S1:E11 – Blood Hungry

Content notes: blood, anthropophagy, ableism around mental illness and drug use, suicide, forcible administration of medication

 

I’m pretty sure I know which episode this is based on the title.  I’m also noticing that the Netflix summaries invariably say “Gideon and Hotchner investigate” or “Gideon and Hotchner profile,” which is weird.  Anyway, onwards and recapwards!

We open on a white house in Harringtonville, TN and I realize instantly this isn’t the episode with Gavin Rossdale that I thought it was.  Anyway, there’s a middle-aged white woman giving a voice lesson to a young white boy.  It’s some churchy song that I don’t recognize.  We get a distorted view of the house from the outside and the boy leaves with the voice teacher’s son, an older boy who seems frustrated about walking him home.  More weird distorted views of the house and the woman playing the piano.  We see a person in a hoodie staggering towards the house, we see the woman playing the piano scream, then blood all on the piano and music.

Cut to Hotchner and JJ leading the team meeting — two victims in 48 hours in this small town, the first homicides in like 60 years.  The MOs (drink!) are different between victims, so do they have two unsubs or one “very psychotic individual”?  Gideon enters, on crutches, and says that he was working on his list of things to do “before it’s too late,” and he hurt himself skydiving.  It’s very cute and self-deprecating and makes me like Gideon just a little more because for once he’s not being the smug mentor super-profiler.

Reid notices rings in the blood, and Gideon offers to work that angle since he can’t join the team in the field.  They speculate that the killer may be suffering from serious delusions, and is “psychotic,” which seems like a broad and badly-applied term here, and that he will definitely kill again.  Credits.

No opening quote!  Woe.

Cut to the team on-site, Elle and Reid talk with the local sheriffs at the white house, and speculate they may have more than one unsub and that they may be meth addicts.  Elle thinks that the kid getting the singing lesson must have seen the unsub hiding in the bushes where they found a pop can, so she gets the kid and his mom there to interview them.  The kid’s mom is suspicious and says he doesn’t know anything, but the kid describes the unsub to Elle, saying he looked “crazy,” with blood on his face, and that he put his finger to his lips when he saw the kid looking at him.  Yikes!  No wonder he didn’t say anything before, that must have been really scary!  Reid and Elle head back to the station and talk with the sheriff about how to narrow down the suspects.

Gideon, meanwhile, has invaded Garcia’s office and starts to move things around while she tries to get him out of her way while still being respectful.  Gideon basically takes over her office and now we’re back to not liking him very much because his genius apparently makes him a shithead who can’t respect other people.  Back at the station, the sheriff comes up with the name of a local meth cook with a long record and several hospitalizations for overdoses.  The team finds him at his house, a skinny white guy in tighty whities trying to run away.  Back at the station, they interrogate the guy, but he seems like his withdrawal symptoms are getting in the way of his ability to make sense.  There’s ample evidence that he was inside (blood on his boots, matching pattern), but he contends he didn’t do nothing.  Hotch stony faces like a mofo.

s1e11 hotch

The meth guy says he saw someone else leaving the house when he got there, a man wearing a black hoodie.  Morgan gets the guy to calm down enough to talk some more about what he saw as he was robbing the house.  The guy seems really really upset about finding the woman all murdered and mutilated and it seems clear he didn’t kill the woman.  They get the sheriff following the hoodie lead.

Back at Garcia’s fortress of solitude, she continues to try to get Gideon and his messy Chinese food out of her office.  Gideon realizes the rings are cup rings because he is leaving cup rings just EVERYwhere in Garica’s space and this whole fucking storyline is giving me hives, and that the unsub may have taken organs from his victims and put them in containers in order to, uh, consume them later.  Yikes.  Garcia seems about as freaked out as I am, but has a WAY cooler blazer.  Seriously, her blazer game is ON POINT.

s1e11 blazer

Back at the station, the team delivers the profile.  The anthropophagy indicates some very extreme delusions, and that this level of delusion mean he is probably local, since he won’t be lucid enough to move about much.  The sheriff suggests they start with the first victim’s funeral, where most of the community will be gathered.  At the funeral, JJ and Elle brief Hotch on some possible unsubs based on the mental health angle — a guy who took too much LSD and now thinks he’s a glass of orange juice  sorry, who freaked out and attacked somebody, a guy who was committed after some suicide attempts, and a guy who was arrested for biting the heads off chickens and was institutionalized.  It seems really disrespectful to me that they are doing this at the funeral, no?  A woman overhears and tells them that she saw one of the possible unsubs recently, with his brother.  They follow up on the guy at his brother’s butcher shop, where his brother tries to hide him. They manage to get everyone to calm down, drop their cleavers and crowbars, and talk to the brother and the possible unsub, Ollie.  Brother was trying to protect him from the ridicule of the townspeople or whatever, and Ollie says he wants to leave his hometown and start over where people don’t hate and fear him, which sounds reasonable.  Just as a public service announcement, most people with mental illness are NOT serial killers and having been institutionalized seems like a really shitty metric to use to try to figure out who your bad guy is.

We cut to the singing boy singing to an older white woman, his grandmother, who goes off to pull some cookies out of the oven.  The kid watches cartoons.  It’s really idyllic, which means, yep here comes the distorted viewpoint of the unsub!  I’m telling you, never do anything ever because it always means you’re about to get serial killered.  Anyway, we get some distorted views of the woman screaming and television static because television static is ALWAYS scary.

s1e11 static

Cut to the sheriffs and the team at the house, where a white woman police officer is telling the sheriff that the grandmother’s car was seen speeding away about 15 minutes ago.  They “put an APB on it” (drink) and a screaming and crying woman comes in yelling about wanting her boy back (drink!) (seriously, aren’t there an awful lot of screaming crying women that show up at crime scenes?).  The unsub has taken her son!  Reid and Hotch inspect the body and find some bloody bolt cutters that were used to uh, open up the body.  The unsub took the woman’s heart, yikes!  Hotch and Reid update Gideon in Garcia’s office, and Gideon remembers a thing he read this one time about various organs being thought of as the “seat of the soul,” and hypothesizes that the unsub’s delusions may be religious in nature, and that maybe he’s made the kid into some kind of angel or messianic figure.  Reid’s hair is back to being unfloppy but he is doing this cute fidgety thing with his lovely and delicate hands.

s1e11 handsy

We cut to an older white man with the young man who walked the kid home in that earlier scene.  We guess he’s the singing teacher’s husband, and he uses his house keys to go into the house where he finds — urk — a tupperware container of blood and organs, while his answering machine picks up a call expressing sympathy for the loss of his wife.  It’s a pretty effective scene.  But you guys, I’m not squeamish, but this whole “eating human organs” thing is making me woozy.  The team and sheriffs arrive on scene and determine that it’s a human stomach, eurgh.  The sheriff wants to know what this could mean, and Reid and Hotch think it could be a sign of remorse during a period of lucidity, so they stake out the churches in town, of which there are many, so it seems fortuitous that Elle and Morgan happen to be staking out the one that the unsub shows up at!  Unsub is a white guy with dark hair, covered in blood, holding a container full of blood and [whatever].  We get more of the distorted POV shots, all angels and blood and whatnot.

Back at the station, the unsub is freaking out in a cell, while the team talk to the sheriff about him.  He’s not lucid enough to interrogate in his present state, and they still haven’t found the boy.  They bring in the unsub’s mother, who was the woman at the funeral who gave them Ollie.  HMM.  Hotch and JJ talk to her in the station; she doesn’t seem to understand how very sick her son is, and they ask her if they can give him some antipsychotic medication to get him lucid enough to find out what happened to the kid.  She agrees.  Hotch gets Garcia on a video call, and Garcia explains the unsub’s recent history — overprotective mother, drug abuse, comparative religion major, please get Gideon out of my office.  Hotch actually smiles!

s1e11 hotch smile

Morgan and Elle are at the unsub’s mom’s house, which is way too clean and organized.  They smell bleach — a LOT of bleach — in the mud room.  There’s a very, nay, a suspiciously clean refrigerator.  They find a trace of blood under the fridge, in the shape of a ring!  We cut to a really terrible scene of an injection being forcibly administered to the unsub.  The doctor explains that the medication will only do so much and that they should try to avoid upsetting him.  Hotch and Reid go into the cell to talk to the guy, who does an ok job of acting like someone who is having a hard time with reality.  Reid and Hotch are pretty calm and sensitive, but the unsub isn’t lucid enough to give them much.  They leave the cell to talk to the sheriff and suddenly they hear yelling.  The unsub is trying to hang himself in his cell and the scene is truly horrifying and upsetting.  No screen caps.

