S1:E22 – The Fisher King Part 1

Content notes: murder, blood, stalking, home invasion, workplace bullying


Deep breath.  Ok, here we go on these Fisher King episodes.  There’s a lot going on here so these recaps may be pretty long.  Fasten your seat belts, people!

We open on a mysterious old stone house with a lighted upstairs window and scary music.  We see a young, blonde white woman sleeping, and a creepy hand reaches out to touch her hair, then pulls out a knife.  Yikes!

Cut to the BAU and the team discussing their vacation plans.  Morgan and Elle are going to a resort in the tropics somewhere that Morgan’s friend owns.  Morgan notes that the entire team is on vacation the same two weeks so that they can all relax and not get sucked into work.  Reid is mumbly and tense, and says he is going home.  Hotch is excited that he gets to spend two weeks with his family at home, and Gideon is off to a cabin in the woods, saying “don’t call me for anything.”

Cut to a mysterious array of objects, and photos of the BAU team, and the scary hand picking up a telephone, then turning on an intercom.  The camera scrolls down through the floors of the creepy old house, and we see the young blonde woman chained to a bed in a basement/dungeon room, while the voice says it will all be over soon.  She wakes up and starts screaming and pulling at her chain, then breaks down crying.  Credits.

L. Ron Hubbard quote about vacation, as we see blue water, white sand, and attractive multi-ethnic men and women frolicking on the beach while Elle and Morgan observe from beach chairs.  Elle is wearing a bracelet on her arm above her elbow?  What a weird beach accessory.  Morgan goes off to hit on some ladies and Elle goes off with an attractive, muscular white dude to play frisbee.  He get lots of shirtless Morgan, which I would feel sad about depriving you of even though my laptop is really struggling today:

s1e22 morgans1e22 morgan2

Meanwhile Hotch and Hayley are clearing out the garage, joking about the time they were in Pirates of Penzance or something in college.  At his cabin, Gideon cooks while listening to big band music, looks like pasta with artichokes.  He checks his video surveillance and smiles at the car on its way up the drive.  Garcia is still at the BAU, but is playing video games when JJ walks in.  She almost definitely should not be doing that.  JJ says she isn’t on vacation at the same time as the rest of the team, alas.  Garcia explains MMPORGs to her, and tells her about her online buddy/boyfriend/something.  

Cut to what we are told is “Bennington Sanitarium” in Las Vegas.  Isn’t sanitarium a pretty outdated word?  Anyway, Reid is visiting his mom but is a bit nervous about talking to her, so checks in with the doctor first.  Reid apparently writes her every day, and we learn his mom brags about him to all the other patients.  Reid is adorable and tragic and troubled, and he runs away before he can say hi, giving a book to the doctor to give to her.  Poor punkin.

s1e22 reid

Back at the resort, Morgan and Elle hook up.  It’s kind of gross honestly?  Like watching your sister get it on or something.  Hotch and Hayley finally have some alone time after the baby goes to sleep and reminisce.  They also start to make out and now it’s like watching your parents do it.  Gideon has a lady over too, ye gods.  Hotch and Hayley are now nekkid and snuggling on the couch, when the phone rings.  It’s a mysterious call from a weirdly-voiced stranger with cryptic information about victims and keys and clues and whatnot.  Weird!  Back in Jamaica, the resort owner tells the cops about an anonymous tip about a murder, and the cops go into the room to find blood just absolutely everywhere and a dead body!  Garcia’s whole system at the BAU is getting hacked apparently by Jack Torrance.

s1e22 garcia

Gideon and his lady are now making out so probably something bad is going to happen. Gideon’s surveillance system beeps and he sees a delivery truck coming up the drive.  He grabs his sidearm and tells his lady to wait in the bedroom.  He signs for a box and an envelope, the envelope says “SAVE HER,” and contains a baseball card.  The box contains………..A HUMAN HEAD!  Nice.

The cops in Jamaica drag Elle out of bed and handcuff her, and she is understandably upset.  It looks like maybe the body was in her suite and she was in the bedroom?  Not sure.  Gideon sends his lady friend home in the bleak light of dawn, and we learn the package is from Jamacia!  Something is up!  Elle is being questioned by the cops, who understandably think she killed the guy in her room, and Elle is kind of pissed off.  Someone wrote “SAVE HER” on the wall of her room in blood.  Morgan tries to convince the cops that Elle didn’t do this, and says Hotch is on his way.  The resort owner says that the victim checked in with a man named Frank Giles, who had the adjacent room, but when they go in, the room is empty.  Morgan calls Garcia who admits she’s been hacked, and she is Pissed Off.  

