Criminal Minds 1316: Last Gasp

With the team torn asunder,it looks like there's going to be some catching up to do! First, though, let's check in on a murderer, who wears rubber gloves and has a tray full of surgical tools! Actually, it might not be a killer, since it's a woman dressed in bondage gear, looming over a man with a ball gag in his mouth. Based on the language of television, this is probably consensual.

It was! Emily and her new partner kick down the door to arrest the ball-gag man, who's an FBI agent they were investigating! It seems that Emily's in the office of professional review now, which makes zero sense. They took a woman who was removed from her last post for constant unprofessional behaviour and rule-breaking, and transferred her to internal affairs?

Are you people high?

At the office, JJ, Barnes, Eric and Matt hear about a potential case! Murderous bank robbers are killing bank employees! Barnes thinks there's not enough good PR in that, so they should move on. Eric has found a person killing ailing Mexican immigrants in California. Again, that's not a PR coup. Apparently this has been going on for two weeks - how have they not figured out what Barnes wants by now?

Especially when she specifically told them what she wanted last week?

JJ then wins a Prentiss Award for the following line:

26 people? How are you counting that? Is that the total number of people murdered by serial killers in the past two weeks? Is it the number you could have saved if you'd been working cases? What is any of this based on, you mad people?

It's funny - and I don't believe I had anything to do with this, it's obviously just a coincidence - but when I started this project of reviewing all of Criminal Minds, it was based on an observation that not only have profilers never helped solve a crime, but it was such an impractical academic pursuit that you couldn't even write fiction about it being used to solve crimes. I've proven that theory out dozens of times over, of course, but what I came to believe through working at this project was that serial killers have never been a particularly large threat, and that they were primarily advertised by the FBI as a way of helping improve the Agency's PR in the post-Hoover era.

And now, the show is unbelievably close to having the villain just come out and say my conspiracy theory as her motivation. It's kind of amazing that we've gotten here, isn't it?

Okay, back to the episode - their new tech guy arrives, and he's so incompetent that he doesn't even know how to do a background check on their various victims! I know they want this guy to be worse than Garcia, but there's no way someone this incompetent could have a job working research for the FBI. Whatever respect I had for the show almost managing to understand the truth of profiling has gone out the window the moment that this guy walked in.

Then we check on Garcia, who's working in cybercrimes, and forced to wear a respectable suit. The horror! Also, she gets a look at what actual crime fighting is like, and she does not care for it! She shut down an identity theft ring, but all of the people involved are in Russia, so there's nothing to be done. The moment that's over, she has to search 50 hard drives for more info about identity theft! It's a hard life, being a data analyst, when you're not spoiled and get a private office and a shockingly light workload.

Then, when working on the hard drives, she finds evidence of a woman being tortured and murdered! Is it just weird porno, or is there a serial killer on the loose? Obviously the second, this is an episode of Criminal Minds!

Then we check in on Aisha, who's doing HR counseling for Mulder and Scully! It's hilarious! Well, not hilarious, but at least it's a recognizable attempt at humour! Then she and Emily commiserate about their lives while drinking wine! Hey, is Joe now free to finally get married to Hayden? I feel like we haven't heard anything about their relationship in a year.

Garcia brings the photos to her boss, who I think is Perd from Parks and Recreation? But I could be wrong about that. Oh, and the episode was directed by Eric! Is he going to impress me?

JJ brings the photos to Barnes, who thinks that the photos are just fetish porn! Doesn't it feel like Garcia should have identified the woman and established that she was missing before giving the files to JJ? You've got three good pictures of her face, that's more than enough to start a public records search.

JJ says that the new lady will be 'number 27', of the list of people who've been killed by serial killers while the team hasn't taken on the cases! Again, how many spree killers are out there? And what are the local cops and FBI agents doing with their time?

Then it's over to Reid, whose class is 90% young women who are just there to watch a male model teach, and have no interest in the subject matter! It's weird that the show only remembers that Reid looks like a male model once every eight years or so.

Then the show takes what seems to be a weird swpie at Reid - Joe is consulting on a TV show, and the buffoon of an actor playing a ridiculous FBI agent on the show wears a revolver in a holster exactly like Reid does:

So, is Adam Rodriguez, who came to the show 12 seasons in, able to realize how absurd so much of the show is, and wants to poke fun at it in his episode, or have the writers discovered a sense of humour in season 13?

Joe gets the same call Reid did, and goes to work on the case! Weirdly, he's referred to as the 'writer' on the show with in a show, rather than as a consultant, but he's only been retired for two weeks, and that's not long enough to have gotten a movie made. And since no television shoots in Baltimore any more (RIP The Wire) this would have to be a movie.

At Emily's house they go over the case! Emily points out that they could all get fired from the FBI, even if they save the woman, but they're obviously all fine with that, or they wouldn't be there. Joe then says that the BSU was started in a room like this, so why not end it in one?

Okay, Joe, the BSU was started in a bunker a few stories beneath your office building, not a swanky Georgetown condo, and if you all get fired, there will still be a BAU. You're not indispensable, you're just narcissistic and arrogant.

Then it's over to the killer, who loads the old body into a furnace, and takes the new woman out of a trunk! Wait, wasn't the new woman already having her pictures taken in front of a brick wall? I'm probably remembering the order of scenes wrong. Or maybe he does multiple shoots!

Also, are the women supposed to be vampires that he's killing? They're murdered with a big circular chest wound and laid out in coffins. So it's vampire-killing snuff porn, right?

