S1:E20 – Charm and Harm

Content notes: abduction, misogynist violence, mentions of stalking, sexism, some workplace bullying behavior


Sorry for the delay!  I threw my back out over the weekend and have not been able to be comfortable sitting/laying down/standing for any length of time for a couple days.  Anyway, this episode has just the worst title ever, doesn’t it?

We open with a view of wine being poured into a glass, a steak being eaten, and a man’s voice talking about how great scotch is.  Already he seems terrible.  I’m surprised to see he doesn’t have ironic facial hair!  Anyway, the camera cuts to the table’s other occupant, a woman tied up with a gag in her mouth!

We cut to the BAU, where Elle is hanging up the phone.  Morgan and Reid ask her about it because she “hates the phone,” and she’s elusive.  Morgan tells her she must have a boyfriend, and she gets a little defensive as he won’t let it go.  Ugh, Morgan, maybe your coworker’s private life isn’t your business, ok?  Maybe she’s defensive because it’s none of your damned business.  I would be so happy if I could live in a world where I never ever felt obliged to discuss my private life at work, you guys.  Luckily JJ comes by and disrupts the fun to gather the team into a meeting.  We learn the guy at the table is Mark Gregory, a serial killer in Florida who killed four women.  The local authorities know who he is, and have DNA evidence, but the guy got away before they got him, and has kidnapped another woman.  He keeps them for a couple days, then drowns them in hotel rooms.  The team is heading to Florida!  Credits.

Plane quote: Voltaire on people using words to disguise their thoughts.  Ok?  I mean, I get that it’s part of the whole “unsub uses disguises” thing, but he actually disguises himself using disguises, not words.

On the plane, the team reviews what they know about the unsub, who is in real estate after bouncing around jobs after college.  Reid notices that a lot of serial killers have careers in photography, something about voyeurism, which is a weird thing for Reid to notice?  His hair is really long in this episode but still all slicked back, which I do not care for.

s1e20 meh

Anyway, the team arrives in a warehouse in Florida, which is the temporary FBI field office and has a ton of chain link fencing as well as maps and photographs.  So that’s weird too.  We learn a lot of graphic nasty stuff about how drowning works, then learn that the unsub had personal connections to the women he killed.  The team splits up to interview the business partner, update Garcia, etc.

Hotch and Elle talk to the business partner, who doesn’t have much negative to say about the unsub, who is his best friend.  He tells them he’s a “ladies man,” but had an ex wife before they met.  Hotch and Elle get Garcia on the ex wife angle.  Reid and Gideon go to the unsub’s house, which is weirdly devoid of personality, and has two dog bowls and no dogs (supes weird).  Lots of suits, a collection of driver’s licenses, watches, suits, etc.  Reid says he’s a chameleon who reinvents himself for each client.

We cut back to the unsub, a view up through water of him holding someone under while they struggle.  A knock at the door and room service enters, while the unsub tells them his wife didn’t eat her steak because she wasn’t feeling well and is now having a hot bath, ew yikes.  He tips the guy and he leaves, none the wiser.  I always wonder about those side characters.  Wouldn’t it be super fucked up to realize at some later time you totally talked to a guy who was in the middle of murdering someone?!

Back at the FBI fence warehouse, Garcia and Morgan discuss the unsub, and Garcia tells him about the guy’s history and says she located the ex wife, who is still in Florida.  Gideon, Hotch, and the team give the local law enforcement and FBI the profile, and Hotch says he put his dogs in a kennel so that explains that.  Anyway, they say that the unsub is a spree killer, and that he is in a “guided” phase, which means he has a final destination in mind, so we should figure out who and where that is.  He may devolve into a “random” phase, where he picks victims at random and the kills get closer together.  Hotch gets a call that the missing woman’s body was found in Georgia, only he calls her a “girl.”  Hey Hotch, grown assed women are women, not girls, kthx.

Anyway, Elle and Morgan head to Georgia.  Hotch, Gideon, and Reid discuss the details of his most recent crimes, where he used his own name to check into hotels and is operating cash-only, indicating he has no intention of returning to his old life, that this is his endgame.  Elle and Morgan find clues that indicate he used the identity of a photographer to lure the woman to his hotel, then we cut to the unsub in a pilot’s uniform scoping out women in a parking garage.  Hotch talks to the ex-wife, who tells him she was stalked by the unsub after the marriage ended, that she wasn’t particularly surprised he was a serial killer, and says he was controlling and violent, and accused her of cheating on him a lot.  Pretty standard abuser/stalker stuff.

Reid and Gideon interview the unsub’s dad, and Reid tells him the unsub is a narcissist with “split personalities,” which as far as I know is not actually a real psychological thing.  Gideon, with his super profiling skills, notices that the unsub’s mom isn’t in any of the photos and asks when she died.  The dad is really angry and hostile, which doesn’t improve when Gideon asks about whether the unsub blamed his mom for her own death and the unsub’s peeping tom and statutory rape charges.  Back in the unsub’s world we see him talking to an unconscious woman who is tied up, then we hear water running into a tub.  Eep.

We’re back in the FBI warehouse, where there’s lots of plastic and wooden pallets, where is this place and what is happening here?  Is it a regular office that is under construction?  What?  Anyway, Garcia calls with news that unsub’s last vehicle was found at an airport and they find security camera footage of him getting a ride with a woman in his pilot getup.  JJ gives a press conference, while we watch the unsub putting on a disguise as she talks about how confident he is.  His new disguise is a nerdy guy with a limp and bad posture, uh oh.  We cut to Reid staring a glass of water while they talk about why the unsub is interested in drowning.  So intense, so cute, such bad hair, poor dear.

s1e20 reid water

Elle and Morgan are in the car and Elle is yelling at Morgan for being a slob and throwing all his empty food bags and energy drink cans in the back, which is definitely grody but which I definitely am guilty of. The most recent abductee’s body has been found in South Carolina, so they’re on the road again!  They arrive at a cheap motel and wonder whether the unsub has devolved into his random phase or if the cheap motel means something about how he feels about the victims.

