Criminal Minds 1206: Elliott's Pond

The episode kicks off in 1983, of all times! Some kids in Delaware are practicing rock-skipping well after dark! Their older brother shows up to collect them. They don't want to go to their dad's place for his custody weekend, but the brother says they have to! The kids decide to race home, with the younger ones cutting across a wheat field while the older one rides a bike on the roads. Which of them will disappear into the night?

The little girl and boy, apparently? They check out something 'hurt' in the cornfield, and then a bright light shines on them from above. Could it be aliens? Probably not, but that's certainly why the soundtrack tried to ape ET's theme at the opening of the episode.

Suddenly we're back in the present, where it turns out it was just a story being told by a local teen about the urban legend of the missing kids. Although it's obviously not, since no urban legend telling would include the stuff about custody fights. The three kids go into the cornfield to try and experience a bit of the terror for themselves, as kids are wont to do!

At the office, the team finds out that Aaron isn't coming back, because he's on the run from Mr. Scratch! Now, one would think that he could come back once Scratch was captured, but no, Aaron has decided to retire from the FBI! Which he would never do, but that's beside the point, right? They need an explanation for where he went!

So, does this mean they're never going to get around to catching Scratch? Are they just abandoning that story? They couldn't be, right?

Anyhoo, now Emily is in charge. The person that I literally named an award about saying dumb things after. Is in charge.

This should go great!

Oh, and Garcia tells them that the three kids have been abducted, and one of them wakes up in crawlspace or basement somewhere! He spots his friend lying, possibly dead, in the corner, and then he's rushed by a bald dude in tattered clothes! We only see it for a moment though, so could he be an alien? No. Of course not.

Only demons are real in the world of Criminal Minds.

Garcia fills them in on the case! The three boys disappeared, leaving their phones behind so no one could track them! Except they were planning to pretend to all go over to one of their houses. So wouldn't not having your phone be a terrible way to keep that ruse going? I mean, think about it - if one parent calls the phone of their kid and find out that the kid left his phone, they'll immediately call the house they're supposed to be at to check on them.

By not bringing their phones along, these guys have massively upped the chance that they were going to get caught by their parents. I know that the producers want the team to have a hard time figuring out where the kids are, but they've got to do better than this at writing it.

Reid mentions that the town they kids are from was famous with ghost hunters and the like because an asylum burned down decades ago, and there are rumors of escaped lunatics in the area! So maybe there's a place that the kids normally like to go to shoot their short films?

Emily then closes out the scene with a Prentiss-Award winning line-

It's 12 hours, Emily. 12. The adage is that if you don't find a kid in the first 24 hours, the odds of finding them alive drops to near-zero. They disappeared 12 hours ago, so you have 12 left.

Hey, why is the team even on this case? It's not an abduction. It's kids that didn't come home last night or this morning. Why has the FBI been scrambled? Nothing criminal is suggested by the situation.

Does the FBI get called out whenever a kid misses curfew now?

The team goes to interview the sheriff, who says nothing like this has ever happened before, other than those two kids from 33-years ago. Could the albino basement monster be one of the kids, raised Caspar Hauser-style?

The team immediately concludes that there's a connection between the crimes, because they're too similar! Except you have no reason to believe that these three kids have been abducted, so... how is it too close to dismiss?

The thing is, if they'd let the kids keep their phones in the story, and all of them turned off when they arrived at the same farm where the kids disappeared three decades ago, I could see the connection being inarguable. But in this situation? Not so much.

While the rest of the team heads out to the old farm where the twins were kidnapped from (the original kids were twins, BTW), Joe and Aisha remain to talk to the victims' parents! They have some video footage that the kids recently shot, which Joe and Aisha want to see, for some reason. On it, the video abruptly stops because an older man in a pickup sees them filming him. They seem afraid of him, for some reason, perhaps because they were being dicks and filming people without their knowledge, and didn't want to get yelled at.

Still, that's enough of a lead for Aisha and Joe's standards, so off they go! Garcia runs the old man's name, and it turns out he works on a local farm, and was 15 years old at the time of the abductions. Then we get a scene of Garcia being sad about Aaron leaving, but it's obviously intentionally tear-jerking in a way that previous character departures weren't, and that's kind of disappointing.

Also, everyone's acting like Aaron is dead, but you can all talk to him again if you just catch Scratch, so why not get on top of that?

The conversation ends with a message to the audience that they shouldn't worry, and they'll adjust to the show without Aaron.

They should.

They won't.

Out at the cornfield the sheriff explains that people looked for the missing twins for months back in the day, and the that town had a devil of a time getting over it! Speaking of, a balding guy rides up on the bike from the opening flashback, so I guess this is the brother, still obsessing over his lost siblings? And who could blame him? He blames the sheriff for not looking harder back in the day, and tells Reid that he's too traumatized to talk about the case even now.

According to the sheriff, everyone in town blamed the older brother for the disappearance of his siblings, and he took to drinking to deal with the stress. Yikes. Hopefully he gets some closure!

Amazingly there was a security camera across the street from the corn field, and it caught the three kids running into it. Then, just two minutes later, the pickup truck of the weird guy from their video drove by! Of course, two minutes isn't enough time to catch all three kids, subdue them, and put them in a truck, but I'm sure the guy will have some kind of clue to offer!

The teens wake up in the crawlspace, all unharmed. Was the monster a dream, or is he just weirdly polite? They hear someone stomping around upstairs - is it the FBI agents who've come to talk to the old man, or is the show just doing some 'silence of the lambs' nonsense?