Gideon arrives at the BAU and gets updated by JJ.  Meanwhile, Elle is still being interrogated.  Hotch and Morgan come in and they tell the cop that the body was dead for longer than Elle was in town.  Elle is free to go.  She is still wearing that arm band thing, which means she had it on in bed, which is super weird.  JJ finds a mysterious package in her office!  It contains a framed butterfly with the words “She has been searched for but never found” on it.  Meanwhile, Reid arrives at the sanitarium and one of the nurses said he has a delivery!  Something is very definitely Going On!  It’s a small envelope with a key in it, and a note that says “she will die unless you save her, Dr. Reid.  Call Gideon.”  JJ shows Gideon her butterfly and he says “what the hell is going on here?”  

Cut to the blonde, who now seems to be quite ill, coughing on her bed.  Uh oh!

Elle, Morgan, and Hotch are back at the BAU.  JJ tracked Frank Giles, a career criminal, who is now in Virginia.  We learn that the other victim, from Elle’s room, is also a career nasty guy. Hotch updates them on the mysterious phone call, which told him the “first two victims were unrepentant bad men.”  The team convenes to discuss the clues they have received.  The team is baffled by the series of clues and what it all means.  Gideon’s baseball card and JJ’s butterfly have deep personal significance to them, and obviously the unsub knows where everyone is, but Garcia tells them the hacker could have found them through her hacked database.  She also admits that he could have found his way in through her online game, which she was playing on her laptop but was hooked in wirelessly to the bureau’s system.  Everyone is understandably frustrated at her, but Gideon calls her stupid, which seems incredibly mean as well as unprofessional.  Of course these dumbdumbs don’t give one single shit about professionalism so ok.  This fucking guy.

Anyway, Garcia says she traced the hacker and it’s Frank Giles in Arlington, VA!  Exciting music and cars screeching around corners!  The team and SWAT enter a decrepit apartment building, and bang down the door to what turns out to be a totally empty apartment except for…… A body with a fucking giant sword in it, with the words “here is where your quest doth truly begin.”  Morgan, speaking for all of us I presume, says “you have got to be kidding me.”

The dead guy is indeed Frank Giles, and there’s a bag of money on the dresser.  The team brainstorms about what all of this could mean, who this guy is, and what he’s trying to communicate to them.  One of the crime scene techs realizes there’s words etched on the blade of the sword with a clue that they need to leave the sword till the hour be none.  The team is kind of annoyed by the weird Indiana Jones clues.  Reid arrives and clarifies that the hour being referenced is probably 3pm, not midnight, and they use a spotlight to cast a shadow from the sword, and find a hollow spot in the wall that contains a box.  The box is locked, and Reid uses his clue key to open it.  It’s a music box with a slip of paper that says “never would it be night, always a clear day.”  Under the lid is a DVD and a lock of blonde hair, eep.  The CD says “thy quest” in sharpie.  

Back at the BAU, they play the DVD, which shows a shadwy figure with a limp in an ornately-decorated room, explaining how the blonde girl’s life depends on them, and he tells them that only the members of the team may participate in the quest.  He tells them they’ll need a book to complete the quest as well.  Hotch suggests they start trying to figure out what all the clues mean, and the team and I are kind of surprised that they’re willing to play this wacko’s game.  Gideon storms off because of course he does.  Communication and professionalism are for people who aren’t geniuses, people!  

Hotch follows him to his office, and Gideon expresses exhaustion and dismay that his secluded, private cabin was found, and his privacy was violated by this guy.  That’s understandable.  He says he wants to be alone, and Hotch leaves, again, because professionalism are not necessary for geniuses.  Hayley and the baby arrive at the BAU at that moment, with an envelope that was delivered to their home!  Hotch and Gideon interrogate Hayley, who says that it was just a regular delivery guy with no injury or limp, and that he told her a girl’s life depended on it.  Gideon notes that this is nonstandard behavior from a FedEx guy.  The delivery was a piece of paper with numbers on it, which the team is working on.  Reid notes that with the clue about the book, it may be a book code — each set of numbers represents a page, paragraph, line, and word.  The only thing is, they don’t know which book, and don’t know what edition the book would need to be for the code to work.  JJ informs them they have a hit on the hair, which belongs to a girl who’s been missing from Boston for two years.  

