24.12.19

Criminal Minds 1220: Unforgettable

The episode picks up just after the previous one left off - the team is baffled that Mr. Scratch has a partner. Is it another MPD brainwashing case, or a legit sidekick? All we know at the moment is that she has blonde hair!

We see Steven heading home, where his wife isn't psyched that he's so late! He talks about how hard it is to be working with Scratch's victims every day - here's a thought, maybe instead of working with them on random cases every day, just focus on catching Scratch, the way you were supposed to this whole time!

Then Steven gets a call - "Sam" is in the hospital, and Steven is his emergency contact ever since he got divorced! We flash back to the two couples in happier times, when everyone was buddy-buddy! Then it's right back to the present day, at the hospital, which fades into another flashback, this one to Russia, four years ago! This is needlessly confusing.

In Russia, Steven was playing with a Jazz combo while Sam watched from the bar. It's an undercover operation, involving passing messages! Finally we get to the present, where Steven finally meets up with Sam, who apparently had a heart attack. Or did he? Could this be one of those Russian assassinations we're always hearing about?

Steven thinks it's suspicious, so he asks to see Sam's back, and sure enough, there's an injection mark on it! It seems that he's been dosed with something highly radioactive, and we've got a DOA situation on our hands!

So no more Scratch this week?

At the office the team goes over the history of Russians poisoning people so thoroughly that it would be weird if this didn't turn out to be a misdirect. Then again, Criminal Minds does do a spy episode every once in a while, so who knows?

Actually, there's a good chance this might be a more spy-intensive episode: It was directed by 24's Carlos Bernard!

Time for more flashbacks! Sam meets sleazy Russian businessmen while Steven watches from the stage! Steven is haunted by the memory - could this be the oligarch responsible for the crime?

In Garcia's office, Joe and Emily talk about how Reid's trial has been pushed back, and they act like that's a bad thing? I know Reid is going crazy, but you still have zero exonerating evidence - the sooner he goes to trial, the sooner he spends life in prison.

Oh, and there's another look at the murder map - this time there's a single red dot over Washington, where the current crime is taking place!

Steven calls the team to ask them to look into the guy from that meeting he remembered. Apparently he was an anti-corruption businessman who they used as an asset from time to time. Also, he's currently in America, lobbying for Russian oil firms! Joe and Emily go to talk to the businessman, who freely admits to being corrupt and working for a corrupt government. He also claims that if he poisoned someone, he wouldn't be hanging around Washington, he'd be on a plane back to Russia.

That's a pretty strong point, actually. Also, why would they send a guy who Sam would recognize to poison him with an anonymous injection in the park? Seems like that would just attract attention.

Finally Reid's lawyer explains the importance of taking more time before trial to track down the real killer. Although she still soft-peddles things, announcing that finding the woman before trail is 'the best' chance they've got. Except no, it's the only chance they've got. If he's not exonerated and the case dismissed, he's definitely going to jail for life.

With the Russia lead a dead end for the moment, the team finally gets around to checking if there have been any other similar attacks in DC. It turns out that yes, there have been two other anonymous poison stabbings! Then we see a fourth one happen, as a person in a hoodie jabs a guy on the street!

The team goes over what they know - the killer is targeting people who work for the Federal government. Three of the victims have been relatively high up, but the latest guy is a janitor! Upon hearing about the massive change in target, Emily says that it's time to 'Deliver the Profile'. To who, though? You're the only people working this case, as far as I can tell. You haven't interfaced with DCPD at all. Who are you going to talk to, other FBI agents who aren't working the case?

Yup, that's what they end up doing. Just telling the story to a bunch of FBI agents who've gathered around to hear it, but won't be doing anything. Did they just waste ten minutes of everyone's time just so they could show off?

This team has really gone off the rails.

Fun note during the profile - they announce that the killer is probably a subset of the 'product tamperer' type, who poisons people in order to sell a cure for the poison! They compare this to the Anthrax letters after 9/11, even though there is no conclusive proof that Bruce Ivins was the one who sent those letters, or that he was motivated by a desire to sell an anthrax cure.

Just some terrible writing this week, folks.

More flashbacks from Steven! He and Sam commiserate about how being in Russia is ruining their marriages, and they'd both like to go home - but Sam offers to let Steven transfer out first! Which is why he and his wife are still together, but Steven's marriage has busted up! No wonder the man feels guilty.

Steven and Sam have a deathbed conversation, and it's touching!

Then we see another guy suddenly fall over in a courtyard, but this time nobody stabbed him! Has the killer move up to using dart guns?

