Criminal Minds 1407: Twenty Seven

A pair of women are taking pictures on the street when a madman with a machete slashes someone up right in the middle of frame! When he notices that he's being filmed, and hears the police being called, the madman runs away! He's not a handkerchief over his nose and mouth, but they've still probably got pretty good footage of him.

Everyone runs to help the slashed man while the ambulance is on the way, and in a closeup we notice that even though we saw the madman slash at his victim one more time before fleeing, the man has no additional wounds from when he fell. Maybe the guy missed?

An FBI agent arrives moments later, and starts organizing the scene! Emily, JJ, and Matt get there twenty seconds later, which is amazing. I guess this guy is a known criminal they were already chasing? Because he ran off approximately 90 seconds ago. In fact, why are you parking cars and talking to people - drive around and look for the guy?

According to Emily, a guy has been running around downtown for the last hour, slashing people with a machete! His first victim just died in the hospital! Wait, why are there still people out in the street? Shouldn't this news have already gotten around to everyone in downtown Washington? Shouldn't they all have been alarmed by the hundreds of cops cars that would be swarming the streets, looking for this guy?

Each slashing has taken place exactly 30 minutes after the previous one. So Emily sets a timer on her phone - is this going to be a real-time episode? That's ambitious, if so! I guess we'll find out after the credits!

Emily calls the team back at base, and they discuss what the killer might want. Is he targeting people specifically, or just attacking random people? Mostly like the second, since he'd have no guarantee of being able to find a specific person once people started getting slashed downtown. Emily announces that they need to figure out where he's going next so they can intercept him. That sounds like a tall order, but the team is on it!

Emily and the FBI Guy look over a list of the phone calls to 911, and notice that in each case, someone phoned about the lashing a minute before it happened. It must be the killer! But why try to get the cops there as quickly as possible? No one mentions that they have to listen to the tapes immediately, but I assume that's coming up.

They note that there's only 14 minutes left before the next slashing - so no, this isn't real-time - and wonder how they're going to get the guy. I'm not hearing anything about the roadblocks you must have set up at the perimeter around where the guy could conceivably be. Like, he's on foot, in the crowded downtown core. So either he's running past people who can tell you where he's going, or he's hiding somewhere. In any event, in the ten minutes since the slashing, he could have only gotten a maxium of like eight blocks - that's well within the DCPD's ability to cordon off and monitor.

Matt and JJ look over the video that the women took, and notice that the killer remained laser-focused on his target, even though there were plenty of other people he could have slashed. That redoubles their conviction that victim selection is of the utmost importance.

Joe's gone to the hospital and talked to one of the victim's parents. Apparently they were shocked to hear that she was slashed in Little Trinidad, which is too awful of a part of town for her to normally be in! They decide to dig into her life - could she have been doing something shady that got her slashed?

In going over the victims' movements, the team discovers that each of them was somewhere - far from where they worked or lived. Had they been lured there by the killer? This scene is accompanied by this bonkers map-
According to the map, the The first slashing was in front of union station. The second slashing, 30 minutes later, was just a half-mile away, near the parking lot of a Walmart - just three blocks away from the previous slashing. There would have been cops all over the place. How could he have possibly gotten away with this? Especially when the next crime was just a mile away - this guy isn't traveling far enough that he should be hard to find - and people will be noticing the blood-soaked man with the machete running down the street.

Emily tells the FBI guy to reign in the media - she thinks that the killer wants them amplifying his crimes, so she wants them to minimize coverage without downplaying the danger people are in. Which is, you know, impossible. Everyone in DC needs to know that there's a machete-wielding psycho on the loose, and they should stay indoors until he's been caught. Why hasn't an Amber Alert already gone out about this?

Things get even crazier at the evidence tent where Reid and Emily go over the killer's movements. They're now operating under the theory that the killer is abducting people from somewhere, driving them into a van, parking the van, letting them out, slashing them in public, and then getting back in the van and driving to their next abduction site.

But the slashings are happening in super-public places. Would people not have noticed him getting into a van and driving away? Also, how does he have time to do any of this? He'd have to know exactly where these people were, be able to drive straight there without interruption by the fleet of police cars looking for him, grab and bind the people, put them into his van without anyone seeing and reporting it, and then drive that van to the next site, find somewhere to park it where he won't be noticed, let the person out, chase them down and slash them in public, and then start all over again. There's no way he has enough time to do any of this.

Reid thinks they should set up roadblocks to pin him down. You haven't already done that? What is wrong with you people? FBI Guy thinks it's time to start talking about motive, although I'm not sure why. He wants to know if it's time to start ringing terrorism alarm bells. Would a terrorist attack merit any large response than you're already doing, though? A madman is racing around DC, slashing people with a machete. Aren't all of the law enforcement officers already on top of this?

At a local garage they find the bandanna the slasher was wearing! So they head inside to search the place. Then they hear a gunshot from upstairs - a white guy has shot a random black guy, thinking it was the slasher! It was just a similarly dressed guy holding a pipe, though. When Emily and the FBI guy see that it's not the slasher, they stand around looking frustrated. Um... why aren't you still searching? A random guy shooting another random guy doesn't change the fact that the killer's bandana may have been found outside the garage, or mean you shouldn't keep searching.

Back at the tent, Emily tells DCPD to let people know that a random guy got shot, and they're trying to figure out the details. Couldn't this wait until the slasher situation is resolved, though? Emily blames herself for the shooting, saying she shouldn't have released the description of the slasher to the public - it would have been better if people didn't know who to look out for, and weren't able to tell the police if they saw him!

You're bad at this, Emily. Luckily, the FBI Guy isn't an idiot, and agrees with me!

