious outgoings, or if Garcia had told Greg that despite 40K going into escrow there was no sign of him dealing with lawyers or real estate agents, but there just isn't enough info for this leap!

They give the profile - it's all useless, except for the lead that they should look for similar meaningless escrow payments that could point to a soon-to-be-victim.

I can't stress how useless this profile is - they explain that the face painting is a message about how one of his clients betrayed him. But it seems to be a message just for him. The clients won't ever find out about it, so what's the point? Oh, so he can attract attention to himself, the way all good professional killers do. Right.

The killer goes to a garage and attacks the guy who owns the place!

Next we see Garcia panicking because she can't figure out how to catch the guy! Derek suggests that she searches for anyone who put exactly 40K into escrow over the past year, but wasn't affiliated with a reputable corporation. It seems that knowing exactly what this guy charges will lead the team to him, thanks to her super-illegal database of every single financial transaction made in the united states that's available with just a few strokes of a keyboard!

She comes up with 16 names, and Derek says to refine it further - the clients pay twice, two payments of 20K each, and only one of the escrow accounts looks like that!

Except, you know, we had a look at the last victim's bank statement, and we can't even get basic consistency from the production people:
To be fair, this isn't just the production people - Garcia actually says that he deposited 40K. It's just sloppy work all around.

In a startling coincidence, the guy lives in Baltimore, so the team can drive right over there! They won't be in time, of course, because the killer is already there, but it's a nice try on their part!

Just as the killer is about to murder his latest victim he receives a text message on his phone! Did he not bother interrogating this guy, or did they just cut the scene? Anyway, when he gets the text, instead of injecting the guy with Ensure, he grabs something from a workbench and spreads it all over the guy's hands.

The team arrives to discover that the killer has super-glued a grenade to his hands! The team sends the swat guys to secure the area in case the killer is still close by, then try to figure out a way to get the glue off the guy's hands before his hands get so tired that he lets go of the spook and kills himself!

Um... here's a better idea - just duct tape the guy's hands to the grenade so he physically can't let it go, put a new pin into it, then slowly remove the glue with a gentle solvent. This isn't a dangerous situation at all. Reid wants to go in another direction - dip the man's hands in acid that's slightly more effective on glue than it is on human skin!

Wow, he's an idiot sometimes.

Outside, the killer's chauffeur has been stopped by the cops. They search her trunk and find nothing, so I'm guessing she has a fake back seat with a place to hide? Nope, even sillier. The guy just walked past their cordon and meets her on the road outside the perimeter.

As for the grenade, it comes free, but the acid eats the metal too, so they almost get blown up! But everyone's fine in the end.

The mechanic admits that everything was his fault. He hired the guy to kill his fiancee, and after the job was done, he thought the guy was keeping tabs on him, so he sent a goon to kill him! Wait, if their interactions were so anonymous - burner phones, single-use email addresses, wire transfers to non-existent companies - how did the guy know who the killer was?

Oh, okay, he pretended to be a new customer, and paid the guy 20K to show up in Atlantic City for a job, then had the goon ambush him! The killer got shot in the face, but escaped! This lets the team find out who the killer is - since he had to go to the hospital to get his face patched up, and he's a known criminal with a long record.

They decide that tracing the guy through the internet won't work - the clue they're looking for is in his dramatic shift in MO - why go from syringes to grenades? I mean, we know it's that his chauffeur told him that the cops were coming, and he needed to delay them so he could make an escape, but the team acts like it's a significant clue. Even though their interview with the victim should have told them about the phone call.

Okay, it turns out that they did, and for some reason the team was acting like they didn't know that for half a scene? Because if they did, they wouldn't have had the whole first half of that conversation. They assume that the killer must have a mole in the local police department that tipped them off, since he only got the text after the SWAT team was on the way.

That seems like a stretch, though - the guy is killing people all over the country, and it's not like he'd be informing the local cops when he was in town, working a job. And the team didn't tell the local cops who they were looking for, because they didn't know - they just sent the SWAT team to a location.

It turns out that they're right, though - the chauffeur is actually the SWAT commander's wife! They presume this must mean that the SWAT commander hired him to kill someone, and now he's a possible target!

So it's just a complete coincidence that he had a target in the same city he had police support? Wow, this episode is overcomplicated and kind of silly!

Joe busts in, and asks where the hitman is! The wife admits to hiring the hitman, and her husband has just been trying to save her! They call the husband on his phone, and the killer lets him answer it, because the caller ID says 'home', and then ask him if the destination he's driving the killer to is entered into his phone - and it is!

Kind of sad world we live in, where a cop has to use a mapping program to find an address in his own city.

Anyhoo, now they know where the killer is going, so they can set up an ambush!

Here's the backstory - the wife was hooked on painkillers, and her drug dealer started raping her, so she decided to hire a hitman to kill him so she wouldn't have to tell her husband about any of it!

The killer's car is driving into the kill zone, but the killer wants to make sure it's not an ambush, so he calls the last number dialed. Greg calls Aisha over to get on the phone! You see, earlier in the episode, they established that she was an actress, and she got a killer to sympathize with her by mimicking his wife's movements, tone of voice, and speech rhythms - which makes her the perfect person to trick the killer now!

Except, you know, that this character has never met the wife or heard her voice. Beyond the fact that it couldn't possibly work, it's an amazing plan. She tells him to duck so that the cops can shoot the killer, but the killer flees and the cop puts his extra gun to his own head, somehow thinking that killing himself will solve anything. He tries to claim it was all him, and Reid responds that they already know it was both of them.

Actually, no, it was just the wife, and the husband only found out when the killer showed up at his door with a gun. He was just trying to keep them alive, and had no real involvement in the crimes! Why are you trying to make him kill himself, Reid?

Derek catches the killer, by the way.


Except Greg hires Aisha.

Then Derek goes to check on the murderer. He says that he's mad the hitman tried to kill him, and explains that he plans to use the hitman to track down all of the other hitmen contracting out online! Dude, the guy tried to kill you because you were chasing him. Weird of you to take this personally.

Also, why would this guy have connections to other online hitmen? The whole point of this thing is anonymity.

Derek gives the guy a pad of paper to write a note. He writes that 'The Dirty Dozen' are their next targets, and then tears the stitches out of his mouth so he can say that they'll never stop 'us'. So apparently he was actually working with an association, or 'league' of assassins? That's weird. Really weird.

Although it does explain who was sending him surveillance photos of his next victim. Although if they're that powerful, why did he have to kill all of his clients? Couldn't they have just checked where the money for the last, trap-based hit came from? Wouldn't that have saved everyone a lot of time and trouble?

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

Nope. Not in the least. They just followed financial transactions to a preposterous conclusion. And this case doesn't get solved without the most ridiculous coincidences in the world, so there's that.

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

It's just tracking financial records. It's not brain science.

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

1/10 - Hey, if the wife had also paid the guy to kill someone, and she had, why didn't she show up in their search of every possible matching financial transaction? Also, why did the killer hide out in a cop's house at all? It's not like he was expecting to need their help in any way, shape, or form. It just adds a complication to his plan that provides no clear advantages and could have gotten him caught.

Wait, it did get him caught. What's wrong with this guy?

Also, we never got a good reason for the face paint - it wasn't to impress anyone, so all it served to accomplish was to make him easier to catch. And why the obsession with Ensure? Dude, you just had your fractured jaw temporarily wired shut. You'll be fine in a few months. You really, really didn't need that stomach tube put in. Straws work just fine.

What a dumb way to start a season.

No comments: