Criminal Minds 1113: The Bond

Things kick off in an asylum, where a guy is bringing a ring to show to to institutionalized mother. He's planning to propose to his girlfriend! The mother talks about nightmares that the son has been having. He says they get worse all the time.

He was driving the previous night and saw a homeless man, to whom he offered a ride! And then murdered! Although he probably doesn't tell his mother that part.

Garcia knows about it, though! It's a new Highway Serial Killer case, where guys kill people from state to state, and it's impossible to catch them because you've got no idea where they're going next! It's a real problem that the team never addresses, because there's no good way to catch these people. They basically only ever get caught by random traffic stops or when a would-be victim escapes.

Can the team figure out a way to break that trend?

The killer murdered two people in two states, one day apart! Each time he stabbed them, cut off one ear, and then carried them into a truck stop bathroom and tied them to a urinal! I don't know if I'd want to risk disposing of a body in a truck stop bathroom. Like, if you ever wanted to pick a place where it's impossible to guarantee that you won't be interrupted, it's a truck stop bathroom. Truckers move at all hours of the day and night - there's literally not a moment in a truck stop bathroom where you can be absolutely sure someone won't walk in.

Also, do truck stops not have security cameras? I feel like they would, what with the huge possibility of thefts and assaults involving napping truckers.

Then it's back to the killer and his mother - he tries to tell his mother that there's something wrong with him, but she wants to focus on the normal things, not the way he's so screwed up that he kills people and drags them into bathrooms. She says she'll accept him no matter what, but can that possibly be true!

Then we get a weird intercutting of the guy remembering his latest kill and footage of the applauding studio audience from the fake Price is Right that's playing on the TV in the background! Weird!

Hey, now that the team is looking into HSK cases, are they ever going to get back to that skull-handed man who kills little girls up and down the I-10? Seems like that would be worth taking another look at.

Although, if there's one thing we know about this team, it's that they like to forget to investigate things!

Oh, Greg, your first line in the plane scene wins you a Prentiss Award.

How could it have gone down? Is there someone out there resurrecting the murdered, and they just haven't gotten around to HSK victims yet?

They look at victimology - the only thing the two dead people have in common is that they were both in their 60s. Could the killer be lashing out at a parental figure? Could taking the ear be a reference to needing attention? I mean, if the guy likes violent plays on words, then sure.

The team then splits up, with different members going to the different crime scenes! So it's going to be one of those episodes... interesting!

Greg and Aisha arrive at the FBI office, and discover that the truck stop CCTV footage is on its way over! That should be useful! Also the female victim's husband is waiting for them! Aisha asks if she had any enemies, and the husband says it was quite the opposite - she's beloved by all the staff and students at her school, and always had been!

Garcia has gone through all of the trucking companies that work in the area, and they show zero trucks that were in the vicinity of both truck stops at the times the bodies were dumped. Greg asks her to check independent truckers based on weigh station records, but considering the fact that weigh stations examine a tiny and random percentage of vehicles, it's doubtful that will lead anywhere.

The local FBI man and Greg talk about how strange it is that the killer dropped the bodies in well-trafficked truck stops, rather than abandoned ones, where he wouldn't have had as large a risk of getting caught. Greg thinks this means that the killer must have some important relationship to truck stops! I don't know if I'd go that far - it's way more likely that the guy just wanted the victims found for a reason, and the truck stop is an anonymous place where you might be able to drag a body without anyone seeing you, but with a high probability it would be found very soon afterwards.

If he'd dumped them at another rest stop, or just shoved them out into a ditch, both great ways to get rid of bodies without being seen, who knows how long it would have taken for them to be found?

Joe and JJ go to the dump site, and basically restate everything I've been saying about how incredibly risky the location was, even if he did it in the middle of the night. Does this level of risk mean that the killer is an experienced murderer, addicted to thrill? Also, since you're on the scene already, why aren't you looking at the CCTV footage right now? Since you have an exact time when the body was found, all you have to do is rewind from there and find the last time someone was near the bathrooms!

Since the killer is such a small, weedy, guy, it shouldn't be too hard to spot the guy awkwardly dragging a body out of his car and across the lot.

The killer is meeting with his mother, and he claims to have proposed to his girlfriend! But is it all a ruse to find out who his father is? It seems that way, since the very next question he asks is the identity of his birth father! Interestingly, she says that her relationship with the father is why the killer was taken away from her in the first place - was it some kind of an inappropriate relationship? I'd have to imagine, since that's the only good reason she wouldn't have mentioned him on the birth certificate - which I assume she didn't, since that's presumably where the killer started looking.

