Criminal Minds 1401: 300

The season opens with a flashback montage, introducing all of the characters! I guess they're worried that someone might be confused by watching the season 14 premiere as their first-ever episode. Which, yeah, that would be weird. Also, hugely unlikely, but I'm not going to blame them for a surfeit of care.

The episode begins with the team driving back to base, unable to get anyone on the phone. That's because there's been a fire alarm in the building - that was how they were planning on smuggling Michael out of the building! Eric and JJ get to the garage from last year, and find the blood trail from when Owen was shot! They follow it to him, and find that he's barely clinging to life! They also notice spatters of blood on the ground near where the cult car peeled out!

The team finds out that Michael is missing and Owen wasn't in on it - we then cut to Michael and the evil VICAP lady in an ambulance. They've got a tablet showing footage of where Reid and Garcia are being held! Which couldn't be more than like ten blocks from the marine base, given the timeline here.

The team looks over the crime scenes, and we discover that only FBI people would know about evacuation protocols, so an inside man had to be responsible for the escape. Also, ambulances were the only vehicles not being searched, so presumably Michael was in one of them. Although he would likely have been in a fake ambulance, if this was a well-planned enough mission.

At this point we visit a warehouse, where the surprisingly large death cult is loading assault weapons into trucks. What, exactly, do they have planned? VICAP lady demands that Garcia do something for her on a computer, but she won't help until she knows Reid is safe!

Over at the hospital, Owen tells Eric that VICAP lady was the real villain, but he does it just slowly and awkwardly enough that it takes Reid a moment to figure out what he says. The team goes to work of figuring out who VICAP lady is, in the hopes of stopping the plan. Matt and Eric look over the security footage of the escape, and see that Reid and VICAP lady grabbed Theo, because apparently Michael said he was the new Messiah. That's information we could have used last week! On the tape, they see Reid sign a message about the cult, but they don't know what it means!

Emily and Aisha go over the parking lot logs and discover that each of the three vehicles they used left minutes apart, which is a weird choice, since every passing second is more of a chance that the FBI will notice something's gone wrong and order a lockdown at the edge of the military base. I'm kidding, of course - they've have done the lockdown immediately after the fire alarm went off, because of concerns about terrorism. I don't know how anyone not in an ambulance made it off the premises. Instead of focusing on that, they decided to look into what VICAP lady hoped to accomplish by joining the FBI.

We get a brief warehouse interlude - they're loading chemicals, food, and solar panels into trucks as well! Sounds like it's time to head out to their rural compound!

In the office, we learn that the VICAP lady has been using her position to keep the system from noticing the pattern of the murders that Michael was committing. Apparently 299 people have been strangled and had their hyoid bone removed! Hey, VICAP lady? I have a better plan for how to keep from being noticed by the FBI. Instead of going through the trouble of becoming the head of VICAP over fifteen years, maybe just don't leave bodies lying around the country with that bone missing. Have you not heard of fire? It does wonders!

Reid is brought to see Garcia - he announces that he's going to be the 300th victim that they need in order to wrap up their religious mania. So I guess the 299 murder count they found was completely accurate? You're kind of bad at being an anonymous serial killer cult if the government has found every single body you've left lying around somewhere. Also, by having that many found bodies, you'll run the risk that state authorities will uncover the pattern themselves, and go to the FBI directly rather than just submit the data to VICAP.

Hey, maybe Theo will have to kill Reid, because he's supposed to be the cult's new figurehead? Right after he tells this to Garcia, VICAP lady puts a gun to his head and demands that Garcia do the thing that they're not telling us about!

When VICAP lady is turned away, Reid tells Garcia to make a run for it and grab the car outside. He says that he and Theo can provide a distraction, since they don't want to kill the two of them immediately! He tells Garcia roughly where they are, so she can go and summon the team!

Longtime background character 'Anderson' shows up to tell Emily that there was a fake ambulance in with the real ones, and they can't track it. He has a beard now, which is both a huge violation of the FBI grooming code, and looks terrible on him.