Gideon tells Hotch he wants to have Hayley sit down with a sketch artist and broadcast the photo of the delivery guy to the world, deliberately flaunting the rule laid down by the unsub.  JJ gives the press conference and we cut to the unsub watching, who gets really mad.  Meanwhile, Reid and Morgan are trying to figure out what book it is.  Elle has fallen asleep on the couch, and Hotch comes in to send her home.  I’m sure the rest of the team is as tired, no?  Anyway, we get an alt rock song by a band called Opeth who is apparently trying to be Tool, and Shazam tells me the song is actually called “Death Whispered a Lullaby.”  This is a real thing in the world, people.  As the music swells, we see the members of the team working, see flashes of the Clues, see Elle arrive at home, and see a shadowy figure point a gun at Elle!!!  “I told you, there was one rule” he says in his scratchy voice, getting more and more angry, and as Elle reaches for her gun we cut to black!  

I really kind of love these episodes even if everything about them is about one million percent unrealistic in terms of, well, everything.  I love these types of mysteries, with clues to follow and puzzles to solve.  I do kind of wish I could enjoy these episodes more, but the disappointing endgame really makes it tough.  Anyway, stay tuned for part 2, which has lots of Angsty Reid in it!  

Reid’s Hair Floppiness Rating: holding steady at a 3 out of 10 or so.  Dry shampoo, Reid.


S1:E21 – Secrets and Lies

Content notes: domestic violence, torture, suicide, gun violence


Greetings!  Hope everyone’s summers are going better than ours here at Casa Ethyl.  On top of the injuries and illnesses of our human and furry family members (oh yeah, Spousal Unit broke a finger last Thursday!), it’s fully one zillion degrees here, and we have no a/c, which makes recapping on my laptop incredibly unpleasant!  Let’s get going while it’s still rainy and cool outside!

We open with a shot of a factory as seen from across the water, and we’re told we’re in Baltimore.  A taxi drops off a dark-haired, dark-skinned woman and two children with a suitcase.  The woman tells the children in accented English that she has to meet a friend, and a car pulls up.  A middle-aged white man gets out and loads the family into his Volvo, one of those really boxy ones that some people like.  We then see the man getting ambushed in his apartment (or maybe a hotel room), then the next scene is him tied to a chair, being tortured. He says “you’ll never find her!” and then we cut to his body being untied and a suicide being staged, complete with a note.

Cut to Gideon making a call to a mysterious someone about the “death of our mutual friend.”  Gideon arrives in the BAU conference room where a grizzled old white man is waiting for him.  Gideon tells him that he doesn’t believe it was a suicide, and the other man tells him that the dead man was in the CIA, and that he believes there is a mole in his unit who had him killed.  He asks for the BAU’s help to find the mole, but to keep things “strictly in-house,” i.e., no judge or anything, and I guess no oversight.  Super.  Cut to credits.

The team, including Garcia and JJ, arrive at the BAU at 2:30 am, wondering what is going on.  Hotch and Gideon update the team: The dead man was a CIA agent, and we learn it was the CIA who made it look like a suicide.  He was protecting a witness, the woman we saw earlier, who was violently assaulted by her Saudi diplomat-slash-terrorist bankroller husband.  The wife gave the CIA information on the terrorist connections, and the CIA extracted her by faking her and her children’s deaths in a car accident, but the husband found out from the mole and is looking for her.  Hotch tells the team they need to get this mole as soon as possible without anyone figuring out what they are up to.  We get a glimpse of them hiding in a shipping container, then the team arrives at the CIA.

We meet the older wrinkly grizzled guy, then a couple of other CIA folks whose names I can’t get down quickly enough — two thin black women, and a stocky balding white guy.  Back at BAU, Garcia and JJ have the CIA in Garcia’s office, where her computers have been taken over by CIA computers or something.  The CIA guy tells her “she’s on a list” so she can’t go with the rest of the team to I guess CIA hq.  Garcia tells JJ she wants to find out the truth about Princess Di’s death, which JJ says may just be the kind of thing they mean when they say she’s “on a list.”  Heh.  The CIA guys will be hanging out with them while they work the case to make sure they don’t misuse the CIA computers, which I’m sure Garcia will love.

