S1:E7 – The Fox

Content notes: domestic violence, children in peril, knife violence, some mentions of suicide, racism, rank sexism, mention of rape, self harm

Guys, this episode gave me the screaming heebie-jeebies in a couple of places.  Please take the content notes seriously.  There’s also a lot more commentary than usual so it’s a bit longer, sorry!


We open on scary sounds and an exterior view of a house and garden.  Cut to inside where a white mixed-gender couple with two kids are playing and talking about their upcoming trip to DisneyWorld.  The wife makes a series of really gross comments about being “the only adult” in the household because men are nothing but silly babies that need women to take care of them or else they would just live in squalor and eat pizza rolls and gin and then I had to stop watching for a minute to rage blackout.  Sorry.  Moving on.  The kids are looking for their dog outside and we see the dog come in the doggy door all while scary music plays.  One of the things that I find worrying about these shows is how it seems like you can’t ever do anything normal or else you’ll get serial killered.  Cook in your own kitchen? Serial killered.  Hang out with your family?  Serial killered.  Go to work?  Serial killered.  Anyway.  We see a figure dressed in black standing in the shadows, then we cut to the wife waking up in bed and seeing her husband tied up in the corner looking terrified!

Quote from Dr. Thomas Fuller about foxes.

Gideon is hanging up crime scene photographs on a board of the family we just saw; I won’t describe them here, they are bloody and terrible.  Elle comes in and asks if they are a murder-suicide, and Gideon says that’s what we have to find out.  Credits.

Cut to Hayley and Hotch’s baby and everyone giving pretty in-character congratulations — Reid is awkward, JJ thinks the baby’s beautiful, Morgan doesn’t want kids, you get the idea.  Kind of clumsy writing I guess, or maybe I’m just cranky after the rank sexism of the opening scene.  Team meeting about the Crawford family, murdered in their house, bags packed for a vacation they didn’t get to.  The locals thought initially it was a murder-suicide, that the father had killed the family and himself, but there was another family murdered nearby a month ago that had the same characteristics, including the bags packed and scheduled vacation, which is why the BAU is on the case.  The team discusses the features of the case and they bring up the biological father of the children of the first family, and it’s Tony Todd!  Fantastic!  Locals picked up the Candyman, so Gideon sends Reid to interview him, and Reid kinda panics about it.  Heh.

s1e7 reid nervous

As an aside, I checked out Tony Todd’s IMDB page for this recap and realized he has literally been in an episode of pretty much everything ever that has been on TV, from Murder, She Wrote to Star Trek TNG, pretty much every crime and detective show, Xena, and even The Young and the Restless.  Fun!

Gideon and Morgan go to the second murder scene and discuss how one unsub could control an entire family.  They walk the house and wonder if the unsub may have been able get into the house through the doggy door that opens with a chip in the dog’s collar.  They are still unsure about how the unsub was able to control an entire family, though, because someone big and intimidating enough to control a whole family couldn’t get through a doggy door.

Hotch and Elle listen to the autopsy reports on tape, and Hotch seems to be struggling with the children who were murdered (because he’s a new dad!  get it?!).  He notices that both the men’s wedding rings were missing, and thinks this is the unsub’s “trophy” (drink!). Meanwhile, Reid interviews the Candyman, who does his very best to intimidate.

s1e7 candyman

Reid holds his own pretty well, but when Candyman stands up to shout at him, Hotch and Elle rush in.  It turns out they aren’t needed as Reid starts to profile at him, telling him unpleasant truths about his own past, and concludes by asking him whether he ever abused his own children.  He finally gets through to Candyman, who admits that he found his ex’s family when they were already dead and then breaks down crying, saying that he knew the cops would blame him.  “What have I got now,” he asks.  Reid tells him in a surprised voice,  “you have your innocence,” which would be only clueless and sort of grimly funny if it weren’t for all the, you know, cops wantonly murdering black people all over the place with zero consequence.

Reid tells Elle and Hotch that he doesn’t think the Candyman is their guy. Back at the murder scene, Gideon suddenly starts screaming “help me! help me!” while Morgan looks on, alarmed, because it really looked for a second like Gideon may be actually having some kind of scary mental health episode.  All around the neighborhood, dogs bark and lights turn on, and Gideon asks “why didn’t anyone hear them scream?”

Back with the team, Gideon and Morgan discuss again how the unsub could have controlled the family, and Garcia calls with news that the wife of the second family had a separate cell phone account, billed to an address in DC.  The team busts into a dingy apartment and finds a big dog and a big dude.  We cut to an interrogation room, with the big dude, who seems confused and scared.  Gideon has a child’s painting found in the apartment, and is pretty sure it belonged to one of the murdered children.  The big dude informs them, through some confused rambling, that the murdered wife of the second family is his sister.  He says he did a bad thing, and he went to their house, which he wasn’t allowed to do because his brother-in-law would “send him to the looney bin.”

The writers seem to be confused here.  Gideon tells the big dude that he’s “a severe manic-depressive,” but the actor seems to be playing someone with more of a developmental disability. Is this just because the writers don’t give a shit that those are two different things, or what?  Who cares, it’s terrible!

Anyway, we learn that the big dude went to the house to see his sister because they cut his cell phone off, and saw them eating dinner with a red-haired, “tiny” friend at the table.  Big dude realizes he didn’t see a friend, he saw their killer, and gets very upset and starts hitting himself until Morgan and Gideon restrain him, in what is just an incredibly distressing scene.

