S2:E1 – The Fisher King: Part 2

Content notes:  Gun violence, blood, kidnapping, illness, mental illness and hospitalization, house fire, bomb/explosion


Well, friends, we’ve made it through the first season!  I’m surprised at how different my takes on the characters are now that I’m paying so much more attention.  I didn’t realize how nasty Morgan was, how infuriating Gideon was, or how totally uninteresting Elle was.  Anyway, let’s get onto the conclusion of the ridiculous yet satisfying and fun Fisher King mystery!

After the “previously on Criminal Minds” bit, we open on Elle sitting on an airplane with a lot of fuzzy focus and white light, while we get a quote about scars in the mind.  Back at the BAU, the team puzzles over the book cipher.  Reid thinks he has heard the poem before, and everyone is getting really cranky.  They decide to start with the missing girl, and Gideon tells Reid to continue to try putting the clues together, because if anyone can, boy genius can!  We get another shot of the girl on the bed, who seems much sicker now, coughing and pale.

Hotch asks the agent who dropped off Elle (Anderson I think) why he’s not back at her house keeping an eye on her, seeing as how they are pursuing an unsub who has all their personal information including home addresses.  Nice going, newbie.  Back on the plane, Elle is asked by a pilot for her case file, and then we see her being defibrillated by paramedics and the word “RULES” written in blood on her wall!  Credits.

Reid and his greasy slicked-back hair continue to puzzle about the cipher, and he thinks that the baseball card may relate to the book’s publication date.  The delivery man who dropped off the envelope at Hotch’s house has turned himself in, so Hotch and Gideon go to interrogate him.  We learn that he took the extracurricular delivery for $1,000 cash from a guy who said a girl’s life depended on it.  He says that he didn’t get a good look at the guy, but what he could see was covered in what seemed to be burn scars.

Garcia explains to Reid about the sophisticated hacking that the unsub did, and finds the name Sir Kneighf, which Reid accurately points out is an “unusual spelling.”  Reid asks Garcia for help figuring out the poem, so they plug it into a search engine (?) and find out that it’s a Chaucer poem that Reid’s mom used to read out loud to him, which is why his eidetic memory couldn’t find it (??? is eidetic memory even a real thing though?).  Then we get a bunch of swoopy CGI of butterflies, swords, etc.as Reid mumbles.  He remembers an English author named Fowles, and Garcia locates a book published in 1963 in Great Britain called “The Collector,” and when they pull up an image of the book, it has a butterfly, key, and lock of hair on it!  That was a legitimately spooky moment!

s2e1 collector

As Reid and Garcia update Hotch and Gideon, a woman comes over to tell them they have a phone call from “The Fisher King,” who Reid informs us is an anagram of Sir Kneighf and also the Grail King, who is at the end of all Grail quests.  Or something.  They take the call and he tells them that they have to stick by the rules, and that Agent Greenaway didn’t have to die like that.  We cut to Elle on the dream plane, where she sees her dad, while in the real world she’s being wheeled into surgery just as Hotch and Gideon arrive at the hospital.  Anderson updates them on what was at her house, and says that the unsub took her credentials and gun.  Hotch tells him to go back to Elle’s house and secure the crime scene.

Back at BAU, Garcia and Reid get a call from a woman at a library who has the edition of the book they need.  They start working through the code while Hotch and Gideon worry in the hospital, and Morgan and JJ head to Boston (I think?) to find the missing girl’s family.  There’s something weird about the investigation, Morgan says.  Thanks for that useful information, Morgan.  

Reid and Garcia are looking at the poem that resulted from the book cipher, and Reid gets more CGI flashes of the clues and his mom, and he realizes that all this must be related to his mom somehow.  He calls the FBI field office in Las Vegas and asks to have his mom picked up and brought into protective custody from the sanitarium, and explains that she may know the unsub.  JJ and Morgan are updated on Elle’s situation, and Morgan immediately turns the SUV around and tires to head back to DC, which is just the most stupid display of machismo and short sightedness I’ve ever seen from someone who is supposed to be a highly-trained federal agent.  JJ reminds him that they have a job to do and that the best way to help Elle is to figure out who the unsub is and track him down.  Like, seriously Morgan.  Are you a thoracic surgeon?  No?  Then what were you thinking you could do for Elle aside from, you know, catch the bad guy who did this to her???

Back at the hospital, Gideon says something I’ve been thinking for a while — that there’s something inconsistent in the unsub, in the sense that someone who thinks he’s the Fisher King would not typically also be able to leave them such a sophisticated series of clues or hack into the FBI’s computers.  

