Criminal Minds 1212: A Good Husband

The episode opens in Palm Springs, where a lady's car breaks down late at night! Sabotage, or a lucky coincidence for a murderer? Apparently this happens all the time, because she has a big bottle of water in the passenger footwell to refill the radiator with. Or maybe it doesn't happen that often, because she tries grabbing the radiator cap with her bare hand, and singes herself. She heads over to an alley to find a rag to use, which probably means she's about to find a body.

Not just any body - one with at least an arm cut off! Maybe more, I'm not rewinding to check, that would be disgusting.

In Quantico, the next morning, Eric and Steven are talking Jazz when Garcia lets them know a horrible case has wound up on their desks! We get some super-gory photos of the torso that was left in the dumpster! Thanks for that, show.

They name an unsolved series of torso murders from DC in 2004, and I'm going to Google that to see if it's a real thing. Not that I could find, so maybe this is an original killer from the show, and now he's back?

Wait, what if it's another one of the killers who escaped from jail - he was caught for non-torso related murders years ago, and now that he's out, he's gone back to torsoing people! That could be it, right? Or, you know they could just be referencing the Montreal Toroso Murder of a few years back. Or maybe the Cleveland Torso Killer? In any event this should be fun!

They talk about how the killer must be an expert, since he did such a great job of taking away everything identifiable about the victim. Except, you know, for his DNA. More importantly, though - and the team doesn't mention this for some reason - the killer must have a reason to want to leave the torso out where it would be found. After all, if he's already going to the trouble of dismembering the body, he could have just taken the pieces out into the desert and scattered them. But he wanted them found for some reason - or he just wanted the limbs and head, and literally didn't care about the torso. So which is he, crafty or crazy?

This time, Emily is at least smart enough to say 'wheels up in 30'. Glad that embarrassment's over. She doesn't mean it, though, or people don't listen to her, because there's plenty of time for Reid to go and get some tea at the kitchenette and for Emily to ask him about the Jane situation!

Meanwhile, back in Palm Springs, a pathetic drunk guy is calling his ex on a cell phone while stumbling around! It's night in this scene, which is baffling. Is this supposed to be the night before? Hours after the team arrives in LA? Normally the show isn't this bad about its timelines. I'm kidding of course, the show is terrible about timelines, it's just usually not this in-your-face about it!

The guy gets killed with a cleaver, BTW.

On the plane, it's night? So, I guess when Emily said "Wheels up in 30" she meant "wheels up in nine hours"? When they had the briefing the day was just getting started - yeah, at that time it was 6AM in LA, and presumably still dark, but they're flying into LA now, so it should be 11AM there if they got into the plane when Emily said they should.

What is going on here?

They've discovered the identity of the victim via a DNA search! That didn't take long. He was an abusive husband - could the wife have been involved? Eric mentions Jud Ray, the real-life profiler and BSU co-founder whose wife hired a hitman to kill him (the attempt failed). It's a nice piece of BAU trivia, but their choice to mention it now creates the implication that Jud Ray beat his wife, and that's why she tried to have him killed. I suspect this was not their intention, and no one noticed the problem.

JJ then does some terrible logical reasoning, when she announced that the ex-wife couldn't be the killer, because she contacted the police when her husband didn't come to pick up his daughter for a ride to school the way he always did! Um... that's not exculpatory at all. Put yourself in the shoes of a wife who's murdered her husband and dismembered the corpse. The next day, she knows that her husband isn't coming to pick the daughter up. But if she acts like she knows that - by, you know, acting like it's no big deal that he's suddenly disappeared - won't that immediately draw the police's attention? In a situation like this, the actions of an innocent person and a clever criminal would look identical. She'd have to be an idiot to killer her ex-husband and not report him missing.

Garcia finds out about the latest killing - the body was left in an alley just a few blocks from the last dump site. Emily says they should get over there before the body has been moved, so she splits up the team, as usual. More importantly, though, when they land, it's the next morning.

So yeah, Emily, for one reason or another, after saying 'wheels up in 30', instead had the team hang out at base all day, and decided to fly overnight. What is going on here?

When Emily and Reid arrive at the police station they offer condolences about the two officers that were killed in a real-life tragedy just months before this episode aired. Nice of them to do that! I would have just changed where the episode was set.

Emily goes to talk to the widow, and asks if her husband often went drinking at strip clubs (the last place he was seen alive), and she says that no, he was a hard drinker who only ever drank alone in a dark room. So did the killer lure him out? If so, there may be footage of them at the strip club!

Oh, and here's the background on that 'Jud Ray' anecdote from the plane. This episode was written by Jim Clemente, real-life FBI Agent and friend of Jud's, so I'm sure that wasn't intentional.

