S1:E12 – What Fresh Hell?

Content notes: child abduction, cancer, police brutality mentions, lots of swearing, mentions of sex offenders, fisticuffs

Sorry this is so late!!!

Before we even start all I can think of is:

s1e12 malory

Anyway.  We open on a charming town, all churches and main street, then a soccer field with kids playing soccer and parents sitting in lawn chairs watching.  Zoom in on the coach, a young thin white woman, arguing with her daughter, a white girl with dark hair of maybe 11 or 12 with a pink cast on her arm, about spending time with her dad.  It’s all very typical sexist crap, dad lets her do anything, mom is stern and has rules and whatever.  Kid runs off and calls dad from her cell phone while we get more of those creepy distorted POV shots of the soccer field.  We see a guy holding a leash step in front of the soccer kid, then see them walking off to look for a dog as a young black boy watches while hanging upside-down on the monkey bars.  We know where this is going, right?  We see the girl in the back of a green SUV speeding away!

Cut back to the BAU where Garcia is thanking Gideon for the flowers he sent, wearing that one awesome blazer with the green trim that I love.

s1e12 blazer

Gideon stares blankly at her while she thanks him.  Garcia sees his photos and asks if they’re his family, he says yes.  JJ comes in and is like “did you send Garcia flowers?” and he’s like “no,” so I’m sure Hotch did it because Gideon is a super genius who doesn’t need to consider other people.

I'm here to blow up your fun with my photon torpedoes!

Just so you know what’s coming…

I mean, look.  I get that this is A Thing, and maybe I’m just the feminazi antifun committee over here, but this whole concept really bothers me.  In REAL life, Dr House would have been fired and had his license to practice revoked, Sherlock Holmes in any of his many incarnations would in no way have anything resembling a career let alone a long-term friend and collaborator like Watson, Shawn Spencer certainly would have long ago alienated Gus who would have dropped from his life and he would probably not be able to maintain a romantic relationship, and Agent Gideon would have seen some professional ramifications if not for his treatment of his direct reports than for his actions in the field (going in unarmed into multiple standoff situations for example).

I think this meme is damaging.  First, it says to men (these characters are always or nearly always men) that it’s ok to treat other people in your life with callous disregard if you’re smarter than they are.  Within our current patriarchal culture, that concept quickly becomes incredibly toxic.  Boys are brought up to be outspoken and go after what they want, they are taught in ways big and small that their voices deserve to be heard over girls’ voices, that their opinions are always wanted, that they are smart and deserving.  Couple that with messages that it’s ok to treat people bad because you’re better than them, and you get abuse, toxic relationships, and everything under Captain Awkward’s “Geek Social Fallacies” tag.  Further, even when we are shown these asshole geniuses failing at interpersonal relationships, it’s never shown as something THEY need to work on.  These failures are the fault of everyone else not understanding their vast genius and adorable (actually, abusive) quirks.

Of course I’m not saying that one or two or even a million television shows and movies create the type of shitty, entitled, smarter/more rational/better than you guy who I’m sure more than one of us has dated.  I’m saying that they contribute to an overall culture that breeds these assholes and tells them they are perfect just the way they are.  I’m saying that the women who these assholes then inflict themselves on suffer a range of crap from “toxic relationship” to “outright emotional abuse.”

I AM saying the “asshole genius” trope is sexist as fuck and needs to Goe Away.

Ok back to our recap.

Anyway, the team meeting discuss the statistics around child abduction and it’s grim.  I’m pretty sure all of us who watch crime shows know most of this, but the gist is that if it’s not her dad who took her, her survival chances outside a 24-hour window are low.

WH Auden on evil being unspectacular.

The team is onsite at the soccer field, and they recap all of what we saw in the opening scene with the local detective heading up the case, a thin black woman wearing a terrific orange sweater that looks fantastic on her.

s1e12 blazer 2

Gideon and Elle are at the girl’s house.  The mom feels like it’s her fault because they argued, they talk about the divorce.  Gideon asks the mom about her relationship with her dad and learns dad is a cancer survivor, who likes to play hooky with his daughter for daddy-daughter fun days.  More of this dad is the fun one, mom is the hardass, blahblahfishcakes.  Dad arrives at the house and argues with mom and Gideon about having his phone off, and we learn he was actually at the hospital because his cancer came back and is terminal.  JJ and Reid handle the press, and JJ talks to a reporter she knows.  He seems smarmy and asks for more info “for old time’s sake,” so JJ tells him his tie is ugly, hahahaha.  Back at the house, Gideon makes zero attempt to be sympathetic to the dad as he breaks down crying, tells Elle to call the hospital to confirm his alibi, then storms out of the house.  Sheesh this guy.

Hotch, Morgan, and the detective talk to a group of kids and parents.  One mom tells them that there’s like a zillion sex offenders in the neighborhood because she saw it on a website.  That may be true, in all honesty.  The sex offender registries are a topic for a whole ‘nother rant but suffice it to say, they are of dubious utility and the potential for abuse, especially of otherwise marginalized populations, makes me not a fan.

Anyway, Hotch talks to a white girl with blonde pigtails who talked to the guy with the “lost dog,” and they learn that the guy had come back to the park after the first girl wouldn’t go off with him, which is unusual for a predator of this type.  Wait, what happened to that black kid on the monkey bars who watched the whole thing?  There are NO black families represented in this group.  Huh.  Gideon says they need to think outside the box or whatever.

The team talks to the local PD and tells them they need to take the uniforms off the street to lessen pressure because the team believes that if the unsub thinks they are close, he’ll kill the girl.  They deliver a profile — menial job, socially marginalized, relates better to kids than adults, not his first offense, lives in the area, recent stressor (drink!), will not inject himself into the investigation (drink!).

