Criminal Minds 1311: Full Tilt Boogie

The episode opens as a father and his two kids prepare for a camping trip! The mother is planning to stay home. The father is Ben Browder, of Stargate fame!

We see the mother going to meet friends at a bar for a ladies night out! She's hit on by a creep, and shuts him down! He then follows her outside to harass her during a smoke break, so she knees him in the ground and runs back inside! Next a cop has shown up to take her statement, and we learn that this is a small town, where everyone knows everyone else, because the cop knows her and her husband!

Wait, does that mean everyone knows she's going to be alone at the house tonight? Looks like she's getting murdered! Will the creep be a red herring, or will the crime so obviously be that of a serial killer they'll immediately know he wasn't involved?

When the cops gets her home, there's some dialogue about how she didn't turn the alarm on because she keeps forgetting the code. Wow, that's some great foreshadowing! Wait, did I say great? I meant the opposite of that. As she prepares for bed, the power goes out in the house, and someone pounces on her!

Suddenly it's the next day, and the woman's life is flashing before her eyes as the killer prepares to bury her alive in a shallow grave! Seriously shallow. Like, a maximum of a quater-inch of dirt over the body shallow. This killer is not interested at all in hiding their crime.

At Quantico, we learn that the woman has survived her ordeal! Also, the cop knew her because Ben is the chief of police! Is he also the attempted murderer, though? Why is the FBI involved, you ask? Because her attacker brought her to a national park to do a bad job of burying her, guaranteeing federal involvement. Weird choice, whoever you are.

We then get a strange scene where half of the team is driving to the town, and the other half has remained in Quantico. But why? They're told to just make phone calls and compile lists, but couldn't they do that just as well in the nearby town, where they'll also be able to talk to the people in question?

Joe opines that since the creep just spent five years in jail for sexual assault, maybe he learned not to leave victims alive to act as witnesses! Except, you know, this woman was left alive, and also we haven't heard that she was sexually assaulted. Nice try, though, Joe!

On the way in to the police station, Emily talks to the cop from earlier, who says something weird - that this is the first time Ben has ever left his wife alone! Emily asks what Ben meant by that, but the cop says he doesn't know. It sounds creepily controlling, though! Emily then talks to the wife's friend from the night before - she reports that the wife got a shockingly large number of texts from her husband, enough that she thought it was worth mentioning to the FBI!

JJ goes to check on Ben and he announces that they're running a rape kit on the wife, but we've heard nothing about physical signs of assault. I guess theyr'e just being careful? Then the doctor takes Ben out of the room to chat, leaving JJ free to talk to the two children of the couple! They have no information to offer, other than that the dad wanted to do a 'dad and kids' camping trip, which is inherently suspicious.

Then we hear Ben yelling at the doctor that a test result 'can't be right' and that it has to be run again. What could the test result be? Is the wife pregnant?

Meanwhile, at the police station, the creep has been arrested! Emily confronts him with the pictures of the beaten wife, and he denies doing it. Emily then leaves the room without asking him for any information whatsoever. Weird choice, Emily.

Then a bunch of pieces of evidence come together at once! The crime scene was cleaned up to a strangely high degree of professionalism! The wife had a history of hospitalizations from 'falling down stairs' over and over again! Also, according to the son, when the kids woke up the father wasn't in the text, and arrived an hour later with donuts, claiming he'd gone away early to grab them! Damn, things are looking bad for Ben.

Lucky that the wife didn't arm the alarm, huh? Or else there's be even more evidence against Ben if the alarm has been disabled! Why, it's almost a contrived level of convenience!

JJ goes to interview Ben, who claims that his wife is just super-clumsy. The classic defense. Interestingly, he says that it's the wife who wanted to move to a small town, not him. And that she went out with friends without telling him, that's why he was texting her so much! JJ asks if Ben has any proof whatsoever suggesting someone else's involvement, or giving himself a better alibi than sleeping children. He does not.

The whole 're-do the test' thing goes unmentioned.

JJ tells the team that the husband was compelling in his denials, but that he was clearly hiding something. Also, she notes that the cop is at the hospital. The rest of the team finds this strange, since he's supposed to be in charge of the investigation when Ben's out of the loop! Could he be the assaulter? They decide to check into all of the people that the cop interviewed to see if he left anything out of the reports!

Wait, why are they just doing this now? Since when has the team relied on local cops' reports? Don't they always talk to the witnesses themselves as well?

JJ watches the cop wipe a tear from the wife's face as she's told that he was passed over for promotion when Ben got the job! Could he have a violent obsession with the family?

At the station, Matt comes in with photos of tread marks from the dump site, which were probably from a pickup, which the cop drives when not on duty. Wow, the team has found out about tire tread marks? This changes everything! Now they can finally start basing their searches on physical evidence! Also, the hikers who found the wife arrive, ready for their re-interview.

Then we see cop driving at night, on the phone with the assaulter! He says he needs to hear the full story of what happened, and will manage things with the FBI after he's been told. He arranges to meet the assaulter at a bridge in the middle of nowhere, because he's hoping to get murdered, I guess?

Oh, and it looks like it's a woman! They talk to the hikers, who reveal that they didn't find the body, some random woman they don't know did. Or, at least, she pretended to find the body when they stumbled across her. The three of them waited for the cop together, and then the cop left the woman out of the report! Neither Joe nor Emily ask the hikers for a physical description.

Out at the bridge where the meeting was set, the cop is shot to death!

Next we see Joe, Matt and Eric at the crime scene. They chat about the killer's general sloppiness in killing a cop. Joe puts it down to 'full-tilt boogie', where a criminal is so high on adrenalin because of the murder they committed that they stop making rational decisions. Except, you know, this was a completely rational decision. The killer knew that the cop had seen her with the body, and would eventually come to the conclusion that she was the assaulter, so killing him before he told was literally her only possible move. Amazingly, it worked!

At the hospital, JJ is looking sadly at a dying guy and his mother! Then Garcia and Reid arrive! Yay, Reid is back! I really hope everything is okay with Matt Gubler - he takes a lot of time off, and he's obviously not spending it developing really exceptional episodes of the show the way he used to. We'll keep a prayer in our hearts for you, Matt!

Why is Garcia there? I know Reid doesn't like to drive, but doesn't she have a job to do? And literally hundreds of other agents could have driven Reid?

Anyhoo, we learn that the dying kid OD'd, and this is the ninth such death this week, because this town is in the grips of the opiod crisis! Is the episode about that, somehow? If it is, we're a little late in the episode to be bringing it up, if it's not, this is a weird scene to feature.

It is about the opiod crisis! When they get to the wife's room, she's sweating profusely and shaking - she's suffering from opiod withdrawl! That's what the test showed that the husband wanted rerun: she was super-high on drugs! Okay, and that means that her 'clumsiness' is actually drug-seeking behaviour, she's constantly injuring herself in order to get drugs from doctors. This all makes sense now.

We get a scene with the team, who reveal what they learn - every week more than a hundred people are treated for overdoses, a dozen people die, and nearly a hundred are arrested on drug charges! Wait, how big is this town? Because those are huge numbers. We've been led to believe that this is a relatively small town, so 500 people dying in a year from drug overdoses seems like madness. There were only 70K drug overdose deaths in all of America in 2017 - this one town is responsible for almost one percent of them?

That seemed crazily high, so I went to look up the town's population, and it turns out that it's not a real town, because of course it's not - what real town would want to be called the drug overdose capital of Virginia?

Garcia phones in with some info - the cop's last call was to a cell phone in town. She doesn't tell them where the cell phone was. He also put the name 'Shelly' in his notes. So they decide to check out all of the Shellys who own pickup trucks in the area! There are none. For some reason they don't simply check everyone named Shelly against the physical description given by the two hikers.

I'm kidding, of course - they never got a physical description from the hikers because they're terrible at their jobs!

The only logical conclusion they can come to is that Shelly is the wife's drug dealer. Which means they'll have to go to Ben to confront him about his wife's addiction! Ben says that it can't be a dealer, because he's using his own prescription to gradually wean his wife off of drugs! Unless, you know, she's been taking other drugs behind your back, guy. Also, if you knew about her addiction, what was that blow up about your wife's test results in the hospital about?

Reid goes to talk to the daughter, hoping that she has some info! She resents her mother's drug problem, and it's sad!

At the police station, they talk about how the opiod problem in America has quadrupled in the past 20 years, but don't mention why that is, which seems like a huge oversight. It's not like it's an unknown mystery that giant corporations bribed doctors into getting people hooked on heroin in pill form.

