Criminal Minds 1320: All You Can Eat

In a nice house somewhere a woman is doing a crossword puzzle. Her husband walks in, sweaty and weak, complaining that he feels incredibly ill - so awful, in fact, that he was no help at all to his bowling team! Has the man been poisoned?

Yes, he has! The wife goes for aspirin, and when she returns, he's bleeding from all of his face holes!

At Quantico, we've got drama! Garcia is planning to go to the parole hearing of the drunk driver who killed her parents when she was 18! Oof. One of her step-brothers is going to give a victim impact statement, and she's going to be supportive!

She checks in with Emily, and announces that she's going to be working remotely! Which is just a crazy idea. You never know when they're going to need plates run, Garcia - what if they try to call you when you're at the prison, and someone dies because your phone was locked up?

A bank teller and a DIA analyst have each spontaneously bled to death. Is it poison, or an ebola-type pathogen! The CDC is coming to look at it, but they want the team on call in case there's clear terrorist or serial killing involvement!

Then it's over to the killer's chemical shed, where we get a look at all of the dead animals that he's been testing compounds on! He pours some toxins into a vial, because he's getting ready for another murder! But will it be a mass murder this time? Let's find out after the credits!

There's solid connection between the victims - the analyst banked at the banker's institution! Could they have met one another, or perhaps been having an affair? The banker had a violent ex-husband who just moved to town a month ago!

At the victim's house, Joe and JJ discover that the victims didn't die of Ebola, so it must have been a toxin! Hopefully the autopsy will shed some light on which one! Luckily, Aisha and Eric are already there, and discover that the people were killed with mega-doses of rat poison that caused massive an immediate internal bleeding!

JJ asks the widow if the analyst had any enemies, but she can't think of any! She seems not to recognize the banker's name, but does mention a diner where the husband always eats breakfast! Could he have been poisoned there, since he has the most predictable schedule in the world?

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Garcia is visiting with her brother, who now runs a house-painting business! Apparently she never visits! Hell, I'd have forgotten she was from San Francisco if it weren't for the terrible Jeffrey Combs episode! Hey, remember how Joe's daughter lives out here? He sure doesn't!

Anyhoo, the brother wants the guy to stay in jail forever, and he tanks Garcia for sending flowers to the parents' grave every year on the anniversary of their deaths! She doesn't do that, of course, which suggests that a mystery is afoot!

She gets a call from JJ and Eric, and she's forced to tell them that so much rat poison is sold in Virginia that it can't possibly be a lead! Then someone else calls her, and she recoils - but we don't find out who it was! The killer of her parents, perhaps? Or an advocate for him?

How would those people have gotten her number, though? There no way she has a listing anywhere, she works for the FBI.

Matt arrives at base with some bad news - apparently the ex-husband has an air-tight alibi! I don't know how he could, since they don't know where or when the victims were poisoned, but apparently he does! They try to psychologically profile the killer based on the fact that he wants his victims to suffer an agonizing death via poisoning - maybe this means he's too socially awkward to kill people face-to-face? Here's the thing, though - perhaps he just doesn't want to get caught? I don't want to be morbid here, but poisoning is basically the easiest crime to get away with. Unless you use a poison that is incredibly traceable, there's almost no way to figure out who did it as long as you poison the stranger. There have been plenty of mass poisoners in fairly recent history who have gone uncaptured simply because it's nearly as difficult a crime to solve as arson!

Meanwhile, over at a business council event, the killer - who has a horribly burned hand, BTW, pours poison into some salad dressing, punch, and salsa!

Back at base, we get some perfunctory dialogue from Joe and Aisha. It's kind of weird, because they announce that poisoning requires premeditation, which, you know, duh, but also frequently involves a ruse. Which I don't think is true. Unless you consider putting poison into something that people didn't think was poisoned a ruse, then no, don't poisoners just put cyanide in things and walk away? That's not a form of trickery, is it? The point is, they have to figure out where the victims ate in the hours leading up to their deaths.

Over at the business league, everyone starts dying simultaneously!

After a commercial break, Joe and Matt go to talk to the woman in charge of the club, who lets them know which local restaurant catered the event! The team has a big question facing them - up until now, they've been assuming the killer was targeting specific people, but this time, there would be no way to predict who would die! Could he just have a problem with businesspeople in Virginia?

Time for the profile! As usual, it's stuff we've already heard, but what's significant is that the briefing is being given at their offices! So, despite the fact that much of the team has been working the case out of Arlington, they made a dozen cops drive 90 minutes round trip (assuming no traffic) to Quantico just to get a one minute speech about some guesswork as to the killer's plans, and instructions to tell restaurants to look out for poisoners? Couldn't you have just called them, or driven up there?

More importantly, what restaurants? Are people really going to be eating out while a mad poisoner is on the loose, murdering scores of people? How many people did die at the meet and greet - did I miss when they told us?

The real tragedy is that there was no security cameras, although I guess that's not so strange for a union hall type location. Although it's weird that no one at a literal hand-shaking event noticed the guy with the monstrously burned hands.

More with Garcia in SF! She goes to a park to think about her friends by looking at pictures on her phone! There are no pictures of Derek, because I guess they didn't want to pay him? There is a picture with her and her parents from 20 years ago, though, and it's sweet! She flashes back to the night she found out they died - they were out driving around looking for her, and got into a car accident! No wonder she blames herself!

