Criminal Minds 1118: A Beautiful Disaster

It was DRMRS who was shot at the end of the last episode! Just wanted to get that out of the way immediately. She was shot in the best possible place, though - the parking lot of a hospital! That's even better than being shot inside of a hospital, since if a gun goes off inside the hospital there's going to be panic that delays treatment. Not so if you're shot in the parking lot and a guy immediately carries you inside!

She's rushed into surgery, and Derek wishes he could do more! Derek, the time to do more was yesterday, when you were acting like your life and that of your wife's wasn't immediately under threat. When they had the slightest inkling that Garcia might be a target she was locked away inside the FBI for weeks.

When you're proven to the target of - you're all assuming - the exact same group of people, you just went to work and home like nothing was going on, taking zero extra precautions. It's your fault that this is happening.

The hospital calls Garcia because that's the only person Derek can think of. Obviously he should have called Greg, who's less panicky, but the end result is the same, Garcia goes to tell everyone that they need to help out Derek immediately! Luckily, everyone but was still at the office, even though this is happening after Joe's poker game, meaning the work day has been over for - conservatively - four hours at this point.

Then it's over to the crime scene, where Greg tells the local cops to block off all pedestrian and vehicle traffic stopped in a ten-block radius. Which is kind of late - wasn't that an order to give from Quantico? I mean, the shooting must have been at least a half and hour ago at this point - even if the sniper was walking at a leisurely pace, they'd still be well outside of that radius.

Derek is understandably panicky and blaming himself, and he wonders why they didn't shoot him, since he was 'the easy shot'. Well, considering the fact that she was standing directly in front of you, no, she was absolutely the easier shot. The only question is whether they were trying to hit you and missed, or if this was an attempt to torture you even further! Also, why weren't you shot as well? From the angle the guy was shooting from, he would have had to specifically try to just hit you.

Fun fact - Joe is at the crime scene, and unless he got one of his famous friends to take him there, he definitely drove drunk!

Garcia attempts to comfort Derek, but he's resistant to it. Then Greg arrives to take him off the case. Derek points out that Greg stayed on the Reaper case, and Greg responds that doing so didn't turn out well for anyone.

Okay, nothing but problems with their memories. Greg was, in fact, taken off the Reaper case, and he just kept working it secretly, but that's not what caused problems. All of the problems in the Reaper case was caused by people's failure to find what drugs he could be using to treat his various medical issues, and because Hailey was such an idiot that when she heard her husband was dead, she didn't immediately drive to Quantico, while calling Derek or Joe or Penelope.

So it's not a good situation to compare this to, at all.

Greg's right, though - they should be treating Derek as a target, and trying to use victimology to figure out why these killers are focused on him. That's something Derek is way too close to the situation to understand, though, so I get why he's upset.

Do you think they're ever going to figure out why those Mercenaries were sent after Derek? We still have no idea what's going on in the investigation - and it can't be because he was taking point on the League investigation, because he absolutely wasn't. Garcia, Greg, and even Reid, based on his meeting with Aubrey Plaza were way, way, way more central to the 'dark web investigation' than Derek ever was.

It's a bonus length episode! They didn't do opening credits!

In their mobile office at the hospital we learn that there were no security cameras on the roof the shots were fired from, which is an odd thing to say. I mean, it's a roof. Why would there be? What you need is security footage from that building, because the sniper obviously got in and out of it at some point (unless he's still there, of course).

JJ then wins a Prentiss Award for this line-

Yeah, JJ? The one place you know that the sniper probably wasn't is inside or around the hospital. The shooting was performed from a building abutting the parking lot across the street from the hospital. Focus on that building.

Also, what loose ends from the kidnapping? Derek killed all but one member of the team, and then Reid murdered the last one so that he couldn't be questioned about who hired him. (My conspiracy theory remains until disproven)

As far as I can tell, zero investigation has been done in the past six months on this case, other than Derek's terrible Venn diagram, so what faces, exactly, are you planning to run through the computer?

