24.12.19

Criminal Minds 1106: Pariahville

The episode opens with a shot of a man loading a shotgun - presumably for nefarious purposes! I mean, sure, he could just be going hunting, but if that were the case, would he be loading the gun in an unlit room at night?

We see the gunman take the shotgun out to his car and climb in - it's a security vehicle for a private community! He waves to everyone as he drives. Little do they know the evil he has planned! Or this is just a misdirect. Either way.

It is a misdirect! He finds a guy standing out in the middle of the street, covered in blood! He runs into the guy's house, and finds his wife dead, presumably stabbed to death in the bathtub. But did the guy do it, or did he just find the body?

Over in Quantico, Greg has news for Aisha - the attorney general wants a comprehensive review of all serial criminals in prison. And he wants Aisha to put together the team that's going to do it! This would mean leaving the BSU, though - could she do that for such a huge career opportunity? Aisha's first instinct is to say no - though she claims to value the psychological investigation part of the work, she's obviously obsessed with the hands-on portion of the job. I mean, she already destroyed her relationship to be here, why wouldn't she screw up her career as well?

Garcia then enters with a case! It's the first murder, but it turns out the small community is a planned neighbourhood for sex offenders - so they can live with dignity away from the public at large. Aisha wrote a psych questionnaire that people have to fill out to get a slot there!

It seems that Santos, a reverend, was arrested at 18 for impregnating his 15-year-old girlfriend. Shocked by the stigma that sex offenders receive, he's devoted his life to building a safe place for them to reside. Oh, and he married that girl, and they're still together. So it's a whole community full of sex offenders and their families, all trying to support one another and not re-offend. What a nice idea! How has it gone so horribly wrong!

Aisha thinks that it's a great idea for the sex offenders to self-isolate - but Garcia says that the isolation has 'backfired', since a woman was killed the previous night! Except, you know, people get killed all the time, all over the country. You talk about it every week.

The only way that this has 'backfired' is that it's harder for you to zero in on a suspect because your entire suspect pool are all sex offenders.

Oh, and the husband from the murder had an alibi - the blood was from trying to resuscitate his dead wife. Who was wearing a cheerleader outfit when she was murdered. Some kind of age-related roleplaying?

Over in the community, we see kids daring one another to drive through its streets, since they know that's where all the sex offenders live! Then we get a scene of a bunch of guys standing around, eyeing the kids creepily!

On the plane, we find out that the victim was a teacher who assaulted a student, and married someone she met in the community! They finally mention the cheerleader uniform, which she bought. Was it for her husband's fantasy, or was she having an affair? Aisha thinks that they shouldn't jump to the conclusion that a resident is the killer. Although it's really, really hard to imagine someone from outside the neighbourhood to get in and out without being noticed, since they're insular by design.

It's obvious that Aisha doesn't want to be proven wrong about her profile, but will the episode justify her, or reveal that she's naive? What would it say about her if the security guard were the killer?

Also, why are you bringing a shotgun with you if you're a security guard for a tiny community of sex offenders. How serious can the crimes you're called to deal with possibly be?

They suggest that the killing could be revenge-motivated against one of the people in the town! Probably not, unless it was against the victim or husband. Killing a random person who lives in a community where a person you don't like also lives is way more abstract that revenge killings tend to be. Unless you're attacking the concept of sex offenders?

When talking to the husband, the team drops the reveal that the killer put the costume on her post-mortem. Which would make sense, because it's got no blood on it, and based on the shocking amount of blood all around the bathtub she was found in, she was probably brutally stabbed or slashed. I'm not sure how the killer got it on her without getting blood everywhere, but at least the post-mortem dressing seems to track.

Wait, I'm sorry, I was wrong, they're saying that the killer dressed her up 'before' taking her life, which is obviously not true. There was blood everywhere in that bathtub except for her uniform, and if the show is saying she was killed with stabs to her stomach and chest it would be completely soaked in blood, which it wasn't at all.

I've got to stop assuming the show is being smart about something. They never are.

Also, their first assumption is that the killer 'dressed up' the woman before killing her. Why would you assume that she didn't just happen to be wearing that when she was attacked? The husband confirms that he would frequently send her a chat message to be waiting for him in costume when he gets home. It's not mentioned whether he did that on the night in question, though.

They mention that they could only chat with each other about pervy stuff, because the reverend who started the community searches their text messages to make sure they're on the right path!

We see Greg and Aisha talking with the Reverend and Security guy - who it turns out is a legit sheriff, despite how weird his car looks! Who knew? There's two thousand people in the area, and almost no serious crime - how is that possible? I'd imagine because the people are desperate not to get sent back to jail?

