S1:E17 – A Real Rain

Content notes:  Mental illness, gun violence, stabbing


I did not post a recap yesterday because I thought it was Wednesday all day, and I’m trying to bang this one out while following all the joyful posts, tweets, and photos on this historic day, so who knows how good this one is gonna be.


Here we go, on an episode I can’t remember based on the title or Netflix summary.  We open on Times Square in the rain, all lights and taxis.  We zoom in on a window, where a thin white man in boxer shorts is frantically wrapping his windows in aluminium foil.  We see him put on a black hoodie and walk out into the rain, all the while his hands are all fidgety.  He gets in a cab, and ignores the cab driver’s attempts at conversation.  There’s spooky noises in the background, like whispers, that I guess are supposed to be in his head?  The cab pulls up to an abandoned lot near a train stop, and the guy exits the cab, comes around to the driver’s window, and we hear a gunshot.

Cut to the team looking at a picture of the cab driver.  We learn that he was killed in the same way as two other people — blindfolded, shot once in the chest, stabbed through the ear into his brain, with the handle broken off the blade.  They can’t find any connections or similarities between the victims, and the NYPD doesn’t have any leads.  Reid remarks on how the Zodiac Killer constantly changed his victimology (drink!), and Gideon notes that he killed for 30 years without getting caught.  He seems pretty concerned about this, as you would expect.  We are then treated to a montage of bloody and graphic crime scene photos.


Quote from Auden on how society takes the place of murder victims in a unique way.

On the plane, the team talk about how they wish they had more time to spend in New York, and Morgan actually makes a funny joke about how since the unsub got picked up by a cabbie in the rain, we know he’s white. Heh.  They discuss the unique aspects of the murders, and try to figure out what these unique signatures mean (blindfold, knife in the ear).

Reid and Gideon arrive at the scene of the cab murder, and talk to the local detective, an attractive, thin black woman with dreadlocks, and some local uniforms.  Elle, Morgan, and Hotch are at a second victim’s apartment, where they realize the unsub was already in the apartment when she arrived.  Eep!  We get a nice little scene where we cut between the two groups talking about the unsub’s profile, then cut to the team talking to the local PD.  The unsub is small in stature, angry, organized, has a steady job, and he’s not going to stop killing until caught.

We cut to what appears to be a Catholic church, with candles next to a statue, stained glass, etc.  An older white woman talks to a person in a black hoodie whose hands are fidgety so we guess it’s the same guy.  He doesn’t answer and she wanders off.  The hoodie guy dips his hand into holy water and goes into a confessional, so I guess it is a Catholic church.  Not that it matters, I just like to be precise.  We her a gunshot and then cut to the team walking into the church.  The woman who spoke with him is sitting with a nun wearing a habit, and tells the team what she saw.  She says the unsub seemed like he couldn’t hear her, like he was in his own world.  She mentions the fidgety hands.  The team wonders if the unsub isn’t killing at random, if maybe the victims have something in common they haven’t noticed.

Reid is examining the body and getting in the way of the crime scene guy, and asks him to remove the thing in the victim’s ear.  The woman, meanwhile, discloses that the priest was indicted for pedophilia recently (ripped from the headlines!), tired, but found innocent.  Ugh.  Reid finds that the knife in the ear is made of flint, which has mystical/ancient Egyptian connotations.  Because we should always jump to ancient Egypt mysticism as an explanation.

Hotch calls Garcia and asks her to look to see if the other victims had crimes they were acquitted of in their pasts.  Bingo!  An overdose administered to a boyfriend, vehicular manslaughter, pedophilia, spousal battery.  Hotch tells Garcia she’s a genius.  Which she is, clearly.  Hotch updates the team and the detective on the acquittals.  They update the profile, the unsub is a vigilante, and the crimes are personal to him, and may work in or around the criminal justice system, and he’s a low-status kind of person that feels unnoticed.  We get more of the CGI backgrounds as Gideon talks, which man, I just really hate.  JJ comes in and says that info is leaking to the press already.

Cut to the team eating chinese food around a big table.  They discuss the case, maybe it’s a cop.  Elle talks about seeing rapists walk in her sex crime days, which you guys should remember.  Reid can’t figure out chopsticks and asks for a fork, which is sweet.  His hair is terrible but his cheekbones are ON POINT.

s1e17 cheekbonessss

The scene goes on way too long as the team discuss famous profiles and crimes.  Elle points out how weird it is that they aren’t talking about anything besides work, and Hotch says “you’re right, so are you seeing anyone?”  Heh.  More banter.bbCut to a bus, we see the fidgety unsub getting off.  Gideon gets a call while Reid continues to struggle with his chopsticks.  There’s been another killing.  The team is sad.

Back at the PD, we learn about the victim (killed transit cops I think), and JJ says there’s another article in the paper (it looks like the Post, so you know, take with a grain of salt maybe), and it’s the same reporter.  JJ is wearing a weird outfit, but her hair looks fantastic:

s1e17 jj

The tip line is getting lots of calls in support of the unsub, because people are weird.  Garcia calls Morgan and they banter, but she found that all the victims went through the same courthouse.  It’s something, but not much — there’s over 100,000 cases through there a year.  They start combing through records, talking to people at the courthouse, etc.  Hotch asks Gideon if he’s ever thought about taking the law into his own hands, and Gideon is like “why do you ask, is this about Iowa?”  I must have missed something here.  Anyway, Gideon, Reid, and Hotch give the profile to some folks around the courthouse.  Everyone is very jaded and disillusioned.