Hotch and Reid think something is up with the mom, so they talk to her to try to get her to be straight with them.  She claims she doesn’t know anything but like, there was blood in her house and all that.  She tries to leave, and Reid suggests she stay at the station, in a way that isn’t really a suggestion. It’s a nice piece of acting and characterization — he’s acting very Reid-like and shy but making it clear that he’s telling her she is not allowed to leave.  It’s really great!  The team takes a look at the mom’s sat nav, and see that she stopped at one spot along a local highway several times.  Hotch and Elle drive her there under the guise of taking her to the hospital to see her son, and Hotch distracts her with talk about where she is from, where she grew up, that kind of thing.  We learn that she comes from a very old family, and that she’s a Sweet Briar alum, which I’m sure is a bit bittersweet for any alums reading this.  Hotch talks to her about protecting her reputation and her family name and it’s all very US Southern.

They arrive at the place from her sat nav, and tell her she really should help them find the boy.  Cops, dogs, flashlights, etc.  They find the boy in a shed, and Morgan tells him to “come on, boy” like a dog, which is weird.  The kid is reunited with his family and the unsub’s mom tells Hotch that she didn’t know her son was killing anyone until he brought home that boy, she swears.  Hotch tells her what she didn’t do is as important as what she did — she didn’t help her son when he first had mental health issues, she didn’t visit him when he was institutionalized, and she didn’t call the cops when he brought home a mysterious boy and was all covered in blood.  “What was I supposed to do?” she aks Hotch, all haughty Southern lady clutching her fur coat at the collar.  “Almost anything would have been better,” Hotch deadpans.  I laugh but I mean REALLY lady.

Plane quote — Harriet Beecher Stowe about words left unsaid and deeds left undone, which is a bit unsubtle but ok.

The team arrives back at the BAU and Hotch is smiling again!  Morgan calls Garcia “sweetheart,” and she complains about the mess Gideon left behind.  Hotch goes in to talk to Gideon, who at first doesn’t know who “Garcia” is, making me love him EVER SO MUCH, and Hotch tells him he pissed her off and he should send a fruit basket or something.  That seems like an incredibly weird thing to do to someone in a professional setting to indicate “hey I messed up.”  I wonder what AAM would think?  They talk about Gideon’s list, and Hotch says he needs to do them all.  Gideon shakes his head and says “he doesn’t want to hear from me,” so we guess he has some estranged son or something.  We see Gideon making a phone call to someone named “Stephen,” and says “it’s your dad.”  Would that all family rifts could be healed by gentle encouragement from a coworker.  And another public service announcement — not all estranged kids are estranged from parents who just loved their incredibly difficult work too much and maybe if someone tells you they don’t want you in their life the thing to do is to NOT continue to try to cross their boundaries.

Anyway, overall a pretty good episode despite the continued conflation of mental illness and serial killing.  I liked the gross-out factor of the anthropophagy, and the relative lack of Gideon, but there was also a distinct lack of Reid, so it wasn’t perfect.

 

Reid’s hair floppiness rating: ugh we are back to a 2 out of 10.  Argh!

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2 Comments

  1. Lack of Reid, true, but what there was, was very nicely done. I liked the “respectable Southern family” dynamic, showing pretty clearly how toxic it can be. (I come from one of the oldest of old Southern families, though my particular branch is adulterated with Northerness, so I’ve seen a lot of that toxicity.)

    Gideon is pretty hideous to Garcia for a lot of the early shows, and it annoys me. Garcia is awesome!

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    • I wanted to say more about the whole “Southern family” thing but I’m born and bred northern Polish immigrant stock, so I worried my biases might come through. I’d love to hear more about how you viewed that aspect!

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