24.12.19

Criminal Minds 1119: Tribute

The episode opens with Emily, of all people, chasing a little girl through a ruined building! Is Emily replacing Derek? That would be strange, given the character's feelings about the FBI. But hey, Community got canceled, and a job's a job, right?

She sees a bleeding woman on a bed, and goes to check on her, but then she's conked on the head! She grabs her gun and shoots at her attacker, but bullets don't work, because this is actually a dream! Which goes a long way towards explaining the vanishing little girl, come to think of it.

Her live-in British boyfriend tells her she's got to get counseling so that she can stop blaming herself for the mission that went wrong! Emily, naturally, thinks the only way to get the dreams to stop is to catch the killer!

I wonder if she knows anyone that can help with that?

At work the next day, Emily practices with her pistol for a while, then heads up to her desk, which has just a stunning view. It seems that the guy she's chasing is a 'copycat' serial killer, who tries to recreate famous murder! Like in that movie whose title I can't remember at the moment!

What was he doing stabbing a woman on a mattress? Definitely not Jack the Ripper, he killed people throat slashes before all of the stabbing stuff happened. The latest move is a 'Son of Sam' killing in New York! I hope he wrote a not to the New York Post, because in the year 2015, no one would see two people shot in a car in New York and think 'wow, this must be a Son of Sam copycat!'

Then it's over to the plane, where everyone is sad about Derek being gone, except for Greg, who talks with Emily about her serial killer! And yes, we're supposed to believe that the in-no-way-ripperish murder was his Jack the Ripper crime. Also, he strangled a woman in Boston.

Greg agrees to help her catch the killer in New York!

Although he's probably no longer in New York, since he changes cities or countries after every kill. Then again, New York has had more than a couple of serial killings, so maybe he'll try to pad out his numbers there!

New opening credits without Derek! Sad!

The killer murdered a child in Russia, then a year later went to London and killed two women, and then a third, who was an undercover Scotland Yard operative in Emily's botched operation!

How on earth was that operation supposed to work? Just have a lady walking around Whitechapel at night, hoping to be attacked by a guy? How did it go wrong? Where was her backup? And if they knew that the killer's whole thing was copycatting a crime and then moving on to the next city to do it again, why did they think he'd keep killing in London, and bother to set up a bait operation at all?

In New York, Aisha meets Emily! We get no more details about the botched operation though, which makes me even more curious.

On the way to the crime scene, they all talk about how much they miss Derek, and then boom - car time! Emily points out that a guy trying to copycat Son of Sam would have logically tried to shoot two people in a car, so she checks down the street, and sure enough, there's signs that someone ran away and left a mark of blood on ta signpost! But why would they not have called the police? Were they finished off in an alley nearby, and the body hasn't been found yet?

I'm so confused about the timeline here - we're supposed to believe that this just happened last night, but Emily's pitched to Greg was that the cops had already confirmed that the gun used was the same as Berkowitz's .44 - but if the body was only found a early this morning, they'd only have carted it away to the morgue a couple of hours ago, and there's no way they'd have had time to do any ballistics tests on the bullets, let alone match it to a specific gun.

Also, why did the killer murder one person in Russia, three people in London, then go back to one person in Boston? And now presumably is going to kill a bunch more people in New York! What's your theme, dude? Because you certainly aren't basing your kill count on the number of victims the actual killer had.

We see the killer (a white guy) in his terrible apartment, watching a documentary about salmon. Because life is a cycle and everything recurs, even serial killing! Get it?! Then he licks a bullet and loads it into his gun, because he's both a weirdo, and a creep!

At base, Reid points out that the killer is active only between the months of March and September, then Emily wins her self-named award for her next line-

It's easier to move around? He's not killing people in the mountain passes of the Yukon. He's traveling to modern cities and murdering people in them. Getting from place to place isn't an issue. You're not easier to track down in the winter than you are in the summer.