Reid asks Gideon about the Iowa situation, and we learn it’s a case where they got the child killing guy but the guy’s wife gave an alibi during the trial.  The guy got off and he murdered another kid.  So that’s not good and would mess with anyone.

JJ goes to talk to the reporter at the Post, and it’s this guy I know I’ve seen before.  She sweet talks him to try to get him to cooperate with them.  The reporter talks about Gideon’s “meltdown,” sigh.  Gideon and Hotch talk to the reporter, who has some nasty words for the victims, and has some ideas about who the killer is.  He catches on pretty quick that he is under suspicion, and tells them just because they get their own men killed doesn’t mean other people are killers, which I mean, is nasty to say but doesn’t make sense.  Gideon profiles him with his profiling magic and he storms off.  Ok.

Cut to a hoodie wearer near a fountain who shoots a guy.  The detective tells the team about the shooting, says the victim was an undercover cop, just as a white guy in a hoodie comes in and surrenders, saying he did this all for them.  He fits much of the profile, and admitted to the murders.  Gideon interrogates him, and the guy is calm and angry, he says he turned himself in to inspire people.  Gideon asks him about details of the crime but he doesn’t know them, so he is just trying to make himself famous.

We cut to the team and the local PD watching the undercover cop’s funeral, all 21 gun salutes and bagpipes.  The team is hoping the unsub shows up at the funeral.  The detective talks about how evil cop killers are.  Under the current circumstances of the US, that reads ominous and threatening rather than an expression of grief for a fallen comrade, but hey.

Morgan calls from the courthouse with news that no records are available yet for the most recent victim, and says that court reporters are anywhere from 3-6 months behind on their transcriptions.  Hotch and Gideon realize they could be looking for a court reporter, and Reid recalls the statement of the woman at the church who mentioned his fidgety hands.  Hotch calls Garcia and they put together the last bits of the puzzle, they got him!  Hotch and reid arrive at the courthouse and learn that the stenographer called in sick.  Hotch realizes they were in that same courtroom the day before, so the unsub must know they’re on to him!  Luckily, it’s a courthouse and so Hotch asks the judge for a warrant.

The team and some locals arrive at the guy’s apartment, which has soundproofing and aluminum foil over the windows, speakers ripped out of the tv and stereo, trying to shut out the voices we guess.  Hotch finds a collection of flint knives.  There’s also boxes and boxes of tapes from a steno machine in the apartment, and Gideon surmises maybe he was trying to transcribe the voices.  The unsub isn’t there, he knows they are on to him, and he’s out hunting.  One of the cases he has there must be the next victim, but how can they narrow it down?  They try to narrow it down based on the profile and victimology, and hit on a kid who killed his parents in self-defense after years of abuse.  He fits the victim profile of someone who was acquitted of a crime based on their own victim status.

Gideon calls the guy’s house to warn them but he is too late!  Gideon is on the phone with the guy’s wife just as the guy comes home, followed by the unsub who bursts in and shoots!  The team, local PD, snipers, etc arrive on scene.  Gideon wants to negotiate with the unsub, and Hotch says he’s going in with him.  That seems like a good idea, considering Gideon’s tendency to go rogue.

Gideon and Hotch get into the apartment and talk to the unsub, who is sitting with the victim in front of him.  The victim, a young black man, is fading fast.  The victim’s wife, a young black woman, stays behind Gideon in apartment as the unsub yells about how the voices will stop if he kills the kid.  It seems like she should get out of there, no?  Gideon and Hotch tell him about all the people who get away and tell him he can’t kill fast enough to stop the voices, which seems ill-considered, but he lets the kid go.  The sniper on the roof has the shot, and we hear the detective ordering him to take it.  Gideon looks really sad about this for some reason, then we get Jeff Buckley’s Halleluja, sigh.

We get two quotes from Ghandi, one from Gideon and one from Hotch, about nonviolence, then we see a bunch of “man on the street” interviews about how the guy was a hero.  So.

Not a bad episode, well-paced and with a nice amount of what Sgt. Colon calls detectoring.  I liked how the vigilante aspect was portrayed as a little more complex than just “bad guys who got off,” with one of the victims being a drug addict who accidentally OD’d her boyfriend and the kid who murdered his abusive parents.  The portrayal of someone who “hears voices” and is paranoid was pretty one-dimensional, but it didn’t really seem to be a big factor in the episode so I guess that’s fine.  Gideon’s asshole genius is definitely present here, while Reid’s hair is meh.


Reid hair floppiness rating:  holding steady at a 3 out of 10.  Sigh.


Oh also:


happy pride



  1. The team very consistently tries to avoid killing their unsubs if they can, and is generally unhappy if the locals do it when they think it could have been avoided. I think it’s a nice touch, and pretty believable. My husband, otoh, finds it unsatisfying, and is pretty annoyed about it in a lot of episodes.

    Also it’s weird that they would namecheck the Zodiac for his changing victimology without mentioning his best known, and possibly most idiosyncratic kill – where he took a taxi cab to where he wanted the murder to occur, and then killed the driver – when the unsub has literally just done that.

    Good episode generally.


    • Woah that is weird they didn’t mention it! Like, super weird. It has to have been on purpose, no?


  2. I can’t imagine that it wasn’t deliberate, though I don’t see what the reason might be.

    In random strange stuff, I know a lot about the Zodiac, because my mother, who has been a lifelong true crime reader and also spent her entire adult life in a miserable marriage, has decided, in her Alzheimer’s paranoia, that my father was the Zodiac, and has been busy trying to amass evidence to turn him in. Mostly it’s been good evidence as to why you shouldn’t stay in a bad marriage.


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