24.12.19

Criminal Minds 1107: Target Rich

The episode opens with a flashback to the league of assassins, so it looks like they won't be dropping the ball on this the way they did last year! We see scarface being taken in to see Derek. He wants a nicer prison experience in exchange for giving up his league associates! He claims there are four of them, and writes down contact info. This was easier than one would expect!

Derek wants to know who the 'dirty dozen' are, and scarface responds that it's actually a 'what'. Before he can explain what he meant by that, Scarface dies from the poison he was given! Well, I assume poison, he starts coughing up blood.

It's JJ's first day back in Quantico! Everyone's having a party, and JJ's desk is now filled with pictures of what I can only assume is AJ Cook's real-life child.

We get a debrief from Greg - scarface was poisoned by a guard, who was found shot to death in his car the same day! Wow, these guys are good at this, huh? Derek thinks that the 'dirty dozen' could be an element of the league's infrastructure, which would fly the face of the guy confirming that it was 'who they were going to kill next' in the first episode of the season. Consistency has never been the show's strong suit, so who knows?

Just then Joe's daughter arrives - she has a case to talk to him about! She's been writing an article about rape on campus, and found signs that coeds have been kidnapped up and down the east coast, one every two years! And the latest woman has just been grabbed! Joe runs the case by Greg, and of course he signs off on it!

We then see the killer getting his victim out of the trunk of his car and knocking her out so he can bring her into his house! Are they doing the case of the guy who kept women locked in his basement for years? Let's find out after the opening credits!

In an amazingly lucky twist, the latest victim was abducted right nearby, so Derek and Reid can drive right over there. Derek wants to know why the case wasn't already on their radar, and we're told that it's because the women were taking two years apart in different states 'using different MOs'. Was it a different MO, though? In each case the women just flat-out disappeared one day, so you really don't have enough of an MO to be comparing to anything else.

Garcia finds out that the victim had put in a request to withdraw from school, and they immediately assume that the disappearance is related to that! The woman's sister assures them that it was a misunderstanding, and she was going to cancel the withdrawl on Monday! Um, she left her phone and all her possessions in her apartment. Even if she was fleeing school, she'd have taken something, guys.

In the victim's room Derek and Reid find two chemistry textbooks, one of hers, and one belonging to a friend. Clothes were laid out like she was trying on outfits before going out, but that still doesn't explain why her phone was left on the desk.

In the killer's house, he sneaks the victim upstairs past his old, drunken father who's asleep on a couch. Then he threatens her with a knife and forces her into a trunk! Oh, villainy! Because she's kind of dumb, she immediately starts shaking the trunk and trying to escape the moment she's locked inside of it. She doesn't even wait for him to leave, and instead gets him angry enough to stab the trunk over and over again! It's big enough that this isn't a threat to her, though.

Derek and Reid talk to the victim's friend, and discover that she had brought the victim to a lame party where they both got drunk, and then the victim walked home alone! They didn't have phones because they didn't bring purses, and their outfits didn't have pockets! Wait, if their outfits didn't have pockets, why didn't they bring purses? This is circular logic, and it's kind of nonsensical.

Now that they know where the victim was that evening, they can check her route back to the dorms - which allows them to find footage of the killer lurking in an alcove and then following her when she walked by! There was no camera footage covering the half-a-block where she was assaulted, though, so they don't know about his car just yet.

They do have a pretty darn good picture of his face, and the fact that he was reading something on a cell phone when she walked by, so hopefully they can check the phone records of everyone in the area against the picture and get to him fairly quickly!

Joe goes to talk to his daughter about why she's so interested in the case - it turns out that she was at school with the first woman abducted! They didn't know each other or anything, but it stuck with her. All of the stuff about writing an article about campus rape was a lie, I guess?

The killer takes his victim out of the truck and puts a leash around her neck - warning her that if she makes any noise to alert his scumbag father, he'll kill her! She's understandably upset by the news. He also turns on a camera in the room, so she won't be able to use one of the many, many, many pieces of wood in the room to saw through her collar without him noticing. Unless she waits until dark, I guess.

JJ and Reid go to check out the abduction zone, and are surprised to find that there's an alley in the middle of the area that's not covered by cameras! Did they not check google maps before coming out to the scene? Alleys can be seen from space, after all. Also, given the high amount of security cameras in the area, don't they now have footage of the guy's car? Even if the alley isn't on the camera, all you have to do is look for a car that appears going left or right without appearing on the camera down the street first, and boom, you've got it!