Gideon profiles the unsub, saying that this person has no respect for their own life or anyone else’s, and that something significant must have happened to them to get them to turn away from their country, their career, and everything they believe in.  Garcia videos in and shows Gideon some surveillance footage of Gideon and the dead undercover agent from 3 days before he was killed.  They watch for a minute, and the undercover agent is asking who called the meeting, and what they wanted.  Reid non sequiturs to say that the mole list has been narrowed down to 16 candidates, all of whom are in the unit they are with (counter terrorism maybe? I don’t know.).  Hotch says that the mole must have an exit strategy, and that now the BAU is blocking the exit, so they had better work fast.

Gideon has a confrontation with one of the CIA agents, a thin black woman, who says his evaluation took her out of the field.  Gideon stands behind his evaluation, and tells her there will come a time when she can’t follow orders, and she says he’s wrong and storms off.  Back in the conference room, Morgan notices in the videotape of the discussion between Gideon and the undercover guy that the informant is sitting with her kids in a nearby car.  Gideon notices he says that only 4 people could have called the meeting, and Gideon notes that that isn’t true, and wonders if that’s a clue about the mole.  Garcia tells Gideon that only 4 agents were in Saudi Arabia, the 4 agents we met when they arrived at the unit — the grizzled director guy, the woman who talked to Gideon about her eval, the heavyset white guy, and the slender black woman with curly hair.  The team goes through the four candidates, and it doesn’t sound like we learn much to lead us to the mole, since everyone sounds by turns suspicious and heroic.

We see the family in the shipping container again, almost out of water, and then their lantern goes out.  Back at the CIA, Reid tells the CIA folks that they may want to not profile the woman and instead profile the guy who hid them, which honestly sounds like a good idea to me.  Reid says he’s a control freak who would have put them somewhere that he could control access to.  Morgan talks to the woman who had an issue with her evaluation, and she shows off the powers of the CIA satellites by peering in at Morgan’s house and his dog, who is named, seriously, you guys, his dog is named Clooney.  This fucking guy.

Anyway, Morgan talks to her about how she felt about staging the suicide and she gets kind of annoyed, and says she is totally fine with her job, thankyouverymuch.  Elle talks to the other woman agent, who gets angry and hostile when Elle asks her about her recent divorce, losing custody of her kids, getting taken hostage while on assignment, etc.  Elle tells her that the mole would have to have some kind of triggering event, like, oh, whatever happened to her when she was taken hostage that didn’t get written down.  The white agent steps in to say she was with him during the death of the undercover agent, and his wife will confirm he got home late that night.  Wooof, I guess being in the CIA together creates a level of intimacy or something irresistible, because this dude is WAY out of her league.

s1e21 out of her league

Anyway, director tells them this isn’t the time to discuss this but that they will be hearing from him about it.  They wander off, shamefaced.  The woman goes into I guess the server room, where she sits down at a computer to look up something, which apparently upsets her.  Suddenly, all the screens go blank, and her neck is snapped from behind by hands wearing white gloves!

So now we have 3 agents who are possibly the mole — one guy having an affair with the dead woman, the director, and the woman who had been taken out of the field.  Hotch calls them into the conference room and tells them what happened.  White guy gets pretty het up, and the woman gives him a pretty suspicious look.  The director tells them to try to focus and get back to work.  The two of them storm off, leaving Gideon and the director alone.  Gideon profiles the guy a bit, in a goodnatured way; they’ve known each other for 20 years so Gideon has a pretty good line on him, blahblah father issues, loves his kids, etc.  Director isn’t sure what to think, since he’s so close to the unit, and they talk a little about losing agents under his command, which he honestly doesn’t seem that sad about.