Reid and Derek go to check out the body. Apparently he's had extensive dental work, despite being homeless. That seems like a lead - who was paying for the dental work? Hopefully they'll ask his dentist. We know that he has a current dentist because he was identified by dental X-Rays that included all of his most recent work. Now they can just phone up that dentist and follow this lead! But will they?

The wounds on the bodies are surrounded by hesitation marks, suggesting that the killer didn't know the best way to stab people. Suddenly they're faced with the possibility that the profile is wrong - could this be an inexperienced killer?

Then it's over to the killer, who does, in fact, have a fiancee! They're talking on the phone and he says he'll be late for dinner. He claims to be working late, but in fact he's stalking a lady who's running an open house! Is it a coincidence that the fiancee wears a golden key necklace? Does she work in the real estate business as well?

The team tries to profile this mixed killer, and Joe trots out the organized/disorganized nonsense again. It's not a useful dichotomy when discussing serial killers, and has been largely discarded by actual profilers, but the crazy part here is that Joe is using it incorrectly! The hallmark criteria for deciding that a killer is 'disorganized' are: impulsive attacks, weapons of opportunity, lack of care in avoiding leaving evidence at the crime scene, lack of attempts to cover up the crime in any meaningful way. This killer: brought a knife, carefully selected a victim, avoided leaving evidence, and crafted a specific tableau for people to discover. He has all of the elements of a organized killer, and none of the elements of a disorganized killer.

It's not just that Joe's spouting nonsense - he's completely wrong about the nonsense he's spouting. At its core, the 'disorganized' tag is only useful for judging whether a killer is likely so mentally deranged that they have zero self control.

Since that's self-evidently not the case here, why even bring it up?

Right, because they have to hit the 41 minute mark before they can go home.

Anyhoo, that night, the killer murder the real estate lady and dumps her in another truck stop bathroom. This time he may be decompensating, because he kills the woman inside the bathroom, and cuts off her ear while she's tied to the metal bar in a stall. He also take a ton of pictures of the crime scene, for whatever reason.

While Aisha and Derek puzzle over what the significance of the truck stop dumping is, Garcia turns up with an actionable lead, finally! The homeless guy used to be an attorney who worked in family court. The real estate lady used to be a nurse who frequently testified in abuse cases that the lawyer was involved in. Given those two links, I guess the teacher was the one who noticed and reported some abuse in the first place, and these are the three people (so far) the killer blames for tearing him away from his mother?

I'm not saying that's going to make him easy to catch, although how may of her students encountered the other two 20-some years ago, creating a trauma bad enough to lead to murder?

The team heads off to deliver a profile, although in this case that seems like even more of a waste of time than usual. What does it matter what they think the killer's motive might be? You've got three lists of names to cross-reference. Check them out and then look into the alibi of anyone on all three.

The killer goes to see his mother, and she's mad about him missing his visit the previous night. He blames it on his fiancee, and the mother immediately says he should break off the engagement, because his fiancee is just another person trying to tear them apart. Are they setting up that he's going to want to attack his fiancee at some point? That would be weird, because he knows she's not the problem, it's his murdering that's causing the problem.

We get the useless profile, and really, who cares, so let's move on?

It's time for a flashback nightmare by the killer! Is it just me, or are we getting a ton of 'this is my motive' flashbacks from the killers this year? Truckstop killer, guillotine killer, tow truck killer - and that's all in the past few episodes. It's a strange trend.

Anyhoo, he dreams about being brought to a barn by his mother, and someone is screaming! Then he's woken by his fiancee, and who can blame her, he's napping at like 3 in the afternoon instead of going to work. She drops in with the news that he hasn't been taking his antipsychotic medication! Of course he hasn't, why else would he be killing now?

Turns out that the killer's mother told him to stop taking his medication, and his fiancee is understandably upset, because he's taking life advice from a woman who's literally spent most of her adult life in a mental institution. The killer reacts by breaking a lamp and throttling her.

Time to give that ring back, lady.

The team heads into a room to discuss what the connection could possibly be between a schoolteacher and the two other victims who worked in the family court system. At this point, I paused the video to laugh out loud, because Derek acts like it's a brilliant Eureka moment to suggest that the common connection between all three might have been one of her students!

Um... I feel like 'duh' might not be a strong enough word here. You all are familiar with child abuse cases; due to your job, intimately so. There's no way that all of these characters wouldn't know that teachers are the people most likely to report child abuse. There's literally no way this wouldn't have occurred to all of them, immediately.

Then things get real, real dumb, as the team decides that the killer must have someone feeding him names of people to kill, because casefiles when he was abused weren't digital, so he wouldn't have been able to get access to them today! Unless, you know, he remembered their names? This was his teacher, his lawyer, and the nurse who treated him and testified at his trial. There's every reason to believe that, even if he was young, he could have remembered them.

