Criminal Minds 1409: Broken Wing

At a suburban house a woman is enjoying her first day back out of drug rehab! Her friends are worried about her and offer to stay over to help ensure she doesn't relapse, but she says she'll be fine! We'll see about that...

Then we cut to Aisha giving a lecture to students, accompanied by a kooky image. You need to see this, because I have no idea what it means:

Okay, so... doesn't recidivism rate measure the number of people who reoffend? How can those two interchangeable terms be the different colours on a pie chart? Let's see what Alisha has to say! She says that recidivism rates capture only a small percentage of the crimes repeat sex offenders commit. So I guess the chart means that 100% of sex offenders reoffend, but only 7% are caught so only that is registered in the recidivism rate? Or maybe she means they only get charged for a small number of the crimes they actually commit? In any event, this is flat-out bizarre.

At the end of the speech a guy comes up to harass her, and based on her reaction, I'm guessing this is the ex-husband/drug addict she talked about a little while ago? He demands her attention, because he's been working on counseling addicts, and he thinks someone is murdering his clients via overdose to make it look accidental!

While Aisha' ex is showing her some documents about spikes in overdose rares, we check back in on the addict! She's preparing a picnic lunch for her kids, but pauses when she notices that she's sweating way too much. It's withdrawl! She tries to call someone for help and asks them to come over. Is it her sponsor, or her old drug dealer? Whoever it is is probably going to kill her, either way.

Aisha calls the team with the details! Seven people have overdosed on heroin the day they got out of rehab. The weird part? None of them were in rehab for heroin addiction! That's good enough for Emily, who wants to fly the team out immediately!

Oh, and that lady gets murdered by a white guy. We see him open the front door with his bare hands, but that probably won't come up later.

On the plane, the team gets some info from Garcia - all of the victim went to different rehabs, so there's no obvious link between them that could explain how the killer was meeting them! I remember a John Oliver episode about an addiction phone that recommended rehabs that the phone line owner ran. Could that be the situation here, they all called the same number? Or were seen by the same paramedics or medical professionals? I'm getting way ahead of myself here. Let's wait for some clues!

Hey, Scott Winters is in this episode! That's Dean Winters' brother from OZ!

Aisha and Daryl talk about some of the victims, and also how long he's been clean. Five years, BTW. Aisha's super awkward around him, in a way that is weird to see from a psychopath. What does she need from this guy? Oh, and he mentioned that he sponsored one of the people through a 12-step program, so it's unlikely that the killer is the sponsor of all of the victims.

At the morgue, JJ and Joe hear something weird about the dead lady - they found no heroin of any kind in her system! So what was she drugged with? They'll have to keep testing to find out! Wait, was there no heroin in any of the other people either? Or is this a big change in MO? Also, she had a black light tattoo on her arm, but no other ink. Strange - was it part of rehab?

At the dead lady's house, Eric and Matt find no signs that she was suicidal - and they're left with no leads but the number she called at midnight before being murdered! Also all of the fingerprints from all of the place the guy touched. At the police station, Emily talks to the friends of the dead woman, who point her towards the ex-boyfriend who got her hooked on meth in the first place. Oh, and she apparently hated needles, which is enough information for Emily to start calling this a homicide!

Then the show cuts to a counseling session, where a guy is thrown out of rehab because he's not committed enough for their tastes. Will he be killed, or will the woman who sticks up for him be the victim?

Aisha and Daryl talk about how strange it is that the victims weren't killed with heroin, but instead a mystery drug. He confesses to cheating on a urine test one time, by buying Chinese versions of drugs that don't show up on the tests! This makes the team think that the killer is using synthetic Chinese heroin that doesn't respond to the tests they perform!

JJ then wins yet another Prentiss Award, for this line about why the killer would be using strange fake heroin:

No. A thousand times no. The opposite of that is true. The killer has been going to pains to make all of these look like unconnected overdoses. If he's used easily-available opiates there'd be no reason to connect any of the crimes to one another. By choosing to use strange untraceable drugs that the ME finds mysterious, he's guaranteeing that the crimes will be connected. This is the opposite of a forensic countermeasure.

Also, how bad must the LA ME be if he didn't notice that seven different apparent opioid overdose victims had zero opioids in their system? We've come a long way since the days of Quincy, folks.

The team talks motive for a moment. Does the killer hat addicts, or is he an addict himself who, while going through rehab found out he'd rather be addicted to murder! All serial killers are murder addicts, Emily. This isn't worth mentioning.

At the house of guy who was thrown out of rehab, guy talks to the killer - who remains off camera - about how no one believes that he'll be able to get off drugs! So he thinks of the killer as a counselor or friend. Interesting! Then he's knocked out by some drugs in his coffee and the killer murders him. The guy is too resilient to be injected, though, so the killer has to suffocate him instead!

JJ and Eric question the group leader about why the new victim was let out of rehab. Before he can answer, his boss, Scott Winters, shows up, and gives a speech about how much contempt he has for junkies, and how some of them are so selfish and awful that they're obviously going to wind up killing themselves. Also, the guy owns 12 rehab clinics around the city, so he absolutely could be the connection between all of the victims!

Of course, if he was, Garcia should have found it, since she already knows which rehab facilities each person went to, and checking into those facilities would be the next thing she would do.

