Criminal Minds 1203: Taboo

The episode opens with three kids wrecking stuff in a junkyard! Will they find a dead body? Of course they will. This is Criminal Minds! That's the brand, people! They find a way-too-heavy barrel and it turns out to be filled with cement, with a woman's hand partially sticking out of the top!

Is the dismember rapist from Suspect Behaviour back? Wasn't this his MO?

In Virginia, we find Eric out for a jog with his dog! I don't much care about Eric's personal life yet, but it's a really, really cute dog.

At Quantico, Emily drops by to see everyone! So I guess we're finally at the point where Aaron isn't on the show any more? Just two episodes in? What the hell, show?

I mean, sure, I'm happy to have Emily back, I guess, but to have them just announce that Aaron left on a special assignment, and that's it? Oof. I understand that no one actor is bigger than a show like this, but I'm bracing for things to get real bad, real fast.

We get a rundown of the case - the victim is a single mother who disappeared a week ago! And an ultrasound shows that she was straining against restraints while the concrete was being poured around her! So it's not the dismember rapist back again. That's a relief!

New credits, and I guess Emily is now the central character? Yikes. That was fast, show.

On the plane, the team looks at obvious suspects. It couldn't have been the husband, who lives half a country away, and was apparently on good terms with the victim! Then JJ wins a Prentiss Award for this line:
Why would you even say that out loud? No, JJ, American banks are not drowning people in concrete and leaving the bodies out to be found as a way of publicly silencing whistleblowers. I hate that I had to type that, but here we are.

Garcia finds another victim in another dump site, which leads to Emily intuiting that the killer looks on his victims as literal garbage! Which I'm sure is true, but the much more relevant observations to make are A: the killer has access to a heavy enough vehicle to transport 600 pounds of barrel. B: the killer has either a lift attached to a truck, or at least one helper, since the barrel was left standing up, which almost no single person could accomplish alone, and 3: the killer doesn't have access to a boat, or perhaps wants the victims to be found, because they're in a town that literally has 'beach' in its name, so dumping these barrels at sea would be a perfect way of disposing of the bodies while leaving zero trace evidence.

On the way to the second dump site, Joe and Emily catch up, and I learn that Joe's ex-wife's name is 'Hayden', not 'Ada' as I'd misheard it! Whoops!

They talk about how the killer might have gotten the barrel out there. Heavy truck? Steel dolly? I can't believe the dolly theory, because using one would have left deep furrows in the ground next to the barrel, deep enough that there would be signs of it even after rain washed away footprints or tire tracks.

Has it rained? If not, there should definitely be tire tracks in the dirt. That said, the people on this show don't seem to understand that tire tracks are a form of evidence, so... maybe we'll just never hear back about that?

Joe and Emily debate what the significance of the public dumping could mean. Emily suggests that the drum could represent a coffin, the concrete a headstone! Joe thinks that would make the dumping ground his own 'private cemetery'.

There's just so much wrong with this. The victims were drowned with concrete - so it's part of the murder ritual, rather than the disposal. If the killer wanted to have a 'private burial ground', he could have buried the drums or rolled them into the ocean. All you can tell about this disposal site is that it's important for the bodies to be displayed in public where they'll be quickly found. The word 'private' should not be used at all.

Reid and Derek go to the ME's office, and when Reid flashes his badge, it's back to being a fake! I neglected to mention this, but in the season opener, when Reid showed the bondage store lady his badge, it was an accurate FBI badge, with a metal shield on one side, and the ID on the other. Now they're back to the 'dual ID card' model they normally use on the show. Did someone at the FBI complain about them using an accurate badge a couple of weeks ago?

There's nothing of note learned at the morgue, other than that the first barrel they found was the earlier of the two victims! Also, the concrete is manually mixed, rather than the bagged kind from a store where you just add water. This means that the killer has the equipment to mix concrete, or access to it through his job!

We then cut to a group of construction workers sitting next to a pool. One of them gets a call about whether he's heard from someone, which is probably significant, because we get closeups and everything! Then a mother and her son walk up and ask when they're going to be done, because they want to be able to swim again! Weirdly the swimming pool is full, so I don't know why people can't swim in it, but the construction workers say it'll be a couple of days.