You know, as an aside, I had kind of this same issue with the Murdoch Foyle storyline in the Miss Fisher mysteries.  There’s this devious, cunning, criminal mastermind who is seemingly everywhere and knows everything and leaves them terrifying clues and ciphers, then we find out it’s some rather pathetic delusional weirdo in the end.  The first time I watched through Criminal Minds, I remember thinking that the Reaper was an unsatisfying villain, but now I think I’d really much rather have him than this inconsistent mess.

Anyway, Missssster Anderson

I'm so sorry.

I’m so sorry.

says that the crime scene folks found a partial print in the blood on Elle’s wall.  Garcia goes to talk to Reid and update him on his mom’s progress, and we get just the most intense and heartbreaking of all the Reids (until the bastinado storyline).  He tells Garcia that everyone tells him their secrets, probably because they figure he doesn’t have anyone to betray them to, and he should have realized sooner that his mom was the key, because he tells his mom all the stuff his teammates tell him (like that they collect butterflies or whatever).  He tells Garcia he writes her every day, so that he won’t feel so guilty about not visiting her.  Aw, Reid.  Then he pauses for a long time, and says “did you know that schizophrenia is genetically passed?”  Garcia’s expression clearly indicates that she didn’t know what his mom was hospitalized for, and Reid’s face here is just so intense and sad and I just want to give him a big hug.

s2e1 reid sad

JJ and Morgan talk to the mother of the missing girl, who has all her belongings in the garage.  Which is weird, right?  She’s not, like, at college, she was abducted?  Morgan gets the mom to go off for some coffee, and he asks the detective who worked the case initially why the stuff is all in the garage.  The detective tells Morgan that the girl was “in trouble” all the time, with drugs, truancy, boys, etc., and she had run away multiple times before.  Basically, nobody bothered to look for her, and Morgan wants to know why she was acting out so much.  The mother returns and tells Morgan that she was a foster child that they eventually adopted.  They get her birth name, and now have a nice shiny new lead!  Back in the girl’s cell, she’s really sick you guys, and tries to get the bad guy to let her go or get her a doctor.  We get a view of the guy’s incredibly unconvincing burn-scarred face as he tells her he loves her.  Come on, Criminal Minds, I’m sure there are actors with actual scars or other facial deformities who would be happy to be paid for their time.  God.

s2e1 yeesh

Anyway, Garcia gets on the case of finding out what happened to the girl’s family.  She is sad and anxious and not at all her usual chipper, flirty self.  Hotch and Gideon are still worrying in the hospital and feeling discouraged.  Gideon is second-guessing their plan to go to the media since it resulted in Elle getting shot, and he hopes Elle will understand.  Elle is still dreaming about being on the plane with her dad, who is dressed in his policeman’s uniform, and he tells her to fight and honestly this whole thing on the plane is incredibly stupid and boring and I can’t be bothered.

Reid’s mom arrives at the BAU, and she tells him he drinks too much coffee, awwwww.  She is pretty annoyed that she was “arrested” by “fascists,” which manages to be sad and hilarious at the same time.  Honestly, I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather have playing Reid’s schizophrenic mom than Jane Lynch, she is just perfect.  Garcia finds that the missing girl’s family perished in a house fire in Las Vegas, and her father nearly died.  He relinquished his parental rights while in the ICU and she was placed for adoption.  She realizes that the dad spent time in the same sanitarium as Reid’s mom!  She gets another notification on a different screen and has clearly realized something important!  

Reid shows his mom around and they uncomfortably chit chat, and she grabs the key off the cork board.  Reid is like “you can’t have that it’s evidence, sheesh mommmmm!”  Reid tries to get her to talk about her journals and who she talked to about he and his colleagues, and shows her the tape of the unsub.  She isn’t so sure she knows a murderer and kidnapper, but watches the tape.  She thinks that the man is Randall Garner, who was at the hospital with her, just as Garcia comes in to tell him that the name at the end of the hacking string (? or whatever) is Randall Garner, and that he is the kidnapped girl’s biological father!

Back at the hospital, Hotch and Gideon discuss how to proceed now that the unsub has been identified.  Gideon wants to stay to be there when Elle wakes up, and he tells Hotch that the only way the unsub could be so organized yet so delusional is if he believes the delusion is real.  Well, I mean, don’t most people feel like their delusions are real?  If they could be like “oh no worries, this is just a delusion” then we wouldn’t really need antipsychotic medication and therapists and whatnot, no?  

