23.1.20

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!

Garcia calls in JJ, Eric and Aisha to help, since I guess they had no weekend plans? They decide to search her apartment and check out her exes, which is a completely logical way to handle this! Unless, of course, you have a supernaturally gifted hacker in the room, and she can just track the guy who's sending her messages. Why is Garcia not doing that, exactly? Does she want to have some fun with her work friends and doesn't take this woman's fear seriously?

Over at Matt's house, a process server arrives to help someone sue Emily! She goes bug-eyed with frustration, which seems like a bit much. I mean, when I was sued, I reacted with sad resignation to the process server's arrival, but it's possible that wasn't an appropriate response.

Emily turns out to be the worst at everything! How do I know this? Her response to an old neighbour suing her and the federal government for spying on him is to have some goons drag him down to Quantico so she can confront him on her turf. To his credit, Joe points out that this is a terrible idea - he only points out that it's going to play into the guy's paranoia. He doesn't point out that this is a gross misuse of government resources, and a hugely inappropriate way to wield her significant amount of power. Like... she should get fired for doing this.

Then it's over to Reid, who's begging to be let in on the stalking case. JJ reminds him that's the opposite of what his therapist said to do, and then the call is interrupted when an inappropriate child comes up and tells Reid that he has a ridiculous haircut for a grown man. Was this episode written for me, specifically? I've been saying this for like a decade at this point. It's not great that my opinions are being represented by a child with some kind of a conduct disorder (he immediately asks to touch Reid's hair), but still, I'll take what I can get!

The kid's mother (Josie and the Pussycats' Rachel Leigh Cook!) arrives and drags the kid away, but then finds that her car is being towed! Reid tries to use his FBI badge to intimidate the tow truck driver - so just lots of unprofessionalism this week - but the driver knows his rights, and takes the car! The kid starts having a panic attack, also it turns out Rachel is his aunt, not mother, and Reid distracts him with close-up magic. It works! Is that believable? I don't know, but I'd like to think so.

Aisha and JJ go to interrogate the stalkee's latest ex-boyfriend. He's a full-time twitch streamer, which makes them think he'd be technologically savvy enough to pull off this kind of hateful cyber-harassment! Although, if he's a Twitch streamer, wouldn't he have made tons of public statements about how awful his ex was? It would be weird if that kind of an extrovert would be also secretly cyberstalking someone. Then again, it takes all kinds!

They decide that because the twitcher is sexually active he can't be the stalker - since only incels slut-shame and threaten women. Um... you might want to rethink that, ladies. They decide to keep him locked up in an interview room in case he comes up with any leads! They don't ask him for any, though, which is weird. Like, you're looking for someone who's sexually obsessed with this lady - don't you think there's a chance that her sleazy public boyfriend might have been targeted for harassment as well? Maybe not, but it's a pretty good theory.

Matt chats with Joe about how broke that family is - tuition for five kids adds up! Joe doesn't have much advice to offer - he didn't pay any money to raise his kid, and he's rich from exploiting tragedy over and over again - but he offer to take a look at their finances anyhow!

Emily arrives at the office, to find superstar comedian Paul F. Tompkins (Mr. Peanutbutter!) waiting to talk with her. He's brought a crazy person conspiracy board with him! This should be fun!

At the stalkee's apartment, Eric and Garcia detect a signal that spy equipment is broadcasting! So they tear the place apart looking for cameras and microphones! I guess I don't really understand how this spy stuff works, but shouldn't they be able to use a signal strength detecting device to get a general idea where the bug is, rather than tearing the whole room apart?

Turns out that there's bugs literally everywhere! Also there's a secret panel under the floorboards where the guy has been hiding - directly under the stalkee's bed! What? Does the guy own this building? What kind of building has three feet of empty space under the floorboards? It feels like an apartment owner would have to specifically build it that way just for the purposes of stalking. Yes, the bed is on a slightly raised platform, but there's usually not empty space under those. After all, the ceiling moves up an equal amount from one room to the next, which suggests that all the apartments above and below have the same layout. This doesn't make any sense as a real place.

Unless, again, it's a building built specifically by and for stalking, like the movie Sliver. What a delightful romp.

Garcia and the gang go over the facts in evidence - the guy had huge amount of photo and audio recordings of her but it all stopped abruptly when she broke up with the twitcher, and then he moved on to the cyberstalking. Did he lose access to the building when the twitcher and her split? Is that why all of his cameras and the hard drive they were recording to were left in the apartment? The team has dismissed Twitcher as a suspect, but don't notice how strange it is that the stalker got further away from her after the breakup, rather than closer.

Matt goes out to get a tool to remove a stripped screw - this is why you should only use Robinson screws, people - and Joe goes to talk to Matt's wife. It seems Matt has a book of bedtime stories for his kids about his international travels! Presumably he elides over all of the serial killer parts. Will Joe use his publishing world connections to get them published and help with the family finances? It would be weird if he didn't.

Paul confronts Emily with the fact that he's being watched all the time, and Emily's response is 'yeah, everyone is, we live in a dystopian surveillance state'. This doesn't satisfy him. He points out that it's super-weird that she faked her own death and then mysteriously reappeared years later. She doesn't explain the Ian Doyle situation, which is a pity, because I'd like to see the writers compress that into 45 seconds of speed-talking. Actually, I'd be equally happy if we cut back in the next scene to Emily just having spent four hours explaining the whole thing to Paul, and him just being blown away by all of it.

Eric and Garcia talk to the stalkee, who's freaked out because she's a bit of a shut-in, and has no idea where she could have met anyone who might want to stalk her!

More with Reid and Rachel! She's an art history major who now teaches 1st grade art! They have a nice chat! Then the kid's mom picks him up, and suggests the two single people go out on a date! Largely because she doesn't know how screwed up Reid is. Still, it's pleasant!

Garcia and Eric talk about why she's so invested in the case! Since she has to go to the dark parts of the web she's surrounded by hatefulness all of the time, and she's even being stalked by a Russian hacker herself! She can't fix her own issues, but the stalkee's are manageable, so she's going to get it done!

It's back to Emily and Paul, but it's not funny at all, because she's just trying to explain why she can't say anything. Except, you knew, you can, everyone but your boss is dead. It's not really a secret any more. Then Aisha comes to offer some advice, and Emily notices that she looks a lot like Paul's type, and asks her to give him the brush off!

She does, playing into his delusion by telling him that he's being watched by powerful forces who will do awful things to him if he pursues the lawsuit! This definitely sounds like a way to keep someone from sending mail bombs to the NSA! No, wait, it sounds like the opposite of that.

Rachel and Reid get a hot dog while he talks about his dream, and she points out that he must have the most stressful job in the world. It takes someone from outside of the show's reality to make him notice that he gets way more guns pointed at him than is normal. So she tells him to have uncomplicated fun to get his mind off of his terrible job! This is good advice, and I can't believe it's taken like 15 years for someone to get it to him. I guess he listens because she's pretty?

At the office Emily and Garcia notice that the twitcher's voice is always louder on recordings because the microphone was aimed at him. He must be the target of the stalker's obsession! They immediately jump to the conclusion that the stalker is a closeted gay man who is tortured by his obsession with twitcher. Are you sure it's not a woman, though? Like, do you have any evidence it's not a woman?

Given the fact that the stalker moved on when the twitcher moved out, shouldn't they have already considered the possibility that he was the focus? Heck, I stand by my statement that their first thought should have been 'interview the guy about any harassment he's received' considering the obsession accelerated after his relationship with the woman broke up.

The twitcher remembers that when they were dating a guy two floors down seemed like he had a creepy obsession with him. Also he's a locksmith! Why would that not occur to you hours ago, dude?

Back at Matt's house, Joe offers to co-write a book with Matt about the gruesome cases he's seen working abroad! A chance to sell Americans xenophobia in the form of true crime? It's exactly what the world needs more of! I'm being sarcastic, of course, but obviously he's going to do it. If only he'd done the children's books instead.

Also, it's baby time!

Reid and Rachel's date ends, and they agree to talk to one another again!

Aisha shows Paul out of the building, and has a psychiatrist waiting to talk to him! Yes, tricking a man into therapy. That should go great!

The team arrests the stalker!

THE END

Except for a bit with the kid being born and everyone chatting about their day. Then Reid goes to track down Rachel who told him to find her somehow. They just meet at the food truck from the start, which is a disappointment, since I was hoping that he'd be waiting for her at the place where her car was towed. Which would have been a nicer ending, I think.

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

Nope!

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

They asked the stalkees if there was anyone creepy in their lives. They knew who it was immediately.

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

1/10 - So this is a hangout episode - maybe the first one the show has ever done? It was a nice change of pace - too bad it took them 15 years to try this! I mean, they did that one episode about stalking all those years ago, but it wasn't really a hangout episode, especially because the B story was one of the most intense and real things they've ever done!

Hey, if the couple splitting up didn't end the stalker's access to the apartment - and it didn't, because while she's a bit of a shut-in, she's not there 24/7, why didn't he go back and get all of his evidence?

Wouldn't it be great if, because the ratings for the last six episodes don't actually matter, the show's ending no matter what, they kept doing experimental stuff like this, and didn't have any more brutal murders until they wrap up the Face Off killer stuff at the end of the season?

I mean, I know that's not what's going to happen, and we'll be back to brutal murders next week, but wouldn't it be nice?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Without profiling, how woukd they have known that the ex was the real target? The answer is they wouldn't. And since the female victim didn't know the stalker, how would they have caught him? The answer is they wouldn't. So profiling was extremely important in solving this case.

Vardulon said...

You've got a couple of facts wrong there - they would have known the boyfriend was the target because the stalker stopped breaking in after he stopped coming. Also, she did know the stalker, it was her downstairs neighbor who always creepily stared at her and her boyfriend.

Kind of a weird thing to not mention when you find out someone has been breaking into your place: "Oh, BTW - there's a creepy guy who stares at me all the time two flights down. He's a locksmith."

Anonymous said...

It's not like the stalking stopped after they broke up, he just started harassing her online instead. I doubt that the cops would correctly interpret this.

It also sounds like your manipulating the scene to make it worse. You say that she said "There's a creepy locksmith who stares at us." In actuality, it was the ex that said, "There's a guy who I think is into me." Not at all obvious if you don't know that he was also a target.