Actually, it's a little harder to track people down in the winter. The heavy clothes they'll probably be wearing make them harder to identify, and less likely to leave hairs and fingerprints at the crime scene.

Garica calls in with a complete failure of her passport search! There's no a single person on earth who was in Russia the time of the first murder, England for the second, and the US for the next two! Can that be possible? People travel between the US and UK all the time, and while Russia isn't quite as popular a destination, the odds that this number would be zero is just crazy.

Emily suggests that Garcia check diplomats, because they don't go through passport control! Wait, is that true? I mean, I know that you can't be searched or anything, but I feel like governments are still keeping track of who enters and leaves their country, right?

Correct me if I'm wrong on this.

No, I was right - the one match they find did have to go through passport control. So, wait, if that's the case, why didn't he show up in Garcia's search in the first place? Had she set up the search to exclude diplomats in the first place? If so, why?

They get an update about a woman in the hospital who was shot in the leg, but claims she was mugged! JJ and Emily go to talk to the victim, who initially is reticent to speak, but then Emily gives a speech about a globe-trotting super killer that she's been chasing to explain how important it is for her to help. This works, although it probably shouldn't have. I mean, think about it - you think a maniac shot you, and you might be able to be convinced to help ID him. Tell someone that the world's most uncatchable serial killer shot them, and wouldn't they be afraid of pissing the guy off?

I feel like a much better way of handling the situation would be to say 'we've got your blood and fingerprints all over the crime scene. We understand that you're scared, but we need your help.'

Turns out the victim didn't want anyone to find out that she was an escort, who had been hired by the killer and his 'girlfriend', who was the woman shot in the front seat of the car. The killer called himself 'Mike', and had no accent that she noticed. Is he an American? And why is he so sure that he can't be caught that he's happy to let witnesses survive!

The team talks about how puzzling it is that the killer was able to talk the dead woman - a local bartender - into hiring a sex worker with him! Is he super-charming? Or did she not know what was going on, and thought they were just picking someone up? We don't actually have a ton of details about what happened between the victim getting into the car with the 'couple' and the shooting. Also, we hear that the killer only talked to the bartender using a disposable cell phone, but there had to have been a first contact with her, right? Maybe at her bar? Did she not talk about the guy to anyone? And since you've got his cellphone records, while you might not have GPS, you definitely know what area he's in based on what towers it used to communicate.

Suddenly they get a call that someone has spotted a guy matching the killer's description! Could it be him? They search the empty warehouse where and find nothing - is it a trap of some kind? Sort of - there's another couple shot to death in a car one block over, and the killer chose to report it in a super-roundabout way! Emily assumes that they 'just missed him', but isn't it way more likely that the killer called this one in himself? I may be over-guessing the situation.

I will say, though, that if you'd just let local cops respond instead of insisting they wait until you get there, maybe they could have caught him!

Interestingly, it's a couple dressed in nice clothes - why were they in this part of town in the middle of the night?

They look over the victims - they're absolutely covered with bullet wounds, so many that the killer would have had to have reloaded twice, and he left shell casings on the ground! Also, the Son of Sam didn't kill men, so what's with these victims - they match no criteria of his copycatting fetish!

The team assumes he may be decompensating, now that he's figured out what really arouses him - shooting people in cars. So, what, the guy was just going to perfectly recreate a series of crimes until one got him off, and then just go with that?

Oh, and the dead guy's rolex was stuffed in his mouth, which is a weird thing to do - this leads them to the natural conclusion that he's angry at people with money! Copycatting serial killers is a weird way to make that point, but sure, whatever. Somehow no one is talking about how weird it is that a rich couple was in an Queens alley in the middle of the night. Did the killer lure them there somehow? Is that a lead they could follow?

They give the profile, and it's super-unhelpful, as per usual. They've changed their assumptions to believe that he's actually poor, and has to work half the year to support his serial killing the other half! How is he getting from country to country, though? During the montage, we see him getting on a bus out of the city - but why did he commit an additional crime this time? And are they going to have to wait another month for him to strike again?

