Criminal Minds 1207: Mirror Image

The episode opens on a victim's point of view as the team comes to rescue them! That sounds like it should be positive, but Aisha desperately tries to keep the victim from looking at something in the room, which suggests that this will get bleak quickly! The victim keeps moving, and Eric announces that 'it's engaging', so maybe the victim is connected to a bomb or SAW-style trap? We won't find out for a while, because things go to black and we cut to 24 Hours Earlier!

Emily has stolen Aaron's office, which I'll try to be okay with, and Aisha comes to visit her with a plant! Damn, she's like Dexter, great at ingratiating herself with the normal people. Emily mentions that she's found room in the budget to hire another agent! Really? With Eric replacing Derek and you taking over for Aaron, do you really need another person crowding up the plane?

Since they don't have a case, Aisha leaves for the day to do some errands, which means it's time for Garcia to fill Emily in on her background! She has a ne'er-do-well brother who she was constantly having to bail out, which caused friction with her father, the DC garage mechanic. Now they're all meeting at a coffee shoppe! I feel like maybe they're abandoning the 'Aisha is a psychopath' plot that they were setting up in her first season.

Oh, the father is a famous actor from a ton of things, but to me, he'll always be the special forces guy from that Wiseguy DC arc. Which imagined a world where Special Forces guys could be convinced to turn on corrupt government officials based on appeals to their patriotism. A beautiful fantasy, right?

Then the rest of the team comes in, and they all know about Aisha's personal life already! It seems that she told everyone but Garcia as a way of testing how long Garcia could be trusted with a secret - the answer is 'less than 12 hours'.

I take it back, she's a psychopath.

Speaking of, she's surprised when a stranger sits down across from her, claiming to be her brother! He's got the brother's phone and seems to genuinely believe that he's her brother! What kind of crazy mishegoss is Aisha in for this week?

The team locks the guy in a cage for observation, since as far as we can tell, he hasn't committed a crime. Aisha goes through the guy's phone, and it proves that her brother has been in DC for a month and hasn't reached out. She can't imagine why he didn't make an effort to contact her in that time! She also wants to know why her brother would send a stranger, pretending to be him.

He probably wouldn't. Also, know a guy who specializes in erasing people's personalities and making them think they're other people, who is not at all coincidentally obsessed with attacking your team. Any chance Mr. Scratch might be involved?

Aisha wants to interrogate her fake brother, but Emily and Joe think that's a bad idea. Which, you know, it obviously is. Neither of them mentions the Scratch possibility, even though they do mention that they have to be wary about people coming after the team since Aaron had to go into hiding!

JJ goes to talk to the zombie, asking personal details about Aisha's life. He knows everything, and almost gets to the point of telling the story about the time they killed that neo-nazi in Germany as children - you know, the story they teased back in the Hannibelle episode but never told? Then he says Aisha wouldn't want the story told publicly, which jibes with what we know about her.

Aisha's father arrives, and explains that her brother's been in DC with a new job - lobbying to legalize online sports gambling at a federal level! Aisha is skeptical, but father explains that he's got a smart business partner who's letting Gabriel (the brother's name) stay at his luxurious pad! So that's obviously Scratch, right? Well, no it can't be, because he's an internationally famous escaped convicted. Maybe another zombie henchman?

They get the picture of the partner, and it's not Scratch! Aisha and Eric rush over to the apartment! Then Reid discovers that the photo is a forgery that's been hacked into the DMV's database - instead of just using another person's photo, apparently scratch made the weird decision to take half of a person's face and then mirror it, so the sides are a perfect match - which Reid notices immediately!

Reid is obviously wrong, though, as we can see from the picture:

The guy's right eye is slightly lower than his left eye, his nose is uneven, and his ears are different heights. If you were going to have it be a fake photo, why not just have your graphics people fake a photo like the show is describing? Is doing that really so much harder than just grabbing a headshot of someone? I won't even get into how that lighting makes no sense for a DMV photo.

The point is, they realize that Scratch is the only one who could easily hack into the DMV, and he must be behind it all!

Eric and Aisha don't wait for backup, though, instead running towards the apartment even as someone screams 'no!' from inside of it. Is he in a deathtrap that will be triggered when the door is opened?

