Criminal Minds 1312: Bad Moon on the Rise

The episode opens in central park, of all places! A man is jogging alone, at night, because apparently he has a death wish? He's then chased down at attacked by something that grunts! Is it a gorked-out troglodyte who lives under the park? Is this an episode about CHUDs? Let's hope!

Then it's over to DC, where Eric is on a date with a lade! With a nurse that his disabled buddy set him up with! The date is interrupted by Garcia, who has come to collect him for a case! Way to ruin two people's nights, Garcia! Is this case really so urgent it couldn't have waited until the morning?

We get word about the case - a man was disemboweled and had his throat torn open by something with large claws! They immediately wonder if a tiger is loose from a zoo, or possibly escaped a private home. Aisha suggests that a large dog could have been trained to kill. This is a very silly idea, since large dogs don't have claws the way big cats do, and these guys were sliced open.

My bet? Either a werewolf, or a guy in a werewolf suit, like that episode of Hannibal.

Joe mentions that this case is a lot like one from '97, in which two teenagers slit a man's throat, disemboweled him, then filled his body up with stones and threw him in a lake. That sounds almost nothing at all like a guy being mauled to death by an animal. Why would you bring it up?

Then we cut back over to central park, where a couple is walking along, happy to be celebrating their 25th anniversary! Hey... why are they being allowed to do this? Just a couple of hours ago a man was mauled to death in the park, and the police think there's a very real possibility that a wild, bloodthirsty animal is on the loose! How has the park not been cleared out and flooded with police?

Right, then there wouldn't be a kill right before the credits. Gotcha.

A man in a hoodie leaps out of the bushes, frightening them, and they hurry their step as he darts back into the woods. Then he appears in front of them, threatens them with a knife, and gets their money! Moments later, he is mauled to death by a werewolf.

The show intimates as much by showing us the full moon before the killing, which forces us to remember the last murder was exactly a month ago!

Fun fact: The connection between werewolves and the full moon is entirely a creation of the film 'The Wolfman' from 1931 - up until then, myths about werewolves had them transforming pretty much whenever they wanted to!

On the plane, they find out about the latest victim, and talk about the 'lunar effect' which anecdotally suggests that people go nuts during a full moon! No mention is given to the fate of the couple who got mugged. I'm not saying it was their fault for walking through central park at night, but come on, who does that?

In a bizarre time jump, the team arrives at the police station the next morning. It's February, so for it to be this bright out, it would have to be like 10AM. Eric's date was interrupted - at the latest - around 10PM. They were in the air like an hour later. It's a one-hour flight from Quantico to New York, so they should have been on the ground no later than 1AM. So what have they been doing for the last 9 hours?

Also, the show uses an establishing shot of central park from back in October or November, when the leaves were changing colours. I know that the show can't afford snow, but wow, they're not even trying to pretend it's winter!

Emily, Aisha, and Reid talk to the cop in charge of the park, who reveals that the park is way too big for them to fully patrol, and only has security cameras at the perimeter! Well, that's not totally useless, since the killer had to get in and out of the park at some point, right?

Then they express dismay that the New York tabloids are running with the story about there being a beast in the part. I don't want to tell you how to do your jobs, people, but isn't that a good thing? There literally is a beast in the park, so isn't anything that keeps people out of the park until that beast has been caught a good thing? Why are you so reflexively mad at the press? Is it because they exploit real-life tragedy for profit? What do you think this show is for?

Couple of weird things about the newspaper cover. First off, it can't exist-

The photo on the cover is of people standing over the body in broad daylight, but the guy was killed last night, and this issue would have gone to press almost immediately after getting the story about his death together. So they couldn't have a daytime photo of the crime scene.

Also, check this out-

The victim didn't have an orange safety vest on when he was killed, but the body does have one on. Is this a continuity error, or is the werewolf putting safety vests on its victims?

JJ and Eric look over the corpse of the mugger, and discuss that the killer might be a 'moral enforcer' trying to clear scummy people out of the park. But what about the jogger? Perhaps he thinks the immoral act is for anyone to go into the park, at any time? If that's the case, then he's not really a moral enforcer at all, just a run of the mill crazy person.

Joe and Matt go to check with the ME. Matt has completely given up any pretense of dressing like a professional, and literally shows up at a morgue wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Wow.

