31.12.19

Criminal Minds 1319: Ex Parte

The episode opens with two guys loading electronic equipment into a van. Destination? Mystery! It seems they were inspecting the security at a location, and now they're done! Well, done in the sense that they immediately get attacked by a pair of goons with pistols!

They're forced inside another, and told to turn over their keys and uniforms. Obviously someone is going to break in somewhere, pretending to be them. But where?

They zip-tie the guys, but then murder them anyway, which seems like a really poor choice. You've just massively increased the scale of the police response to your actions. So unless your next move is a mass-casualty terrorist attack, there's a good chance this is going to be your worst decision ever.

We get more of Matt at home - he's looking for his phone! His wife mocks him for still using a blackberry, which is weird, because he works for the FBI and has to text all the time as part of his work. Blackberries are famously secure and way better for texting than touchscreen phones. Nonetheless, she buys him a new phone, which he refuses to accept!

Dude, just avoid the fight and accept the better phone as your personal model that you use for family stuff. Problem solved.

The killers load up the computer equipment and bring it what seems to be a law office, where a guy is talking to a receptionist, demanding to see someone immediately. The guys use their security access to hack into the building's system, and then hand an SMG to the guy in the waiting area and start firing rounds into the ceiling! They then load the place with explosives! This is a pretty outre plan. What can they possibly hope to accomplish?

At the office Emily gets a call - there's a hostage at the headquarters of the fact ACLU! Which is where Matt's wife works! That's why she was in the opening!

The lead killer hops on a table and yells about making history, but offers no insight into his motives or political affiliations. All three are young white guys, though, so they're probably Nazis, who famously hate the ACLU. I guess we'll find out after the opening credits!

At the office, the killers collect all of the phones, but what they don't know is that Matt's wife still has his new phone in her purse, so she kicks it under a chair when they're not looking! Hopefully they'll keep her hostage in this conference room, rather than moving them to an office like they did everyone else, or that will be a wasted move.

One of the paralegals tries to get away with saying he forgot his phone at home, but the killer just calls it, then viciously kicks the guy for trying to deceive him.

On the ground floor, JJ, Eric, and Aisha arrive and ask about the situation. There's bombs on the doors so SWAT can't break in, and then we're told that they tried to send in fibre-optic wire cameras, but that the killers blinded the lenses with infrared lights. Now, this is something you can do - fire a powerful laser at a camera to damage it. But the killers would have to know exactly where the cameras were and manually do that, and those cameras are extremely small, so it's doubtful they could manage it. They're setting up thermal cameras across the street, but it'll be a little while.

The real question is - did SWAT remember to destroy all of the other cameras in the building? They know the killers have access to the security system, so if they don't do that, then the killers can watch everything they're up to.

There's some conflict with the killers. The lead guy wants to start killing everybody, but the bald guy says he has to stay calm until their plan is in place so they can 'pull this off'.

JJ finds the killers' van in the basement, and asks Garcia to check on the guys who were supposed to be driving it! Garcia notes that the ACLU had a scheduled security check for that morning, so the killers had to have access to the company's internal information! Weirdly, the two dead guys haven't been reported missing - but they were the night shift, and this is happening at like 10AM, so shouldn't someone have noticed that they never returned to the depot, and the people who were actually supposed to do this job didn't show up?

The team gets together over the phone to discuss the situation. Reid says it's likely that the killers are young, because the 'hanging up the phone' when the FBI calls is an immature tactic. Or, you know, you could go by the security guards who saw both of their faces, and could tell you that they're in their early 20s.

They talk for a little while about how complicated it's going to be to disarm the bombs on the door - it actually isn't, you can just freeze them in under a minute - but they do make a strong point about why they can't bust in. If they don't simultaneously kill all the hostages takers, one of them might be able to set the bomb off!