The woman agent is being hostile and aggressive with Hotch and Morgan, and basically tells them to get lost.  They take a call at her desk from Garcia, who tells them that the virus that blanked out the CCTV monitors originated from the white guy’s computer, which he claims was planted.  Garcia calls back and tells them that the undercover guy, John Summers, ordered his own psych evaluation from Gideon.  The team discusses this, and figures that he must have known he was in danger and was specifically trying to get Gideon and the team in.  Maybe they have missed something said on the tape of him and Gideon.  We cut to the informant, who is leaving the shipping container to find water, with scary music.  She tells the kids no matter what do not leave the container.  Uh oh.

Back at the CIA, the team is watching the tape.  John is telling Gideon about how he has to hide things from people he thinks are friends, and uses a lot of boat metaphors.  Garcia and JJ think this might be a clue, and figure out a connection between John and a shipping company, and locate the shipping container yard near Baltimore.  Suddenly, Garcia says that someone has hacked into the feed!  Someone else knows where the woman is!  Cut to the woman, Aliyah (sp?), arriving back at the container to find a man holding her kids at gunpoint!

At the CIA, all is hustle and bustle, how can we figure out which container, can we send in a SWAT team?  No, because this guy has diplomatic immunity so this mission has to fly under the radar.  Gideon says it’s not the other woman agent, Gina, and sends her with Morgan on a chopper to the shipping yard.  Gideon hands Hotch a note while he reassures the director; Hotch asks the white guy to come with him and takes his weapon.  The director is surprised, and Gideon tells him that it’s not surprising since he betrayed his wife and his unit so betraying his country was easy.  Back in the conference room, the white dude, apparently named Kruger?, sits, looking upset.  Reid takes over one of the satellite stations from the woman working it and locates the family in the shipping container, noting four hot blobs, and says they are too late.

Ok hang on here.  There’s thousands of containers at this shipping yard, they say so.  It takes our team a while to find the right one even with heat-sensing satellite assistance.  So how does the husband/terrorist/asshole guy find them before the CIA/BAU team?  Huh?

Back at the shipping container, the guy threatens the woman and she tells him not to hurt the kids.  Morgan, Gina, and some other agents split up to find them.  In the conference room, Hotch shows the white dude the note, and says “this is our one and only offer,” and the guy says they’ll have to do better than that because he’s not the mole.  Morgan and Gina call Reid to get him to direct them so they don’t keep running in circles.  They finally locate the shipping container, and Gideon tells Morgan it’s FBI jurisdiction and he’s in charge and to go ahead and make the arrest.  Inside the shipping container, the husband has a gun at his wife’s head.  Morgan and Gina storm in and he puts the gun down.  Morgan tells him his diplomatic immunity is worthless since the container hasn’t passed through customs and they aren’t officially on US soil.

Suddenly, Gina pulls her gun on Morgan and tells him to disarm!  Gideon talks to Gina over the comm link, and Gina asks the Director what to do.  He tells her she knows what to do, as she has the gun pointed at the man.  Gideon argues with her, while the director argues with Gideon about who’s in charge.  Morgan tells the mom to cover her kids’ eyes, and Gina asks her boss to make sure he cuts the feed, and says all she’s waiting for is an order.  He gives the order to cut the visual feed and “take him out,” and we hear four gunshots.  The director turns and thanks Gideon, who asks him why he turned against everything he believes in.  Gideon tells him that his answer to his question about losing his team members gave him away.  He says but I thought it was the other guy, and Elle shows him the note Gideon gave Hotch, which says “we know it’s not you, Bruno is the mole.”  Bruno says “yeah but without the Saudi guy, you have nothing on me.”

Cut to the shipping container, where the Saudi guy is being taken away in handcuffs while Gina apologizes to Morgan, saying she had to figure out if she was right.  Just like the old gypsy woman said!  Just like what Gideon said about following orders!  Gina says she knew it was Bruno because Gideon believed in her (ok?), and because she knew there was no reason to kill someone who knew as much as the Saudi guy unless it was to protect the mole.  Reid tells Gideon and Bruno that Mr. Saudi Wife Batterer is alive and well, and Bruno gets all assholey and cocky, dropping all pretense of concern for his team and the woman, and says there’s no way he’s going to prison with all he knows.  Gideon isn’t convinced, and takes his gun.  Bruno tells him the consequences will be harder to live with than he thinks, and saunters off.  Asshole.

