Criminal Minds 1104: Outlaw

The episode opens with cuts between some teens getting murdered in a diner while Garcia describes it. They were shot to death and then the place was set on fire! This happened outside Las Vegas, NM and the team is working on it because unlike in the crime it was based on (Las Cruces Bowling Alley Massacre), this is the second crime committed with this exact MO. Robbery, sexual assault on female victims, executions, arson.

We're in for a yucky week, folks. Especially since the last gap between crimes was 6 years, but presumably this time it will be 20 hours!

Then we cut back to the crime again, and see that bikers were the killers! Then the show cuts to inside the diner where the fire is set, and focuses on the face of a teenaged girl with a bullethole in her forehead! Because the makers of Criminal Minds hate decency and humanity!

I'm going to get mad a bunch this week, aren't I?

Note - Aisha Tyler is still not in the opening credits.

On the plane, the team wonders why the killers would have gone dark for six years. Could they have been in prison all that time? Also, why commit the same crime in the same city - aren't you just asking to be caught at that point?

Before the team gets to the sheriff's station, we see the sheriff talking with his friend Brooks, who wants in on the case, despite not working there. I presume he's one of the parents of a kid from six years ago? He wants to hear the phone message that the dead girl left for her parents when the killer broke in, but the sheriff's not sure if that's a good idea.

Then we see Aisha asking the mother of the dead girl to describe the message to her. Did she delete it? Even if she did, it's definitely on a server somewhere - she only got it this morning. Why on earth wouldn't they just listen to the message?

Okay, one scene later, Aisha does listen to the message. So what the hell was that previous conversation about? Also, Brooks is, in fact, the father of one of the girls who was raped and murdered the previous time.

Then it's over to the morgue, where we get flashes of the dead, burned bodies. Because again, this show is just awful to the people watching it. They note that everyone was brutally beaten, and the girl was stripped and bound with her own underwear - just like in the previous murders, a detail that wasn't released to the police!

We then cut to the killers, who are getting high and counting up their money! One of them, Duke, says he's got someone to visit that he hasn't seen in a while, and heads out. He drives up to a single-story house out in the desert, while menacing music plays, but then we see a 30-something woman inside with a 5-year-old child on the couch, and it's obvious that this is going to be his family.

The episode tries to build suspense by cutting away from the guy approaching the house to Reid going over all of the most brutal details of his crimes. Get it - we're supposed to be thinking that this guy is the worst monster that could possibly be alive, but then our minds are going to get blown by the fact that he can be nice to people!

Except that won't blow our minds. BTK had a daughter, and he seemed like a perfectly good dad to her, at least as far as she's said. Monsters have private lives too, show.

The guy knocks on the door, and the woman isn't happy to see him - he's been in jail, you see, and she wasn't psyched about him getting out. Then he notices the kid and demands to know if it's his, since they have the same hair and eye colour, but she ushers him out the door.

So complex!

Well, I'm just being too sarcastic at this point, so I'll try to dial it back going forwards.

The team goes over the details of the case - it seems the last time the victims were separated by genders and executed in a mechanical fashion, but this time the boys were forced to watch the girl getting raped, and the girl was forced the boys being executed! That last part, while true, is complete supposition, of course - the viewing angle suggests they were forced to watch, but it's just as likely that the boys were forced to watch the girl being raped and murdered before being killed themselves. There's simply to reason to assume or even theorize that one is more likely than the other.

The conclusion? They're more brutal this time because a new partner is involved in the murders!

No one has yet to mention the clear motorcycle tracks left outside the diner - the way they peeled out the night before, across the entire parking area, it would be completely clear that the last people to leave would have been motorcyclists, which narrows their pool of suspects down quite a bit!

That night, one of the killers goes to a pharmacy, beats up the two people working there, and crushes up some amphetamines into an injectable form. That's right, he takes the time to go through a multi-step drug preparation process before killing anyone! That's strange. Also he doesn't set the place on fire.

They notice on the security tape that the villain made the people watch each other while one was getting shot - between that and the lack of rape and arson, they're figuring out which of the two guys is the new killer, and which is the old one! Perhaps they'll next check local criminal records for a guy whose MO included making people watch their loved ones getting beaten or murdered!

The team theorizes that the guy is so desperate for drugs that he doesn't mind staying in town even though he knows the heat is on because of the mass murder the night before. They also say that he's smart, because he wore a mask.

Except he didn't burn the place down or get the surveillance tape, so how smart is he, really? Also, killing these people ties it into the previous night's mass murder. If he'd just come in, tied them up, and stolen the drugs, the cops wouldn't have any good reason to suspect that it was related to the mass murder the previous night.

You know what feels the most unrealistic about all of this? That the pharmacy didn't have a bulletproof shield and locked door keeping people away from the drugs. This is rural New Mexico. I feel like people know enough about the dangers of meth and opiods, and the kind of crime they attract, that there should be a great big wall between the woman and the main area of the pharmacy.

We see the druggie killer come back to the motel, where he's called out by the original killer for his stupid behaviour in committing another crime while they're laying low. The druggie proclaims that the cops have no idea it was him, and that he literally rode past two of them on the way back to the motel!

How is that possible? The tire marks mean that the cops know full well they're looking for a biker, so once another crime has been committed, wouldn't they be pulling over every biker in the area just on principle?

Garcia did, in fact, make a search for people who forced other people to watch crimes! There are only two living people in the surrounding states who match that criteria, and one was a guy who beat up a bully's father! So yeah, it's probably the other guy, the scumbag biker rapist. He was in jail for the first crime, so they go looking for anyone he met in prison who might be the partner!

