Criminal Minds 1209: Profiling 202

The episode begins in Quantico, as Steven (the new guy) and Emily talk about how he's been a profiler forever, and Joe was his mentor! Which is why he's never been mentioned until just now! Oh, and David's sad because it's a particular day. Is this the anniversary of his ex-wife's death? Or is it David's Birthday, which means it's time to go and visit... sigh... the 'Womb Raider'. If so, screw you, show.

Then we go to a roleplaying exercise, where the team goes over how to talk down a guy holding a gun to a woman's head! The general point is that if you know your killer well enough, you'll be able to talk them into surrendering! Which may be true, but since none of these other agents will ever be in a situation where they have to talk a serial killer into surrendering, it's not a particularly useful observation.

Oh, and the funny part is that in the example, they say that if you know your killer is a narcissist, you can talk him into giving himself up by saying that he should want to live to enjoy his fame, rather than getting killed because he shot the hostage. In their exercise, that's the correct way to do it.

Except, you know, last year, when you tried that exact thing on a fame-obsessed narcissist and it didn't work, and you had to shoot him anyway. Remember? Emily's copycat? If you did remember, congrats - you know more about the show than whoever wrote this episode!

At the ending of the class, all of the students get together to give Joe a birthday present of some nice scotch! So yeah, he's depressed because of the serial killer visit. Hey, Joe, since you're the one scheduling this class, maybe take today off of it? Shouldn't you already be on a plane to the west coast?

Joe is a complete dick to his students, and then we find out why - the Womb Raider was one of the escaped serial killers!

Hey, remember when they were supposed to be tracking down escaped serial killers, and then Mr. Scratch caught one of them as a favor to the team, and then they just forgot about the rest? Good times.

Emily goes over the story of WR (not typing that out any more), and it turns out that I'm remembering it wrong, and WR got transferred to the east coast, so it would be convenient for Joe to come and see him! Which was kind of nice of the guy, actually.

So, has he been killing this whole time? And if so, why hasn't Joe already prioritized taking him down?

That night, Joe gets a call from WR, who wants to taunt him about the birthday thing! He tells Joe the name of his next victim, and where he can find the body - the woman's not dead yet, just tied up in the back of his car!

Wait, how does he have a car? Or any resources at all? He's an escaped convict who's known worldwide as one of the most prolific serial killers in American history. How has he not been caught already?

I suppose we'll find out after the credits?

Just kidding, I know we won't.

The team shows up at the dump site in the woods - the killer had the time to mutilate her genitals, cut out her vocal chords, and half-bury her, all before the cops got there. I guess he didn't give Joe very good directions?

After seeing the crime scene, we're back at the classroom, where Joe is using the hunt for this active spree killer as a tool for teaching the FBI agents? Um... really? Aren't there better things you could be doing with your time? His plan is to outsource some of the random guesswork to the class, and their questions show that they're ready to do the job, since they're as facile and pointless as what the team does every week!

Also, they immediately say that the phone call is a dead end, since he's using pre-paid cell phones, which means they have to keep him on the line for a while to 'triangulate' him. Is that true, though? Like, even if he's on the phone for ten minutes, and he's just staying near one tower, won't he just show up as being near that one tower?

Or is it that cell phone towers have so much overlap that phones are constantly pinging a bunch of towers, and they can use the rate of those pings to zero in on him? I'm curious to know which it is! The show definitely won't tell us!

Still, you know the serial number of the burner phone he has - shouldn't 'how he got it' be a pretty good lead?

Downstairs, JJ and Aisha offer to help with the family interview, but Joe's obsessed with the case, and won't let them! They don't insist, because they're bad at their jobs. We see clips of the interview, which includes a boilerplate question about whether the daughter had any enemies. Um... you already know who the killer is, Joe. You can just show her a picture and ask if you'd seen him, or the daughter described anyone like him.

Finally, when they get to the part of the interview about whether the daughter had a recent mood change, the mother says that yes, she'd been happy because she'd recently started dating someone! Joe asks for the guy's last name and any possible contact information. It's only once the woman can't offer any help that Joe pulls out the killer's picture. Of course, he's the boyfriend.

This entire scene is set up so ludicrously. There's no reason on earth not to start the interaction by showing her the picture, and asking her if she's seen him around. I get that you want to comfort this woman, but time is of the essence, and the faster you get to the promising leads, the better it is for everyone.

The team goes over the new revelation - the killer lived with the woman for months, just being a boyfriend? That's totally off-model! Did he kill her in anger when he realized that he couldn't be the person he was trying to, or - and this would be a lot darker, was his obsession with Joe so severe that he killed her just to make Joe feel bad? If so, then Joe's decision to play along with this guy's game and become a part of his life just got that woman killed!

That night, Joe gets a call from the killer - naturally Garcia starts the trace immediately. So, will the killer actually be headed south, the way his stolen car suggested, or is that just a misdirect? Joe tries to keep him on the line long enough for the 'triangulation' to fix his position, but then it stops when it only has a 98% fix! I hate to use this term, but isn't that close enough for govenment work? What I mean to say is, they have like a 50 mile radius where the guy definitely is, and he's already told you exactly where he's going to leave the body of the woman he's about to kill.

I don't want to get too disgusting here, but that means he's got to drag the woman - alive, probably - out to the dump site, do a bunch of mutilation to her body, wash his hands off in the river, and get back to his car. That's like half an hour of work before he's going to try to get back on the road. Let's take a look at the map, shall we?

