Criminal Minds 1217: In the Dark

Deep in the woods somewhere, a man is stalking a deer. No, not Sherlock Holmes, a different man. The point is, he gets shot by another hunter. One pursuing... the most dangerous game!

At Quantico, Eric goes to check on Garcia, who is crying in her office! I know that he's got his own show, but I really feel like Derek should be dropping by to help out with all this nonsense. It's really straining credulity to see all of these scenes and not have him even being mentioned!

She's worried because Reid got beaten up - and he thinks that being in protective custody will make the situation worse? How, though? Like, yeah, it would suck being locked up 23 hours of the day, but no one would be trying to kill you, so...

Oh, and Eric immediately recognized Harold's character's name. Maybe they know each other from back in the day?

We get a breakdown of the case - in Vermont, for the past three weeks, once a week a dude has gotten shot in the woods. Then, a couple of days later, a woman is stabbed to death in her home. Is it the same killer? Is a woman getting stabbed soon? The team will rush to Vermont to find out! First, though, Emily has started just saying 'wheels up in 30' again, so I guess they noticed?

Then we check in with a guy who loves working out! He hears someone trying his door, so he grabs a baseball bat and goes to confront them. He doesn't see anyone outside his house, though - which leads to him getting stabbed in the chest by someone who was crouched against the wall next to the steps. Wow, this guy is incredibly unobservant!

On the plane, they run through what little they know about the killings. They're assuming that the guy shooting hunters is an eco-terrorist, while the stabber is a run-of-the-mill psycho! Oh, and Garcia tells them about the new murder that happened while they were in the air.

That's right, the night time scene happened after 'wheels up in 30', meaning that they're flying overnight for this case. Neat! They don't go straight to a crime scene, though - no, they need their sleep, and check out the woods the next morning. They learn that the sniper left no traces behind, and that all of his victims were hunting off-season! So does this killer have something against poachers?

At the other crime scene, we learn nothing! Well, nothing that required a journey to the crime scene. Seriously, all we learn is that there were fingerprints all over the crime scene, and that the victim was killed with a single stab wound to the heart. Just like the hunters! Except, you know, they were shot. Which brings up the possibility that it could be the same killer after all!

But why did he only stab this guy once, while he stabbed the women multiple times. Probably because he's straight. Just saying. Also, why has he switched to attacking men in their houses? No theories yet from the team.

In prison, Reid and his friend commiserate about their beatings, and Reid hears that it's likely to get a lot worse, very soon!

Emily goes to the morgue to talk to the ME, and learns that all of the sniped hunters were scumbag poachers that no one liked! Also, she identifies the bullet as being 'high calibre, single-action'. Which isn't something you can know for sure - while 30-06 are mostly used in a bolt-action hunting rifles, there are plenty of semi-auto rifles that use it as well. The biggest clue that it's a single-action weapon is that you didn't find a shell casing at the crime scene.

Is Burlington really such a small town that the ME knew all three of these jerks by reputation? More the 40K people live there, so that seems like a bit of a stretch.

Then Emily gets a call from the lawyer, who's trying to get Reid into protective custody now that he's been beaten up! I still haven't gotten a straight answer about why he wasn't already in protective custody. He's an FBI agent. Does Richard just not like him? Is that really enough to get him kept out of the place he belongs, or is he also working with Harold who's pulling strings?

Eric makes it to the prison, and instead of visiting Reid, he goes in to talk to Harold - they don't know each other, but Eric is up to something!

The team goes over the strange mix of MOs. Perhaps the killer is so freaked out by shooting people that he then stabs people to blow off steam? More importantly, with all this murdering he can't be living a real life or sleeping much, so maybe eliminate people with steady jobs from your profile? Also, any leads on the ammo? I'm sure everyone in town buys ammo, but from the bullets they can figure out brand, and narrow their search down quite a bit.

Eric wants to threaten Harold into keeping Reid safe! He's figured out why Harold turned himself in! He'd gotten his CI pregnant, and murdered her to keep her from ruining his life, but then, when his wife gave birth, he started feeling guilty and turned himself in! It's weird that people didn't already know about this, but Eric explains that because the woman was shot in the uterus, there was no evidence that she was pregnant, other than the pregnancy hormones that were all over her blood and urine.