Is this a situation where the place they filmed didn't want to drain the pool, because doing that and refilling it takes forever, and the cinematographer didn't know that they were supposed to frame out the water? Because that's what this feels like.

Oh, and the way the phone guy glares at the mother walking away suggests that he's the killer.

Hey, remember JJ's terrible Prentiss Award-winning line from earlier? Yeah, that actually comes back, when JJ confirms that no, there hasn't been any fraud at her bank that she might have reported! Um... if she was killed to keep her quiet, how would you know?

Seriously, though, once a second body turned up, why did you continue pursuing this lead? It's obviously a twisted sexual sadist.

The identify the first victim - another single mother! Which suggests that the lady from the pool is going to wind up in a barrel very soon, sadly. They interview the son of the woman, and from him they learn that because they live in a gated community, there's never any strange men around. Other than guys who are brought into repair things. He goes out of his way to point out that they can only get in if they have a sticker on their windshield! That is one super-observant kid.

More importantly, because the mother spent all of her time with her son or at work, there's an incredibly limited number of places the killer could have found her! We haven't heard when she was abducted, though, so hopefully that will be revealed soon, so they can start narrowing down their list of suspects!

Joe and JJ discuss how simliar the mothers were, both doting on their sons. Obviously the killer must be the child of a single mother who is angry at her! Then Eric arrives with the news that pool lady is missing! Will his son remember to mention the construction workers?

Then it's over to the torture garage, where the killer is going to murder pool lady with a drill! Naturally, the show revels in her terror for a while, as the killer wants her to 'admit' something while she begs for her life!

Eric and Emily go out to the dump site where the newest body was found. Preposterously quickly, I might add. I assume this is the next day, but, as always, the show is god-awful at establishing timelines. Emily then takes out a map and does a terrible job at geographic profiling-

She announces that there's likely something important at the center of the triangle, because it's the point equidistant from all three dump sites, and obviously the killer was keeping that in mind when he dropped the bodies off! Damn it, Emily, that's just terrible.

Reid goes to check on the newest body - apparently the woman was kept for 16 hours before she died, which was about two hours ago! Making this scene set at roughly 8AM! Look, it's a timeline! Too bad they didn't interview the son yesterday, they could have found out about the creepy construction crew at the pool and intervened to save the mother's life!

So yeah, the drill was about him trying to dissolve the frontal lobes of the women's brains with chlorine, in the hopes of lobotomizing them. At least they get to the connection that the concrete plus chlorine means that he probably works in the field of pools! So that's something! Joe ends the profile by announcing that the team needs the local cops' help to figure out the importance of the dump sites!

How would they do that? Also, the local cops never figure things like that out.

Back to the killer, who's looking at a childhood photo of himself with his mother and... older sister, maybe? That's the sense we get from his conversation with his adoptive mother (Sherilynn Fenn!) about the photo, anyhow. He's openly contemptuous towards his mother, so yeah, he's got some pretty clear motivations.

Eric and Joe have a truly bizarre conversation at the station, talking about how the latest victim was killed by the lobotomy. Joe makes two references to the killer getting better at his ersatz brain surgery, and while I'd like to assume Joe is being sarcastic, it certainly doesn't play that way. Which makes it sound like Joe is saying that failing to keep someone alive makes you better at lobotomizing them. It's bizarre.

Garcia can't find a link between all three victims and the killer because all of their condo developments used the same management and maintenance companies! I guess they still haven't talked to the son who watched his mother have an interaction with the pool guys literally one hour before she was kidnapped, huh? How are they so bad at this?

Without any concrete (get it?) leads, the team decides to focus on the disposal sites, assuming that the killer is somehow obsessed with them, and will return to them at some point! Except that the fact that the bodies were found there has been widely reported in the media. So why would he?

Eric and Emily chat while on stakeout, and we get more character stuff with Eric! Obviously the writers are worried that a new face ten season in won't resonate with the audience, so they're trying to establish him as quickly as possible to make him feel like a part of the team.

Their chat is interrupted by a car driving up to the dump site! The license plate says that it belongs to a local contractor, and then they hear a woman squealing from inside the truck and rush over to investigate! It's just a teen couple looking for a place to have sex! Meanwhile, the killer was watching from the woods, and slinks back into the darkness!

