Criminal Minds 1114: Hostage

The episode opens in a torture dungeon, where a woman is using a hacksaw to cut at the shackle of a padlock which is securing a window! It's one of those locks where the body is just a bunch of stacked metal plates, and I always wonder if it would be easier to cut those than it would the shackle - I know there's more material there, but which one is physically stronger? Also, the flat metal seems like it would be easier to dig into than the curved shackle.

The other woman in the torture dungeon tells her to stop cutting, because the killer will blame her if 'Rose' escapes. That's what the killer calls her, not her actual name, BTW. Anyhoo, Rose cuts through the shackle and opens the window - escape is within reach! This will teach that killer to leave hacksaws in his torture dungeon!

The killer is arriving home just as she gets to the window, but Rose still goes back to check on the third woman, who's currently sick! There's three of them? I guess now they're doing the episode about a guy who keeps women chained up in the basement?

Actually, that's happened a bunch of times, so we'll look for more details to identify their inspiration.

As the killer gets downstairs, we see that there are children's drawings all over the walls! Did these women have children, or have they really been there that long?

After finding out about the escape, the killer flees with the compliant victim, and they leave the ill victim behind!

The next day, we find out that the police rescue went great, and two of the women (actually, she's 18, the sick one is 15, and the compliant one is older, but they don't know her real name) have been rescued! The team specifically name-check Ariel Castro, so yeah, that's what they're doing, even though he didn't kidnap 8-year-olds the way the killer in this episode did.

There's something bizarre about the scene, because they don't mention what happened to the third victim - Garcia says that Rose 'said she was held with' a victim that they've got a face and name on, but despite the fact that people have already found and presumably searched the torture house, no one mentions whether the sick girl from the basement is alive, dead, or missing.

Kind of a huge oversight, Penelope.

The house they were living in was owned on paper by what would have been a 108-year-old woman if she were still alive, but everyone is assuming she's dead but the death was unreported. Now they just have to figure out how to track down the killer and save his longest-serving victim!

Presumably the fact that the house is absolutely covered in his DNA and fingerprints should help in that respect!

Oh, and on the road, the killer (Matlock's Daniel Roebuck!) beats Violet up for wanting to take a bathroom break.

On the plane, they talk a little about long-term captors, but it's not useful, of course. Garcia drops in with the info that the killer goes by 'Tom', and that he claimed to be the old lady's grandson. None of the neighbours knew about the girls, of course. They were able to identify the colour of his van, but since he gave people a fake name, and it's a popular make and colour, that's not a huge lead.

Finally, at the end of the scene, we discover that the girl survived, when Greg says that they have to talk to the 'girls', plural. One of them is 18 Greg, but overall, I'm just happy to find out they're both alive.

At the hospital, Greg, JJ and Reid see the doctor talking with the mother of the comatose girl, then he comes over to offer his take on the situation - the girl almost died because of a miscarriage that wasn't treated properly! Also she has whip marks all over her back. Rose was also whipped, and has evidence of broken bones!

JJ and Reid hang out in Gena's (Rose's) room, waiting for her to wake up. She's shocked and alarmed to see Reid there, and why wouldn't she be, after the decade-long rape nightmare that's taken up more than half of her life. You know, the team is clever enough (or arrogant enough) to always try to have women talking to the sexist witnesses and suspects, but suddenly they're so completely insensitive that they don't think to only have female agents chatting with the rape victim?

Like, we know Reid has soft features, but that's not good enough.

Joe and Derek go to the torture dungeon, and are disturbed by all the childish things they find lying around, especially when it's contrasted with the X-Shaped bondage wall they find in the next room!

I have no idea what to call that thing. It's unpleasant to look at, though!

They talk with Gena, and discover that she was abused at the foster home when she was 8, so she would often hang out in a park! It was there that violet found her and used a puppy to lure her into a van. Then, a decade of torture. She has no actionable information to offer yet - she apologizes for not being able to remember where they went.

Which is a weird thing to focus on - I mean, they already know where you went, right? You just came from there and led the cops to it. Was there another location of some significance that she's failed to remember?

A further search of the house turns up torture porn and a lot of carpentry tools. Could the guy be a carpenter by trade? Perhaps that's how he found the old woman! Worked on her house, then killed her and took it over! Or perhaps she just died of natural causes and he swooped in?

An interview with Gena gets us more details! She never knew Violet's real name, but she does know that the other girls would sometimes get to go on multiple-day trips with the killer! They'd never say where they went, though, and she didn't get to go because she was too rebellious! Also, they're all named after flowers because the old lady had an extensive garden - one that they still planted flowers in for her!

Obviously they interpret this to mean that the old lady is buried in the garden, so they dig it up, and find the body immediately!

Things are going badly at the hospital! Gena was able to put together a sketch of the killer, but what's she going to do with a 2nd-grade education and no family or friends to look after her? I mean, the hundreds of thousands of dollars that people will donate to her once her story gets out will probably help, but yeah, she'll need reliable people to help her manage the money.

Oh, and the other victim has died!