Which is, you know, proof positive that she was pregnant. Also, it's literally impossible that the bullet in the uterus could have completely destroyed all traces of fetal DNA, meaning the ME would have had to have been terrible at his job not to have found it.

Anyhoo, with that bleak story laid out, Eric says that if Harold doesn't keep Reid safe, his son won't ever be able to visit him again!

Just to interject here for a second - there's no way that Eric would have had to 'figure this out'. The FBI would have put 2 and 2 together when they saw that the guy's CI was pregnant, and then he later confessed to murdering her. Yeah, they're slow on this show sometimes, but they're not that slow.

That night, a couple is watching a horror movie when the knife man starts knocking on their door! Naturally they both get stabbed to death. Why weren't they more nervous? Burlington isn't a big down, and someone is going around - every night - stabbing people in their homes. I guess we're supposed to assume that because they were expecting a pizza they'd just open the door?

Here's the thing - I don't live in a place where people get stabbed every night, and I still check who's on the other side of a door before I open it.

At the crime scene, we find out that the killer stepped on some glass and bled everywhere - so he wasn't wearing shoes! And we saw him wearing just a t-shirt. Then we see the killer waking up in bed, and being puzzled by his sliced-open foot! Is he sleepwalking? Is this a sleepmurderer?

It can't be, because he snuck up on that one guy like a ninja, though. That's not something a sleepwalker could do. The 'knock on door, stab whoever opens is' thing, sure. But pressing yourself against a wall to keep someone from noticing you? Of course not.

Hey, why did all of his victims just open the door? Are people really so trusting in Vermont that when they hear someone knocking on the door in the middle of the night, they just go and open it without checking who it is?

They can't all have been expecting pizzas or been macho assholes.

Profile time! They tell the cops to be on the lookout for a sleepwalker who might be limping, what with the cut-up foot! Again, I don't know much about Burlington, but isn't this a case where geographic profiling should help a lot? How far could he possibly be sleepwalking to commit these murders? Also, is he killing the first people who open doors, or are there others who don't open the doors, and he moves on? I need to know more about what's happening because none of this makes sense!

No one saw a guy wandering around in a t-shirt and pajamas with a knife in his hand?

Oh, and we get a dream sequence from the killer, where he imagines himself hitting a large man ineffectually. His abusive father who was a deer hunter, maybe?

In prison, Reid's friend announces that the goons are going to start killing if they don't act as mules to move drugs from laundry to the goons. I'm sure Reid can figure out a way to manage that, right? In Vermont, Emily and Steven commiserate about Reid!

That night, the killer goes walking down the middle of the road, knife in hand, which apparently didn't alarm anyone? Even though it's early enough that most people still have their lights on and are fully dressed? He knocks on another door, which once again is opened without any hesitation by the denizen, but this guy is able to fight the killer off and grab a shotgun!

The sound of the shotgun blast wakes the killer, and he flees into the night, leaving his superficially-wounded victim behind! The team interprets his as him feeling guilty about the people he kills at night, as opposed to feeling justified by his daytime murders! Or, you know, maybe he was just freaked out by waking up with a shotgun going off next to his head.

In case you were wondering, no - they don't bring a dog to track the killer, even though he was a barefoot man running frantically through the woods, mostly likely on a panicked beeline to his own house. Seriously, how has this guy not been caught? Two nights ago he slashed open his foot and didn't wake up. The bleeding was so bad that he left bloody footprints leading through his house and up to his bed.

Would you have even needed a dog to find him? Could you not have just followed the bloody footprints with your eyes? And maybe a flashlight?

Aisha has something interesting to offer - the killer probably knew all of the locations he murdered people in, because sleepwalkers always go to place they recognize! But wait, didn't you already say there was no connection between any of the stabbing victim locations?

We see the killer burning all of his bloody clothing. Of course, that won't help you with the bloody footprints you once again left back to your house. Then, while in the shower, he has a dream about his abuser frantically knocking to try to get into his room!

Then he finds out about the sleepwalking killer from the news, and when he can't reach his psychologist, he decides to save the day werewolf-style, and lock all of his knives and guns away! But will he also tie his feet to the bed, I wonder? That's a pretty helpful option as well.

