Criminal Minds 1505: Ghost

The episode opens with some one-on-one basketball. They toss some rocks and talk some trash, then one is shot by a sniper! The second guy only has a moment to be puzzled be fore he, too, is felled by a bullet!

A bloody bouncing basketball transitions to a normal basketball in a gym somewhere, where Muscles and Brown Eyes are having a roundball duel of their own! Matt wins, but Eric's good about it! At the office some amount of time later - maybe they were playing before work - the team gets word about the sniper in Illinois!

They start talking about Tim Omundsen back in season 1 - could this sniper be a copycat? Um... no? Like, there have been a couple of snipers since then. Luke Cage, the kid from Suspect Behaviour - since this guy isn't trying to wound people, there's no reason to bring up the sniper from season 1. Of course, this is taking place in the same city as his rampage, so there could be a connection.

The team rushes to the plane, then we cut back to Des Plaines, where I guess word hasn't gotten out about the sniping, because three more people get shot while hanging out in a park! Maybe it's time to shut down the whole city, like they did with DC back in 2002. Or was it 2003?

My question - why are people so comfortable hanging around in public places when they know there's a sniper on the loose? Snipers are pretty famously one of the most alarming types of killers there are for the public. If the first victim in the parking lot two days earlier had been shot in a drive-by, or the cops were simply treating it as a standard murder, that would be one thing - but this is someone killed with a rifle from far away, and nobody heard a shot, suggesting a silencer of some kind was being used. That's the kind of crime that makes everyone ultra-careful until they know that it's been resolved in some meaningful way.

This is something that the show forgets every time - but when compared to real life, the absurdity becomes obvious. Try to imagine a situation where someone is sniping people in a city and the cops do literally anything else but chase that person until they're caught? It basically has never happened. Especially in a city that's already been through this exact thing. Imagine how fast DC would be put on lockdown if another sniper showed up.

So, will Des Plaines be shut down when the team gets there? Let's find out after the credits?


Criminal Minds 1504: Saturday

The episode opens in the Quantico office, where a klaxon is blaring and red lights are shining. Is this a biological attack on the FBI? That would be a twist! Especially since the FBI has been attacked a whole bunch on this show. Like, special forces guys, evil cults, rogue cops, hackers - the FBI building of Criminal Minds is not as secure as one wants it to be.

The camera pans down from the red light to the floor - passing a photograph of a bald man along the way. I'm not watching this in HD, so I have no idea who it might be. It's not the president or the attorney general, so maybe this is a cameo by one of the producers? Could it be what Jim Clemente actually looks like?

We pan across the room - turns out it's the main work area where most people's desks are! And it's full of bodies, and people have guns lying next to them. Is this some kind of a drill? I feel like a full-on assault on the FBI is a weird way to start an episode. It would be quite a drill if it was, though, since a bunch of people are covered in blood!

Reid enters the room, his gun drawn as he looks for his target. Maybe this is a dream? Of course, that's happened already, while a drill would be fresh, if kind of preposterous. Okay, it's a dream, or maybe a book someone is writing - out in the hallway Reid find a guy in a butcher's apron with a bloody axe.

God, how great would it be - since they're leaning on slasher imagery anyhow - if they'd used the Jason from that Gubler episode in season 10? You know, the one they never bothered to try and catch?

The Jason attacks Reid, but then it turns out he was just telling his therapist about a dream he'd had! That's right, after getting definitively dumped by JJ, Reid is finally seeking help for his issues! Good for him! Seriously, I am proud of the guy.

The therapist gives him the hardest assignment of his life - go for one day without thinking about his job, and try to actually speak to a human being. She even gets him to admit that he has no friends or life outside of work! I cannot express how happy I am that the show is finally realizing just how screwed up Reid has always been, and is working to set him on a good path before things wrap up. Better late than never, right?

His new project leads to awkwardness when he thinks a woman in the elevator is talking to him, but no, it's just a phone call on her headphones.

Joe drops by Matt's house to help him prep for the new baby! Which leads to some wackiness with him trying to assemble a crib! You'd think he'd have this down by baby #5, but apparently not. Also, he's annoyed at himself for having accidentally ordered the crib in red, so he's pretending that's what he meant to do! I don't know why he's so hard on it, though, the red crib looks awesome. What was he going to have, white? Bare wood? Live on the edge, dude.

