Criminal Minds 1506: Date Night

Just five episodes left! And this one starts with people coming out of a movie theatre that seems to be showing Ben-Hur! Like... maybe the silent one? It's a really, really, retro poster is what I'm saying.

Turns out it was – a father and daughter walk out of the theatre, talking about whether or not the black and white film was boring! She proves to be a philistine, while he appreciates long takes et al! Suddenly a creepy woman walks up to them and asks if they know what happened to Susan! Who she is seeking. Desperately, presumably.

Then things get creepy when the father finds a flyer on his windshield – it's a missing persons notice... for him! Hey, just like way back in season... I want to say 3? I'll check later. The flyer accuses him of being the murderer of the aforementioned 'Susan'! So that's what that whole thing was about! Neat.

He suddenly notices that there are flyers taped to posts all around his car! While he's distracted the lady returns and holds a gun on his daughter, demanding that they all get into the car! Hey, remember when the show did that whole thing about how you couldn't control two people getting into a car with a gun, and it didn't make any sense? I wonder if this episode will reference that?

We don't find out, instead cutting directly to Reid's apartment (somehow he's seems to be still living in the same place despite getting a nurse murdered down the hall. You'd think that would be the kind of thing to get him to move), where he's tidying the place up before Rachel arrives! I don't know how offended I should be by the fact that the establishing shot shows the Washington monument. There's just a handful of episodes left – it's a little late for the show to realize that these people don't live in DC.

Rachel has arrived to get coffee, and we get a funny joke about what the two of them consider fast vs slow in a relationship, but then he gets the call to go to work! Also, Emily tells him there's something significant about the case – but we don't hear that part of the conversation!

So, what's the twist? The lady wants Aubrey Plaza released from prison in the next 24 hours, or he kills the father and daughter! Hey, does that mean the father is Aubrey's long-lost dad, and Susan is her mother, who he killed? Probably not, but it would be nice to get some resolution on that story, huh? I guess it's back to scenes with the two of them baiting one another, huh?

As Aubrey's led into the building we get a recap on her character, in which they conveniently omit the fact that she was a professional murderer who was part of a cabal of elite assassins. Seems like that would be worth bringing up. Instead they announce that she was a black widow who seduced and murdered men – possibly in the hundreds! Of course, they have no reason to think that, since she killed people in untraceable ways and kept no records. Also, she was only killing people for a maximum of like eight or nine years, and that would mean killing like 25 people a year to hit a number that could be considered 'hundreds'.

What I'm saying is, they've used up all of their interesting killers, so now they're pretending she's the most dangerous killer they've ever faced. Which is just patently false.

Reid asks her how she arranged the kidnapping with her outside partner, but Aubrey feigns innocence. She claims that she's given up on life, has pled guilty to 73 murders, and is awaiting the death penalty! How does that work, exactly? If she was arrested for murder in either Maryland or DC, there's no death penalty. Did she kill anyone in Virginia? Also where are they getting this number from? The league of assassins weren't keeping a record of all of their murders, were they? What kind of sense would that make?

Wow, this episode just got so dumb! Aubrey complains that they never had sex, and Reid retorts that she violated him in Mexico. Aubrey responds that the hallucination drugs make it impossible for someone to get an erection, just like when they're on MDMA. Which is just... crazy wrong. People have sex on Ecstacy all of the time. Also, it's an incredibly limited definition of sex that requires Reid to have an erection.

More importantly, though, and I can't believe I have to say this... AUBREY WASN'T IN MEXICO. All of that was done by Joe Mantegna's daughter, acting as Aubrey's catspaw. She was in jail the whole time. Does the show not remember that? If not, how?

Aubrey demands a date, and tells him that she does, in fact, know about the kidnapping. Reid says he won't play her game, then immediately goes back to an office and freaks out, because he's still not over the whole 'drugged and raped and sent to jail' thing. Really, who could blame him?

So, will he play along with Aubrey Plaza's sick game? I mean, obviously yes or there's no episode, but let's find out after the opening credits!

We check in with the team and they discuss the fact that they can't possibly trust Aubrey to not have a deeper plan. They mention that this is different from her normal MO, but somehow miss that her MO was only relevant when she was out and about, killing people.

All of the people she had Joe's Daughter kill weren't part of her MO either, but she did it anyway because they were means to an end. Doctors, nurses, prison guards – all not part of her victimology, but they're dead because she likes playing games.

Why has no one mentioned that she has a child, BTW? Like... when last we saw her she was 7-8 months pregnant. What ever happened with that?

Emily ends the scene announcing that they have to focus on identifying the kidnapped people and their captor. Which should be done by now, since they have a photo of their faces. Do these people not have driver's licenses? I mean, we know the dad does. It's been HOURS, how is this not already dealt with?

Garcia arrives at her desk and finds that she's got eighty-some voice mails! It seems the number on the flyer was a direct line to her computer, somehow? Do you not have to go through an FBI switchboard if you want to contact Garcia? There was no info like that on the flyer.

Rachel calls Reid to check in, and I hope she's not in danger, because Reid doesn't arrange any kind of security for her. I know it's a long shot to imagine that she's going to be kidnapped or anything like that, but literally the moment Reid starts dating someone the serial killer who's sexually obsessed with him decides she wants to go on a date? I'm sure it's just a writer's contrivance, but why take a chance? Especially with what happened to that last girlfriend of his.

We find out that the date Aubrey wants to go on is ice-skating! I'm guessing she has a specific rink in mind, as part of her plan? If so, they should not let her go to it. I just checked, and there are three within easy driving distance, nine if they want to go all the way to DC. That's way too many for her to have planned for all of them.

Garcia gives them the message about the posters, and Aisha and Luke go to grab some of them! They, like the rest of us, wonder who Susan is, and hopefully facial recognition technology will tell them quickly enough!

Then it's over to the lady's lair – she sets up a camera to film the father and daughter as they deny knowing who Susan is, then she shoots the dad a bunch! But was it with blanks?

JJ and Matt tell Emily that they've discovered the lady's identity – she was Aubrey's old roommate! Wait, that wasn't the first thing you checked when the demand came in? What is wrong with you people? More importantly, how does a person in jail for a low-level drug crime end up in the same prison, let alone the same cell, as America's most notorious living serial killer?

Okay, as predicted, it turns out that the Susan from the picture is Aubrey's mother. So yeah. I guess they are wrapping up this story after all!

Reid tells Aubrey that they've figured everything out, and he won't be going on that date with her, after all! Have they figured everything out, though? Knowing that the guy is her estranged father and that she'll probably kill them either way doesn't actually help them find the victims, does it? Especially since they have just 12 hours left. Aubrey tells Reid that Garcia should be getting a video, and it's of the dad being shot with blanks!

That's all the info the team needs to press Reid into service for the date. I'm wondering if anything else was an option, though? They don't have any leads other than to check surveillance cameras for signs of lady and her victims. Or possibly run down her financial records – although I'd imagine she paid cashe for whatever dingy basement she's operating out of.

Reid and Aubrey take a SWAT van to the skating rink – but it's a roller rink, because ice rinks are too expensive to rent! She says roller-skating isn't good enough, but Reid promises an anniversary surprise for them! Which is a little sad, because this doesn't sync up with their anniversary at all. I mean, it might have if the show had aired when they intended it to, but now it's February, and they were Nixoned out of a nice moment.

Unless... It turns out her first episode aired January 13th! So they were within a couple of weeks of hitting the target! Great work, show!

Oh, and she says that the number '23' will help them find the kidnapped family. But how?

The surprise he had in store for her? A light-up sign that reads Cat+Spence 4EVR. I think 4EVA is the preferred contraction, but I won't judge them too harshly.

The team does some brainstorming – could the 23 refer to the number of chromosomes that humans have? They suggest that Aubrey's lawyer could have run her DNA against publicly available databases to locate her father and half-sister. I don't know how that would help them find the family, though.

Joe and Emily talk about what Aubrey might have planned. Now they're just following her trail, and since she's always got a second level scheme, this date with Reid and the kidnapping can't be all of it! Except no, it absolutely can. Aubrey has never had a second-level scheme. Their examples are 'she had a bomb in the restaurant' and 'she pretended to be pregnant with Reid's baby' (so they do remember that! Where's the baby?) - but those weren't next-level plans. Both times, she just wanted to get close to Reid. That was it. The bomb was to make sure they couldn't just arrest her, giving her time to play a game with him, and the baby was to mess with his mind, to make him more obsessed with her. Neither time did she have a second plan that she was covering up.

JJ and Aisha go to talk to Aubrey's lawyer, and he confirms the DNA test theory, then gives them the address that he sent the results to! Could that be where the lady is hiding out? It would be weird if it was, but then again, who knows what Aubrey's plan is?

Reid and Aubrey talk some more, and he finally brings up her baby, asking what happened with that? He should already know. Her medical records are not secret in any meaningful way. Did you really never check up on Aubrey after the season 12 finale? He's bad at his job.

She suggests that she'll give him information if he'll just have sex with her, but then he hesitates, and she realizes that he's dating someone, and acts betrayed, announcing that she's calling the date off! Reid convinces her not to by saying that all her plans worked, and on some level he's obsessed with her, just like she is with him! She demands to do everything with him that Rachel has done, so it's off to Reid's apartment!

First, SWAT rescues the father, who it seems was in the lady's hovel after all! So I guess Aubrey doesn't want this to be too hard for them, huh? Finally we get the twist! The kidnapped dad isn't Aubrey's father at all! Her dad died in Canada 4 years ago – so the whole thing has been a misdirect so that she could get time with Reid!

Then things get real, real, real dumb, as Reid and Aubrey go to the door of his apartment, and she demands that he kiss her. He does, giving her a chance to open the door, where Rachel is waiting for them! That's right – even though a murderer who was obsessed with Reid is masterminding crimes, they neither put his girlfriend under surveillance or had SWAT clear the apartment before letting her into it. This is just... terrible.

Oh, wow – it turns out the father and daughter were Rachel's family! She's got a younger sister as well, it seems. How did they not already know this? Again, facial recognition software. Driver's license databases. This isn't that complicated, people.

Reid has the team leave him alone with Rachel and Aubrey, hoping that her gloating will offer more clues! Then the team continues trying to figure out what the endgame is – they assume that the lade must have her own plans in mind, and isn't just working for Aubrey! There's no basis for them thinking that, of course, but it's their show, so I guess they're right?

Emily figures that their only play is to somehow get Aubrey to call lady – but how can they do that? She announces they have to talk about 'Max', which is Rachel's character's name FYI. What is it about her personality or backstory that they think they can use?

Garcia and Matt dig into lady's backstory – she went to jail at the same age the sister is now! Could she be planning to 'groom' her somehow? Of course not, she's only kidnapped her for a couple of hours, that would make zero sense. So maybe?

Then it's over to the car that the sister is driving – she's chauffeuring lady to go kill the man who got her to take the drug charge and go to prison! Apparently the plan is to make the sister see that all men are scum? Showing her that women are crazy murderers should be a great way to accomplish that!

At Reid's place, Aubrey tries to ruin his and Rachel's relationship by talking about what a troubled scumbag Reid is. Which, you know, fair point. She brings up him threatening to kill her when she'd kidnapped his mother, and it's awkward! Apparently the big surprise is that Aubrey had a miscarriage after Reid roughed her up in prison! Which seems like a stretch, considering how slight the shoving was.

Weirdly this proves to be a surprise to Reid, which suggests that he did, in fact, completely forget about her the next day and no one ever bothered to follow up on her case in any way. How are you all so bad at this?

Aubrey offers Rachel a deal – talk about the abusive guy in her past, because she's sure there is one, and she'll make sure lady lets her sister go! Rachel goes along with it, and talks about her abusive boyfriend! She admits to killing him in a planned act of self-defense, and Aubrey lets her go!

We get more about her obsession with Reid on the drive back to prison, and then it cuts to the next morning – I guess at some point Rachel's sister was rescued off camera at some point? Weird way to wrap up that part of the story...

Reid comes into the office and Emily tells him it's time for a debriefing! Everyone's there, and they're happy, so I guess all the stuff Rachel said was a con devised by the team to trick Aubrey, and they didn't tell Reid about it so his reactions would be real? Yup, that's exactly what happened.


Except they let Reid off the hook for the miscarriage, saying it happened 'months later'.

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

Kind of? I mean, the entirety of their plan revolved around them 'figuring out' that the target was Rachel, but she should have been put in protective custody immediately when the whole thing started, since facial recognition would have identified her family right away. Also, and I can't stress this enough, how does Reid not assume she's in danger, given the fact that his psycho ex is contacting him for the first time in years immediately after he starts dating someone?

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

Kind of? I mean, literally all they had to do was get a list of people that lady was connected to and stake them out. Just hanging around outside her boyfriend's house would have resolved things fairly cleanly.

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

4/10 – I'd love to give the team more credit, but the thing that got it done was Rachel improvising a story about murdering her abusive boyfriend, and she's not a member of the team. That said, they didn't really need to 'get it done' at all, considering that the sister, at that point, was in the easiest place for the cops to find, but still – partial points!

Seriously, though, how did Reid never find out any details about Aubrey's miscarriage? Even if he didn't follow up on her after season 12, they had like an hour between him agreeing to see her and her getting there. Plenty of time for him to read her complete updated file. Why didn't he bother to do that?

And, on a final note – whether or not he caused a miscarriage, Aubrey is right, Reid absolutely is the kind of guy who'd grab a woman by the throat, slam her against a wall, and threaten to kill her. Because he did do all of that.

1 comment:

MetalHippie said...

Always enjoy your thorough analysis of these episodes. While this show frequently flubs the "procedural" aspects, the one thing they're always good at ( in my opinion ) is making you care about the characters; making them feel like a family and making me feel invested in what happens. I will say that as the show goes on the unsubs get less and less interesting and the "member of team is in grave danger" or "threat of shutting down the BAU for "going rouge" ( which: fair point honestly they break rules all the time) feels like the "A" plot but is written as a "b" plot. Still I love this show despite it's writing flaws.