Of course, we immediately learn that everyone has secretly been working on the case! Why secretly? How was there a case that was more important than this one - a group of mercenaries was hired to torture Derek to death. Shouldn't the entire FBI (not to mention the NSA, who owe Greg a pretty huge favour right now) be working on this case?

It turns out that the mercenaries had grabbed people for the Mafia in the past, so they might have been involved this time as well!

Turns out the crime family is headed up by one Lance Henriksen, the father of Scarface! Right after his son died he faked his death in Europe, so no one would be looking for him! Was anyone looking for him, though? Like, when you arrested his son, you weren't thinking 'hey, this is the son of a famous mobster'. You just figured he was a hitman and put him in jail.

Is Lance angry at Derek because he feels Derek is somehow responsible for his son's death? Because he was one of the many people who arrested the guy? I mean, sure Derek went to see Scarface, and asked about the next targets, and Scarface taunted him, but that wasn't much of a relationship, and I'm not sure anyone knows about it other than Derek and Scarface, who they definitely weren't letting get messages to anyone until they sorted out the 'Dirty Dozen' situation.

Hilariously, they do find footage of Lance walking out of the hospital. I guess he went in there after the shooting for some reason? He walks right past two cops running inside, who apparently not interested in checking the IDs of all the people around when an FBI agent's wife was shot.

Did Matt Gubler direct this episode? I can't imagine the normal producers and directors saying 'let's get Lance Henriksen for this one'. Which is a crime, because the man is a national treasure. And if Millennium didn't exist, there would be no Criminal Minds, so there you go.

Reid goes to check on Derek, and then lets slip that the man responsible is someone's father! Or he was trying to get Derek to react and run off to chase down a lead. It's difficult to tell with Reid.

Garcia gets on the video footage, and finds that before Lance walked out of the hospital, he was on a payphone - she realizes that he's the one who called her, not an orderly! But how would he have Garcia's direct line? Derek obviously does, it's on his phone, and he could have given that number to an orderly, but instead, Lance just has it already?

And why would Lance have made the call from inside the building? His presence there means he can't have been the shooter, so I guess he only positioned himself inside the hospital so people would know it was him? That sounds like the actions of a man who's not planning on getting out of this alive.

JJ finds a note in the pay phone for them, and then Derek flashes back to bringing DRMRS into the ER. Seeing it, I realize that I have no idea where this woman was shot. There's no blood anywhere on her, and we can see her entire head, front torso, and arms. I guess she was shot in the back and the bullet didn't go through? He flashes back to seeing Lance on the phone, and notices that the old man was wearing a pinkie ring! Which means he was involved, because only mobsters wear those?

Aisha checks on Derek and offers him a bottle of iced tea that she's been careful to completely remove the label from, for legal reasons. Derek wonders why you'd try to kill someone in front of a hospital, where they'd have the best chance of being saved! It takes Aisha to point out that the sniper obviously wasn't trying to kill them, because they'd be dead if he was. They were in an empty parking lot a hundred meters away with no cover of any kind. He could have shot them a dozen times and left without any trouble. This was obviously about anguish, no immediate murder.

Greg arrives with the news about the phone call, and Derek realizes that it must have been Lance because why would a homeless guy have a nice ring? Wait, you thought that was a homeless guy? How? He's got a clean jacket and pants, clean hair, he's obviously in good health. That's some bad profiling.

Derek says that Lance wanted him to feel what it was like to lose a child, and now he does! Wouldn't it be great if Derek's reaction was to forgive Lance, because only now does he realize the anguish he causes people all the time?

I'm kidding, of course. His first reaction is to want revenge.

Again, it makes literally no sense that Lance wants to target Derek specifically. He wasn't any more involved in Scaface's capture than the rest of the team, and he had no role in the man's death. Is Lance mad because Derek is the one that had a foot chase with his son? Because that's just crazy.

JJ, who loves murder, remember, only shows Derek the note. It says 'how does it feel do you see red I see red'. Is it a clue for how to find him? Or just some classy beat poetry?