The team goes over the case files, and we learn that Garcia still hasn't ID'd the victims, somehow. Especially after they discover that the photos were taken in DC! Which is incredibly fortunate for this project. Imagine if the murders were in Seattle? That would be a tough trip to explain!

Matt and Joe go in to see the guy who had the snuff pics on his computer, and he's happy to help them when he finds out the pictures are real! I have no idea how Joe got in to see him, as he does not have any kind of government ID. Is he Matt's guest?

JJ and Eric go to the various high-end hotels in which the candid, normal photos of the women were taken, and in a lucky break, one of the pictures was taken in front of a piece of art in the hotel's lobby! Wow, since they know the exact time that picture was taken a couple of days ago, and this hotel definitely has security cameras, this should be a great lead!

Sadly, no - the hotel is the kind of place that rich people take sex workers to, so they advertise their lack of security! Wow, how many people are getting killed in this hotel, right? Anyhoo, the concierge says that both women were sex workers.

Looking over the basement photo of the dead woman, Emily and Reid notice that the killer left in a wine rack along with the brick wall. It must be a wine cellar!

Then we cut to the dead woman being photographed, this time in a chair in a parody of a picnic situation! Wow, the team really screwed up this one, huh? Also, I'm sad that the vampire theme hasn't continued.

Then the killer goes upstairs, where a party is in full swing. The dastard! He flirts with a lady and then takes her picture. Will he try to kill her as well? She's got a super-rich father, so that would be a terrible mistake!

Garcia shows up at Emily's with some news! The photos of the missing victim are already online, and a new candid photo has appeared. They only have three days to save her! Or probably less. More importantly, though, seven years ago a young socialite was murdered in a hotel, dressed just like these new victims! It would be a great lead, but Barnes was the lead agent on the case, and she covered it up to protect the rich person who did it! How can they convince her to do the right thing?

Over in the killer's murder dungeon, he's kidnapped that lady because she looks a lot like his first victim!

JJ goes to talk to Barnes, who says that the original victim died of a heroin overdose while doing sex work, and she has a rich father who needed to be protected. She won't let JJ look at the file, and instead fires her!

Armed with the news that seven different men were in the hotel room with the first victim on the night of her death, the team has Garcia hack the crime scene photos, hoping that the killer left a clue! Did he ever - he brought a super-expensive bottle of wine with him and left it at the scene! This dude is lucky he's rich, because he's got zero self-preservation skills.

The team sees a news report about a senator's daughter being kidnapped, and she looks just like the other victims! This shouldn't be too difficult of a case to solve, since she was last scene at a party at the killer's house, with dozens of witnesses. Also, Garcia found out who bought the wine bottle - the first victim's step-brother! Scandal!

Garcia gives them the backstory - the killer was a creep who tried to give his drug-addicted stepsister money for sex! And then eventually he killed her, or at least didn't help when she overdosed!

Armed with zero concrete evidence, no warrant, and no badge for one of them, Emily and Joe break into the killer's house and find the torture dungeon! There's no one there, sadly. So they make the logical leap that since he's trying to recreate the first murder, she might be in the same room at that hotel!

The team busts into the hotel room, arrests the killer, and treats the victim for her overdose!


Because the latest victim was a senator's daughter, the reset button is immediately pushed on the last few episode's worth of storylines! Wow. That was abrupt!

Oh, and we find out that Barnes' evil plan was to embed profilers in major FBI offices around the nation, rather than just having a team of seven of them working on every case. This would have been a much better division of labour, and probably would have saved more of the lives JJ can't stop talking about!

Then we get a montage of the various other jobs the team had, and it's all played for comedy! This was a weird episode.

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

It's borderline! Yes, they figured he would bring the last victim to the hotel, but since they had already discovered his connection to that hotel, it would have been their next stop irregardless. Still, partial points!

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

The daughter of a senator disappeared after a party at a local creep's house. This would not have taken long to solve. Maybe even faster had they just tracked her movements the moment she went missing, rather than waiting 48 hours.

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

2/10 - Wow, was the timeline jumbled on this episode. I have no idea how long any of it took, or what was happening when - theoretically three days passed between the party scene and the finale, but man, could you not tell that from the final version of the episode.

It's strange how badly the team played everything this week - they know Barnes only cares about PR, but instead of going to her when they find out that a Senator's daughter has been kidnapped, and negotiating terms from her to get the credit if she reinstates the team and leaves them alone, they go around her, hoping that it will all work out. And in doing so, they ensure that the killer will not go to jail for his crimes.

Oh, did you think he was going to jail? Yeah. He's not. Even if they found human remains in his furnace, they didn't have a warrant when busting into his house, so none of that can be used against him. As for the woman he gave heroin to and attempted to kill, it'll be a he said/she said between two equally rich and powerful families, both of which will likely want the story to just go away. It's great that they can prove the photography was done in his basement, but it doesn't really matter, because they only proved that via an illegal search. Normally they're not up against people with enough money to hire the best lawyers, but this time they are, and it's incredibly unlikely that this guy will be spending a day in jail. He might be in an institution for a little while, but only because the family wants him there, not because of any kind of a legal proceeding.

It's weird to see this much comedy as well. I often talk about how more dramas should do a comedy episode every now and then, but Supernatural seems to be the only show that bothers. Then again, if this is what a Criminal Minds comedy episode looks like, they really shouldn't bother.

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