Emily is also there to help! If by help, you mean 'drink wine and eat donuts'. Then she gets a phone call - is it a case? No, it seems that Garcia is hosting a hacking workshop in the office! That's right, she invited a bunch of hackers into FBI headquarters, and they're working inside the FBI with only her supervision. This breaks basically every kind of security protocol there is, right?

One of her students asks her for help on dealing with a cyberstalker! Wait... is there not going to be a murder this week? Are they doing another episode about stalking? It's been what... 11 years or something like that?

Let's find out after the opening credits!


Criminal Minds Video Reviews!


Criminal Minds 1503: Spectator Slowing

The episode opens with a mother and daughter arriving at home in rural Memphis! The mom finds a package sitting underneath her mailbox, and brings it into the house with them. I'd be a little annoyed at the mailman at this point, since the package looks to be book sized, and it only wrapped in brown paper. If any water gets on that it will wreck whatever's inside. Couldn't the mail carrier have at least dropped it off on the porch?

I guess since this place is rural all of the mail delivery is done out of the side of a truck, so that's not actually possible, but make an exception once in a while, people!

The family heads inside and it turns out that the package was a bomb, so you can just disregard everything I said about the mailman in the past two paragraphs. Weirdly, the bomb was disguised as a photo album, and it didn't blow up until the mother opened the cover and saw something sinister inside!

Let's think happy thoughts - it wasn't a very big bomb, so while the mother, who was standing next to it, is probably dead, the daughter who was at the end of the table is probably fine!

In whatever suburb of DC they live in, Matt and his wife talk about her being on bed rest due to the imminent birth of their fifth child! Wow. Lots of kids. Based on the size of the littlest one, maybe one of them was born during the first season of Beyond Borders? Something for me to find out at some point, anyhow. Looks like Matt's going to take a week off from the whole 'flying around the country' thing to look after his wife. Will we have a new kid by the end of the episode? Fingers crossed!

At the office we find that JJ is back at work. So I guess this is eight weeks after the last episode? I mean, she had a lung collapsed by a bullet, that's not something you bounce back from. What do you want to bet no one is going to mention the face off killer until - maybe - the end of the episode? I mean, a wanted serial killer did a mass shooting at the headquarters of the justice department then stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a rich, well-connected family, torturing the daughter of that family in the process. I feel like that's all anyone would talk about until he was in jail, you know?

Time for case details! The mother and daughter are both in the hospital, but might pull through! I guess they need the mother to tell them what was in the photo album? They confirm that the killer dropped off the packages himself, rather than actually mailing them, which Reid thinks is strange, because 'mail bombers' generally want to stay as far away from their victims as possible. This is a better of a stretch in describing the MO, though - many bombers drop off the bombs personally. The unabomber dropped off bombs himself (hence the sketch), the show's fake version of the mormon bomber (and the real guy) dropped bombs off himself - it's not as big a deviation from the profile as Reid would suggest.

Emily ends the scene by suggesting that Matt should consult by phone, since his military experience with explosives should be helpful. You know, Eric's sitting right there. He was also a special forces guy. Like, unless Matt's actual job in the military was bomb disposal I don't know why he would be especially good at this.

Oh, and she once again says 'Wheels up in 10, because after being in charge of the team for 4 (4!) years, she still doesn't know how long it takes to drive to the airfield'.

Then we get a disgusting scene of a guy buying a dead body so that he can see how a bomb destroys it. The question is, is this guy the bomber from the last three bombs, or is someone out there giving these bombs to people in order to let them settle scores of their own? The only reason I suggest such a crazy idea (that's certainly wrong) is that it's kind of strange for a guy to only now be testing what his bombs do to a dead body, three bombs in. Then again, maybe he was unsure of himself because the last two victims survived? Yeah, that makes way more sense.

Oh, and the killer was annoyed that the grave-robber wasn't able to get the body of a woman, so he puts the dead old man in the yellow dress that he'd bought for the occasion - that's how focused he is on he fantasy of blowing up a specific person.

So, who is the focus of this killer's rage? Let's find out together, after the credits!


Criminal Minds 1502: Awakenings

The episode opens with a recap of the Faceoff killer's situation, and JJ getting shot. Because, again, she's terrible at every part of her job. And not a great person, generally. Then it's off to the races, as Faceoff and FD speed away from the crime scene, hijack a car, and flee into the aether! In a hilarious bit of what should be time compressive editing – but can't be, because all of the characters in the same places between the two scenes – we see Garcia get word of the hijacking literally seconds after it happens, as if it's been reported officially already.