Garcia checks small construction companies that have a blue van, and finds someone who resembles the killer! Gena quickly identifies him based on the photo. Time for a massive manhunt to begin!

In the van, Violet wants to know if they can go to see 'them' - does she want to see her sister-wives, or are they headed somewhere else?

In one of the most hilarious things the show has done in a while - perhaps even intentionally - Joe and Derek are busy giving their useless profile to the assembled cops, when a radio alert comes in that the van has been spotted! All of the cops immediately stop listening and run for their cars!

The team and cops drive up and arrest the killer after a footchase! Before leaving, though, he tells violet that he's the only one that loves her!

Reid and JJ have a difficult time talking to Violet, who just want to see the killer and leave. She's been brainwashed for more than a decade, so this is going to be pretty rough. Wait, does she have a child and that's who they visit from time to time? That would make this extra rough.

It's too bad Aisha has the week off - she'd be useful in this type of situation. She's not a cult deprogrammer, or anything, but her area of expertise is talking to psychopaths, and since she is one as well, she's got a leg up at communicating with this woman!

The killer claims that the old lady just died, and furthermore, he only abducted girls who were being neglected, so that he could give them a better life. And, you know, exploit them sexually. The team discusses the updates, and JJ points out that Violet is super-insistent that there's somewhere that she has to be, but won't explain where, exactly.

JJ jumps to my conclusion, that Violet probably had a child out there somewhere. But where?
We then cut to Violet's two daughters, who are off in a room somewhere! Is someone looking after them, or do they just check in on them every week or two? Since we see that their room is another torture dungeon, presumably it's under someone's house.

JJ takes Gena to see the dead girl, and she apologizes for not being able to save her life. It's quite sad. I guess they're going to have to take her to see Violet next? That's going to be a rough scene.

Speaking of rough, Garcia has found a missing little girl who matches Violet's biographical data! JJ goes to show Violet a picture of herself with her parents. Her name is Amelia! She has trouble taking this in, obviously. Still, JJ has to push her into talking about her two daughters! She doesn't know where they live, though!

Looks like they'll have to make a deal with the killer - because the two girls are running out of water!

JJ brings Amelia's parents in to see her, and it's traumatic for everyone! They show her photos, but don't bring along personal effects. Attempting to use her childhood nickname sends her into a frenzy! It's an interesting premise this week, because these psychological problems really aren't that difficult to solve with months and years of treatment, trying to break through in a couple of hours is borderline impossible!

The killer wants a deal to reveal the location - minimum security for his sentence, and he wants to talk to Amelia! What choice do they have, but to go along with it? The US attorney makes the deal, and the team walks the killer over to talk to Violet. Why not bring him to her? Oh, because if they did that, we couldn't get the agony of seeing the dead girl's mother react to him walking past.

Thanks, show. Is she going to stab him now? Probably not. Maybe she can adopt Gena? That would be nice, but probably too saccharine an ending for the show.

Hey, I know that she doesn't know how to drive to the location, but couldn't Amelia have given them plenty of details? Like whether it was a single or multiple story house, how long they drove, trees, neighbours, house colors. He never blindfolded her, and apparently they went all the time, so shouldn't she have some info to help Garcia narrow things down?

During the conversation between the killer and Amelia she realizes what a monster he is and remembers her parents, so she attacks him, and the killer says that the deal is off! Wow, maybe you should have gotten the location before letting them talk?

On the upside, Amelia remembers a store they would stop at to get supplies for the torture dungeon, and it's incredibly close to it! If she can just get some details about it they'll be able to find the girls before it's too late!

Assuming that the killer is using the same 'take over a dead old person's house' scheme twice, they look for anyone who lives near a grocery store! Wait, if they were going to assume he'd done the same thing twice, shouldn't they have spent the last few hours knocking on the door of every one of his elderly clients? Wouldn't that have gotten the job done way faster than all of this mental anguish and deal-making?

They rush to the house, and it turns out the girls are fine! I mean, one was badly dehydrated, but other than that, fine! Also, there's a scene with Gena and Amelia where it looks like Gena has forgiven Amelia - which, you know, kind of sucks. I mean seriously, less than 24 hours ago she was trying to keep you from escaping. I know she's coming around, but you shouldn't be ready to just forgive and forget.

The killer is being taken off to jail, but then the mother of the dead girl shoots him!


Weird, I really thought stab. Huh.

Then the episode ends without us having the slightest idea of what's going to happen to Gena, who got super-screwed over in this whole situation.

Hopefully the book deal will help.

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

Nope. They were told who did it by the woman who escaped, and the rest was just details.

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

Reasonable cops would have only let him talk with Amelia after turning over the girls, so it probably would have gone a little more cleanly. And they might have also checked on his other clients a little earlier, as well.

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

1/10 - I can't get over how much Gena gets shafted by this story. She's the hero here, but it's Amelia who ends the episode with a family reunion. Gena's expected to just forgive a woman who doesn't deserve it and then gracefully fade back out of their lives.

Screw you, Criminal Minds.

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