Anyhoo, Scott is incredibly suspicious, and demands that they come back with a warrant if they want to see any of the business' files! Could he be the killer? If he's this suspicious, probably not. Maybe the counselor did it? He's more sympathetic, and the kind of person you'd call if you were in danger of relapsing. And since he works for Scott, maybe he's spent time at multiple clinics!

JJ talks to the sympathetic woman, who turns over the dead guy's journal, which she had for some reason! JJ stuffs the journal under her shirt so that none of the clinic employees will see it. I'm not sure why she does this - she is an FBI agent and has nothing to hide. It's not like the woman asks her to hide it because she'll get beaten up by the guards if they see her snitching. She isn't a prisoner - this is a private treatment facility.

While working on the case Aisha has a flashback to how happy her life was before Daryl was destroyed by drug use! That poor lady. The reminisce about going to clubs with UV stamps, and things get dark, because apparently Daryl beat her up one time, and didn't remember it because of the drug use! No wonder she left him! She talks about how hurt she was by his betrayal, and tells him to shut up when he tries to apologize! Great way to treat an addict, Aisha.

Then again, he should have apologized for all of that stuff years ago - supposedly this man went all the way through recovery, and never made an effort to make amends to the ex-wife who he treated horribly? He's not good at recovery! Daryl then leaves to call his sponsor, who's hopefully not the killer.

Okay, it turns out that Garcia is, actually, terrible at her job. When looking into Scott, she finds that he's a sleazebag ex-con who's rebranded himself as an addiction support guru! Why is she bad at her job? Seven of the nine victims were at one of his clinics. Damn it, Garcia, you were supposed to check what the victims had in common yesterday! What have you been doing all day?

At rehab, Scott is angry that he can't find the dead guy's journal, so he interrogates the sympathetic lady. Before he can get too violent, the team shows up to bring him in for questioning! Naturally, he tries to run for it, because he's been committing crimes unrelated to the murders! They catch him with no trouble.

In jail, Scott explains that he has no motive to kill. His entire business model is being so bad at rehab that people have to keep coming back so that he can keep charging them money! So yes, he's a terrible person. Everything he does is legal, though, so... yay? They say that he ran away because he was afraid of the team finding out how bad he is at running rehabs. Of course, that's not a crime, so I'm not sure why he was running.

Aisha is busy reading through the dead guy's journal, and thinks that she's discovered a clue to the killer's identity! Then Daryl's wife turns up, so she doesn't bother passing along that information to the team, even though time is of the essence, and she can talk to this lady whenever!

The wife explains that Daryl never did the apologies part to Aisha because his sponsor told him not to bother. His sponsor is garbage. Apparently Daryl thought that by helping her solve this case he could start making it up to Aisha! Which is a nice thought, but apologize first, dude.

Going through all of the journals of the dead people, the team finds recurrent language across all of them that they believe references the killer! None of the people mention the person who used that language with them by name, or even job description, though, so it's just going to be a question of finding an employee of the clinics who had contact with all of the clients! Or perhaps an outside contractor, since apparently none of the staff members worked at all of the clinics.

Scott refuses to help the, because he's a terrible person! It's weird that Garcia can't track down everyone he's paying. Are there cash-only people he contracts out to?

Luckily Aisha has a guess - if the killer is giving his victims tattoos, it probably stands to reason that he has tattoos of his own! And he does! He's got a tattoo for each victim! We see that it's the nurse who escorted the latest victim out of the room when he was being kicked out of rehab!

We then cut to the killer escorting the sympathetic lady out of rehab. Which means she's next on the chopping block!

The team quickly identifies a nurse who was working at all of the clinics where people died, and who also loves tattoos! Will they be able to find him in time? At the clinic, the counselor tells them that the killer drove the sympathetic woman home, so the team rushes over there and arrests him without incident!

Well, I say 'without incident', he holds a syringe to his victim's throat and they have to talk him down, but they didn't really have to - it takes a while to inject someone with a syringe, so she's in almost no danger. They could definitely shoot him with no risk to her, and they could probably just kick him into submission without her having any trouble at all.


In jail, we get a look at the killer's back, and it turns out that he's killed like 20 people!

Then there's one more scene with Aisha and Daryl, because closure is important!

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

Not really! They found tattoos on the victims, and they used that as an extrapolation to guess that the killer had tattoos, but he also had a concrete connection to most of the victims that was far more important in catching him.

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

I don't know why they didn't focus more on the tattoos as a lead. Shouldn't they have been going around to tattoo parlours, asking if people recognized the design, and seeing who was super-into wing tattoos? Considering the fact that he went to the same tattooist for all of them, he absolutely would have been remembered right away.

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

1/10 - I'd love to give them credit for their insight about addiction, but the guy was just so ridiculously easy to find. Also, it's super-weird that the team somehow didn't notice that the victims all called the exact same number right before they were murdered. That seems like too juicy a clue to have missed.

FACT CHECK: This episode was based on a segment from HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver! Between the scumbag Scott Winters played being a direct reference to the callous owner of a bunch of rehab clinics, and a reference to 'equine therapy', the inspiration was quite obvious! You can watch that segment on YouTube by following this link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWQiXv0sn9Y 

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