Meanwhile JJ is rushed to the hospital and prepped for surgery! Reid is there! Has anyone called Jr.?

Let's find out together, after the credits! Seriously, that's all that happened before the credits. Is the whole week going to be about chasing down Faceoff? They can't resolve this storyline yet, can they? What else would they do for the rest of the year? Then again, if the first two episodes feature the team losing over and over again, maybe they can build up some momentum for the rest of the season!

Criminal Minds 1501: Under The Skin

Well, here we are! We've got just ten episodes of Criminal Minds left! Fifteen years, 324 episodes, and it's all coming down to this! Will the show try to get JJ and Reid together? Will they kill of Jr. to do it? Will... other things happen? Honestly, I'm not emotionally invested in any other part of the show. I mean, it would be great if Aaron would drop by for one more episode, but I have no expectation that's going to happen, so I'm focusing on the more likely plot threads to get wrapped up.

What do you want to bet they never grab Appalachian Trail child molester or skull hand child murderer? Those are the ones that got away, and only one of them was ever mentioned again!

So, yeah, the episode. Let's get to it.

Things open up with a flashback to the faceoff killer who almost murdered Joe that one time. I maintain that he's not an interesting enough character to build the show's final arc around – and the fact that the actor played the same recurring serial killer role on Castle just leads to distraction. Am I saying that they should have announced that Ian Doyle or the Reaper was secretly still alive and gone with that instead?

Yes. That's exactly what I'm saying.

After the recap we find a guy driving up to a mansion that's suspiciously dark. The guy finds it weird as well, and calls someone on his phone. A man answers and confirms that yes, he really is inside, and encourages the guy to enter the house and grab some wine while he waits for the man to get out of the shower.

The guy enters the house and finds the promised wine waiting for him. It's a red! The room is fully of creepy art suggesting hanging, stabbing, and someone walking on a tightrope. Has this guy walked into a deathtrap?

Yes, he absolutely has. He flips through a photography portfolio left on the piano, and it quickly moves from BDSM photography to pictures of mutilated corpses. Corpses mutilated in the very room he's standing in! The guy tries to flee, but naturally, he's been drugged, and collapses to the ground!

So, we've got another art-themed killer, like the photography tableau guy from the comedy episode that Eric directed back in season 13! Neat?

Over at Matt's house there's a baby shower going on! As you may remember, we found out his wife was pregnant in the season ender, and it's been seven months since then, so now she's ready to pop! Eric and Garcia are there, along with extras who smile politely. One of them looks a lot like Elizabeth Moss!

Then it's over to Aisha and Reid, who are chatting about gifts! I'm immediately concerned about Aisha, because her voice is really ragged. Hopefully she just had a cold that day and it's nothing serious. Matt Also looks quite strange – he's got 5 O'Clock shadow that stands out really oddly from his too-pink face makeup. Did their regular makeup person or cinematographer get another job since this last season was only going to be 10 episodes?

Anyhoo, he gets a text about his mother degrading even further, which makes him wistful about his desire to go back in time and 'do things differently', which is a comment about his love for JJ, but I'd like it to be a realization that he should have escaped his mother's madness.

Then we see Emily and JJ, and find out that Emily is still dating that FBI agent from DC! Also, Jr. is mentioned as existing!

Emily calls Joe to find out where he is – and it turns out he's still looking for faceoff! She's concerned that his obsession with catching the guy is harming his work and life. I'm concerned that they're having this much trouble catching the guy. Like, you know what he looks like, and you can have his face all over the internet at all times. Unless this guy is hiding in the woods somewhere, how is he still on the loose?

And don't give me the 'he's a master of disguise' thing – they can put beards on photos.

Actually, maybe he is hiding in a shack in the woods? Joe is currently meeting a small-town sheriff in the middle of nowhere! Apparently everyone is calling Faceoff 'the Chameleon', everyone except for me, that is.

She shows him to the latest crime scene – it's the victim from the start of the episode! Lying dead on the ground with all of the skin cut off of the front of his torso, just like in the photographs! Wait, why is Joe here? Faceoff murders middle-aged women and cuts their faces off as a way to attack his mother, Sharon Lawrence. How could this be connected?

Oh, okay, the point is that it's not connected, Joe is just reaching because he's so desperate to catch the guy. He's convinced himself that Faceoff has started skinning men because, now that he's on the run, he's 'uncomfortable in his own skin'. This whole speech is so idiotic that it would win a Prentiss Award, but for once the stupidity is intentional – the show is making the point that he's confidently spewing nonsense because he's desperate to find a way to make sense of the world.

Good work, show! If only this made up for all of the times they exclaim nonsense without realizing that's what they're doing! So, how long until Joe is humiliated by just how wrong he's got this? Let's find out after the opening credits!


Criminal Minds 1415: Truth or Dare

A red truck drives up to a small Mexican fast food place, and the driver heads inside. Watching him is a bedraggled man in a black plaid shirt. I mention this only because I've never understood black plaid. Using black as a colour in plaid? Sure, go nuts - but a shirt that's just black and grey? You're being extravagantly emo at that point.

The waitress notices that Black Plaid hasn't eaten any of his food, so presumably she'll be able to identify him later on. Unless he shoots the place up, or something. Happily, he doesn't, instead waiting for Red Truck Guy to leave and then following out into the street!

Over at Quantico, Eric and Reid walk into the briefing room, with Eric busy chatting about Reid's amazing shooting skills! I've already pointed out how weird it is the way they're trying to butch up Reid which seems redundant, given that they've already got two hunks on the show, and the cast doesn't need to be any more generic than it is, but it's especially disquieting to see that the way they've chosen to make Reid more manly is to say 'he's better at killing now'. Um... do you not see the bad psychological path that takes you down, show about the psychology of serial killers?

It turns out that they haven't had a case in a couple of days, so they're just hanging out and playing cards! Um... isn't there something more important they could be doing? Writing up psychological profiles of nonserial killers for police departments across the country? Giving lectures? Nope, they're going to get paid to play cards, because they're all a little on the terrible side. Just a little, though.

Once again it's pointed out that Reid has been banned from Vegas casinos, and he gives a little spiel about math being the basis of all card games - which is true, but not relevant to the situation. Everyone knows that card games are just math, knowing that didn't get you kicked out of casinos. Your memory did, because you were counting cards at 21. If the team was going to be playing blackjack or chemin de fer, then you would have an advantage, but this is draw poker, where it's just luck and bluffing - no math skills are needed. Math only comes up in games like hold 'em, and even then, everyone knows the math, so it doesn't give anyone an advantage.

Back in crimetown, Black Plaid T-bones the red truck and then gets out and shoots the driver a few times! Also, he doesn't seem psyched to be doing it. Is someone forcing him to commit the crime? It's not like it's personal - the show is good enough to give us a shot of the driver seeing Black Plaid and not recognizing him before getting shot.

At the poker game, JJ wins, despite the fact that Reid says she has a tell proving that it's a bluff! This leads JJ winning one more Prentiss Award before the season ends-

No, JJ, this has nothing to do with lying. You weren't bluffing. You actually did have an unbeatable hand. There was nothing dishonest about anything you did.

How are you this bad at such basic concepts?

Time for the case! Two people have been crashed into and shot in the past two days! Obviously it's a serial killer! Emily humiliates herself by referring to police's initial belief that it was a 'road rage incident gone wrong'. Um... road rage is something that - by definition - has gone wrong. It cannot go right. What you mean is that it was road rage that escalated to murder.

They spend some time wondering if it's a guy who's aroused by car accidents, but we already know that it's someone who's being forced to murder people, so let's skip all of that and check in with Joe, who's checking out the wedding venue with Crystal! This seems like a weird time to do it, since the wedding is in two days, but the whole thing has been pretty last-minute, so why not?

Then Joe gets a call and has to go with the rest of the team to LA for the case - so he's gotten out of dealing with caterers and florists. Great work, Joe! He promises to be back before the wedding, though.

More with Black Plaid - this is a long teaser, huh? He goes to steal a third car, which is modern enough that it has an alarm that goes off when he breaks the window. He's not great at this, huh? The owner rushes out to see what's happening with the alarm, and Black Plaid demands the keys at gunpoint!

So yeah, he's being forced into this. Which makes this episode a remake of Death By A Thousand Cuts, the final episode of Suspect Behaviour! So, which member of the team is going to get kidnapped to force another member of the team to shoot someone? Joe, since it's his wedding in two days? One of the women, because that's just how this show is?

Let's find out after the credits?