The lawyer goes to visit Reid, and tells him there's a good news/bad news situation - the good news, his trail will be next month! Bad news, someone his blocking his transfer into protective custody! Why are favors not being called in for this guy, given the amount of good he's done? Unless someone powerful wants him dead? Is Scratch blackmailing someone? Also, trial in a month is not good news. You want to postpone this until you've found evidence that he's innocent. Because right now, you have none.

Do none of the characters realize how bad this situation looks? There were two people in a room. One of them got stabbed to death, the other one is covered with her blood and his fingerprints were on the knife. Yes, we've been told he didn't do it, but all available evidence points to him committing the crime. How do they think this trial is going to go, when they can't even bring in evidence of Scratch because there's no proof of his involvement.

Also, are they one hundred percent sure that Reid didn't do it? Because Scratch's entire thing is drugging people, getting them to stab other people, and then forget that they did it. All I'm saying is, if Reid had actually done it, the evidence would look exactly the same.

I'm so frustrated that they haven't kept us better apprised of the investigation into Reid and the doctor - the woman knew that she was meeting him in Mexico to set him up, because there's no other reason to have done it. So why aren't they looking hard at everyone she talked to, as well as her financial records?

Over at the killer's place, he's trying to stay awake, rather than just tying himself to something. How does he think this is going to play out? Also, he's having a weirdly large amount of trouble staying awake considering that this scene is set during the day. He finally nods off, and we reveal that he forgot one combat knife, which is lying on a windowsill as a display piece! How did he miss that?

Reid goes to talk to Harold, and announces that he wants his friend Luis looked after as well - Harold is not too happy about that! Reid figures that because Harold is looking out for him, they can just put Luis in his cell, and he'll be fine, since Reid's protection will be good wherever! Except Luis was already in a private cell when he was getting tuned up. Yeah, they moved him out and it got worse, but they can get to him during the vast majority of the day when he's not in prison.

Back to the case! Garcia has found a connection between the murder sites! They were all houses of prostitution or drug use years ago! They find a scumbag poacher who was arrested at a few of them, and discover that he had a son the approximate age of their killer! Who also has a lot of mental problems.

I find it a little hard to believe that this part of town has only recently 'gentrified'. I checked it out on a mpa, and the neighbourhood where three of the killings took place literally abuts a country club. One of the murders was directly across the street from a huge public high school. Most importantly, this is an incredibly densely-packed area - there's no way someone didn't notice a guy walking around in pajamas with a knife in his hand, even after dark.

There's one house left on the list that he hasn't revisited yet, so the team rushes over, assuming that he's on his way there! I don't know why they're in such a hurry - it's the middle of the afternoon, and he only kills at night.

Somehow, though, by the time they get there, it's pitch black out! Just in case you were wondering, there is no place within Burlington that is more than fifteen minutes from any other place in Burlington. We're told that the crimes are happening in the South End of town, and the police station is less than 10 minutes away - without using sirens.

Still, as they drive over it's pitch black - creating the impression that they paused for a meal on the way there - Emily calls the lady to warn her about the killer, but it's too late, he's already opened the door, which she didn't bother locking, despite the brutal stabbings that have been happening every night this week to people who live within a kilometer of her!

Jesus, Criminal Minds. Come on. At least try a little.

You know, if you'd just had Garcia call her while you were putting the convoy together, this wouldn't be happening!

Anyhoo, the team shows up and arrests the killer without incident before he kills the lady.


Back at Quantico, Eric keeps chatting with Garcia, because they're desperately trying to push the 'new Derek' thing!

Then, in prison, the goons slit Luis' throat because Reid intervened to try and protect him! Also, they still want their drug stash delivered!

At this point, how will he not get into protective custody? I mean, he's going to report that man for murder, right?

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

They did manage to discover signs that the killer was a sleepwalker, which proved vital to solving the crime, which might make this the most psychology-y episode of the season!

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

The killer literally left a trail of bloody footprints from his crime scene to his house. Anyone awake could have caught him. Also, he definitely would have been reported by the many, many people who noticed him walking down the street in bedclothes, a knife clutched in his hand.

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

4/10 - Gosh, the Reid storyline gets more and more preposterous every week, doesn't it? Why is the team not working this case a little more aggressively? When was the last time Steven even mentioned Scratch?

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