In the office, the team looks over the map of murder, and it immediately becomes apparent that someone would have noticed these crimes, despite VICAP lady's best efforts.

That's just way too many dead bodies clustered in states for someone not to have picked up on. Still, let's go with the show's warped idea of how cops operate, and focus on why they keep these bones as souvenirs! They announce that if the bones were taken out while the people were alive, it would have 'stolen their voice', since you can't speak without that bone. Of course, they have no reason to believe that these bones were taken out while the people were alive, so that seems like a reach. Then we get some absolute nonsense about how Reid must have been their kidnapping target, because he's a protector which fits the victimology. How, though? The cult has killed 299 people, and all we've heard about is 7 college students. Why would an FBI Agent/terrible professor suddenly seem like the kind of person they want to grab?

We see Garcia finishing the job they asked her to do - which seems to be entering the cult's trucks into some kind of database? Then she warns VICAP lady that if she doesn't sync the computer up immediately then it will automatically disconnect, and if they need her to do more hacking it will set off alarms somewhere. I have to assume that this is a lie and the syncing will actually send out a message to the team. More importantly, though, I can't imagine that there's a clearance you could give these trucks that will help them get out of the area. The FBI Training Academy has been attacked, a serial killer has escape, and FBI Agents have been taken hostage. Wouldn't this whole half of the state be shut down until all of that was resolved?

In a bathroom, JJ and Emily talk about how worried they are about Reid - they even callback to that first season episode where Mandy tolkd Reid to ask JJ out, and it didn't go well! I feel like the time to have these kind of conversations was two years ago, when Reid was going to jail forever. This is a less severe situation by far.

Nearby, Aisha, Matt, and Eric are trying to figure out why Reid left the message 'Ben's Believers', which is just the leader's name along with the cult's name. Strangely, they find out Michael's birth name was David, but he changed it to Benjamin when starting the cult. But why?

Also, we get a weird interlude where they talk about the possibility that VICAP lady used a fake ID to join the FBI. Of course, there's no fake ID good enough to fool an FBI background check, so I don't know why you'd think that. Matt thinks that a witness relocation ID could, but that's obviously not true, because part of an FBI background check is looking into people you know, and WitSec people appear out of nowhere one day.

Things get pretty crazy in Emily's office - she thinks that when VICAP lady dropped off Owen's file she lingered in the doorway too long, as if she wanted to test if Emily recognized her. She's worked one floor up for a decade - if you were going to recognize her, it would have happened by now. Still, Emily thinks that Reid did recognize her, but doesn't know from what context!

Then she has a flashback! VICAP lady was in Luke Perry's cult back in Season 4! Michael Hogan just inherited Luke's cult after he blew himself up! They referred to themselves as 'believers', and that's the name they still go by!

Um... if Reid figured out who VICAP lady was, why would he not have just signed Luke Perry's character name, rather than 'Ben's Believers'?

At the warehouse, VICAP lady start talking to Reid about their evil plans, and how this is payback for his part in wrecking their cult. Reid grabs for an assault weapon and Theo attacks someone, causing enough of a ruckus for Garcia to make a run for it! VICAP lady notices and chases her, but there's no guards outside the warehouse, so Garcia is able to get into the car, start it with the keys that are left inside, and smash the car into VICAP lady as she runs out of the building. Nice moves, Garcia!

Lots of people getting new cheques this week, as we see not just lots of footage of Luke Perry from Minimal Loss, but the guy who played the reporter at the start of that episode! Good for them!

Things get super-dumb upstairs, as we get a background on what happened in the aftermath of Luke Perry's cult explosion. We're told that some of the cultists got new IDs from the government to help them get out of the cult, and VICAP lady must have planned to infiltrate the FBI all along. But she's been working at VICAP for ten years. Which means she must have joined the FBI literally within a couple of months after the relocation. I may criticize the FBI from time to time, but they don't hire people who appear out of nowhere with zero relevant checkable educational history. Also, when their background check hit one of the tripwires the Witness Relocation people set up, then they would have gotten in contact with the FBI to explain what was going on, and VICAP lady would have been caught immediately. So yeah, not a bit of this makes the slightest lick of sense.