Somehow Eric and Emily decide that the killer knows they're out there, and has left. Except, you know, he could have not arrived yet, or be at one of the other two sites. Seems a little early to be cashing in.

At the office, they talk about how the fact that one of the dump sites is a lover's lane might make it a significant place in the killer's sexual development and dysfunction! Are the other two also lover's lanes? They're worried that with his access to the sites cut off, he'll devolve! Is it possible to devolve further than trying to kill a woman every day?

Dude, if you wanted to be able to revisit the sites, why did you make it so that the barrels impossible to miss? Put them on their side, throw a mattress on top of them. This episode can't decide whether the killer wants to hide or display his kills, and it's ridiculous.

Back home, the killer is mad! So he wrecks the family photo from earlier, then demands to know why his mother adopted him! Wait, is this one of those situations where his 'aunt' is actually his mother, who had him at age 13, and they've just been lying to him for his whole life? She refuses to tell him 'the whole story', and then he clubs her with a candlestick!

If there's one thing we've learned from Clue, it's that you shouldn't leave big, heavy candlesticks lying around. Also nooses.

In the bullpen, Reid points out that people with frontal lobe damage can sometimes become more aggressive and sexual. Then they get the news that there was no sexual assault of the victims! I don't know why you're so shocked by this, when it's obvious the guy is dealing with mother issues. They go further and further down the rabbit hole of what the lobotomies could mean - even talking about women getting lobotomized for being 'too sexual'. Which yeah, that was a thing. Ick. Perhaps the killer was trying to get the women to behave more responsibly?

Speaking of all of this, the killer has tied his mother to a chair in the back yard while he digs up a square of dirt, presumably so he can bury her and pour a concrete patio on top! He keeps demanding the truth about his adoption, and the mother keeps talking about how his birth mother couldn't handle raising him. Then immediately talks about her 'acting out' daughter, so yeah, I guess it's a Ted Bundy type of situation.

The team assumes that the killer's mother would necessarily have brain damage, so they look for brain damaged people in the area, and come up with the killer's 'sister', who got brain damage in a car accident and became oddly sexual as a result!

So, after going through all of the killer's background and finding him via 'psychology', they look at his work history, and discover that he was the only pool guy who was working at all three condo sites on the day the women were kidnapped!

They could have caught this man yesterday with no trouble at all.

So yeah, we get the background of the murders, where we find out that a month ago the guy came on to his own mother, who revealed the secret, and then he murdered her for it! Yeah, so just a mess all around this week. The guy starts blaming his grandmother for raising him in a screwed-up home. Which, you know, obviously. And starts to pout in concrete to bury her alive! But he's doing it from one of those small stand-mixers, and the patio he wants to build is like ten feet across, so this is going to take all day. It's going to be like 45 minutes before there's even enough concrete to drown the grandmother.

Not that it's going to happen, of course - the team arrives and arrests the killer without incident.


The grandmother is still freaked out, obviously. Her story ends abruptly, though. We see her crying in Joe's arms and then BOOM! Back to an establishing shot of Washington DC, where, again, they don't work.

Oh, and Eric doesn't want Emily to tell anyone which Ranger battalion he was in. I guess they went through some famously awful stuff in Iraq?

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

I guess? Honestly, they were so bad at basic detective work this week I want to give them zero credit for solving the case. Then again, the assumption that the killer was trying to recreate brain damage isn't a bad one, and when there was just one brain-damaged woman in the area, they got there quickly enough!

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

If they'd talked to the son of the kidnapped woman, and he'd mentioned that they only had to go to the mall because the pool was closed, and that she talked to the pool guys, they'd have immediately checked out time sheets and realized just one person was at all three abduction sites, and that woman would have been rescued before anything happened to her.

What I'm saying is, the team's refusal to do any basic investigative work got that woman killed.

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

2/10 - So yeah, this week's killer makes zero sense! I'll explain. They make quite a big deal about the fact that none of the women were sexually assaulted. Because they want the team to assume that the killer is trying to 'fix' bad mothers.

Then it turns out that the guy was obsessed with having sex with his mother, and was trying to brain damage women to make them more like her. I hate to have to say this, but if that was his motivation, he definitely would have raped those women.

I'm not psyched to think about or picture that, but it's a fact, and the show lies to its audience to try and amp up a surprise later, which is fundamentally dishonest.

No comments: