Criminal Minds 1307: Dust and Bones

A woman wakes up in her car in a messed-up state. Has she been drugged? There's a featureless mask on the seat next to her, which is probably significant. She has no idea who she is, and even misidentifies the man calling her. The guy offers to come and get her, then she looks in a window and is horrified to discover that someone has cut strips of skin off of her face! Ick!

Hey, it looks like we're finally getting that Eric episode that's been coming for a season. He goes to visit his former partner in physiotherapy. It seems the man was put in a wheelchair during that serial killer entrapment thing they'd run years earlier. Yes, the Crimson King, a character we never really met, who's responsible for all this misery. And I guess he's back in jail now? We never followed up on all of those missing serial killers after the Joe episode.

Wow, season 12 was sloppy.

Eric tries to comfort and motivate his friend, but he's not great at it! Then he gets beeped about a job, and he's off!

So far the face slasher has had two victims! Each time he grabs a woman, drugs her, and then she wakes up in her car miles away, her face sliced open and a mask on the car seat next to her! Naturally assuming this slasher is going to escalate to a spree, because nearly all of them do, the team rushes to the plane!

Then it's over to the slasher's lair! It's in something that might be a tattoo parlour, or maybe a garage of some kind? He's cleaning off his disfigurement tools! Then he grabs a live mouse from a tank, and it looks like he's preparing to eat it! Oh, and he's wearing cosmetic contacts to give himself reptile eyes.

I say 'him', we don't get a look at the leather-clad slasher, so it could be a woman as well

On the plane, Eric confides in Matt about the situation with his partner, and Matt is supportive, but not helpful! So he met minimum standards, is what I'm saying.

The team goes over what they know about the case. They know nothing more than they did last scene, but manage to talk around that for a while! Garcia has been unable to find any linkage points between the two victims, so maybe the slasher just randomly grabbed them?

At the hospital, the doctor points to some strange puncture wounds on the woman's neck. Could it be a stun gun or TASER? Reid thinks that it isn't because there's no burning around the skin, so he suggests that the doctor do a blood test for every conceivable way someone could be knocked out. He rattles off a long list of items, in an attempt to seem smart to a stranger. So he's back to his old habits, then? I guess jail really didn't change him all that much.

Joe and Emily check out the latest victim's car - there's some vomit in the footwell, so maybe the drug makes you sick? They wonder how the slasher moved the women around - by using their cars to take them to the torture room and then move them to the drop point, after which he walks away? That seems like a lot of work! At least the guy's industrious.

They also wonder how he grabbed the women in broad daylight. Joe's theory? They broke into cars and his in the back seat. Yikes, Joe, you'll have to do better than that.

Eric and Matt hypnotize the first victim in the hopes of finding clues about her abduction. She remembers getting into her car and hearing a hissing sound before blacking out. We see clips of this same thing happening to the next victim - and the hissing culprit is a snake!

This is backed up by the blood tests that Reid asked for - they show traces of snakebite venom! I hate to criticize, but shouldn't a snakebite have been immediately recognizable? Don't he wound areas swell up and get super red and puffy? How would you mistake that for TASER burns or injections?

The team comes to an important conclusion: Snakes must be important to the slasher, or else why go through so much trouble? Emily thinks that if they can figure out why disfiguring women and snakebites have gotten muddled up in the killer's mind, they'll be able to catch him! I don't know how that would help, but sure.

Isn't the better lead the strange shapes that the women's faces were cut into? These are elaborate patterns with straight, confident lines. Perhaps the patterns themselves mean something?

Meanwhile, the slasher is about to cut into his latest victim's face! No, wait, he's starting out by cutting her tongue open, so that it will be forked, like a serpents. So the slasher wants everyone else to turn into reptile people. That's a fairly strange motive.

At the hospital the next day, JJ and Reid find out about the forked tongue thing, and then go to interview the victim. She has a decent amount of information about the killer - he had a forked tongue as well, and told her that they were the same now! Strangely she doesn't offer any information about the killer's appearance.

Alarmed by the forked tongue thing, the team spends way too long discussing what snake imagery means before deciding to check out the local body modification community. This is intercut with the killer trying to cut scale-type wounds into his arm, so that the scars will make him look snakey!

Back at the office, the first victim drops by to tell Eric that she's doing great, and will triumph in the face of adversity! Emily thinks this is because she's motivated by the need to take care of her kids! Eric thinks about his for a moment - how can he use this insight to help his friend? Will he kidnap a child for the friend to raise? No, that seems a little extreme.

Garcia comes up with the name of Austin's specialist in tonguesplitting and scarification, so Joe, Matt, and JJ go to check out his shop. When the tattooist sees that they're cops, he flees out the back door, but is immediately caught! We know he's not the slasher, BTW, because he has different skin, a beard, and his arm is fine.

An interview reveals that he ran because of an outstanding out-of-state drug beef! As for the wounded women, he claims that the slasher couldn't be a pro body modder, because he splits the tongue too deep, which creates obstruction issues! Or, he's a modder who's so good that he's challenging himself to take it too far. I don't know that they should really be eliminating people cased on this.

Here's an interesting twist - Reid has found a connection between the three properties where the women's cars were dropped. Each one is for rent by the same property management company! Hoping that it's not just an amazing coincidence, the team asks Garcia to look into the woman who runs that company, since she might be the slasher's target. Weirdly, they don't ask for her phone number immediately, so that they can call her and give her a heads up.

The team talks out what they know about the slasher, and Matt suggests that it could be woman, since female murderers are more likely to damage other women's faces than male attackers! Is that true? Because I hear a lot about men throwing acid in women's faces, and not much about women doing it.

They go to ask the tattooist about the property manager's two daughters, for some reason assuming that one of them is the slasher. I mean, she's right, but it's a weird way to start the interview, rather than 'hey, who's really into snake body modification and has a split tongue'? Seems like they could have had a name a couple of scenes ago.

Speaking of the slasher, she's lured her sister to a parking lot, because she wants the sister to lure their mother into a trap for her! The sister's not down with this, of course, so the slasher smacks her head against the car and kidnaps her. In broad daylight. In a parking lot. With no one noticing.

Wow, it's almost as if the cops should have called the mother and bother daughters to check up on them when it was revealed that the mom was the focus!

The tattooist offers the slasher's background. She was kicked out by her mother, and turned to the body mod subculture, and then left to start her own shop. Which didn't end up working out for her.

Then the cop comes in to let them know that a witness saw the parking lot attack, and phoned in the license plate number! So if the slasher is attacking her sister, what's her next move? Then we get a ridiculous line, as the cop announces that they can't locate the mother, and they're worried she's in danger.

This is literally impossible, by the way. The mother is a realtor. She must be reachable at all hours of the day and night. It comes with the job. The woman might still have a beeper. When we see her, she takes a call from what she thinks is her daughter, but then it's actually her other daughter! We don't hear the conversation, but she's alarmed, and runs for her car!

The team gets some background on the family - the mother only turned her life around when the baby sister was born - all of the slasher's formative years were hellish, and now she's full of resentment and a drive towards self-annihilation!

We then cut to the slasher tying her sister down, and it's happening in her shop. Why aren't the cops already there? Three scenes ago the tattooist told you the woman had her own tattoo and body mod shop that wasn't doing well financially. Why wasn't that the first place you went to look for her, instead of all sitting around wondering about her childhood tribulations?

The slasher give a long speech about why she loves, snakes, and who really cares? One of the snakes in her shop is a great big albino constrictor that's white with yellow spots, and I feel like I've seen in on a hundred different shows. Is that a super-popular breed of snake, or does this one snake just get a ton of work?

At the office, we get a little more about the slasher's rage, and then they finally start looking for the slasher's tattoo parlor. They figure it will be in one of the mother's buildings, but again, couldn't they have just asked the tattooist where it was a couple of scenes ago?

In said shop, there's more yelling and torture, and as usual, I can't bring myself to care. The younger sister gets bitten by a snake, and the mother apologizes to the slasher for being a jerk! Luckily the team arrives just in time to keep the mother's tongue from being slashed open. If only they'd have bothered to check out this location hours ago, they could have intercepted slasher before anything bad happened!

Anyhoo, the slasher tries to delay them by pushing a terrarium full of snakes onto the floor and darting out the back, only to find Matt waiting for her! She thinks about it for a moment, then charges him with a knife, so he shoots her to death!


On the plane, we find out that Reid's first lecture is going to be tomorrow, and I just want to restate how terrible he's going to be at teaching. He's an incredibly boring person with a constant need to impress others with his intelligence. This is going to be a disaster.

As for Eric, instead of kidnapping a baby, he decides to get his friend a therapy dog! He's been laid up for two years, it's kind of weird that he didn't already have one of those.

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

Does it count as profiling to just ask people in Austin who has forked tongues? No? Then no, profiling was not involved.

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

Again, the first person they asked about body modification was the slasher's old boss. Real cops would have interviewed him more thoroughly, and she would have been arrested almost immediately, probably before inconveniencing her family at all!

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

1/10 - In case it seems like I'm being too hard on the team, I'd like to stress just how easy it would have been to find this woman. They didn't need to search the mother's property listings to make a guess as to where her shop was. First off, the tattooist would have definitely known where it was. Secondly, there's all kinds of public paperwork about her business that they could have searched.

The episode goes so far as to show us the sign stating that the Austin department of health has signed off on the tattoo parlour's business license, so this absolutely was an active business - at least at one point - that Garcia should have known about the moment they ran the slasher's name.

Not that they had to do any of that, because, again, the tattooist could have just told them who she was, since he knew her really well.

The one silver lining in all of this? Front license plates are back! The show hasn't completely given up after all!

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