Derek flashes back to blood - he remembers seeing a hole in DRMRS' shoulder (finally!), and himself being loaded into an ambulance! You know, if they wanted this to get personal, they should have just had Derek shoot Scarface in the first episode, and give the dirty dozen message before dying from his wounds. Then at least this revenge plot would have made sense.

Adding in the 'League kills him' thing lets all the air out of the premise. Shouldn't Lance be trying to kill the two jailed women?

There's a scene of Aisha and Garcia being sad, then we're over to the work room, where JJ has made a wall version of their research wall! Which is just the family trees of the various members of the League of assassins. The see no clues in it, or in the note Lance left. They assume that the note is to get Derek to want to chase him down, making him vulnerable, but I don't know how it can serve that purpose, unless it's a code only the two of them understand. When Derek was flashing back to the injuries, there was a third image - a key going into a lock. Did Derek recently paint a room red in his house? The nursery? And that's where Lance wants to meet him?

Greg asks Derek what the note means, and Derek refuses to share, claiming that Greg divided the team by shutting him out. I know it's a little hypocritical for Greg to come out against personal revenge as a solution to problems, but in this one case, he's right that Derek shouldn't be chasing after a dude on his own. Then Derek goes to check on his wife, and it's sad again!

In the workroom, the doctor comes to find Derek, and the team discovers that he's fled the building! He's off looking for Lance! Greg calls him and tells him to come back, but Derek says he can't let anyone else get hurt. Of course you can't, Derek - that's why it's better to send in SWAT teams to do this kind of work, rather than one super-on-edge and sleep-deprived guy.

Seriously, he arrested the hourglass killer in Kansas today, then flew half-way across the country and had a couple of drinks at Joe's place. He's not 100% is what I'm saying.

Derek gets rid of his phone and goes to a house that has a red front door! I guess this is one of his properties? It's also a visual reference to Nightmare on Elm Street, if this is a Gubler episode, and a complete coincidence, if it's not.

Derek tries to clear the house, but Lance sneaks up on him and we discover that he's tapped into the security cameras at the hospital! Lance says that he has a team of people waiting to kill all of Derek's loved ones if they don't get a stand down call every five minutes.

Okay, that has to be a lie. An FBI Agent's wife was shot in front of that hospital an hour and a half ago, and the man they're looking for was inside the building at the same time. That whole place would be on lockdown. Anyone looking to kill the team or DRMRS would know that there's no way they'd get out of the building alive, so unless Lance has an army of suicidal assassins, he's got to be lying.

Lance tries to explain that he holds Derek responsible for his son dying, but it's so tenuous a connection I can't take it seriously. This would all be so much tighter if he's just shot Scarface to death at the start of the season. There's absolutely no way that anyone would specifically blame Derek for arresting Scarface.

The team keeps trying to figure out what 'Red' means, but they're foolishly basing it on their own frames of reference, and obvious things like bus lines. Derek knew what it meant immediately, but you were baffled, so you have to focus on things that only Derek knows about!

Lance has a little villain speech with Derek and loads his revolver with a single bullet so they can play Russian Roulette. He asks Derek if Derek killed his son, Derek says no, and then Lance pulls the trigger on an empty chamber! I know that Derek thinks Lance is a sadist, so he doesn't want to show fear, but would it kill him to mention that the two people who actually did kill Lance's son are currently in jail, and should be relatively easy to have killed?

At the workroom, they break down what Derek said to Greg on the phone. He called him by his first name, which is weird, and then specifically reminded him about the Reaper case. I guess he was trying to give the team a clue that the showdown was going to be happening at his own house, the way the showdown with the Reaper did? What else could it mean?

Finally they get to where we were ages ago - and figure one of Derek's houses has a red door!

I don't get Derek at all, here. Why use a code? Your phone isn't being tapped. You can just tell them where you're going, and ask for a 15-minute head start. Or, you know, turn off your phone and then turn it back on when you get there.

If you want them to follow, tell them to follow. If you don't, don't give clues. This plan makes no sense. It's not like Lance was listening in on you.