What's even dumber than that? Garcia shows up in the office to tell them about the warehouse. Here's the thing - she was driving a stolen car and doesn't have her government ID. It would be a hassle to get into the building. Also, the building is a ten minute drive past the guardhouse at the entrance to the base. Time is of the essence woman, and while I get that you're so scared that you didn't want to stop to call the team until you were safe, the moment you got to the marines guarding the entrance to the base, you were safe, so why didn't you call from there and mobilize the entire federal government against the warehouse then?

Her delay gives the cultist time to escape, leaving nothing behind but Theo's body! That's right - you failed to save literally the only good person in this entire situation. You're terrible, team.

In one of the trucks, which somehow haven't been stopped by the roadblocks that would have to be all over the area, Michael does some villain speeching to Reid, but really, who cares, the only good person in this situation has been killed off.

At the base, we discover that no, Garcia didn't leave any way to trace the trucks in her coding, and also that the government didn't set up roadblocks, either. This show has massively underestimated what the response to an attack on the FBI would be.

They try to figure out the significance of the cult wanting to kill just 300 people, and why Reid told Garcia to pass along the message that something would happen at 10:23. They're at a loss, though, and don't have any good pitches.

Garcia remembers something interesting from the Luke episode - when he was thrown out of the cult he served time in Kentucky, so maybe the cult is going there! It's literally the only lead they have, so they scramble the jet! Also, given the villains' love of scripture, they wonder if the whole 10:23 thing couldn't have been a reference to a bible verse! If it was, though, wouldn't Reid have told Garcia a book? If it is a bible thing, then between not mentioning Luke and this, Reid is officially the worst at giving clues.

On the plane, they go through all of the 10:23 bible verses, and discover that in Matthew, it says 'if you're persecuted in one place, go to another'. So Reid's secret message was - they're planning to flee and hide? Yeah, Garcia already knew that because she was in charge of making sure that their trucks full of supplies were cleared to drive without being searched. Reid really is the worst at clues.

They note that in addition to everything else, the number 300 also references the number of angels guarding Eden, which is just a complete lie. Yes, the last line of the Eden part of the bible says that God left guards and a flaming sword to keep Adam and Eve from being able to come back, but there's nothing about numbers in there. Still, they jump to the conclusion that the cult will hide out in a place named Eden, or something like that. Garcia finds a Canaan and an Arcadia, though, and they decide to go to the one that was closer to where Luke was from, since they believe that the cult will be shockingly predictable.

The FBI raids the camp before the cultists can kill Reid. Michael is killed, and everyone else surrenders without incident.


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

Nope! They just followed a nonsense clue.

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

Real cops would have shut down all of the roads until the cult was found - their warehouse was within ten miles of the marine base - just flying a helicopter around with a heat-sensitive camera and they would have noticed the suspiciously high level of activity in the warehouse almost immediately. This was not a hard crime to solve.

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

0/10 - The only thing they had to accomplish this week was to save Theo, the only good person involved in the situation, and they couldn't even manage that. You're terrible, team.

To put this in the starkest possible terms, Reid sacrificed Theo's life to save Garcia. Theo, who survived the most horrible upbringing imaginable and came out of it a hero, was sacrificed for Penelope, a ball of insecurities and bad instincts. I won't forgive you for this, show.

Did they even tell us whether Owen survived or not? Damn, what a sloppy episode.

I cannot stress enough how little sense any of this makes. Yes, you can get a new identity from the witness protection program, but that new identity will absolutely not feature a law degree and a recommendation letter to the FBI academy.

Also, it's flat-out impossible that they wouldn't have already known Michael was in Luke's cult. Every single adult in that cult was arrested and fingerprinted. Even if he changed his name, he'd still be identifiable immediately. There's no way Reid would have just had to remember this.

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