The team talks about the connection between the small guy that the brother saw and the dog door (both families had dogs), and go on to say that he must have found a new family by now.  We cut to a dark-haired mixed-gender couple with a baby and young daughter.  They put the baby to bed and we see their luggage packed in the hallway.  Then we see the door in the baby’s room slide open and a dark figure with white gloves walks out while quiet lullaby music plays.  It’s a pretty effectively scary scene!  Yikes!!

s1 e7 scary feet

The team works to try to find the connection between the families.  Morgan says he’s tried everything — lawyers, doctors, travel agents, contractors, tutors.  They talk about the characteristics of this kind of killer.  Morgan ticks off qualities as CGI people happen around him.  These killers are confident, meticulous, compulsively organized, they research their victims exhaustively.  Gideon comes in and contrasts two paintings from the second family — one full of color, one black and white, and thinks that it may be that the kid was coerced by the unsub to paint the second. ::shudder:: Hotch remarks on the wedding ring connection and thinks maybe the unsub is “playing daddy,” eliciting another shudder.  Morgan suddenly realizes both husbands are government employees.  Gideon and Morgan go to interview their coworkers.  They find some more children’s drawings and Gideon wonders if maybe they are connected by a family therapist that uses children’s drawings to learn things about the families.  Hotch and Elle are interviewing the talkingest woman ever about the wife of the first family, and she indicates that yes, the victim was seeing a therapist.

Garcia and Reid try to dig up the therapist connection, and Reid makes a pretty strong angry remark about how “everyone is medicated these days,” which honestly dude, just shut up.  Although we should remember that at this point in the series we don’t know about Reid’s mom, and his aversion to psychiatric drugs could be part of that whole story, so maybe I shouldn’t be so annoyed.  Ugh, god this scene gets worse though, because Garcia “hacks into” the government health plan database, and Reid is worried that it’s illegal, prompting Garcia to make a lovely prison rape joke, good gods.  Anyway, they track down the therapist and it’s a woman!

We cut back to the black-clad figure with white gloves, taking some huge leather restraints off a child and forcing her to paint a picture with black paint while the hands stroke her hair.  SUPER CREEPY yikes shudder!  Cut to the therapist working with a kid; she scoots the kid out the door and drops her charming sweet voice to ask Hotch and Gideon what they want.  They interrogate her a bit but she has an alibi, and explains that she only did the initial assessment.  She looks up who she handed the cases over to, a therapist named Carl Arnold, but he’s not in today, didn’t answer the phone, and wasn’t at his house when it was raided, which seemed to happen really quickly, like, over the course of a conversation.  They break into his office and learn some incriminating info about his disintegrating personal life (marriage breakup, controlling and violent, drinking problem, etc).

Hotch calls Carl’s ex wife to try to find him and she tells him she got a call from him an hour ago, but he didn’t say where he was.  He seemed the same as usual — “angry, controlling, and manic,” and she heard kids and crying in the background.  They start going through the files to try to figure out what family he’s targeted now, and find a file that wasn’t one of Carl’s cases — he took the file from the woman’s office as well as a child’s painting!  Wait hang on.  Wouldn’t it have been easier to have Garcia track the call to the ex wife rather than trying to go through mountains of files?  Anyway now they know where he is.

Anyway, Cut to SWAT, Gideon, and Morgan at a house.  They break into the house and get the wife, daughter, and father out, but the unsub has the baby!  They find him in the basement with the baby, and Gideon tries to get the baby from him.  The unsub walks towards Gideon and then suddenly THROWS THE BABY AT HIM and attacks Morgan with a knife!  Morgan fights with him and gets him handcuffed.  They bring him into the FBI for some reason instead of to jail?

JJ tells Gideon they can’t forensically tie him to the other crimes so they need a confession.  Gideon asks if JJ can help, and starts the interrogation.  The guy is calm, at first, and asks for water and for his shackles to be taken off.  As he talks about the families, he gets more and more agitated, until Gideon shows him a picture of his own family, with his ex wife and two children standing super far away from Carl.  It’s pretty clearly very staged the kids and wife are literally standing an arm’s length from Carl, but I can imagine that plenty of less obvious photos like these exist.  Carl gets more and more agitated and starts yelling about the photos of the crime scenes being mixed up.  Whooooops.  Carl confesses and says he did it to show what happens when the head of the household isn’t “strong,” and that he is “an excellent father.”  ::shudder::

I do not get where the “fox” thing came from you guys.  Maybe because the guy is red-haired?

Anyway, back at Carl’s office, Hotch finds the restraints and wedding rings behind a bookshelf.  Lots of wedding rings.  Way more than the two he was looking for.  ::big shudder::  Cut to the team sitting around looking at the rings, silent.  It’s an incredibly effective series of scenes that shows and doesn’t tell, and I think it’s really successful!

s1e7 rings

Reid’s hair floppiness rating:  getting slightly floppier, I’d stay a solid 2 out of 10!

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  1. The fox thing made sense to me – small, red-haired dude who comes in through the dog door, and keeps the families subdued with psychology rather than strength.

    A very good episode in a lot of ways, marred by a lot of little annoying bits. The finding of the wedding rings was very effective, but isn’t one of the first things you do, in a case like this, looking for other cases that seem similar? It seemed unlikely to me that our unsub could have successfully murdered that many families, and had none of them pop up when the FBI starts looking for suspicious past murder-suicides.


    • Yeah it’s not like one or two people going missing here and there, these are entire families being murdered in their homes in and around the DC metro area. I really think someone would have noticed.

      I didn’t really connect the fox to the dog door thing but you are probably right.


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