The apartment is filled with photos from Gabriel's life, so as to creep Aisha out, and the screams of 'no' come from a videotape of Scrach drugging Gabriel, which is playing on a loop! And he wasn't screaming 'No', he was screaming for Eric to rescue him, so Eric would know he was a target as well. I guess the show had to establish that Scratch knows he's on the team, since they have no pre-existing relationship!

The next scene features the team back at the office, and Prentiss wins another Prentiss Award for this moment!

Hey, what about Garcia's boyfriend she's always talking about? And Joe's daughter's family? What about Derek, DRMRS, and their son? Do none of these people deserve protection?

Reid finds the pictures of Gabriel that Scratch left confusing - why weren't they in chronological order? Instead, he's pictured at 15, 11, and 32 in that order! What kind of code does it represent? Eric mentions that because Scratch is into math, he loves setting up puzzles for them to solve, with the solutions leading to traps!

Except no, he's never done that. He killed a bunch of people without leaving clues, then hung around at his last victim so that the cops coming to rescue her would be forced to watch her kill herself. He had no plan beyond that. Because Aaron arrived at the scene alone, he was able to improvise an attack on him - but that wasn't a plan, it was a spur-of-the-moment thing.

His latest crime spree does involve attracting the team's attention, but the first time he left no clues for how to chase him, and he just sent a message to help them find a cut-up brainwashed woman so they would be further humiliated. He's never done puzzles or traps until just now.

Aisha shows her father the photos. Two of the pictures are memorable, but one of them is from when he was fifteen - the year the mom died! It seems no one remembers that year particularly well. Aisha mentions the kidnapping, and her father doesn't take it great! Understandable. Aisha doesn't comfort him all that well, probably due to her own psychopathy.

Reid and JJ look over Garcia's shoulder as she studies the footage of Gabriel tied to a chair! Reid takes one look at the red nylon rope wrapped around the guy's wrist and announces that it's "Shibari", a specific kind of Japanese bondage! I don't know how he could have say that based on a single tied-up wrist. Maybe it's an incredibly specific kind of nylon rope? Anyhoo, they search for everyone who purchased that rope, assuming that Scratch would have bought the rope under that guy's name, the way he bought the stocks using Reid's!

Weird thing to assume, team. It works, though - when looking over all of the rope purchases in the city, Garcia spots a name she recognizes! One of the people from the list of MPD sufferers Scratch stole. Wait... hold on a second... you mean you haven't been keeping tabs on everyone on that list? You got that list the same time as Scratch did, and you had the entire resources of the Federal Government on your side, and you didn't put those people on lockdown or at least watch them to see if they were approached?

Even worse, when a brainwashed guy showed up to talk to Aisha, your first move wasn't to check if it was one of the MPD kids? What is wrong with you people?

Now that they know who he is, they plan to use them to shock him out of his brainwashed state. One problem, though - when Garcia violates his medical privacy, she discovers that he's recently suffered a psychotic break when confronted with his delusion - and having him shut down could ruin their chances at getting to Scratch!

It's up to Aisha to go in, pretend it's her brother, and see what she can get! She immediately asks him about the photos, but he feels too ignored by his sister to help! He also comments about her inability to empathize or apologize, which means at least he's identified her problems. Then we finally learn the Germany story, and it's kind of disappointing. Racists drew a swastika on her locker, so Gabriel told on them and got beaten up.

Seriously? That's barely an incident, let alone a story. That's what you were so desperate to keep a secret from Hannibelle?

Gabriel finally agrees to help - but on one condition: the dad has to be there when they talk about the picture! Is this part of Scratch's game? Probably! Which leads to the painful scene of Aisha explaining about the brainwashing!

JJ and Emily discuss Scratch's sex shop purchase - it was the rope in question, along with an expensive unnamed item! Perhaps the torture implement from the opening scene? They rush over to the store owner's house to ask what the item was! Because they didn't want to bother trying the phone? Like, maybe the people are dead and you'll have to go there anyhow, but at least try calling first, right?

Aisha and dad prep to talk to the zombie. Hopefully they made sure he didn't have any stabbing implements on him, given Scratch's MO. They go in to talk to the zombie, who's confused why the dad is so standoffish! Apparently the picture of him at 15 is the last time he felt 'normal', and it was taken on a day when his older sister Aisha took him to church to mourn their mother. So what did the dad do that turned everything so horribly wrong right after that?