Oh, and Reid gets a call because his mother (TV's Jane Lynch - although she hasn't been on the show in YEARS) is doing poorly. JJ suggests that he go to Vegas to help her out, but he's too busy working the case!

Speaking of, based on nothing, they assume that the killer had been stalking the victim for a while, and took his chance when he saw her wandering drunk and alone down the street. Isn't it just as, or even more likely that he just saw a drunk woman walking down the street and pounced?

Back at Quantico, they talk about how the important thing is to make sure that the killer sees his victim as a person - hopefully that will buy more time. Garcia also says that she's going to search out DC-area guys with stalking and peeping records, to compare to their full-face photo of the killer!

Why do you think he lives in the DC area? The whole point of Joe's Daughter's story is that this guy isn't on anyone's radar because he's been grabbing women from different states up and down the East Coast. Why would his fifth victim be the one closest to his home?

Seriously, have the writers already forgotten the premise of their own episode?

We see a press conference, and the killer sees it and starts to freak out, which the scumbag father doesn't like! Also the victim hears it through the poorly-insulated floor and door, and it makes her cry. Ooh.
In a surprising twist, a man (not the killer) claiming to be the guy from the video comes down to talk to the FBI to talk to the team! But is it him? He looks similar and has similar clothes, but is that enough evidence? Also, is he working for the killer? Did her grab her for someone else? That's probably not a well they're going back to.

The guy claims that he's a cabbie that drives drunk people home, and he was waiting for a fare, when he saw a dude escort the victim into an alley. They have one question, though - if he thought she might be a good fare, why did he duck back into an alley and hide when she was coming, then follow her out? Could he have been planning to murder her, when another guy go there first?

Wouldn't it be weird if he were the actual killer they're looking for and then, by complete coincidence, a stalker grabbed her when he was about to make his move?

Joe's Daughter is disappointed that the cabbie isn't the killer, but apparently he doesn't have a history of violence, and has an alibi - he's on camera five minutes later, driving someone away from the area! Of course, there's no reason the victim couldn't have been in the trunk of his car during that ride, but whatever.

At the killer's house, the victim tries to disable the camera, but she doesn't wait until the middle of the night, so the guy sees her and beats her as punishment. Lady, don't wreck the camera until you've got the rest of your plan figured out.

Joe discovers that his daughter has left, and he's worried that she's investigating the cabbie! Could she be investigating him on her own? Why would she have to, can't she just ask Garcia? Speaking of, Garcia finally does get around to checking into the cabbie's background, and discovers that he was at NYU at the same time as the first victim and Joe's Daughter!

Um... why didn't you already know that? Apparently they went in to interview the cabbie without first doing a full background check on him? Is everyone terrible at every part of their job? Like, you suspect this guy of being a serial killer, and you didn't do the most basic background check to see if he could possibly have done it before going in to talk to him?

Joe's Daughter goes to meet the cabbie, and he confesses that he saw the woman being shoved into the trunk of a car. She asks him why he didn't tell anyone, or report it at the time, and he says that he'll only tell her if she follows him down a dark alley!

Joe's daughter is officially the dumbest person in the history of the show, BTW, because she does, in fact, follow him down that dark alley. And immediately gets attacked for her trouble. She confronts him with the fact that he killed the lady from NYU, but before he can confess, the team shows up to arrest him!

Joe yells at her for going down a dark alley, and she explains that a week before the girl was killed at NYU, she was attacked coming home drunk from a party! She didn't report it, though, and so she blames herself since it was probably the same guy who killed the next woman!

Very good reasoning, Joe's Daughter. It almost certainly was your fault! Except you had no information about the killer that the cops could have used to catch him. And, honestly, would the university have in any way increased security or warned people based on a single person's claim of an assault that they had no evidence of?

Joe assumes that it wasn't the same attacker, since the guy who attacked her didn't have a plan, and the guy who killed the first victim had a secondary location to take her to! Which is one heck of a rationalization, I mean, couldn't the guy have changed his MO when the ski-mask attack on Joe's Daughter failed, and instead of clubbing her over the head he lured her to a car?

Going over the tape, they find out that the cabbie hesitated when JD asked him about whether the girl was put into a car. That must mean that she was! They call Garcia and ask her to run the plates of every car that was around campus the night of the abduction!

Um... couple things...

First off, how are they getting the license plates of all of the cars that were around campus? Do you have to register your car when you drive into withing a ten-block radius of the school? Are people driving around, just taking down licenses everywhere in the city and putting them in the database? Maybe in this city red light cameras are actually filming constantly, and entering every car's license plate into a computer somewhere via AI?