Oh, damn! Her younger brothers were already asleep when they left, so they don't know that it was kind of her fault that the parents died!

It turns out that Garcia's in the park to meet the sister of the jailed guy! She's the one who's been sending flowers to the grave on her brother's behalf! Still no idea how this woman got her cell phone number, though.

She asks Garcia if maybe spending more than half of his life in prison isn't punishment enough - the guy was 18 when he drunk drove and killed them! Garcia says that no, it isn't, and storms off. It's kind of weird that the guy hasn't been paroled already - if he's an exemplary prisoner, then you'd think 20 years would have been more than enough on a 25 year sentence. But apparently they changed the law in California so that the governor has to personally sign off on each and every pardon, and since governors don't ever want to take that political risk, no one ever gets pardoned. It's a terrible system!

Since the attacks in Arlington are now against the business community, and the banker worked in business loans, Matt is sent to find out who all of her clients were, whether she approved a loan or not! Hey... why haven't they done that already? Few people in banking are more resented than loan officers, so shouldn't she have a long list of potential enemies that you were already looking at?

Of course, that leaves them with the question of why target a government analyst. Could he have known the killer, and identified him when the killings started, perhaps? That's not their guess, it's mine, so it's probably wrong.

Then it's over to the killer, who's opening his mail! He might be named Henshaw, based on one of the letters. It's a sympathy card because someone recently died! Is it his parents, to tie this story into the Garcia situation? Like she'll have to forgive, while he's taking revenge?

Then he finds a flyer in his mail, and it angers him so much that he immediately goes and grabs a bunch of poison! We don't see anything other than the fact that a business is having a grand opening! Which you'd think they'd delay, what with a murderer attacking the local business community at the moment.

In SF, Garcia and her brother are walking and chatting! The brother asks Garcia to read the impact statement, because, as an FBI employee, her words will carry more weight! Weirdly, they're acting like this is the guy's first parole hearing, which seems insane. He's served 80% of his sentence already, how can this be his first hearing? Then the brother wonders about why his parents were out so late at night, so yeah, she never told her family.

Then it's over to the prison, which is probably the same location from that terrible Jeffrey Combs episode! Garcia goes to see the drunk driver. He apologizes to her, but that doesn't assuage her guilt at all!

The team looks over the loan officer's files and finds nothing of note! So then they go over all businesses to fail in the past six months, and find just one restaurant! It closed recently, the original owner died just two weeks ago, and the son just bought a huge quantity of rat poison!

Oh, and the analyst was targeted because he left the restaurant a negative review that was passed around quite a bit, and the guy probably blames him for the business closing. Wait - you can identify the specific people who leave negative reviews on yelp and sites like it? Doesn't that seem like an incredibly dangerous thing to let business owners do? Also, why was the banker targeted?

The team goes to arrest the killer, but I'm guessing he's not at his home, but rather at the grand opening of the new business that's taken over his family restaurant's location?

They search his house, find the rat poison workshop, but no killer! Meanwhile, the killer has brought a huge amount of poison to that restaurant grand opening, and blended in with the kitchen staff. Which somehow works?

Anyhoo, we find out that the banker was targeted because she approved the loan for the new business opening up in his family's old location, and when the team realizes that their grand opening is about to begin, they realize that they have to stop the killer immediately!

Okay, the entire team shows up at the restaurant for the bust, and it's miraculous that no one is killed, because the place was supposed to open at noon, and they only identified the location at 11:50. It's a 40 minute drive from Quantico, maybe 25 running sirens the whole time, so shouldn't people already be dying?

Seriously, I can't stress enough that they should have just let the local cops arrest this guy. They were already in Arlington, rather than half an hour away. I wonder how many times this team's love of the spotlight has gotten people killed?

Seriously - they new about the location ten minutes before opening, and could have had cops there in minutes. But when the team arrives, people are already eating the poison food. How is the team so bad at this?

The killer is arrested without incident!


In prison, during the witness statement, Penelope decides to forgive the killer so that she can forgive herself! That's right, she's forgiving him so that she can selfishly forgive herself! Her brother doesn't understand her actions, so she finally confesses her part in the deaths to him. It's traumatic for everyone, and her brother leaves, angry!

The next day, she finally goes to her parents' grave to apologize to them! Damn, she should have dealt with this ages ago!

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

Yes! Partial credit! It's technically a profiling-related extrapolation that got them from 'people targeting businesses' to a resentful business owner!

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

There's no way that no one at that business event doesn't notice a guy with a monstrously burned hand, and cross-referencing that injury against people with huge rat poison purchases seems like a good lead.

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

3/10 - So, setting aside my biggest issue with the episode - that Garcia's forgiveness was 100% a selfish act - there were some major problems with the plot as well. The two first people that the killer targeted - a loan officer and a guy who wrote a yelp review, are people that there's no way the killer would have been able to identify, and there's no reason to suspect that he would have been able to target their eating places and kill them!

But other than the whole starting off of the plot making zero sense, good show this week, team!

Except for the part where your desire to showboat almost got a ton of people killed!

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