S1:E19 – Machismo

Content notes: transphobia, homophobia, racism, rape, knife violence, what I might term xenophobia against Latin America/Latin Americans


Ok so I know I remember this one and I remember it being very……not so good, on many issues.  Deep breath, everyone.  There are no explicit descriptions of rape in this recap, but I’ll put the recap behind a cut just in case.

We open on a Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico, families decorating graves and sharing food, an older woman talking to a little girl.  Then a young drunk man shows up, to the apparent disapproval of his family.  The older woman, who appears to be the man’s mother, tries to smooth things over while an older man tells him he’s not welcome.  He tells his family he’ll leave and his mother will “never be disgraced by him again.”  He staggers out of the house, pursued by his sister, and watched by another young man standing by a car.  Back in the house, his mother cries alone at a table.  There’s a knock at the door and we see her talking to someone, who then all of a sudden hits her!  We see a hand picking up a large knife and the mother trying to run away.

We cut to Hotch holding a crying baby in his house.  Hayley and her sister are waiting for him under a banner that says “Happy Birthday, Daddy!”  Of course the phone rings and Hotch has to cut happy family time short, which Hayley is pissed off about.  I really … I feel for Hayley in this show, it can’t be easy to be in a relationship with someone in the BAU.  It’s totally understandable that she feels neglected, and that taking care of a new baby essentially on her own is difficult.  It’s just…. this job isn’t new, and every time Hotch gets called away she acts like it’s something totally unreasonable.  It’s unclear how long he and Hayley have been married, but we know that he was a profiler in Seattle, and a criminal prosecutor before that.  He’s never worked a 9-5 job, so it feels a bit unfair for Hayley to suddenly decide that the fairly normal demands of his job are suddenly an unreasonable imposition.

Anyway, back at the BAU, the team discusses the request from a town in Mexico for advice on a potential serial killer.  Gideon says that they may have one of the worst serial killers ever, and Hotch makes a sad face at his phone while Gideon tells him to “call from the car,” because that fucking guy.


Plane quote from Anthondy Brandt about family.

On the plane, the team learns that Elle speaks fluent Spanish, and discuss why Mexico doesn’t document their serial killers.  Gideon and Reid explain that many countries believe that serial killers are a uniquely American phenomenon based on particular stereotypes held about life in capitalist America.  I don’t know for sure but I’m pretty sure that this is kind of demeaning to foreign law enforcement agencies?

The team arrives at the police station and meets the police officer who was placed in charge by the district government officials.  I am not sure how the police are structured in Mexico, but it seems like the area where the crimes are taking place is more rural, and that the district government and main police body are in the nearby “big city.”

Anyway, the local officer, a middle-aged-ish Mexican man, attended a seminar Gideon gave some years ago, and he makes a fair point that Gideon’s profiling may not translate to Latin America without a better understanding of the culture.  They discuss this in the car, and honestly Gideon’s contemptuous disregard for obvious cultural differences is really shitty and offensive. At the crime scene, the Mexican officer tells Gideon he figured he’d want to see the crime scene first, and when Gideon condescendingly remarks that he remembered something from his seminar, the cop says that actually he remembered it from Gideon’s mentor, Max Ryan’s, book.  Gideon gets what can only be described as A Look on his face.  Hah, serves you right, you racist shitbag asshole.

The scenery is beautiful, and I’m wondering if it was shot in the hills beyond LA.  Thoughts?

s1e19 scenery

Inside, the team review the crime scene.  There’s no forced entry, and two glasses on the table, so the killer must have been known to the victim.  The local cop says that it’s a sweet drink, so he figures the guest must have been a woman because men would typically drink tequila or beer, and besides, he and the unit know that serial killers are mostly men.  Gideon and Hotch tell the local cop that the suspect is almost certainly a heterosexual male, and that this was a “sexual homicide.”

The local takes Hotch and Gideon to meet the district secretary general (? I think that’s what he says, although he could have said attorney general, it’s very quick), a middle-aged woman in a dark suit, who wants in no uncertain terms to hear that there are no serial killers.  We learn that the local PD picked up the brother from the opening scene, and the sister has been at the station since.  They interview the brother, and we learn that the brother is gay, and that’s what the big fight was about.  Hotch and the local guy argue about what the BAU is doing there, and we get a picture of the local politics.  The local officer knows there is a serial killer out there, he knew that the killer was heterosexual, and he needed someone else to come to the same conclusion because the higher ups don’t want to believe the serial killer thing and want to charge the brother with the killing.  The brother won’t talk about being gay because he’s afraid of violence both outside and inside prison, and would rather be “straight in prison than gay and free.”  Sadness.

They ask the sister for help to get the brother to talk to them, and she tells them about his friend who saw the whole fight.  She doesn’t want her brother to go to prison and get hate murdered, which is fair.  They go after his “friend,” who used to be married to a woman, and pick him up for questioning.  He says he would have never hurt the mother, she was nice to him and was trying to accept him.  He goes over what he saw that day, and mentions a woman who may have been a social worker.  The local officer tells them that there’s a social services outreach going on to elderly rural women.