The ME has news! The victim's throat was torn out by a bite from four giant teeth, but all of the saliva around the wound was human! So yeah, werewolf. Something strange goes unmentioned, though - where was the blood trial leading away from the victim? An attacker tore his throat out and disemboweled him. Unless that attacker brought along a change of clothes and a litre of bleach, then the victim's blood must have gotten absolutely everywhere. So where was the blood trial? Why haven't dogs been dispatched to follow it?

Is this another sleepwalker episode? Does the Criminal Minds team not know that tracking blood is a real thing that cops do all the time, and everyone's just too polite to tell them?

We get a bad prop alert as Reid has mapped out the deaths on the cheapest map of Central Park imaginable-

That map is tiny, and also doesn't have most of the trails, roads, and buildings in the park marked on it. How did they end up with such a terrible prop? Couldn't you have just gotten a blown-up satellite photo?

Then Aisha walks in with some test results - the killer's saliva has drugs in it, ones that could make you violently hallucinate! Her conclusion? The killer must believe that he's a werewolf! They point out that human teeth couldn't possibly have done that kind of damage to someone, tough, so the killer must have made a wolf mask to kill with! If they'd just watch Hannibal they'd save a lot of time.

We then see a hobo in a blood-soaked coat going through some garbage. The police come to arrest him, obvs, and when he turns around, it's just a teenager with shockingly well-coiffed hair for a homeless person!

They interview the kid about his actions, and professes ignorance. So they ask him about the coat, and ditto. Eventually they ask him if he killed the mugger, but give him a completely wrong physical description of the guy, and he confirms that he did it. This is obviously a false confession, but the New York cop is happy to accept it, since they don't like doing a lot of work. The team is just concerned about finding out where he got the killer's coat, or if it is, in fact, his coat, how it ended up with blood all over it.

Meanwhile, the killer shoots himself up with drugs in a tiny bathroom, psyching himself up to go out a-murdering! Then it's over to the park, where he eats a hot dog vendor! Who was in the park well after dark, even though he knew there was a werewolf running around. What's wrong with this guy?

Looking over the body, they find that his wounds were even more savage than the previous victim's. But if the killer is so brutal, why didn't he touch the homeless kid, and instead left him a coat? They go to ask him about the coat, and hypnotize him to find out!

They do a bad job of it, though, because JJ starts out asking him about the park 'last night'. Except, you know, you've had this guy sitting in a room for 18 hours or so. You're asking him about what happened two nights ago. And we can't even excuse this error by suggesting that this scene was moved around in the edit, because Eric specifically states that they know the kid is innocent because there was another murder last night while he was locked up.

How does AJ Cook look at this line in the script and not ask it to be changed so that her character won't look like a complete idiot? Do they even read these scripts before the ride to the set? Is literally everyone working on this show just completely phoning it in?

The kid remembers the werewolf putting the coat on him and telling him to stay warm! So he's unusually worried about homeless kids! Strange enough for a serial killer that it must be a lead! Eric and JJ then tell the kid they have to take him back to the group home where he's being abused, but promise to look into finding him a better living situation. He feels that's likely an empty promise, but I guess we'll see!

Time for the profile! It's just a rehash of everything we've already learned, with the addendum that they'll be doing a park stakeout that night in the hopes of finding him before the full moon goes away! Just think, if you'd done one of those last night, the hot dog vendor might have been saved!

The werewolf, now in a suit goes to the park to meet a lady who is not happy to see him. He wants to get back together, because he's sorry for how he was, and he's worked to improve himself! She is not convinced, and leaves.

Sadly, he doesn't turn into a rage-triggered werewolf right then and there. Okay, serious offer, show - if this guy turns out to be a real werewolf, this episode gets at least a 5/10. I'll score how they caught him as normal, and add that to the 5/10. So the effective minimum score will be a 6/10.

Here are the terms - I don't need a full transformation, or even him to become super furry. Just any kind of demonstration of powers and him having giant fangs. It's fine if a drug causes the transformation, no complaints there - but he needs to not require a biting appliance. If this guy actually shoots himself up with a drug that gives him giant wolf fangs, this episode becomes a winner!

While Matt and Eric wait for sign of the werewolf, they talk about Eric's obsessive phone checking! Will that nurse ever get back to him? Sorry, she's a doctor. My bad. Well, really my passive sexism.