Back at base, we hear that one of the victims was, in fact, abducted, but the neighbour who saw it didn't bother calling the police! Because they're a terrible person? Aisha has a theory about the killer's motives - because people from one class are being slashed and dropped off in areas associated with another class, it must be a statement about wealth inequality!

If you want to do that, why are you killing poor people? Isn't just killing rich people a much clearer statement? Also, they notice that it would be madness for someone to stay in a car while their abductor walked around to the other side of the car and got in, so they guess the killer must have an accomplice!

There's some crazy nonsense in the profile, as Emily the FBI Guy announce that they're sure that both of the slashers are black, even though they've only seen one of them. Then they announce that 'based on the wound patterns' they think both killers have been doing the slashing! That, of course, is nonsense. It's been two hours, and only one victim has just died - there's been no time for a coherent wound analysis. You also can't estimate victim heights from slashing the way you can from stabbing, because while people tend to stab either straight forwards or with a sharp downwards angle, slashing can come from any angle.

Since the team is guessing that the slashings are about commenting on social strata, they decide the next attack will take place in a newly gentrifying area that's been in the news lately. Emily's idea? Call Eric and have him meet them there! Wow, Emily, you're bad at being the boss, aren't you? You couldn't even keep his suspension going for one week.

Also, and I can't believe I have to remind you of this, Eric is 45 minutes away. Longer considering the huge traffic snarl-ups caused by the roadblocks they're using to try and catch these killers.

In an amazing coincidence, the latest attack is literally across the street from where Eric, Reid, and JJ are standing! Wow. Who would have guessed? JJ and Reid try to provide medical aid while Eric runs in the direction the killer went!

Meanwhile, an onlooker is streaming the attempts to save the guy's life, and it goes viral within fifteen seconds, so the entire city watches it happen! Emily's angry, because she thinks that's just what the killer wants! I feel like you've got bigger fish to fry here, Emily. Does it really matter if the killer wants attention? He's not going to stop killing because you stop paying attention.

Everyone watches the guy die because JJ - who was really offended that the stream was happening, didn't go over and stop the camera person even though the paramedics had taken over. Instead she just watched them work.

Meanwhile, Eric and another cop have chased down and captured the green-jacketed slasher! They find him smashing his phone, presumably trying to keep the cops from being able to identify his partner. I can't imagine that will even slow Penelope down, though.

Emily tries to talk to the slasher, but he won't give her anything! Luckily, they don't need his information, because when Garcia and Joe look into the first victim's background, they find out that he was a bouncer at a club where a kid was stabbed to death recently. The kid had two brothers, one of whom is the slasher they've caught, and we have to assume the second is the other one.

Now armed with the killer's name and part of his motive, Emily goes back in to chat with him further! He doesn't give up much, except to say that his brother had a chance to survive, and that's what he's showing everyone! So... did the ambulance take 27 minutes to get to his brother, and that's the only reason he died? Yup, that's it! The team figures that means that the killers are trying to show that you get faster service if you call the ambulance in a nicer neighbourhood. Except this is a terrible way to make that point, because they're not giving people the same injuries. They slashed the first guy in the heart of downtown, and he died. But the rich lady they took to the bad part of town is fine. You're muddled, is my point.

Hilariously, the team acts like they should have figured out the significance of '27 minutes' earlier, and that by doing so it could have prevented bloodshed. Of course, that's not accurate at all - even if the killers had sent out a letter explaining their entire motivation, it wouldn't have helped you intercept them. Only having hundreds of cops on the street could do that. Which you do - so I'm not sure how the killer got away from that last murder.

They surmise that because the two brothers' dead brother was a college student, he'll attack the college next, so they rush over there! For some reason everyone is simply walking around as if this is an ordinary day, despite the fact that there's an active terroristic murder spree going on less than a mile away. The slasher sees cops sending people indoors, so he grabs a hostage and puts the machete to her throat!

The FBI Guy offers to switch himself out for the hostage instead of just shooting the slasher. I know it sounds like that would be dangerous, but machetes aren't particularly sharp, and aren't great things to hold people hostage with - it's the momentum you can but into a machete that lets it do such immense damage, not the sharpness of its blade.

The slasher agrees, and the FBI guy is so bad at his job that he's unable to overpower the slasher, even though they're at extremely close quarters where a machete would be almost useless. The FBI guy gets slashed in the stomach, then falls to one knee as the killer grabs him. Emily, despite having a clear shot and knowing that the killer full intends to murder FBI guy, refuses to shoot him. Seriously, the guy keeps moving the machete away from the FBI Guy so he can use it to emphasize points in his villain monologue.

That's right - Emily wastes a full two minutes of the FBI guy bleeding to death trying to talk him down - but then it doesn't even work, because it's up to the FBI Guy to elbow the killer while he's distracted! Fantastic work, Emily - you almost got a man killed because you talked when you should have shot.


There's a montage of everyone doing okay, then Emily visits FBI Guy in the hospital! He asks her out on a date! It's sweet?

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

Slightly! I mean, knowing that the brother was a student at a college, and that the slashers wanted their crimes to be as public as possible it was a fairly easy guess, but they did make it!

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

Obviously the slashers would have been caught almost immediately since they kept committing crimes in places with huge numbers of witnesses, and there were cops literally everywhere.

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

2/10 - The craziest part about this is how terrible the slashers' plan was. If they wanted to make their point, they should have grabbed the people, given them one slash across the stomach and thrown them out of a car, while the other one called the ambulance. Everyone getting the same wound in different locations. By adding this nonsense about chasing down and attacking people in the street, they badly muddled their point and made their crime less effective.

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