In jail, the druggie met up with the other guy, who was arrested for a gas station robbery/murder where the cops showed up while they were trying to torch the place! Why weren't they connected to the massacre? I actually believe this one, because the robbery/murder took place in Texas, and the US, unlike most civilized countries, doesn't require violent crimes to be reported and stored in a national database. They probably could have even gotten away with using the same gun, since it's doubtful the Texas cops would have done a mutli-state search for open crimes committed with that weapon.

Gracia then says that she wasn't able to track the rapist ex-con using her initial search because he grew up in Texas, and she wasn't very thorough!

The one thing that's hard to believe? That the guy would be out of jail in just five years. Garcia claims that it's because his partner was the guy who pulled the trigger, and that guy is in jail for way longer. This is a perfect example of writers not understanding the 'felony murder rule'. Legally speaking, it doesn't matter who pulled the trigger, everyone goes down if somebody dies, unless you testify against your partner. The felony murder rule is frequently used to encourage people to turn state's evidence!

The team offers the profile, which should, in all honesty, be a two sentences long "Here are the names and photo IDs of the killers. Go get them." Giving the cops any more information is a complete waste of time, especially considering that the killers are presently just driving down highways on their motorcycles, and easily catchable because of it.

Joe goes to give the sheriff a talking-to. He says that the guy shouldn't be drinking any more - it risks his judgement, and they can't have that right now! I don't know what judgement they're talking about, though - at this point it's entirely up to the state cops who are presumably setting up roadblocks. It would be weird if the kilelrs were still in this county. Then again, they're meth-heads with no sense of self-preservation, so who knows?

Greg and Aisha go to see the killer from the original team, and offer to cut some years off his sentence if he helps them catch the new team. Hopefully this is an empty promise. He says that the two of them are best buds, and they'd rather go out in a blaze of glory than risk the other one getting killed. So, nothing actionable.

The killers go to a gas station - it's Anexco, the same gas station we often see on Criminal Minds! The gas station attendant recognizes them, so they shoot him because he hesitates in shooting them! Let that be a lesson to you - shoot first, don't ask questions ever.

Wait... that's a terrible lesson!

It turns out that there's a father and son hiding in the back of the station, and the rapist biker doesn't have the heart to murder them, because it's been softened by the knowledge that he has a child of his own!

The team finds this significant - could letting witnesses live mean that the partnership is breaking up? More importantly, though, the only reason to kill witnesses is to keep people from finding out who you area. But the cops already know who they are, so it doesn't matter how many people see them. They still love murder, though.

The bikers have their bust-up. The rapist knows that he's going to get caught or killed one way or the other, so he might has well head back and see his kid one last time before that happens. The other biker thinks he's crazy, and wants to flee to Mexico! The team has alerted the border patrol about that, of course, but still no one is mentioning roadblocks, choppers, or surveillance planes.

Fun fact about highways in America's southwest - they're largely flat and have few if any visual obstructions from above. So you can just fly planes overhead and look for bikers until you find them. It's really, really easy to do.

Back at the office, the Sheriff has checked into the rapist biker's background, and found out about the girl he got pregnant just after high school! Garcia gets her address, and the cops head over there to look for the rapist biker!

He's already at the house when the mother gets home, though - which makes me wonder just how bad these cops are at finding people. I mean, have the bikers ever even made it fifty miles outside of town? They keep using highways, how are they not already dead or under arrest?

The mother finds the son and grandmother being held hostage by the rapist, but in a kind of friendly way where he just has the gun there, and isn't being a dick about it.

The team gets there some time later, and finds the grandmother tied up. She announces that the rapist biker already left with his 'family'. Joe's idea? Issue an 'amber alert'. Um... how have you not already done the equivalent, or even better, much more serious version of this? You're looking for MASS MURDERERS, yet somehow they're free to drive around the state unmolested.

New Mexico has 1000 state troopers, and 8000 miles of highway. Even discounting the huge number of local cops you have, you could have one person for every 8 miles of road - without even counting aerial surveillance. How is it that these guys are still out there? The Boston bombing killed five people, and they shut down half that state. These guys have brutally murdered 6 people in two days, and nobody outside of this one city seems to care.

Finally we get word about a roadblock and discover that the rapist biker can't get out of the area! This should have happened hours ago, but sure. The only route left to him is through a national forest. The sheriff explains that he knows it very well, but really this is just a scene about him wanting to redeem himself.

Inside the park, the rapist biker and the mother have a conversation about their relationship. And, you know, snore. Then the druggie biker shows up, because somehow he knew exactly how to find them? What?

The team shows up, and the druggie gets shot, forcing the rapist to decide whether he wants to get killed by cops, or surrender and try to be a positive role model to his son! Obviously he picks the first, this is an episode of Criminal Minds, after all.


Except for a scene of unearned sentimentality where the team sticks around town to go to the female victim's funeral, while Amazing Grace is being sung. Yeah, show? Including all of this doesn't make up for how you so brutally exploited her death earlier in the episode.

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

I wish I could say yes, but while they made plenty of good guesses, these weren't fundamentally difficult guys to catch. They were identified via an MO search, which counts as profiling, though, so I'll give them partial credit!

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

Setting aside the whole 'roadblocks are simple' thing, Las Vegas, NM is a town of just 20K people, and you knew you were looking for murderous bikers right from the jump. There are just 9 hotels in the entire city, how long would it have taken you to drive around to them, looking for bikers who were new in town?

Hell, if you assume they'd want to lay low by staying on the outskirts of town, you're down to just two motels. This was not a challenge.

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

3/10 - No mention of that League of Assassins this week, which is a disappointment. I want this to be more active than the Matchmaker was last year.

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