In jail, a guard bullies Reid and takes away his journal, because apparently writing materials are contraband? Weird. Then he takes Reid to see his mother, who's in the visiting area - apparently Reid's lawyer is threatening a lawsuit over the time Reid was beaten up, so they're making concessions!

Wait, if that's the case, why is he not in protective custody yet? Although, I guess maybe he is, since he murdered almost everyone on his cell block! So maybe it's just him on that row now?

Jane and Reid talk for a while, and she blames herself for Reid's condition! Which is a rare moment of lucidity from the woman! But does she mean that it's her fault because of the Mexico drug thing, or because raised him in such a way that he continuously makes terrible, self-destructive decisions?

Both are true.

In the hospital, the team discovers that the latest victim was poisoned with food! They immediately go through a weird rationale intended to prove that the guy must know the killer. Basically, they're saying that because the rest of the people were strangers, he was free to stab them in the back because if they'd managed to see his face, they wouldn't have known who he was. This guy might have recognized him, though, so he had to poison the guy's food!

The problem with that logic is, of course, very few people have access to your food, whereas anyone can stab you on the street. If the killer is trying to stay anonymous, it's a way better move to take your chances by putting on a fake beard and stabbing a guy in the back than it is to put poison in the food of someone you know.

They ask the guy where he got his lunch, and he says that his wife packed it, like always! The team immediately goes to search his house, and finds a giant lead container in his cupboards! This is like, the worst plan for getting rid of someone I've ever seen. Also, where did the killer get the radioactive material?

Time for a long explanation about this preposterous plot! The killer is a nurse who gradually stole radioactive materials over five years, fudging databases and framing other people for the thefts! This has all been a plan to get the husband's five million dollar life insurance policy!

So, to be clear, she thought about this plan for half a decade, and she didn't realize that by simply poisoning her husband's food she would become the prime suspect in the case?

Then the show tries to put a ticking clock on the episode - obviously the wife will be out trying to kill someone else, so suspicions aren't raised when her husband is the last victim! Here's the thing, though - shouldn't she be at the hospital right now, fake grieving over her ailing husband? Isn't it going to look super-suspicious that she went off the grid while her husband was ill?

This woman is terrible at crime.

The team goes to a random courtyard in DC, hoping that in an amazing coincidence, that will be the place she attacks! This theory is based on nothing, and the killer would have to be crazy to show up in the same area once again, wearing the same costume, while the cops are doubtlessly looking for the hoodie poison stabbed.

Naturally, their random guess turns out to be right, and they confront the killer, who grabs a woman and takes her hostage. Joe then shoots her in the back.

THE END

More sad scenes as Sam is dying in the hospital! Steven offers to get his son from Atlanta to see him, but Sam is worried he won't arrive in time. Steven reminds him that the team has a private jet! Obviously no one is worrying about misusing government resources today, but I'd be very interested to see how creatively that report is written!

Then we see JJ and Eric collecting his son from class - um... shouldn't you have called him on the phone and had him meet you at the airstrip? I feel like you're tacking an extra 40 minutes onto the trip that Sam really can't afford to lose.

There's some chatting with Reid and Jane, where he tries to make her feel less guilty about her part in the Mexico misadventure! Then some stuff about how they'll always love each other! It's sweet!

Tearful goodbyes at the hosptial, then it's back to the prison, where Reid meets his mother's new nurse. Who he immediately recognizes as the killer from Mexico based solely on her voice! The twist? It's the hitman's daughter from back in Season 3! That's right, she's back, and she's evil now!

So... that's a twist! Kind of a terrible one, given what a happy ending 3rd life had!

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

Nope. They chatted a lot about it, but then they asked the fifth victim who poisoned him, and he just told them.

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

Yes, police are capable of asking people who the killer is.

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

1/10 - I'm having a hard time expressing how troubling I find this plot twist. Setting aside the mechanics of how Scratch decided that this woman would be a good accomplice, I just want to reiterate my complete support of the father's decision to killer the rapist/murderer that had attacked his daughter. I also want to reiterate my doubt that having him do so would have a massive negative effect on the woman's psyche long-term. So long as she got counseling, which she absolutely would have.

It would be the height of hypocrisy for the show to suggest that it's fine for the team to murder all the suspects they want without us questioning their ethics, but that this woman encouraging the murder not of a suspect, but the actual man who actually sexually assaulted her and killed her best friend is somehow a sign that she'll turn into a monster later.

Hey, remember when JJ was PTSDing so hard that she murdered a man in cold blood, and then that never come up again? Good times.

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