The team searches the house and finds a shrine to the missing twins, built around a polaroid photo of them! Has he been obsessed with them since he was a teen himself? There's also a polaroid of the three teens attached to the shrine, but he could have taken that innocently and then left. After all, by taking it he loses the element of surprise, which blows an even bigger hole the the timeline of the kidnapping if he were involved.

The team finds the old man, who now that I get a look at him, is obviously under 50, so I'll just start calling him Weirdo.

The team searches the house, but since they're not hearing a bunch of banging on the floorboards, I'm guessing the kids aren't in the crawlspace, after all. There's evidence connecting weirdo to the crime, tough - he's got one of the kid's helmets from the night of the abduction on his shrine!

Eric goes to question the weirdo, and he explains that he's always taken pictures of people who tresspass on his property, going back to when he was a kid - explaining the twins' photo. He also says that he was fed up with the teens videotaping him, so he played a prank on them the night before, flashing a light and taking their picutre. Supposedly they just ran off into the night, and he as no idea where to!

Fun fact - the team had no legal right to enter the guy's house, even though the door wasn't locked, so all of the stuff they found inside would be inadmissable as evidence!

Down in the dungeon, the kids try to plot their escape - and suggest that there's just a single person upstairs, who's always talking to themselves. I guess that proves the whole cross cut scene was, in fact, some Silence of the Lambs nonsense.

The team splits up to check out some leads, and then Aisha, who didn't get a task, tells Emily, who didn't give out the tasks, to call her boyfriend and tell him that she's moving back to America for the FBI job! Good advice, but then again, psychopaths can be excellent at reading the emotional states of normal people, so of course she'd be a good therapist.

Reid and Eric go to talk to the brother, who's a huge mess! He's got an alibi for the night before, though. He has basically zero useful knowledge to offer - but he mentions that in addition to disappearing into the cornfield, he also saw them at the pond! Although that pond was dragged, so that might not be an important connection.

They head out to the pond that's right by the cornfield, and question why it hasn't been searched yet! That's a really good question, actually. Especially since there's an orange backpack laying out in plain view! Could it belong to one of the kids?

The kids pull down some pieces of tar paper in the hopes of finding a way out of the basement, but end up finding a window into the main house! They see the creepy albino monster there, and are subsequently frightened when a lady thrusts her arm through the hole at them! So I guess both twins got Kaspar Hausered?

We then check in on the search at the lake - it was one of the boys' backpacks after all! They mention finding it in a 'hunting trap', which probably means that the writers didn't know the term 'hunting blind', which is what it was. The brother tells Reid and Eric that it probably belong to a creepy old off-the-grid guy who lived in the area! You know, the kind of person you'd suspect in child abudctions?

Speaking of traps, one of the searchers gets his leg caught in one! The trap is lain below some hanging bait, and a bunch of tranquilizer darts that apparently missed their target. Was someone trying to catch a wolf or something? I'm kidding, of course - Eric just says that they missed their target. Obviously if they'd hit their target and been pulled out of the unconscious body they'd look exactly the same, so this could easily be where the teens were abducted from.

In the monster house, the teens have been brought upstairs for dinner. No, not to become dinner. To be served dinner. They notice a heavy padlock on the one door out of the room! How will they escape?

Garcia offers some background on the survivalist that the brother mentioned, and at this point, I'm going to have to nope out of the plot of the whole episode. The guy was institutionalized for assault and self harm and abducting kids, and then he got let out the winter before the abductions. How was he not the first and only suspect in these crimes? Anyhoo, the team assumes that he's kept the twins this whole time, and that the twins are now his fully-brainwashed caretakers, since he's in his 80s!

The twins prove to be startlingly good hosts, offering food to the kids, and explaining that they're all safe from aliens in the house! What nice freaks!

The team debates the best way to communicate with the missing twins without freaking them out. Given how alien conspiracy people feel about the FBI, this is no small task. Meanwhile, the kids want to do the plan where one of them pretends to be sick, and the other two escape while he distracts the freaks! Will it work? Not really - the kid goes to the locked door, which he assumes is the exit, but it turns out it was just the lumber closet! The escape door was the other, completely unlocked one! Bad luck, kid!

The lady twin points a gun at the teen, assuming he's part of a conspiracy somehow, but then the authorities arrive! Turns out the FBI didn't need to worry about how to talk to the brainwashed kids at all! The moment the woman sees the sheriff she recognizes him, and surrenders immediately!


They go downstairs to get the three teens, but the man freak is nowhere to be found! What, they didn't have his sister call for him once she knew it was safe? That's a little weird.

Okay, it's not that weird, he was just hiding under the stairs, and they let the brother and sister go back for him! Yay! How do you think they're going to react when they find out that there have been five more Star Wars movies since they were captured? Hopefully they won't be too disappointed.

On the plane back, Emily decides to take the FBI job! Only because the team emotionally blackmails her because they don't want a stranger taking over the team - they want someone who'll cover up for them when they murder people, and a better leader might not do that!

Then Garcia champagne to surprise Emily! They try to do another 'it doesn't matter if Aaron is gone, because we're still a family', but it does matter, so screw you, Criminal Minds.

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

No. Of course not. They found a backpack, and then checked on the house of the creepy weirdo who lived in the area.

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

There was a literal mental patient with a history of abducting children living a couple of miles from the site of where the twins were taken. This would have been solved 33 years ago.

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

1/10 - I'd almost like to give them a 0/10, because this case was so ludicrously easy to solve, but they did, in fact, solve it, so I'll have to give them the point.

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