Joe and Steven talk to the strip club's dancer, who claims that the widow is wrong - the guy regularly did his lonely drinking at the strip club, going back months! Also, there are no security cameras inside, because customers are afraid of being blackmailed.

JJ and Eric go to the dump site and examine the body. JJ thinks that the killer made a mistake when he was trying to make the dead body anonymous - he didn't cut out a pacemaker while removing the limbs and head, and it will have a traceable serial number! They should also consider the possibility that the torsoing wasn't a forensic countermeasure at all, and really just part of the killer's signature! Especially since it's not much of a countermeasure to leave the bodies lying around in public.

Gracia drops in with the name of the new victim. It turns out that his girlfriend had just left him to move to Alaska with someone, and he'd been boozing it up in bars since! Now the team is sure they know where the killer found both victims - getting pitifully drunk in bars and clubs! Emily wants to canvas all of the bars in town, although I'm not sure for what... you know where the two guys drank already, a lead could come from talking to all the people who were working there when the victims were last in. Since you don't have a description of your killer, what is canvassing all of the bars in town possibly going to accomplish?

That night, we check in on a gay couple that's breaking up! One of them sees the news about the murders on the television, and then there's a knock on the door to their apartment. It's the guy's two friends who are there to pick him up - he's leaving because his husband is abusive! Will the abandoned husband become the next victim, or is something else going on?

Eric and JJ go to the morgue, where the ME would have won a Prentiss Award if he was an FBI Agent, because he announces an 'estimate' of the victims' ages based on the physical condition of their bodies. Um... dude, the bodies have already been positively identified. Why are you 'estimating' anything?

The ME does have some interesting information to offer - and almost wins another Prentiss Award! The info - the victims had both likely been roofied based on the drugs in their system! The dumb thing? He says that the wounds on the victim's chest happened while he was alive, but there's no signs that he struggled.

Pop Quiz: Why is this an incredibly stupid thing to say?

Answer: 'Defensive Wounds' from a stabbing or beating are the bruises and cuts you'll find on the hands and arms of a person fighting for their lives against an attacker. You don't have the man's arms, so you can't possibly weigh in on whether the guy fought back.

Serious question: is this the actual ME, or did the building's janitor take over for a day to see if he could get away with it?

We then find the recently dumped guy at a gay bar, where a man chats him up! The man claims to also have recently split with someone, and suggests they go somewhere quieter to chat. But which is the victim, and which the prey? The guy who was just dumped is the killer, right? Because they already established that he was violent, and he's killing men who look like his husband?

Out in the parking lot, a van is rocking as a corpse is chopped up inside. We don't see whose corpse it is.

That doesn't remain a mystery for long, though - the next morning Eric and JJ go to the dump site, which is just off the sidewalk in the gay area of town. Could the killer or his target be gay? They're puzzled by the idea, because the previous two victims were straight. As if the sexual preference of a victim has any real bearing on a serial killer's desires?

The leaver goes to check on the killer, worried because there was a dead body a few blocks away. Luckily (he thinks), the leaver discovers that the killer wasn't the dead body at all. Now that he's worried about the killer's well-being, can they just get back together already? Obviously the leaver isn't down for that right away, so he remains distant. Also, he notices a cut on the killer's knuckle.

Emily and Reid talk to the latest victim's sister. They pump her for information about the victim's life, but they do it in a super-unprofessional way:

I know that's not as obviously dumb as what we're used to, but he's using the worst tactic for eliciting valid information possible. He should have asked what was going on in the victim's life instead of first telling her what the killer was up to, and then asking her to, essentially, figure out a way to confirm their suspicions. Just super-unprofessional, team, and how you guarantee bad information from both witnesses and suspects.

The sister says that her brother was too smart to just leave a club with a guy he didn't know. Which means the killer should be easy to find! In a nice cut, she asks why her brother was killed, and then immediately the show cuts to the profile. Clever! It's not a great profile, though, as we're expected to believe that they're able to assume that the killer was recently abandoned by a partner who they had controlled with non-violent manipulation.

Why would you assume that the guy has no history of violence? He literally cut up three people with a cleaver. Do they think that just suddenly started?

Back at the killer's pad, the husband discovers that a friend of theirs was the latest body! The killer tries to get the husband to stay with him after hearing the news, but the husband is hesitant. While the killer makes some tea, the husband goes to the bathroom. Unfortunately, that's where the bloody cleaver and clothes are lying! The killer is able to convince the husband to use a different bathroom, though, so he's briefly saved from discovery!

The team decides to check into the background of local gay couples who've divorced - and they find nothing! It's interesting that they didn't go to a gay killer immediately, since when a man is serial killed, it's probably a gay man that did it - but we already know why their minds didn't get there - they couldn't imagine a gay serial killer targeting straight men. I don't know why they couldn't imagine that, but here we are!