The lead killer drags the boss to an office, and asks her who in the office should be his spokesman for talking to the feds outside. She wonders why he can't do it himself, and he responds that 'despite (her) propaganda', the cops have itchy trigger fingers for 'people like him'. Who, domestic terrorists? Well, at least we've confirmed that they're nazis, because he's specifically complaining about the ACLU suing police departments over shooting black people.

She refuses to help, so he shoots her, like a racist Hans Gruber! They even show brains splattering all over the wall, lest we miss the reference.

The killer sends her body down with a phone, and calls with his demand: let a Nazi out of prison, or people die every fifteen minutes!

We find out about the Nazi back at base. He's a scumbag who killed two state agents when they raided his home, and he's going to be dying next week in a Virginia death chamber! Also, he's played by Buffy's Harry Groener! Joe suggests they bring him in to the office to help with the situation. They think he won't be able to keep from bragging about how awesome his plan is!

That may be true, but it's going to take you like an hour to get the guy in here, and four people will be dead by then. So... what are you going to do in the meantime?

Okay, for some reason the SWAT guys have set up the heat-based cameras inside the building, and the walls are too thick to get a good result. Why didn't you set them up across the street, so you can look through the windows? What's wrong with you people?

SWAT wants to bust down the doors and take their chances killing everyone before the bombs are set off, but Eric thinks they should try to talk them down first! Aisha texts the lead killer in the hopes of getting that communication going!

Meanwhile, one of the other killers isn't psyched about the situation, and thinks they shouldn't have started shooting people, because it risks the SWAT guys busting in and killing everyone. It's at this point that we realize that these guys are delusional or badly-written, because they think they can get out of this situation without dying or being put in jail for the rest of their lives. Heck, the worried guy is even expecting to get paid!

Yeah, that's not happening. I know that this episode is based on Die Hard and everything, and the other guy is opening up the air vents, but they're not letting you out of here. Even if you detonate all of the explosives and pretend that you were killed, they're still going to scour every inch of the building until they find all of the pieces of your bodies.

At the previous work site of the security guys, JJ finds that they're still alive! That's right, the hesitant guy didn't execute them when there was no reason to! That's because he's not a Nazi like the other two, he's just in it for the money! He might be comparatively decent, but he's pretty dumb if he thinks he can get out alive, though. Seriously, last time this team dealt with Nazis they blew up a helicopter. It was ridiculous and amazing.

Back at the office, they find out that one of the team members isn't hardcore, and wonder how they can use that to their advantage. Then they get the news that Harry has arrived at the building! No one mentions the four people who must be dead by now.

You know, writers, the guy could have just said he'd kill one person every hour, and this wouldn't be so preposterous. Just saying.

Harry claims to know nothing about the hostage situation, but explains that it's the natural order of things. People are rising up against a tyrannical government. Today, it's the ACLU, tomorrow the FBI!

While the nazis are busy not killing three people, Matt's wife finally gets the phone and calls 911, who puts her through to Garcia and company! They activate the new phone and ask her to use it to film the room, but then she notices that the killers are coming back, so she leaves the phone on the floor and runs back to where she was sitting.

Doesn't it make more sense to bring the phone with you, though? Like, you can hide it behind you where you're sitting, and it makes it easier to get later on.

The killers execute another hostage and send him downstairs. You know, if you'd have put guys on the roof of the elevator, then when they called it you could have killed at least two, maybe all three of them. Just saying.

Over the phone, Aisha asks the lead killer to release a hostage. He is unmoved by her plea. It's weird that the team still doesn't have any idea who these killers are. They have physical descriptions of two of them, and they're affiliated with a known Nazi organization, so the FBI should have files on them.

Well, I say 'should', in truth, the FBI stopped investigating nazis in the 00s when their focus turned to muslim extremism, and they've never really gotten back to giving right-wing extremists the attention they deserve. Fun fact: That's why there are many police forces in rural America that are 100% Nazi and KKK-run! It's part of the Turner Diaries fantasy world these people are trying to make into a reality.