We can make the fair assumption that he's close to the river, since that's where he's going to leave the body, and according to the map, there's precious few roads that get close to it. There's only two large roads leading out of the area, and a handful of small ones. Scramble the helicopters, have the staties block off the roads, and you're going to have this guy locked up within an hour or two unless he decided to try to walk out. And if he does that, you'll still get him soon enough.

How is this not solved right now?

The next scene, set in the morning, confirms that the killer wasn't lying about where he left the body. So again, how is he not already caught? Steven hopes that the killer hasn't gotten through the roadblocks, and either that's setting up a brilliant escape by the killer, or we're just supposed to dismiss that idea now that it's been mentioned.

A news truck shows up, presumably tipped off by the killer to humiliate Joe. Why did the cops let them past the roadblocks? There's an active manhunt going on in the area, you need to have as few non-official cars driving around as possible to help pin this guy down! Joe then gets indignant when the news refers to the killer as 'Womb Raider' - which would have more impact if you didn't let everyone else get away with calling him that all the time. Also, given what we've seen of your books, you definitely called him that in one of them.

Back at Quantico, we learn that the killer murdered his victim in a hurry, because he wanted to get away - except he still had to clean himself up enough to drive and then flee in the van. I can't imagine that he had enough time to get away before the cops arrived. Steven then points something out about the call with the killer. He thinks the killer sounded sad when he talked about how 'you never know how much time you have left'. Is he dying? Joe wants to see his medical records from prison!

You hadn't already done that? Haven't you been chasing this guy for six months? Don't you already know every detail about his life?

They profile that he's dying of cancer, and worry that it might push him towards some kind of a spree! Except, you know, he's already on a spree, he killed two women in 24 hours. We see him stalking a woman from his van, but she's on a crowded street. Will he really have a chance to grab her?

That night, Joe's still in the office! Emily thinks he should go home and get some rest - only that's what he was doing the last two times the guy called, so maybe rest isn't in the cards. Then Emily says something that isn't particularly dumb, but would win an in-universe Prentiss Award if such a thing existed, because she tells him that 'no case is solved in a day'. Except for, you know, 85% of the cases your team works on.


At the same time, the killer picks up a sex worker in his creepy, windowless van! I don't know much about the desperation this woman faces, but come on, it's a creepy windowless van, what are you doing?

The killer calls Joe and announces that he's going to keep this latest victim for two days, the way he used to with his other victims! I guess that means even this budding spree killer can't escape the power of the 3rd-victim rule?

The show then fast-forwards two more days, so that we can be right up against the deadline. Which is a weird thing to do, since it makes Joe and the team look like they've been sitting on their hands for 48 hours. We then get an actual Prentiss Award-winning line from this agent in the class, and the response to her:

No, he's not telling you where he's going to bury her because then you'd be waiting for him there. Morons.

We then get a ridiculous scene of David discussing his method for focusing his mind and getting into the killer's head. He cooks a dinner for two, and then eats it while talking to an empty chair and place setting, imagining the killer's responses. The conversation talks about how the killer came up with the 'birthday body' deal in order to retain some power while he was in prison, not able to murder any more! Yeah, we already knew about that. That was the whole point of the character.

Joe goes through his exercise of trying to figure out where the killer was going to bury a body so that he would never be able to find it, so that Joe would have yet another unidentified victim haunting him. What's the answer? Literally anywhere, of course - the guy can bury the body a hundred feet from the road almost anywhere in Maryland and it will never be found, so long as he digs a deep enough grave. Nonetheless, Joe's sure that he knows the guy well enough to predict exactly where the body will go!

Joe's guess? The back yard of his house! You know, the one where they have all of the parties on the show? Yeah, that back yard. So the killer's entire plan was based on assuming that there wouldn't be agents in the area around Joe's house guarding him, just in case the killer wanted to try to murder Joe?

Apparently there weren't any agents nearby, so Joe has to have a final showdown with the killer on his own! The killer thinks he has a trump card - Joe won't shoot him, because if he does, the killer will never tell him where the other bodies are buried! As if Joe would let the guy slash the throat of a real live woman in front of him for the promise of finding out where some bodies are. Come on, show, this is not real tension.

Then Joe shoots the killer, who, for some reason, moves the victim away from his torso before slashing her throat, so that Joe can have a straight shot at his chest, rather than having to go for his head. Weird.


Joe talks more about the victims to his class! Then he apologizes for being a dick to his class for once! Then one of the agents announces that he's quitting profiling because he's getting married, and doesn't want to have a hollow, death-filled life the way Joe does!

Then Joe and Steven chat about how rough it is to know that you got people killed!

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

Kind of! Joe managed to figure out that the guy was going to bury the woman on his property - but he didn't really have to do that, since realistically there should have been a bunch of agents watching the area in case he came after Joe. Which he did. They'd have spotted the guy's van immediately.

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

There's no way that this guy would have been able to avoid roadblocks when he kept telling them about his location before killing people. Also I'm not sure how he hadn't been caught already, what with him being a nationally famous fugitive with no resources of any kind.

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

3/10 - At least we'll never have to hear the term 'Womb Raider' again.

And seriously, how could this guy have possibly known where Joe lives?

No comments: