Criminal Minds 1509: Face Off

Well, this is it! Second-last episode of Criminal Minds ever! This should be a blast, right? Before I get started, though, can we take a second to mention how ridiculous the last scene of last week's episode was? They had Faceoff talking about how beautiful the woman's bone structure was, and wanting to preserve her face forever! Except bone structure is what's behind the face. Once the face is off, it's just a flat mass, as we've seen time and again. Shouldn't he have been complimenting something about her skin? Unless he's collecting heads from now on?

I guess my point is that the writing on this show has sunken to the point where they can't even make killers be creepy in a believable fashion.
Now, on to the episode!

We open on Joe's basement, where he's built an obsession wall to Faceoff! Apparently the guy has killed again? Maybe the woman from last week? This should be bigger news, given all those FBI agents he murdered that time. Joe also seems to dump a package of diamonds on his desk, and I have no idea what that's about. Maybe they're intercutting between the two of them to show us that obsession is similar no matter what it's chasing?

For some reason Joe has put a sketch of the guy up on the wall, even though they have pictures of what he really looks like. It's like that scene in H20 where there's a sketch of the Michael Myers mask on the wall, because the filmmakers have forgotten that A: You can get a photo of it, it's a regular mask you can buy in a store, and 2: they have actual photos of what Michael Myers actually looks like - he was in a state institution for years.

More craziness between Emily and JJ - it seems that JJ was offered a job as head of the New Orleans FBI, which is just a bad call on the FBI's part - neither of these women have any leadership skills to speak of, and putting them in charge of things - be it the FBI, BAU, or a field office - would lead to disaster. So of course that's what's going to happen.

Over at Reid's house the rest of the team is hanging out - apparently Luke and his doctor girlfriend broke up because of that time a sniper murdered his friend (her patient). Yeah, that's going to be a drag on the romance, I'm guessing. So what's the endgame here? Are they pairing him up with Garcia? That would come out of nowhere, but the show is ending, and anything is possible!

Garcia actually has a job offer! A silicon valley firm working on climate change! This would be a terrible job to take - I won't get into it here, since there's plenty of show to discuss without this nonsense, but suffice to say that joining a firm trying to profit off averting global disaster isn't going to be a good fit for her, morally speaking. Unless she's lying and the job is with a group of hackers working to bankrupt and destroy oil companies, in which case more power to you, Garcia.

Okay, things just got really depressing. Joe starts talking to Mandy to go over what he knows about serial killing in the hopes that they can track down faceoff, but it's not Mandy he thinks about, it's young Mandy, played by Ben Savage. I was hoping against hope that they would manage to convince Mandy Patinkin to actually come back for a cameo in a flashback, but I guess he really, really, really doesn't want to. Or it was a contractual thing with his show.

They decide the key element to catching Faceoff is 'why didn't he kill Joe when he had the chance'? Obviously because that would have taken time to do, and the team was on top of him. The show thinks there's more to it, though, and announces that the real reason is that Faceoff thought Joe reminded him of his father, a man that Sharon slept with as part of a con who later died! But what if she lied about who the father was, and Faceoff wants to track him down?

That's kind of a stretch, but this is the second-last episode, so why not.

Now it's over to Faceoff, who hands a guy a briefcase of money to find his father! This sleaze must be the most trustworthy sleaze on earth, because no matter how much money is in that briefcase, it pales in comparison to the amount he'll get from the government for telling them where Faceoff is.

Then Faceoff gets a call from his latest girlfriend, who wants to move in with him! Is he staying in the same mansion from the season opener? I'd have to check - it might be that all mansions look the same to me.

Just in case it wasn't clear, this seems like it's the girlfriend's mansion from last week, and he's already killed her - he invites the new lady to move in once he's had a day to clear up all evidence of the crime.

Oh, and the way he's killing without anyone noticing is that now he incinerates bodies in a basement crematorium, rather than burning down their houses. So maybe this is actually his place? I can't imagine his girlfriend would have had one of those. Or been okay with her boyfriend installing a cremation oven in her basement, which she would have had to have been, since that takes a while to do, and only killed her just now.

But how would the most wanted man in America get a house? This is very puzzling.

Maybe we'll get an explanation of the housing situation after the opening credits?

Reid comes to see Joe in his evidence dungeon - which isn't his basement, after all, but the basement of Quantico where they founded the BSU! Joe explains his theory - Sharon is only pretending to help them so that she can get out on bail and murder her son herself! She's angry about the granddaughter's death, it would seem. Not a bad theory - but is there any way they could track her while she attempts it? Strangely, Joe says he doesn't want to share the theory with the rest of the team, but Reid tells him that's a terrible idea. He's absolutely right, of course - what's Joe going to be able to do on his own?

Then we check in with Faceoff, who welcomes hi new GF and her sullen daughter into his home! Sinister music plays the whole time, of course.

In the conference room scene things go a little nuts, as we're expected to believe that the entire season so far has taken place in just eight weeks? Remember when JJ was shot and nearly died? And also Matt's wife had another kid? And then it was literally months later? How is the show this bad at keeping a timeline?

Also, Garcia somehow has information that Faceoff has hired PIs in each of the cities he went to in order to track down men that Sharon was intimate with in the year before he was born. How on earth would she have that? Do PIs enter all the information about who they're looking for in a national database of some kind? Seriously, though, we're expected to believe that Faceoff has gone back to faceoff murders in the past two months - full on burned down houses and such - but the team hasn't been actively looking for him? No one has? This is the most wanted man in America, and if he was hiding in a hole somewhere you could kind of believe that he would be able to not be found for two months - but now we're asked to believe that he's been seducing and murdering women this whole time? How could they possibly have not known who he was?

Not for nothing - this 'eight weeks' thing means that Emily is already on the FBI director shortlist one week after saying she'd be up for the job. I'd say this was completely implausible, but since the president appointing her would be Donald Trump, the complete lack of any kind of background check or serious vetting is exactly on brand.

How would this woman ever survive a Senate hearing? She's spent most of her life outside America. She had a teenage abortion. She's killed people for little to no reason. She recently worked for Interpol. She's not even a lawyer. This is the worst pick possible.

Turns out it's not going to be hard to get Sharon out of jail at all! Louisiana thinks she's helped enough, so they're springing her that day! JJ and Aisha go to talk to her about her plans. They say they can't let her try to kill Faceoff, since that would be against the law. Both Aisha and JJ have killed people they shouldn't have because they were angry, though, so they're not the best people to be making this pitch.

Faceoff gets a call that a violent guy from a rich family might be his father! Also we learn that his GF's daughter has diabetes. Which will probably be important later.

Garcia gets a lead! It seems that someone, somewhere in Nevada was looking into Sharon's aliases! I'm not sure how she can know this without having some kind of a lead on the killer's PI - after all, wouldn't he be looking into those aliases by checking with law enforcement contacts and going through databases? But no, all she has is a five hundred mile radius for where an IP address was located.

Faceoff heads downstairs to his basement to burn all the evidence of his crimes - specifically, the faces. We get a flashback to him killing his daughter, and as I suspected, it makes zero sense that he would murder her but leave the girlfriend alive.

Half of the team flies to Reno while the other remains in DC. I'm not sure why. They've tracked down the PI, both through the IP address and cash that was wired to him via an offshore account owned by the lawyer that faceoff stole the identity of in the first episode of the season. Wait - why hadn't they been tracking that all along? Also it's kind of weird that Faceoff is paying the PI both with wire transfers and stacks of cash in briefcases. Does he care about being traced, or doesn't he?

The PI sees Reid and Joe head to his office, but instead of flagging them down and asking for the two million dollar reward - which you think he would do, since he's a convict ex-cop who was imprisoned for stealing drugs from the evidence locker to sell. So he's literally the least trustworthy person imaginable, but instead of taking a HUGE payday from the FBI he's going to get a comparatively paltry sum of money from Faceoff? I know he could theoretically get both, but the FBI money is contingent of Faceoff actually being caught, and there's no telling what the guy will do after you turn over the name. Hell - he could murder you to keep things quiet!

There's no way this guy doesn't turn Faceoff in the second he finds out that's who he's working for.

Garcia tracks down Faceoff, but it's not a huge challenge - she finds a missing persons report about the new GF and her daughter! But who filed it? We learn that two days ago the GF left her abusive boyfriend and told her mother that she was moving in with Faceoff - who she knows under the same name as the one on the account that he transferred the lawyer's money to! So who called the cops? It can't have been the abusive boyfriend, because the fight was on record, and her leaving would be completely understandable. It can't be the mother, who knows where her daughter went. Why is there a police record of this at all?

Then we get a scene where the GF's daughter finds her mother's car missing! Faceoff explains that they had a fight and she drove away! Also, he seems to have stolen the daughter's phone to keep her from calling her mother. What is he planning, exactly? Does he want a replacement daughter for the one he killed? A new daughter-face? Is the car just in the garage? If he'd killed the GF it's not like he could have driven the car somewhere hidden and made it back without the daughter noticing that everyone was gone. The house isn't that big.

Sharon goes to check in on Faceoff's father, who lives in a small house in the middle of nowhere. It seems he noticed the PI snooping around earlier, and wonders if she's involved! She announces that she isn't, and wants to talk about their son. Why isn't the FBI kicking down the door right now? Or are they waiting at the perimeter for Faceoff to show up? It's not like she could have gotten here without them knowing about it, right?

It turns out that the father tried to drown faceoff when he was a toddler, and that's the source of some of his problems! So Sharon shoots him a bunch of times because she blames him for what a monster his son turned into! Presumably the FBI will be kicking the door down after the commercial break.

Nope. Aisha and Emily are busy in DC, asking who the father is. Why was no one following Sharon? Wasn't their ENTIRE PLAN - once they realized that she wasn't actually helping - to let her go and follow her to Faceoff? What happened with that?

Anyhoo, they tell the lawyer that Sharon didn't really love him, and he cracks immediately, telling them where the father is. Which they should have already known, what with following her there and all.

The team shows up at a crime scene - their theory? With his father dead, Faceoff will try to prove he's not like the guy, and be a better father to a new surrogate daughter! Wouldn't it have been way easier to just not kill your daughter in the first place? We never did get a reason he did that, after all.

For some reason the cops are just scattered all over the crime scene in plain view. Why aren't they setting up an ambush? As far as they know, Faceoff is currently headed for this house right now to see his father. Isn't it likely that he'd turn around and see cops everywhere?

Faceoff calls Joe and asks him if his father is dead. Joe confirms that he is, for no reason that I can imagine. Remember what I just said about the ambush? Why aren't you doing that? Also, how did Faceoff get Joe's cell phone number? Like a dope, Joe confirms that the father is dead, and tries to negotiate with Faceoff. The killer wants to meet 1-on-1, and says that he won't kill the daughter if they get together for a chat. The team talks it over, and agrees that Joe should meet faceoff! Naturally the whole team goes with. But Faceoff announces that he's got the daughter locked up somewhere, and since she's got diabetes, if he doesn't tell them where she is, she could be dead tomorrow! So they let him walk away. Presumably the helicopter that's tailing him will lead them back to his mansion.

You know, the preposterousness of this scene could have been avoided had they just included a shot of Faceoff on a hilltop with some binoculars, watching the crime scene from a great distance - so that he knows his dad is dead already and that it's a trap.

JJ is the one providing sniper overwatch, by the way, rather than either of the special forces guys. It's a terrible choice, because she has possibly the shakiest trigger finger in the world. Either she's not good at this, or the actress is trying to express how much JJ wants to just shoot the guy - either way, she's not handling it professionally, and shouldn't be behind a rifle scope.

Oh, and it turns out that helicopters weren't helpful, because the place they met in is full of old mining tunnels that Faceoff somehow knew about, and used to escape. Does he have a team of people planting vehicles for him or something?

Faceoff goes back to check on the daughter, offering once again to bring her to her grandmother's place - but they're interrupted by Sharon, who's found them somehow? Garcia finds the connection - it turns out that the woman whose house it is was the daughter of someone Sharon knew back in the day! Wow, that's incredibly convenient for Sharon, that her son would hide out in the one house on earth that she would be able to find him in!

Faceoff and Sharon have a confrontation in the basement. Reid calls her and warns her that Faceoff will kill her the moment she lets her guard down. She seems unconcerned about that, but takes time to let the daughter go. Reid asks her to let the SWAT guys storm the place, and she agrees. Why bother with that, though? Couldn't she just lead Faceoff outside? He's unarmed and she's pointing a gun at her. There's no reason they have to raid the place.

Oh, okay, here's the reason - they find a duffel full of her personal belongings on the side of the road, and decide that she's planning to commit suicide while murdering her son! Then suddenly the house explodes, badly injuring Reid!

So why did she let the Swat guys raid the place? Did she want to kill some cops at the same time? Also, how did the place blow up? I think they want us to believe that it has something to do with the gas crematorium in the basement, but in order for gas to be thick enough to explode from an open flame it would be so chokingly dense that the three characters couldn't be talking comfortably in the basement.

Also, a gunshot can't set off a gas-filled room. But we established that ages ago, so let's move on, to a world where Faceoff and Sharon are dead.


Wow - back at HQ we learn that six FBI agents were killed by the blast! Emily says they couldn't possibly have known that either person would kill themselves, and therefore it's not her fault that everybody's dead. The deputy director of the FBI tells her that she's out of the running for the big job, and really, she should be removed from leading the BAU as well - but she isn't.

How, though? This is the worst single-day loss of life for the FBI since Gideon screwed up with Bale before season 1. Why would they let her keep her job?

On the flight home, everyone is depressed, and Reid ponders why he didn't figure out why Sharon would blow up the house. His conclusion? She didn't! Faceoff clubbed her, opened a tunnel, smashed a gas line, ignited it, and then escaped!

He figures this out in his apartment, but then falls over before he can tell anyone, because of the head injury he received in that explosion. That's right, he didn't go to the hospital to get checked for a concussion. Because everyone is a moron. We actually saw him unconscious, and then waking up, and having ringing in his ears so bad that he couldn't hear anything - but no one had him sent to a hospital to get checked out.

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

Nope. They didn't solve anything! They just followed some IP addresses and then checked who Sharon knew in the area.

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

Cops would have tailed Sharon and wrapped this up incredibly quickly.

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

NA - We'll wait until the resolution, yet again!

Once again, even if you could ignite gas with a gunshot - you can't - igniting that gas line one second after breaking it wouldn't have blown up the entire house. You might have had gouts of flame coming out of it, and perhaps even an explosion along the line, but the house itself would have likely been fine.

This episode is just trash all over.


JP said...

OMG, this entire episode was a giant Prentiss Award!

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