It turns out that it's way more than that! In order to live in the community, the Reverend makes people give him the ability to search their files, and have a tracker implanted in their arms! That should make this crime weirdly easy to solve. Unless the Reverend or Sheriff did it - they're the only ones we've met without trackers.

It's weird that the sheriff is just finding out about the trackers in this scene. I know that the Reverend is big on self-policing the community, but how could this not have come up in conversation before now?

At the morgue, finds out that no, the woman was dead when she was dressed. Which I was able to glean from the photographs, but Reid and Derek weren't, somehow, so they based a line of questioning on the opposite.

Then again, they didn't ask the husband if he'd told her to dress up that way that night, so the characters are kind of acting like they knew the killer did it post-mortem as well. Weirdly inconsistent, writers.

Reid and Derek get an update from the tracking software - a neighbour was inside the victim's house that day! At what time, though? Like, you have some idea when she was last seen alive, and the liver temperature should give you a rough guestimation at the time of death... so why aren't you checking that against the tracking info?

We see the sheriff's kids drop by the station - he lives five miles from the community, but he still worries about them! They only moved in with him after his ex-wife died six months ago. Is that important? We see the teenaged daughter walking with a friend from school - he offers to get her into a party, but her dad won't let her go out at night due to all of the perverts?

They talk to the pervert from across the street, who was arrested for flashing 'married women'. But surprise - the women were always with their young sons when he flashed them! Um... if that was the case, he would have been charged with flashing children, and gotten a much more severe punishment at the time. This wouldn't be something that the team 'uncovered'. Oof.

Their theory? That he went over to the dead lady's house for tea every day at 3PM so that he could see the next-door neighbour coming home from school! Wait, if he was in and out of her house by three, why do you think he's a suspect? If that woman had been lying dead for 6 hours I feel like you'd be able to tell right away.

The perv was desperate to keep the situation a secret because paedophiles aren't allowed in the community! Wait, they're not? Then why was the team acting like it was so strange that families are living in the town - if none of the people living there were convicted for attacking children, would they be in much increased danger?

In a truly weird bit of sound effects editing, when the sheriff and his kids arrive home there's a 'beeping' sound. This is because they established in the opening scene that the house had an alarm system. Except there's no alarm system on the walls anywhere near the door, and no one makes any attempt to disarm it as they walk in.

While editing the episode, they noticed the mistake in set design, and tried to fix it with a sound effect. They failed, though, since it just draws attention to the fact that no one is disarming the system.

On the upside, the sheriff lets her go to the party so long as she's home by 10:30 and doesn't leave until he's back from his nightly rounds! What a cool dad!

Meanwhile, in a neighboring town, some teenaged girls are walking home. One of them, a cheerleader in uniform, goes into her house alone... what waits for her inside? Nothing! But once she's inside, a near-feral guy with black hair knocks on the door hard, and when she opens it - not even bothering to check who it is - he quickly stabs her to death!

Joe and Derek arrive at the crime scene - they assume that this was the killer's goal all along, murdering teenaged cheerleaders, and the woman in the community was just a stopgap. Since they're ten miles from the community, they can eliminate all of the people as suspects! Unless, you know, one of them found a way to tamper with their tracking chip, which wouldn't be too difficult, I'd imagine. Just dig it out of your shoulder and wear it in your watch, then take off the watch when you wanted to travel without people knowing it.

Still, they're sure the community people aren't involved, so it's time for a profile!

The profile starts on the most bizarre note imaginable - 'based on the age of everyone without a chip, we're looking for someone in their later-30s to early 40s'. What? Huh? What? I mean, I guess there are guys who live in the community without chips - whose wives or husbands are sex offenders and they've stayed together, but that's a crazy thing to say. Why are you assuming that the killer is definitely from the community? Especially when the next line is literally 'we're also looking into residents from nearby communities'. Why mention the age at all if it's based on nothing?

Derek then says that the guy is most dangerous because he's patient - he's sublimated his desires for a long time, and has amazing self-control. What are you basing that on? He's killed two women in two days. One of them in a blitz attack in broad daylight!

This comment seems like it makes sense if the killer is from the community, but for all you know, the killer literally got off a bus a week ago and is just going hog wild!

Okay, we finally get an explanation for the 'without a tracker' line. Apparently 125 people have had their trackers removed. I can't wait to hear why!

Joe and Aisha talk about whether she should take the job. He brings up how rough it is form him to visit the... ugh... 'Womb Raider' once a year, and thinks that if she can interview serial killers without destroying herself, she should do it! Aisha then comes really close to admitting that her life is a trash fire because of her obsession with serial killers, but she can't quite get there. He tells her to do the most good for others while doing the least harm to herself.