Then, when both killers are out of the room, Matt's wife again runs to the phone, and again uses it while crouched next to a chair, rather than just bringing it back to where he's supposed to be sitting. What is wrong with this woman?

She puts the phone on a shelf with some antique cameras, hoping the killers won't notice it! This gives the SWAT people a look at the main room of the office!

Armed with the video feed, they're able to identify the two henchmen as ex-military bank robbers, one of whom is obviously a Nazi! Then they find video of the third guy visiting Harry in prison! Given the way he keeps crying and Harry tries to comfort him, everyone assumes that this is Harry's secret son that no one knows about!

Joe goes to see Harry to confirm the suspicion. Harry does so, without hesitation, and offers to talk his son down if he gets to spend life in prison, rather than being executed! Joe says no deal, he's fine with the ACLU people all being killed! Weird way to play this, since Joe seemingly has no cards to play.

While the team downstairs plot a way to turn the son against his father and end the hostage situation, the idiot in the room with Matt's wife keeps yelling at her and pointing at the camera she put on the shelf. Because he's an idiot. The lead killer notices, naturally, which is going to case some problems, no doubt!

The lead killer finds the phone, and is about to execute the idiot, when Matt's wife volunteers that it was her who put the phone up there. I know that seems like the noble thing to do, but you've got four kids at home, and the guy who's about to be shot is the one who caused this situation, so... maybe keep your mouth shut, lady?

Luckily, they've got plenty of info that they can use to save her life! They tell her to reveal to the rest of the team that the guy is Harry's illegitimate son with a Mexican crime contact! That's right, he's not a pure Aryan after all! At least one of the team members is going to be pissed off to hear this!

Meanwhile, Matt has arrived at the building, and has staked out the ventilation shaft in the basement, since that's the only way out of the building that isn't stairs or an elevator.

When the super-nazi finds out that the lead killer isn't really white, he starts yelling, so the lead killer shoots him to death! Then Matt charges in, and instead of just shooting them, he announces himself! The lead killer searches the floor for him, while the other killer seals up the vent, so no more cops can come through. Which is a weird thing to do. Shouldn't he be trying to escape himself? This guy never planned on dying in the building, and he doesn't believe in Harry's Nazi fantasies, so why is he sticking around? Dude, take your chances on the ladder.

He does, though, instead he pulls a gun on Matt and gets shot to death for his trouble. Now it's just down to the lead killer with his bomb detonator! He's too much of a coward to use it, though, and as he searches the floor, Matt sneaks up behind him! Instead of just shooting the guy in the back like a sane person, though, Matt waits for him to turn around and pull the trigger on his SMG. If the guy hadn't miraculously been out of bullets, Matt would have died right then and there.

Everyone here is bad at their job.

They have a fistfight, and Matt stops the lead killer from detonating the bomb!

THE END

The team rushes in after the action is over! Then Joe tells Harry that his son has been arrested, and is going to be sentenced to death as well! That's a big maybe, though - Washington DC doesn't have the death penalty, so unless they can find a way to charge the guy for murder under a federal statute, he'll just be in jail for the rest of his life!

Oh, and now Matt uses the new phone!

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

I can't really give out points for this episode, because it didn't really involved solving a crime in any meaningful way. Yes, they used the Nazis' hate-filled ideology against them, doing so meant risking everyone's lives, while dealing with Harry would have probably gotten everyone out safely, or at least bought time to move in SWAT.

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

There was an air shaft they could use to bring SWAT into the office undetected. Yeah, it would have gone fine.

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

N/A - I kind of love how no one mentions the degree of stupid it was for Matt to go in alone and shoot up the place. Without even putting on a bulletproof vest. You had an army of guys you could have brought with you. It was such a dumb plan that the only reason it didn't get everyone killed is that the leak killer was a coward about blowing himself up.

Seriously, there's no reason to expect that this would have gone well at all.

Also, it's interesting that the one henchman's wariness ended up playing no role whatsoever in the proceedings!

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