Wherever he's going, presumably he has to get set up and plan out the crime, the way there was a full month between the Boston and New York murders.

We find the killer on a bus, reading about serial killers. Then he chats with the kid next to him and gives him a souvenir bullet of the time he met a serial killer. He doesn't tell the kid that part, of course.

Joe and Emily chat about how hard it can be to obsess over cases, and then Reid announces that the killer is probably going to Chicago, simply because they've had something like a dozen famous serial killings. Personally, I'd guess New Orleans, because no one would expect you to commit a jazz-themed ax murder, next, but we're going with Reid's guess, I suppose.

More nightmares for Emily - only now JJ is the one who's getting murdered! She wakes up and admits that she specifically recruited the officer who was killed for the job, and since her terrible planning got the woman killed, she feels responsible! Which she should, it actually is her fault.

The team tries to comfort her, but Emily is weirdly clear-eyed about how personally responsible she is for that woman's death.

At a local university, the killer pretends to be a new professor and asks a coed for directions. Then he notices that she has a lot of fancy jewelry, and wants to punish her for being well-off! I wonder what crime he's hoping to ape? I feel like the shoe fetish killer murdered coeds in Chicago, but I could be wrong about that... Wait, where was Richard Speck? Was that Chicago? Of course, that was a dorm for nursing students, not just a females-only on-campus residence like the one the killer is eyeing, so it shouldn't be that one.

Talking to JJ, Emily wonders why the killer didn't murder her after clubbing her in the head. So apparently that part actually happened? Huh. Could it be because he liked the thrill of almost getting caught?

Garcia checks the faces of everyone getting off buses, and does a national facial recognition search! Then Emily finally remembers something useful from her dream - the knife he used wasn't Jack the Ripper-appropriate, but instead a super-long and thin knife with serrations on the back, like fishermen use! Could the killer be a fisherman for half the year? Supposedly that pays really well!

They find the killer's face in their database quickly enough, and discover that he is, in fact, from Chicago! The most famous Chicagoland killers are John Wayne Gacy and Richard Speck (hey, I remembered that right!), so they assume that he's going to kill a bunch of women in a single night, because that makes for more voyeuristically satisfying television than strangling a male sex worker.

That's not the reason they give, of course, but it's his actual reason, so I'm sticking with it.

We go to the dorm, where the coed from earlier finds out about the killer on the loose. Just as she's calling the FBI because she remembers him, the killer coincidentally finds her exact room! She's already called the FBI and her phone has GPS, so I'm sure she'll be fine, but wow, is this too big of a coincidence.

The team talks about the killer's motives, but it doesn't matter, because they get the phone call about the murder. They don't arrive in time to save all of the women, but two out of three isn't terrible. Just FYI, Emily shoots him the moment he moves his gun slightly away from his hostage's head.

THE END

Except for a scene where Garcia and Emily chat about Derek! Then everyone goes out to dinner!

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

Yes! For once, judging that the killer was likely to copycat the most famous killer possible led them directly to Chicago! Of course, that would have all been meaningless if a random woman hadn't talked to the killer and called 911, so I can only give them partial credit.

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

Considering that there were obviously passport records of his travel and the show was just lying about that, yes.

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

4/10 - Seriously, where were the passport records? The guy was traveling internationally for the first two kills. There have to be visa and passport records. There's no way around that. Garcia should have had a list of 500 men it could have been, and then they narrow it down from there.

Realistically, they should have known the guy's name before he got on the bus, but that wouldn't have necessarily helped, so they'd have had to guess at Chicago as well. You still could have done the episode, it just would have been a little less stupid.

Hey, what was that rich couple doing in a Queens alley in the middle of the night? We never got an answer on that. Really, that whole kill shouldn't have happened.

And one more time before he's back to London, let's take a moment to try and imagine just how badly someone has to manage a sting operation that it ended up with a cop dead inside of an abandoned building.

You're awful at this, Emily!

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