Garcia calls, and when Morgan makes fun of her terrible Spanish, she says that “Garcia” is her stepfather’s name, so now we know.  Reid’s hair is SO terrible.

s1e19 what even

Anyway, Garcia got some quick DNA typing done from the drinking glasses, and we learn that the other person there was indeed a male.  Reid suggests that with the social worker ruse, it could be a man dressed as a woman to gain older women’s trust and get into their homes.  The team likes this, and delivers their profile, and suggests to look for a trail of escalating sex crimes (peeping toms, rapes, then murder).  Gideon tells them to talk to known sex offenders and to re-interview the witnesses.

Their conference ends with the news of a new body, older woman, same MO.  The team arrives on scene and interview the daughter of the victim.  She tells them about a necklace that was taken (the killer takes jewelry), and says it was actually hers that she loaned to her mom for the holiday.  Back at the police station, we see the locals bringing in a bunch of what appear to be drag queens, which the team terms “transvestites,” who may be meant to represent trans* sex workers?  I have no idea what is supposed to be happening except that it is gross beyond belief, and Hotch and Gideon try to explain that this wasn’t what they meant when they said the killer dresses as a woman to gain the trust of his victims. The district higher-up lady arrives and tells the BAU to fuck off because they were supposed to find NOT a serial killer.  So nothing is going their way now.  We get a truly strange angled shot of the team and the local cop contact.  It straightens up with a weird noise.  Weird.

s1e19 holy sideways camera batman

The team coaches the locals on ways to locate and interview rape victims, and they start a massive dragnet.  In town, Elle talks to one of the local officers, and we learn her mother was Cuban.  The local says he may have a lead, and they go to speak to the woman, who is distrustful, understandably.  She says she fought back against the attacker and saw that he was wearing a dress, and she laughed at him and called him pathetic, and scared him off.  We learn that this happened just around the time when the killings started — this could be his stressor!

The team and the locals back in the station are discussing this woman’s facts, when she arrives with six more women raped by the same man, and wants them to do some good for them finally.  We cut to a person putting lipstick on in a mirror, then a tv with a gray haired person sitting facing it.  A hand strokes the hair.

Back at the station, the local officer and the BAU work to gain the women’s trust, and they start talking, telling their stories.  Their stories are all the same, and we learn this is a classic power-reassurance rapist, who can’t form normal relationships with women, and he asks the women how he did after, ughhhh.  One of the local officers realizes that several of the women worked at the same garment factory.  They interview the owner, and give her the profile, but she can’t think of anyone there that meets it, until they ask her about his “how did I do” phrase, and she realizes there is one guy who meets the profile!  They head over to his apartment but nobody is home, and we learn that the person in front of the tv is a decayed corpse!!!  Ewwwww.

The corpse is wearing all the jewelry from the murdered women, also ew.  There’s a wall with photos of the rape victims, too.  We cut to a POV shot of an older lady walking along with a friend.  They say goodbye and she goes off by herself.  Uh oh!

Back at the station, they are trying to figure out how the killer targeted his victims, and one of the local cops gives them the goods by charting out all the victims and dates.  They realize all the victims who were murdered are mothers of the women he raped, in the same order, YIKES.  They realize the next victim must be the mother of the woman who initially came forward so they rush out to her house.  Elle and Morgan are in the house by themselves?  In the previous scene at the guy’s apartment there were SWAT guys and everything?  Where are all the rest of the cops?

Anyway, they locate the killer face down outside, coughing up blood.  Like creepy terrifying wolves, all the rape victims emerge from the shadows, carrying weapons.  The one who came forward initially says “he pretended to be a woman; now he won’t have to pretend.”

Back at the station, we learn from the district lady that they won’t be charged, since they were only defending their homes.  Well, I can’t say I blame them for not wanting to drag this whole mess out, but I really don’t know if vigilante justice should be rewarded.  Oh well.  The team leaves with a Mexican proverb about houses resting on women.

Overall I found the issues with this episode made me too uncomfortable to really enjoy it.  The contempt for the very idea of any possible influence of cultural norms on his magical profiling skills by Gideon, the condescending way that the Mexican obsession with “machismo” was discussed, the way the local homophobia was treated as so backwards as to be incomprehensible to the USians despite the long history of GLBT activism in Mexico and history of homophobia in the US, and the whole thing with the so-called “transvestites,” just ick.


Reid’s hair floppiness rating: Ugh, what even is happening in this ep?  2 out of 10.

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  1. It felt like this episode was trying hard to address GLBT issues with some sensitivity, and failing miserably, because they couldn’t bring themselves to question a lot of their assumptions. Likewise the xenophobia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, exactly! Like, the whole “the USians just don’t GET it” thing was meant to be supportive, but wound up being gross instead.


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