Then they have a lead - of the wife's friends who were out drinking with her, one of them isn't returning phone calls. And it's a woman who recently moved to the town from Baltimore, where drugs are from! But she's named 'Kat', not 'Shelly'. Maybe the 'Shelly' thing isn't as important as they thought?

We then cut to Kat, who's sitting in a car, sadly looking at a picture of what's presumably her daughter. Then she sees a woman taking the daughter out of a house and putting her into a car, so she takes some drugs! The woman comes over to talk to Kat about staying away from her daughter, and Kat complains that the police keep calling her - the woman is the Shelly in question!

Back at the office, Emily wins a self-titled award for this line:

Yeah, the drugs aren't the serial killer. The drug companies are the serial killers. Why are you being so coy about this? It's strange to watch an episode of television that wants to say something about an issue without ever mentioning the cause of that issue. It's like doing an episode about how bad it is that a flood killed three hundred people and never mentioning the person who blew up the dam.

Oh, and when they go looking into Ben's prescription, it turns out that Shelley is that doctor's wife. They assume she's the killer based on the name, because once again, they didn't bother getting a statement about what the woman looked like from the hikers. Seriously, how hard would have been to get a list of everyone named Shelley (Well, Michelle, but you know...) in the area and show their pictures to the hikers, along with the pictures of all the women the wife was with that night? Seems like that would have gotten this done really, really quickly.

The wife wakes up, but she's very jittery. She remembers that it was Kat who buried her alive! Well, she remembers it in the flashback, she's not able to tell them. Then she explains that before being attacked, she'd called a drug addiction support line, and when she told the woman on it that her husband was getting her drugs she freaked out! But why? You'd think that it would have something to do with protecting her husband, who prescribed the drugs to Ben, but that can't be it, because Ben actually has a back problem. Maybe Shelly just hates secret drug users?

Reid and JJ go to talk to Garcia in the hallway, who's learned that all of the drug help lines in the area are secretly run by Shelley, who wants to keep obsessive tabs on all of the drug users in town? Seems like that would be a full time job, based on what we've heard so far about the drug problem in town. Then Garcia finds out that Shelly is Kat's sister!

Why didn't they know that already? The moment Kat started dodging them shouldn't they have checked into her? Shouldn't they have checked into everyone that saw the wife that night? How are you all so bad at this?

Let's just pause for a moment to really focus in on the fact that I have no idea why Shelly attacked the wife. When talking to Kat she says that the wife would have ruined everything. But how? Worst case scenario, she gets caught and her husband fesses up to supplying her pills that he got for his completely real back problem. There's zero blowback for his doctor, who correctly diagnosed his completely real back problem. There's no reason for anything in this episode to have happened.

Shelley tries to get Kat to kill herself with drugs so that the crimes can be blamed on her! Kat is easy to manipulate, so it looks like she's going to do it!

Over at the hospital, we learn that Kat and Shelly's father was brutally beaten, and Kat took the fall - just like they're expecting to have happen in this case! More importantly, though, why isn't the team already arresting both of these women? You know where they live, and they're either guilty or material witnesses. Why are you still hanging around the hospital?

Okay, I got ahead of myself - the team does immediately arrest Shelly, and manages to resuscitate Kat!


Then it's over to the hospital, where Garcia wonders why everyone is getting high if America is so great? JJ responds that they're in a lot of physical and emotional pain, and drugs seem like a solution. Reid reminds us that no, they aren't.

So what is the solution? Come on, team, don't just leave us hanging!

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

No. It didn't factor in at all.

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

The local cop found Kat next to the body. Kat, who had been out with the victim on the night she was assaulted. He neglected to charge her or tell anyone for no reason. Any real cop would have solved the crime immediately.

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

1/10 - So yeah, nothing that happened in this episode makes sense. The killer's motive, the cop's motive, the way the team behaved. Seriously, they didn't bother showing the hikers the pictures of the women that the victim had been with that night. Even though doing so would have solved the crime immediately.

What was going on with the pay phone that the cop called? Like, presumably he was calling Kat to arrange a rendez-vous to talk about Shelly, hence the note, but she has her own phone. Why didn't he just call that? There's no reason not to, is there?

How bad was the team at solving the crime this week? They knew whoever dug the shallow grave drove a pickup. One of the women the wife was with that night drove a pickup. They didn't investigate that lead at all.

So this is what happens when the Criminal Minds team tries to tackle a real life social issue. It somehow goes even worse than their normal episodes.

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