Garcia talks to Morgan and brags about her Gideon flowers blargh.  She gives him a list of sex offenders, but there’s nobody matching the profile.  Elle is hanging out with the parents trying to explain their new approach, and mom realizes dad is sick again.  The doorbell rings, and we hear the dad talking to someone, then Elle watches him run out to his car carrying a piece of paper.  She talks to the woman who came to the door, who is the sex offender-obsessed lady from earlier.  Dad goes after some guy and beats him up but he’s not the unsub, just some rando from the sex offender list.  As frustrating as this scene is, I kind of like it, because it’s very believable.  The police response must seem awfully counter-intuitive to a distraught parent who may not be thinking clearly, there is massive misunderstanding and stigma around sex offender registries and who gets put on them, and there is a culture that encourages male violence when one’s women are being harmed or defiled.

Anyway, they settle everyone down, and we see Gideon and Reid explain to the detective about the harm of “stranger danger,” which is actually really nice and helpful.  Most abductions, sex offenses, rapes, etc. are committed by someone known to the victim.  They get a call about a body in a creek and Gideon, Reid, and the detective arrive on the scene as the body is pulled from the water.  We get more weird distorted POV shots of the coroner’s team, this time apparently from Gideon?  Weird.  Back at the station, Morgan and Hotchner tell the dad that the guy he beat up won’t be pressing charges, which the dad is kind of outraged at.  Morgan explains that they guy was caught for solicitation, nothing involving kids, and that there’s “lots of ways to end up on that list,” which is why the use of it is best left to law enforcement.  Thanks again, guys!  This is really crucial information that more people should understand!

JJ and Hotch tell them they need to make a public appeal for help finding a witness driving a green SUV, which is actually the description of the lost dog suspect. They are confused but Hotch points out that calling him a “suspect” will make it harder for the local citizens to think of their own neighbor, but this way someone might recognize him.  They give the press conference, with a priest standing next to them, which I may have missed the discussion of.  The dad does a pretty good job giving the press conference, until the smarmy reporter from earlier asks about the body found earlier and the parents lose it.  JJ shuts down the presser and yells at the reporter that he was out of line, and it seems clear they have A History, which I’m pretty sure we never hear about again because continuity isn’t this show’s strong suit.  Gideon tells them the body wasn’t their daughter, that he saw the body and it was someone much older, and Elle takes the parents off to calm down in private.

The team discusses whether the unsub may have been missed in in the initial canvass — he may not have answered the door because he was worried he would give something away.  They decide to try to track down people who weren’t home during the initial canvass.  Gideon and Elle talk to the parents some more and it’s more of the same stuff as before — it’s all my fault, what are you doing to find her, my daughter hates me, dad has cancer.  Gideon gives dad a stern pep talk about not giving up and that they won’t rest till they find her, all of which is somehow totally devoid of empathy.

The local PD has a tip about the green SUV and a neighbor who hasn’t been seen lately.  Reid and Morgan head over to talk to the guy who made the tip, who tells them all kindsa suspicious info about his neighbor — always at the park, dead dog, hasn’t seen him in his usual routine.  They call in the cavalry.  The team wants to break down the door but the detective is like “yeah we don’t have probable cause or a search warrant.”  Gideon argues with her and then runs off to the house while she calls a judge to try to get a warrant.  Gideon breaks the window and the team bust in, what the fuck.  I mean, ok, I know this is ACTUALLY how police operate in the real world, murdering people willy nilly for no reason, tazering and pepper spraying people having medical emergencies, shooting little boys with toy guns, etc., but it’s still frustrating to see it in practice.

Anyway they take the guy in, extra-judicially, and search the house and garage but they can’t find the girl.  The team finds lots of “deviant” porn and “cartoon downloads,” home movies of girls at the soccer field, but no clue as to where the girl may be.  Hotch talks to the unsub, who asks if they have a warrant, hahah.  He lawyers up and Hotch tries to convince him to help them but he won’t budge.  Hotch updates the team and they discuss the legal issues.  Gideon notices a broom with some insulation on it and figures the girl must be in the ductwork.  Gideon stands on a kitchen chair that I’m pretty sure we used to own and finds the girl in a crawl space/attic!  She’s sitting on a grubby mattress next to a window, though — how did all those cops fail to notice there was probably an attic?!

Plane quote — Elizabeth Barrett Browning on measuring your work at the end of the day.

The team plays poker and Reid is cute and wins.

s1e12 reid

Gideon asks Hotch if he’s the one who sent the flowers and Hotch tells him it’s because people need to know they are important, and Gideon says he already sent her an MP3 player.  So that’s nice, I guess, and I get that we’re supposed to be all like “oh Gideon isn’t that bad after all!” but I’m not sure.  A “practical” gift like an MP3 player can feel very impersonal versus something like flowers and a card, and seems more symptomatic of Gideon’s problems interacting with people than a genuinely nice gesture.  We see Gideon place a photo of the girl they just saved on his shelf that he said earlier was “family,” awww.  A really pretty Deadman song plays.

Overall, I actually really liked this episode.  A lot of good info about “stranger danger” and sex offender registries, but I would maybe have liked a little more build up or info about the unsub.  The Gideon thing is bugging me, clearly, and my cats starting going absolutely bonkers while I was writing this and I thought maybe they had caught a mouse, so I’m sure there’s stuff I missed.  Reid’s hair is lacking in floppiness again, too, although it’s not nearly as bad as the early episodes.


Reid’s hair floppiness rating: 3 out of 10, alas.

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