We check in on the killer in his apartment. He downs some alcohol and takes pills at the same time - will this lead to the werewolf transformation I'm hoping to see? Sadly no, he just shoots up his drugs and then grabs a metal mouth. Sigh.

I mean, I knew I was going to be disappointed, but it's still disappointing.

The next morning, JJ, Reid, and Joe go to see the new body! This time it's a woman and her ring and pinkie fingers have been bitten off of her left hand! Is it because he's mad at his ex-wife, and now hates signs of marriage? Also, the new body is an alley, which makes Joe think that the guy is going on an uncontrollable spree, since he's operating outside of the part.

Well, first off, he's already on a spree - he killed three people in 24 hours. I don't know how else you would describe that. More importantly, though, why would killing people outside of the park suggest that he's LESS put together? Doesn't him noticing that the cops are all over the park and then choosing to strike somewhere else suggest that he's more in control than you'd previously assumed?

You know, before there were eight main characters on the show, generally you'd get plenty of scenes with just two people going to a crime scene, and then three people would show up occasionally, or be relegated to police station scenes. Now that they've got seven field agents, the writers are so desperate to make sure everyone has enough lines that every scene is packed.

Looking over the details of the case, the team makes the leap that the stolen engagement ring means that the killer recently lost a romantic partner, and putting the coat on a guy suggests that he wishes he could have protected someone! Could the killer be trying to avenge something bad that happened in the park? Probably not, since he murdered a woman walking her dog down a sidewalk, but who knows?

Eric gets a call from the doctor, who thinks that Eric is a liar because he said he didn't have kids, but Garcia mentioned him needing a sitter! So Eric tells her about the dog, and the problem is resolved!

Garcia digs through crime committed in the park, and finds that the killer's son was shot to death by a robber two years ago! How did that transform into him thinking he was a werewolf? Who knows?

Anyhoo, the team goes looking for him, but finds his wife and her new boyfriend at their old address! Can they find the killer's hovel before he kills again? Yes, definitely, but it might be a little close, because it almost always is.

I can't imagine that finding him will be much more trouble than just calling his work, right? Like, he's a dental technician, so it's not like he's doing that out of a van, and they have to know where he lives. They don't even have to, though - the ex-wife already knows.

We get a flashback to the son's death - he tried to tackle an armed robber and the husband froze up, so she blamed him for letting their son die. No wonder he's become a mad killer! Why the werewolf thing, though?

In the park, which no one is watching, apparently, the killer accosts the homeless kid and drags him into the woods! The team hears about it, and assumes that the killer has taken the kid to a wolf's den where he can be easily protected! Why would the killer know where that is? Has he been spending a lot of time prowling around the woods, getting to know them like the back of his hand? Because it seems more like he just gets high, tears up someone's body, and then runs back to his apartment. Why would they think he's going to obey all of the rules of wolfishness, rather than the broad, big-picture concepts like looking out for his pack and eating prey?

They go out to where the killer is holding the kid, and announce it's too risky to just go and arrest him. Only it's not at all - he's not going to try to hurt the kid, the worst that can happen is that he charges you, but then you can just shoot him with a taser or a beanbag to knock him down and then arrest him.

Still, they decide to go the psychological route and bring the wife in to chat! Eric tells her to forgive her husband for the whole failing to protect his son, and she does! The killer surrenders without incident.

So yeah, if she'd just apologized a year ago, none of this would have happened. You're the worst, lady.


Eric and Doctor go on another date! They really want him to be the new Derek, don't they?

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

Yes! For once it factored in a little! They were able to extrapolate that the killer was trying to get vigilante revenge on people in the park, and that had to be for a good reason! Then again, he killed a bunch of people who weren't dangerous, and also there was no reason for him to be a werewolf, so this is all pretty strange.

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

The guy wandered back to his apartment, drugged and blood-soaked. I feel like he should have been spotted almost immediately. Also, you know, dogs can follow blood in those quantities, maybe even in New York!

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

5/10 - I still have no idea why that guy turned himself into a wolf. If he'd started shooting criminals in the park, then sure, why not. But the whole werewolf transformation seems so preposterous and out of step with everything we learn about his backstory.

Also, you know, he sometimes avoided the park, but then other times he didn't? Weirdly inconsistent.

And I'll never forgive you for cheating me out of a werewolf, show. So, what, you're allowed to do any number of episodes about demons, but a werewolf is somehow taboo? Weak.

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