Secondly, if you had this list of cars, why weren't you already running it? Did you think that the guy carried his victim out of town over his shoulder? That she was slumped over the handlebars of a bike? There are two options here - either the victim or her body are still on the block where she was grabbed, or she was shoved into a car and driven away.

This is one of the lamest excuses for a 'Eureka' moment I've ever seen.

At the killer's house, he brings her some delivery food! He knows it's her favorite, because he's the delivery guy for the food place she likes! That's how he's become obsessed with and started stalking her!

The guy cuts her hands loose so she can eat, but makes the mistake of leaving her with a bottle of water and a container of super-hot peppers, so she can make pepper-water to blind him with! What a maroon!

Garcia checks the list of all of the cars on campus, and finds that one of them was the delivery car from the place that the victim orders from all the time! And the driver is a pervert! They're off to rescue the victim!

Speaking of the victim, she sprays the pepper water in the killer's face, but doesn't have a plan for the next step. Because she's terrible at this, I guess? The noise of their fight attracts the attention of the scumbag father, who thinks they should kill the victim and dispose of the body so the son won't go to jail! Once a scumbag, always a scumbag. The son murders his dad to save her though, and moments later the team rushes in to save the day!

Although, you know, it had kind of already been saved by the killer?

Joe and JJ go back to see the cabbie, who proclaims that the tape of him won't stand up in court, and they should know that! It will, though - Virginia is a one-party consent tape, she didn't have to tell him she was recording him. The bigger problem is that he said nothing incriminating on the tape. Joe then responds that they were able to use the tape to get a search warrant for his house, where they found trophies from all of the girls he'd murdered!

How did they manage that? Here's what was on the tape - JD mentions a woman's name, and the cabbie says 'I remember her'. That's it. What judge is going to sign a warrant based on that?

Literally the first time in years they've bothered to get a warrant, and it's based on nothing, thus ensuring that this case is going to be thrown out of court? Wow, you're all terrible at this.

THE END

Except for a scene where Joe offers to help his daughter with therapy! Then he discovers that she's started going by his last name professionally. This melts his heart, because she's started exploiting his fame to find success as a writer, the same way he exploits the real-life victims of the serial killers he catches to make money!

Like father, like daughter!

Then Reid calls his mother, but still no Jane Lynch!

And Derek goes to talk to Garcia, and finds her hiding in an office. She's been working on the 'Dirty Dozen' and has a lead! It's her! She used 12 programs to search for the killer's targets, and now his team are after the FBI asset, and she thinks they can't be stopped!

Except, you know, the FBI has literally hundreds of data analysts and they have no idea which one worked on their case. And targeting an FBI agent would put so much heat on them that they could never hope to get away with another crime in the future.

So yeah, I'm not as concerned about Garcia as she is.

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

It literally didn't help at all. To like, a shocking degree.

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

All they had to do was check the cars that were in the area that night, and they immediately found someone who was stalking the missing woman. The other guy turned himself into the FBI, and a basic background check revealed that he lived in the areas where the other victims were kidnapped at the time they were kidnapped. This is all basic police stuff.

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

1/10 - Okay, here's the thing - this episode is built around the most preposterous coincidence in the world. A killer has been abducting coeds up and down the coast, and JD has been tracking him. She has no idea where he's going to strike next, or if he's still alive or active.

Then, a woman gets kidnapped in Alexandtria Virginia, and despite there being no connection between her and the other victims, JD immediately assumes that it's the same killer. Then, miraculously it turns out that she was right - sure, the killer didn't do it, but he was literally five seconds away from grabbing her when the real kidnapper turned up!

I know that we're fine giving writers a chance to use coincidences in their stories, but this one is so far beyond the pale that it's impossible to accept.

Also, and I can't stress this enough - how was 'he might have driven a car onto campus' an amazing late-episode revelation?

This was a terrible episode.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You missed one of the big mistakes in this episode which would have allowed the victim to escape.

When the collar is first put round the victims neck (around 19:10 - 19:20) and the padlock is added to stop her removing it you can clearly see that it is not actually doing anything to lock the collar on, you can see where it should be put but the collar has not been correctly tightened to allow this.

however in later scenes where the lock is visible (for example when the victim hears the sister on TV) it has been been re-positioned to actually lock the strap in place.

The Hidden Object Guru said...

You're right! I just checked the scene and it's crazy how easy that would have been to take off!