Back in the warehouse or wherever, Garcia calls with the details of the unsub’s mother’s death — he was in the car with his mother when it crashed into a lake and she drowned!  Back at the motel, we learn the car the unsub was driving had South Carolina plates, which means he’s switching cars and plates to fly under the radar.  I dunno, it doesn’t sound devolved to me, but hey I’m no super profiler.  Gideon and Reid go back to talk to the unsub’s dad, whose home is extremely devoid of photos of his dead wife, and who is still angry and hostile to them.  I mean, if my son was a serial killer I would be pretty upset and want to help as much as I could, right?  ANYway, Gideon pushes him aggressively until he admits that the dead wife was on her way back from a dalliance with her lover (which she took her 10-year-old son to!!!!!!) when the accident happened.  The dad says he never got the unsub therapy because he didn’t think he needed it??  These people are clearly parents of the year contenders, folks.  Gideon tries to get the dad to understand that his attitudes towards his wife as well as towards the unsub pretty much led to the killings, because the kid is only doing what he believed the dad didn’t have the courage to do (murder his deceitful, cheating, slut of a wife).  I mean, it may be a teensy bit unfair, but a bunch of misogynists have absolutely become spree and mass murderers, so it’s not like it’s totally unrealistic and these people don’t exist in a vacuum after all.

We see the unsub dragging a woman out of her car and into a pool!  He’s trying to drown her in the pool when the manager sees what’s happening and comes running out.  The unsub quickly pretends to be saving her and drags her to the edge, then gets out and runs off as the manager starts CPR.  The girl starts coughing and crying, hooray!  Back in the crime fighting warehouse, Hotch and Garcia talk about the most recent victim at the motel, then they have a call with Morgan and Elle, where Reid and Gideon tell the team the unsub’s mother was likely his first victim, possibly by causing the car to crash.  Garcia starts digging for more information about the crash so they can figure out where he might be headed.  They find some photos of the crash but it doesn’t look like it was serious enough to be fatal.  Hmm.  The local FBI agent tells them they have another abduction, only ten minutes from the motel with the attempted drowning!  Elle and Morgan are on their way, but where could the unsub be heading??

Garcia finds them the closest bodies of water to the mother’s crash, one of which is near the abduction site.  Garcia also finds out that the cause of the unsub’s mother’s death was asphyxia, meaning the unsub, at 10 years old, must have drowned his mom in the car after it crashed!  Yiiiikes.  Elle and Morgan race to the site of the unsub’s mother’s crash and (subsequent drowning) and look for the unsub and victim.  In the victim’s car, the unsub starts yelling at her about her affair, seemingly thinking it’s his mom.  The victim suddenly swerves off the road and drives into a tree!  She lands on the horn, which Elle and Morgan luckily, if unrealistically, hear.  They race towards the sound as the woman gets out and runs for it, only to be ambushed by the unsub from behind a tree!  He tries to drag her to the water but she is struggling and screaming pretty violently, go her!

Law enforcement arrives with Morgan and Elle.  They find the empty car and race towards the water, and arrive as the unsub throws her in and starts holding her down.  Underwater, her hand finds a rusty metal pipe and she smacks him in the head!  Nice going lady!  He falls and they struggle, and the unsub grabs the pipe!  He reaches up to strike her as Morgan and Elle burst out of the woods!  He won’t put the pipe down so Morgan takes the shot, hitting the unsub in the chest.  Hooray!  That’s a lot of paperwork, Morgan!  Morgan calls Hotch to update him as the woman is taken away in an ambulance and the unsub’s dad cries alone in a chair.

Plane quote from a French author whose name I could not hope to transcribe about disguising ourselves and that’s the end.

I liked this episode!  A good stand-alone multi-state bad guy chase with some subtle commentary about how misogyny, stalking, and violence are along the same continuum, which was maybe not explicitly intended but it’s hard to miss today what with all the violent misogynist murderers out there.  Reid’s hair is inexplicable, and we get a fair dose of Asshole Gideon, so you know.  I wish we were getting more stony-faced Hotch antics.  Also I wish Morgan wasn’t such a shithead to his coworkers.  I know none of the things I point out that he does are that big a deal in each episode, but I’ve had to work with shitheads like that and day in and day out, it builds up.  Ugh.


Reid’s hair floppiness ratio: 3 out of 10.  He needs some dry shampoo or something for when they are on the road.

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1 Comment

  1. This is one of the episodes I remember pretty well, so it stuck, which is always a good sign. I also really liked that this episode showed two potential victims surviving because of bystander intervention or their own tenaciousness: (pool lady with the hotel manager), and the final woman, who definitely would not have survived until Elle and Morgan got there if she hadn’t fought pretty darn ferociously for her life.

    I’ve had co-workers like Morgan too. My biggest problem is that they’re so convinced that they’re being friendly, that they’re oblivious to the fact that they’re making others uncomfortable. Or when they’re not oblivious, they’re just as likely to decide that you need to “loosen up”, since it’s all in good fun. Bleh.

    Anyway – I hope your back is doing better! My husband has been having major back issues of late, and they suck.


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