Whatever.  Reid’s mom says that she didn’t think the daughter was real, that she was some kind of delusional metaphor, and Reid pieces together that in his delusion, the girl is the grail and the team are the knights of the round table.  Good grief.  Ok, so how do they find this guy now?  Reid’s mom tells them that she was given a photo of a house with an address on it right before she was picked up.  Oh, well, that’s easy then.  It’s a big old mansion in Virginia, only a couple of miles from there!  The team and the SWAT team arrive and storm the house!  They find Elle’s credentials and gun on a table in the dining room.  The house is dark and empty, though.

They eventually locate the unsub upstairs in a room.  This house looks so great you guys, all mahogany carved bannister, old paintings, and high ceilings.  Reid talks to the guy through the slightly open door, and Garner tells him he needs to “ask the question.”  Reid tells the team that the Fisher King believes that if he is asked the right question, he’ll be healed.  Garner calls him Sir Percival, and insists that all his kids are dead, and says that Reid’s mom explained to him that his surviving daughter doesn’t exist.  Reid says his mother is “a paranoid schizophrenic who would forget to eat if she wasn’t properly medicated,” and Morgan and Hotch exchange a surprised look.  Poor Reid, I’m sure this isn’t how he wanted to disclose his mom’s illness to his teammates.

Reid gently talks his way into the room, and sees that Garner has a gigantic bomb strapped to him!  Garner keeps insisting Reid can heal him, and Reid tries to talk him out of blowing them all up and killing the girl, saying that he can’t heal him because the wound is in his mind, not his body, and that Garner needs to forgive himself.  Garner says that Reid knows where the girl is, that his mother has the map.  Garner says he can’t forgive himself and Reid turns to run away just as the bomb goes off!

Look, I’m pretty sure Mythbusters did some stuff on explosions and surviving them, and I’m fairly sure that Reid and his whole team would have been blown to bits here, but whatever.  Reid dives and his pants are on fire, which I find incongruously hilarious.  

s2e1 pants on fire

Morgan and Hotch are like “WTF dude” and Reid is like “yeah no he had a bomb” and they are like “you didn’t think we needed to know that?!”  Reid tries to figure out where the girl is, and remembers that in the photo, the basement window was lit up.  They head to the basement and find the girl, and Reid remembers at the last minute that he has the key in his pocket.  Which is a nice coincidence, seeing as how that key was evidence and really shouldn’t be in his pocket in the first place but whatever.

Elle is on the plane with her dad, tells him she loves him and she’s sorry she was such a shitty kid, then she wakes up.  Reid et al arrive back at the BAU, and Reid tells his mom the girl is safe, but she asks Reid if it’s time for lunch, because she’s lecturing on Tristan and Isolde after lunch.  Reid mentally shifts gears, and asks if he can attend the lecture.  She asks him if he’s read any of the material, and he says he’s had it read to him, and she smiles and says that’s the best way.  Awwwwwww Reid.  

Cut to vignettes of the team, Garcia and Morgan fixing her computers, JJ cleaning up in the conference room, Reid reading to his mom on the plane, and Hotch cleaning the blood off Elle’s wall, which is a really sweet gesture I think.  The music in this scene is totally stupid though.  I’m not even going to Shazam it.  

I really love these episodes, like I said last time, but they really stretch my willing suspension of disbelief, and the ending is unsatisfying (also, I totally forgot that the unsub just GIVES them his address, yeesh).  I do really love the Reid backstory we get here, and his complicated relationship with his mom is totally believable as well as outstandingly acted.  Gideon really doesn’t do much in these episodes to annoy me, and although Morgan has his totally shitty moments, he also isn’t that bad.  The stuff with Elle on the plane, though, is so predictable and over-done that I really wish they hadn’t included it.  All in all, I still love the Fisher King and will happily re-watch whenever they are on TV, although the Reaper is a much more terrifying and realistic adversary.


Looking forward to Season 2, despite the truly alarming summary that popped up on Netflix when I was done with this episode!


Reid’s hair floppiness rating: ugh 3 out of 10 still.


1 Comment

  1. To run with one of the minor bits, I think I know what Gideon was going for there, even if it wasn’t phrased well. When a delusion is well integrated with the rest of the mentally ill person’s life and reality – when it “real” in the sense that they don’t think the world right in front of them is wrong in some way, just that it contains these things that other people don’t believe (and particularly when they are aware that other people don’t believe them), then they can function perfectly normally in the real world, while still being completely in the thrall of their delusions.

    And Jane Lynch is awesome, and she and Reid make about the sweetest mom-and-son duo ever.


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