Since interviewing serial killers does zero good for others, I'm guessing she'll pick staying on the team?

They interview the various suspects without bothering to explain why they don't have chips, and then the Reverend worries that by making a community for sex offenders, he's turned them into targets, and he'd have been better off just letting them move to Montana or live under a bridge somewhere. Aisha tries to comfort him, and tells him that once they find the killer, things will get better!

Aisha is convinced by the Rev - what if the killer started murdering in the community because he knew they'd be blamed? That seems like a lot of pre-planning for a guy who runs up to houses in the middle of the afternoon and brutally stabs teenagers, but sure, whatever.

The sheriff's kids arrive at the office, and he breaks the news that they're sleeping in the station that night! The daughter is annoyed because she wants to go to a party, and thinks she's safe! Why is there still a party happening? A girl who lived near these kids was stabbed to death inside her house in broad daylight. I know I'm harping on this, but this is the kind of crime that leads to curfews and shutting down cities until the killer is caught.

The daughter immediately gets on the phone with her creepy friend Adam, who wants to pick her up and take her to the party! She agrees, because she hates being alive, I guess? Is it possible that he's the killer, and the first victim propositioned him because he's the age range she's attracted to - then things went south in a hurry and now he's got a taste for bloodshed?

Wow, that's just a crazy guess.

The show takes a turn towards the dumb, as it's only at this point that Aisha, Reid, and the sheriff decide to interview the first victim's neighbours about whether they saw anything strange around the time of the murder. Their first stop? The paedophile who likes watching the kid next door to the victim!

Oh, and it turns out there wasn't a party, and the creepy guy just wanted to assault the sheriff's daughter. She rebuffs him, and he kicks her out of the car while there's a murderer on the loose! Teenaged boys are scumbags, huh? Then, when her father calls her, for some reason her phone isn't on! Because that's plausible.

More with the daughter - another friend of hers, 'Matt' drives up in his car and offers her a ride. He's got darker hair than the creep... could he be the killer? Yeah, he is, and he knocks her out so that he can assault her elsewhere.

The paedophile remembers a 'geek squad' car stopped at the victim's house on the afternoon of the murder - just like the killer drove!

Speaking of the killer, he's dressed the sheriff's daughter in a cheerleader's uniform inside of her own house! How did he get in without the alarm going off? God, this episode is idiotic.

Their terrible profiling skills almost ruin the case, when Garcia can't find any geek squad people in the age range they specified! It's like they've forgotten that the age range was 100% percent based on the assumption that the killer was a community member who didn't have a tracker.

All of these people suck at their jobs.

When that search term is removed, they find out that the sheriff's next-door neighbour has a history of stalking cheerleaders, and was accused of murdering one, but they couldn't find enough evidence to make the charges stick!

While the team rushes over, the killer menaces the sheriff's daughter! He claims that he's just evil, and there's nothing to be done about it! You could, I don't know, not kill people? Just spitballing here. The daughter lures the guy into the master bedroom because she knows it's full of guns - but can she get to one?

Nope. She goes for one, but they get into a fight! The team rushes in and shoots him in the head while he holds a knife to the daughter's throat! Seriously, why don't they do that more often?

THE END

Oh, we finally saw the security keypad! It was at the back door of the house! Yeah, it was even lit up, so I don't know why the cops weren't here earlier.

Oh, and Aisha looks at the dead body, and realizes that she feels nothing. So I guess we're really going down the road of her being a sociopath who took to this field as a way of figuring herself out! I'm glad the show has the guts to go there!

Derek talks to Aisha about how this is the first time she's killed someone, and his mistakes her complete lack of affect for shock, rather than someone who doesn't at all mind that she killed someone.

Back in Quantico, Greg offers to let Aisha spend most of her time working the interview project, and consult with them whenever she can! So I guess Aisha was just here for six episodes while JJ was on maternity leave?

Neat!

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

They asked the next door neighbour if he saw anyone outside the victim's house, and he saw the killer. All of their profiling was wasted on the assumption that the killer was in the sex offender's community.

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

Regular cops would have canvassed the neighbourhood immediately, and when it turned out that one of the geek squad guys was suspected of murdering a cheerleader, he would 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?

1/10 - It's interesting - the team's inability to put their prejudices on hold and just do basic policework probably delayed catching the killer long enough for him to murder a teenager and traumatize the sheriff's daughter. Seriously, did anyone do even the slightest bit of work? Like, checking the victim's phone and computer history? The Geek Squad doesn't just show up at your house. You call them, and they come. It would have taken five minutes to check her phone records, dial up the geek sqaud headquarters, ask who was dispatched to her house, and find out that the guy had a history of murdering cheerleaders.

You're terrible at this, team.

Seriously.

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