Over at the bondage store owners' house, they're playing bondage games, but their daughter lets the FBI in to talk to them! It's 'hilarious'? No. No it isn't. Anyhoo, they built Scratch a torture chair designed to suffocate people if you removed weight from a pressure plate. So I'm going to go out on a limb (and, you know, specifically reference one of the SAW movies, and guess that the brother is strapped to a chair, and the pressure plate has a big block of ice on it, and that's the time limit on the episode? As the ice melts, there's less and less pressure, and at a certain point, he'll be strangled?

We get traumatic backstory for Aisha and co. - after the mother died, the dad became a drunken wreck, but Aisha was off at college and also a psychopath, so she didn't notice! This left Gabriel to care for the dad, and doing so kind of ruined his life! Even worse, the dad ordered the son not to tell Aisha about his drunkenness, for fear that it would make her leave university to help out, and they knew she was going places!

It's all decent drama, but what does this have to do with the abductions?

The team discusses ways to deprogram the zombie - both had abusive fathers, could they use that to differentiate between their lives? Maybe it won't matter, because Aisha figured out the clue - the 'Luke' mentioned in the video wasn't Eric at all, but rather the book of the bible, and the ages are passages! Perhaps something in there is the code to unlock zombie's mind?

In a nice touch, they give Eric a moment to announce that 'brainwashing scientifically doesn't work', which is kind of funny, given the proof the team has seen so far. Really the entire character of Mr. Scratch. And, you know... child soldiers. What I'm saying is that Eric is an idiot.

Aisha talks to zombie about the story of the prodigal son, which was, in fact, the release phrase, which allows her to start talking to the real person underneath the brainwashing! He gives Aisha the address of Scratch's warehouse, and lets her know that he stole a gun from her dad's house, so it could become part of the evil deathtrap he's tied to!

As they rush for the elevator, Joe gives Emily instructions from the Director of the FBI... did they forget whose team this was already? That was quick.

Botching things a little, Aisha refuses to warn her father about teh gun, and instead tells him that the situation is 'no one's fault' when he blames himself. That's just wrong. Overall, it's the dad's fault, although I get why you don't want to say that, but in the immediate sense, this is Scratch's fault, or perhaps Derek's for not shooting the guy when he had the chance.

The team busts into the warehouse, and find the torture chair! It has a gun attached to it, so instead of constricting the throat, it just pulls the trigger when engaged! So the idea is, if they pull him off the chair, the change in weight will pull the trigger! Of course, they could just use snippers to cut the wire connected to the trigger. Or put a wedge of metal or wood behind the trigger so it can't be pulled. Or work the shotgun's pump until it's out of ammo. Or turn the safety on the shotgun on. Or take off all of your vests and just put them in front of the shotgun so they'll absorb the pellets (quite easily!). Or jam up the barrel so it explodes instead of shooting. That last one's a terrible option, of course, but as you can see, there's plenty of things you could do to stop this poorly-designed deathtrap!

Downstairs, JJ and Reid check out the fuse box, hoping that they can shut down the chair's power! But the fuses in it are actually just shotgun shells. So is this all a joke? Is the gun not loaded? It's not - but we still had time for Aisha to jump in front of her brother to protect him! So there is a spark of goodness in her, after all!

It's only after the shotgun doesn't go off that Emily realizes that the whole place could be a trap for the team laid by Scratch! Wait, that's only occurring to you just now? You only know about this place because Scratch told you where it was. It would be shocking were it anything but a trap.

Scratch left a banner to warn them about the trap, and then the machine fires up again - Reid is able to delay the trigger slightly, so the team has time to pull Gabriel out of the chair before two hundred nails fire from the ceiling! Wow, if only the team had looked up at any point, they could have been ready for that.


Other than a tearful reunion between Aisha and her family!

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

Nope. They were given a riddle to help them figure out the codeword that unlocked the zombie. Figuring out riddles is not profiling.

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

When people hear the name 'Luke' and see a bunch of numbers, most people go to 'Bible Verse'. I didn't, because of think of the character as being named Eric, because I'm weird that way. Any other cop seeing the tape wouldn't be named 'Luke', and would have made the connection right away.

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

0/10 - Again, they didn't figure anything out. They walked right into Scratch's plan because he asked them to nicely. The fact that no one died isn't relevant. Yes, Reid saved the day by delaying a timer for a couple of seconds, but had the SWAT team just done their job and brought a bulletproof shield or two, they could have just held it over Gabriel's head and the nails wouldn't have done a damn thing.

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