When we're back with Lance, who claims that he did, in fact, shoot MRSDR, which is absolutely not possible based on the timeline. It's like they've completely forgotten how the scene was staged, and think that she was shot from the roof of the hospital.

Derek only has 8 houses in the area, and one of them has a red door! The team rushes out of the hospital to perform a rescue! Then we find out that DRMRS is awake, and needs to have a C-section - she wants to know where Derek is! Garcia has to explain the situation.

Hey, remember how Greg was the closest one to where the Reaper was, and basically had no choice but to go there as fast as possible? In this situation, Derek could have just told the FBI where Lance was, and had a hundred agents go and arrest him with no danger to anyone.

Derek chats more with Lance, and tells him that it's his fault his son is dead, because of the life of crime he brought the kid into! Lance, trying to be a gentleman, offers to give Derek a chance 'that he wasn't given', and lets him call Garcia and put his wife on the phone before playing another round of Russian Roulette.

Just think of how much better this would play if Derek actually had killed Scarface. Then Lance would have a good reason to make these points and do these specific things. Derek says goodbye to everyone on a conference call, and then Lance pulls the trigger and we hear a gunshot! But is Derek dead?

Of course not! Lance is standing like a foot away from Derek, and he's got plenty of time to swat the gun away and knock Lance to the floor. Really, the better time to do this was when Lance completely unloaded the gun to prepare for his little game.

Obviously this is all Lance's mistake for not restraining Derek in any way, but the guy's well past his prime when it comes to crime bosses. Seriously, why not just knock Lance down the moment the gun was empty? I know he's worried about the 'every five minutes' phone call, but he'd just gotten off of one of those. That's plenty of time to murder Lance, call the team, and have them lock down the hospital, so that if Lance isn't lying, no one will have a chance to attack the team or DRMRS.

Derek then says that, as the landlord, he knows that the house doesn't have a landline, and Lance was pretending to make the calls on an old-timey telephone!

Wait, if you knew that, why didn't you just tackle him when he emptied out his gun, rendering it useless?

This episode has such a small scope, you'd think they wouldn't be able to get this much wrong, but if there's one thing the Criminal Minds team is amazing at, it's being terrible at their jobs.

Lance tries to get Derek to pull the trigger and execute him, but Derek can't shoot an unarmed man, unlike JJ and Reid, who've both recently executed people.

Just think, if Reid hadn't murdered that unarmed man, they would have known about Lance six months ago, and all of this could have been avoided!

The team busts in, and Lance is arrested without incident.


Except for a scene with the happy parents and their newborn... son! (I wrote that sentence while waiting for the reveal in real time.)

The kid has to be in an incubator for a while, of course, but he's otherwise healthy! And Derek's psyched to be a father! This is character development they should have done five season ago, but at least it's finally happening!

Time for more fatherhood stuff with Joe and Derek, and then the long night finally ends!

Over at Quantico some days later, we see Derek sitting at a random person's desk in the bullpen, looking the room over. I feel a little sorry for JJ and Reid, being the only team members without their own offices. Derek's looking wistful as he glances around the room, is he planning to retire, the way he should have after getting tortured?

JJ gives him a picture of the team, and then they say goodbye! Then it's time for him to bid a farewell to Reid! He promises to be just a phone call away, but Reid never called Mandy in eight years, so I don't count on him taking Derek up on that. But hey, the son's middle name is Spencer, which should make up for a decade of bullying!

Hey, who gets Derek's empty office? Reid, JJ, or are they hiring someone new?

Then we get a last scene with Garcia and Derek, and it's as sweet as you want it to be!

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

Nope. Lance Henriksen appeared on video, left a note to tell them where he was, and then Derek gave them a clue about where he was going.

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

Pretty quickly, yes. The killer winked at a video camera.

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

1/10 - It's a sweet farewell to Derek Morgan, but wow, was everything before the goodbye scenes incredibly weak.

I checked, and this was, in fact, a Gubler episode! None of the visual or stylistic stuff you want, of course, but that's just because this episode was in no way suited for it.

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