Simply checking the three lists gives them the only name that's in common between all of them, and it's the killer! Turns out his mother was a hitchhiker who was raped by a truck driver in a truck stop bathroom, and he was the result of that crime! Which explains the MO! Although it doesn't explain why he's asking for his father's identity - how would the mother even know that?

Unless he doesn't know about the rape? Then why would he be killing people in the bathrooms, or is that something she's telling him to do, and not explaining the reason for it?

Then Garcia figures out that the mother is in an insane asylum because of all the truckers she serial killed! That's right, the premise of the episode is 'What if Aileen Wuronos had a son?'

The killer goes to check in with his mother - he brings evidence of his latest kill, which she's psyched about! She congratulates him on being awful! Hey, do they let you bring cell phones into asylums for the criminally insane? I feel like they wouldn't, because they control those people's communications pretty strictly.

Anyhoo, the mother tells the killer to murder his fiancee, because she's super-crazy! He goes to kill her, and somehow the cops don't beat the killer to his house? I mean, seriously, how is that possible? We see Derek and Aisha driving out to visit the mother at the asylum, but why weren't tons of other cops looking for him at his house - where they would have found the fiancee ready to talk about how crazy he is?

Right, so a woman can be in danger at the end of the episode. Gotcha.

The team finally does arrive at the house after they're long gone, but I'm still not sure how the killer was able to abduct his fiancee. He viciously choked her, then drove all the way out to the asylum, got his kill order, then drove all the way back to Atlanta - how was she still in the house at that point?

Aisha tries to empathize with the mother to get her to tell where the killer is going with his fiancee! Oh, and the killer tore her ear off. Aisha pulls off an interesting leap of logic - the mother stopped killing because she'd successfully killed her rapist, and that's why why remained out in a barn in the middle of nowhere until they were arrested by the cops!

Here's the thing, though - if she'd been successful in murdering her rapist, I feel like she would have mentioned that at some point to the cops or doctors in trying to justify her crimes and keep from getting the death penalty. Aileen Wuornos talked about the murders as being self-defense against rapists all of the time.

There's literally no reason for her to have kept this a secret - you can't even say that it was to protect her son from known that he was a product of rape, because she wouldn't have had to tell him that. No one would have told him that. No one is doing a DNA test. She could have just said that she was already pregnant when she was raped - literally no one would have questioned that.

So yeah, it's like she only didn't tell everyone that she killed her rapist so that this scene could happen, a quarter of a century later.

The killer brings his fiancee to the barn, but she hits him and flees inside of it, locking the door. Then the cops show up! Derek and Aisha are leading them, which I guess means that the barn was super-close to the asylum?

Wait, is the ironic ending of this episode going to be that the mother and son wind up in the same asylum?

Maybe not, because he puts a knife to his fiancee's throat! But Aisha reminds him that the barn is where his father was murdered. By him! Yeah, that's the memory he finally gets to, so he surrenders. Seriously, there's no way she wouldn't have told the cops about killing the rapist.

Also, I'm not sure how the cops didn't find the body at the time. It was buried under like half a foot of dirt. By the time the cops arrived, it would have smelled quite a bit. Not to mention that they were looking to convict a woman of serial killing, so they would have torn the barn apart, looking for evidence.


Except the killer tears off his ear so he'll look more like his mother.

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

They had three lists and cross-referenced them. That's how they found the killer. Profiling came into play with figuring out that he would be in the barn, but then again, the barn and his childhood home were the only locations significant to the characters listed in the file, so they probably would have checked those out anyway.

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

List-checking is part of normal police procedure. Also, you know, the killer and his car were definitely on camera, so...

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

2/10 - Weirdly, their obsession with figuring out what the killer's motivation and what his involvement was with his mother almost got the fiancee killed. If they'd just checked the three lists and sent some cars over to the killer's house, he would have been intercepted before he could get to the fiancee.

Hey, how did the killer, a guy with no particular skills or access to any government databases, track down a single homeless man somewhere in Atlanta, Georgia? It's a big city, is all I'm saying.

Also, notice how the show just stopped talking about the CCTV footage after saying they were going to get it? The producers noticed that this would have been the easiest crime in the world to solve, so they just mentioned it once and then hoped the audience wouldn't notice. Well, I did. It wold be my job, but no one is paying me to be here.

Unrelated - did Matt Gubler direct the Aubrey Plaza episode? I'm wondering if he was off for so many weeks because he was prepping an episode. Really, I'm just hoping that's the case, because I don't want there to have been a serious problem in his personal life.

Let's check...

He did not! Well, now I'm worried about Matt Gubler. Hopefully there's some kind of an epic, ultimate Gubler episode coming soon, and that's why he was off!

Unless he was starring in or making a movie. I'd be okay with that as well.

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