Then they consider that the guy could have had troubles in his relationship, but not be divorced yet, just separated! Why do you think he's married at all? In your profile, you have the decent suggestion that the guy is killing men who've been dumped because he's angry about his own relationship problems. But unmarried people have relationship problems too, so you're narrowing down your suspect pool based on zero evidence. Why?

The killer sneaks out of bed to clean up his cleaver and clothes, and when he returns, the husband is gone! He's headed out to a bar himself to commiserate with a friend about his pending divorce and the dead guy. The friend makes the mistake of touching his arm while the killer is watching from outside, which is the kind of thing that gets you torsoed around these parts, pardn'r.

The killer comes in to talk to the friend, and offers to buy him a drink and talk about his side of the relationship. The friend stupidly accepts, and winds up roofied for his trouble! And then murdered, duh.

So I guess this guy is caught now? He went to his local bar where everyone knows him, bought the victim a bunch of drinks, and then dragged him, stumbling, out of the bar in full view of everyone. Yeah, there's no way this guy isn't already caught.

The team gathers around the latest torso and wonders why the killer is so fixated on traumatizing the gay community that he'll risk killing and dumping bodies, even when there are plenty of cops around. Seriously, how did this guy dump the body right off of a sidewalk with all those cops around? Also, are there no security cameras in this city?

Of course, we know why the killer is trying to terrorize the gay community - he wants his husband back! We see him trying to explain to the guy that it's too dangerous for them to live apart. Unfortunately, they haven't identified the body yet, so the husband doesn't know it was another one of his friends that was murdered, which would point the finger squarely at his husband.

The body is identified almost immediately, though, since the killer left his dog tags around his neck stump! Hopefully checking down where he was the night before will get the guy caught immediately!

But will it be in time to save the husband? They're out for apology drinks, and the very moment the husband agrees to consider the possibility of taking the killer back, he immediately jumps into creepy possessive behaviour. I'd tell him to tone it down, but if he was capable of that, we wouldn't be in this mess, would we?

While taking pictures of the crowd, Reid gets a call - it's the nurse, telling him he's got to put Jane in a care facility. He thinks she's more comfortable with him, but she points out that he's never around, and as a result, she's spending most of her time in a strange apartment she has no memories of. Again, Reid, there are care facilities all around you - you can visit her as much as you want.

We see the press conference, and while the first part of it is ridiculous, and wins JJ yet another Preniss Award. This might be her year, folks.

'The body placement shows calculated targeting', which means the killer is obviously a spouse abuser! That's all just gibberish. The end of the press event is good, though, since she asks the crowd and people watching if they knew what the victim was up to the previous night.

The request immediately bears fruit, as Emily is approached by a guy who saw the victim at the bar, and then later saw him with the killer - although he didn't know who the killer is. Hopefully Steven and Joe will do better with victim's partner!

Yeah, they immediately do. He announces that they were talking on the phone while the victim was at dinner, but had to cut off the conversation when the husband arrived, distraught. Well, now they've got the name of the husband, it'll be literally seconds before they're off to arrest the killer!

Well, some of them will - when Joe hears that the husband has rented a room, he sends Emily to check out the killer's condo. Um... it's not your team, Joe. What are you doing passing orders through Garcia?

With them on the way, we check in on the killer and his husband! Will they get there in time, tough? The husband mentions talking to the victim last night, and the killer says it's the victim's fault for flirting with everyone at 'Rebecca's', which is the restaurant's name. Then the husband is like 'how did you know what restaurant we were at? This leads to a fight, and the killer is about to cut up the husband when the team arrives!

The killer is arrested without incident. Other than him saying to the husband that because they're married, he can't say anything to the police! Of course, that's irrelevant, because the killer attempted to murder him, and can be charged with that. Also, they probably don't need the confession testimony because so many people saw the killer with his latest victim. And all of the dismembered corpses definitely left evidence all over his van.


Then Emily and Reid talk about the situation with Reid's mother, and he finally admits that he can't keep her with him! She then says she's proud of him, because it takes immense courage to ask for help. Except, you know, he didn't ask for help. You badgered him into admitting that the situation was bad, and he agreed to go back to Houston and try to get her back into the program there.

If you hadn't have badgered him, he would have kept right on self-destructing. That's not courageous.

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

Nope. They had a bunch of theories, but it's only when the last victim was scene with people he knew in a public place that they got a lead.

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

It was completely conventional.

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

1/10 - Another perfect example of the failures of profiling - you can have all of the information you want about the killer's character, but if a bunch of witnesses don't tell you exactly who the victim was with right before he was murdered, you'll never get the guy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

“ Serious question: is this the actual ME, or did the building's janitor take over for a day to see if he could get away with it?”

Your reviews give me life. I reread them all when I rewatch the show!