Back at the BAU, Garcia is hoping to use the last few minutes of her access to the CIA’s computers to find Prince William’s phone number.  WTF, why would she want the weird-looking one’s number??  (This was, of course, years before his fairytale wedding to the beautiful and glamorous Kate Middleton, who is wayyyyy out of his league.)  She gets close but can’t find a pen before the access is shut off, awww, poor baby. The team packs up at CIA and reviews that the undercover guy was basically the one who called them in and the director had to go along with it to see how much everyone knew.  Morgan flirts with Gina some, then we see Gideon back in his office picking up a newspaper with news of the director’s “car accident” (just like Aliyah!).  We get a quote about telling the truth being a radical act, then we cut from some basic adult contemporary music to some very heavy metal stuff for some reason.  Shazam couldn’t pick it up so I don’t know if it was an actual song or just a sting written for the segment.  It was weird.

I really, really enjoyed this episode despite some logical inconsistencies.  Kind of a play off the “closed room” mysteries, where everyone is potentially guilty, lots of intrigue, double-crossing, misdirection, coded clues, and suspense.  Lots of representation from women of color being awesome, too.  And, with as much Gideon as we got, he was pretty likeable and un-assholey and insufferable, so that was nice.  Reid’s hair, alas, continues weird.

The next two episodes are the Fisher King episodes, which I have kind of a love-hate relationship with.  They’re pretty thick so I’m not sure how long the recaps will take me.  Stay tuned!


Reid’s hair floppiness rating:  3 out of 10, this kid needs to look into some different product and maybe some dry shampoo I’m telling you.

Even Reid wonders WTF is up with this.

Even Reid wonders WTF is up with this.

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.

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.


S1:E18 – Somebody’s Watching

Content notes: stalking, home invasion, gun violence


I definitely remember this episode based on the Netflix description because I believe it’s the one where Reid gets some action and is super badassdorable.  Let’s see if I’m right.  We open on LA, all bright lights, highways, Hollywood, glamour, etc.  We see Reid and Gideon in an art gallery talking to an old high school friend of Reid’s, a tall, well-dressed, handsome black man.  Gideon looks super pissed off to be there, despite the fact that Reid tells his friend he’s an art enthusiast.  Reid’s friend introduces him to a pretty blonde woman, who he says is a “movie star,” and she equivocates, saying she’s just in a tv show, and Reid gets all super awkward.  Aw.  Suddenly his friend kicks out a photographer who is trying to take pictures of the blonde woman.

Her dark-haired, incredibly sexy friend hits on Gideon, which is hilarious.  She is super, super hot, and very, very much My Type, swoon.

s1e18 hot1

Reid and the blonde woman continue to talk, she seems impressed with Reid’s FBI connections.  Reid and Gideon are in town to lead a training session, he tells her.  Gideon, uncomfortable at the dark-haired woman’s advances, drags Reid out of the gallery “NOW,” which is kind of shitty.  I do not like that man.

We then cut to Reid and Gideon lecturing about serial killers, which continues in voiceover as we watch an attractive, thin blonde woman get attacked in her home by a person wearing a black motorcycle helmet.  Her boyfriend comes home to find her dead, with a gunshot wound in her head, and then he is shot by the motorcycle helmet person.


Reid and Gideon are being driven to the airport by one of the local police they were teaching, an extremely attractive Asian man in a suit with really great cheekbones (can you tell I love a man with cheekbones?).  The detective gets a call about the double homicide, and asks if Reid and Gideon would like to take a look before they depart.  Of course they do, they are crimefighters who never sleep or relax or have personal lives!  Reid’s hair is a little bit floppy in this scene, but is back to being weird and tucked behind his ears in the next.

Gideon, Reid, and Detective Kim (? can’t quite hear what he says, maybe we should just call him Detective Cheekbones) arrive on the crime scene.  They look at the bodies, and note that the woman’s injuries are different than the man’s, and Det. Cheekbones says there’s security camera footage showing a messenger or courier wearing a motorcycle helmet, and further notes some other, similar, cases recently.  The victims are all entertainment industry folks and all killed with the same kind of weapon.  Gideon calls in the rest of the team.

Plane.  The rest of the team discusses the case, and Hotch notes that the killer may have observed them for some time since he appeared to know their schedule.  At the PD, the team delivers a profile of an “assassin,” of which there are 4 types.  Our unsub, they tell us, is “delusional.”  As they talk, a shortish older man comes in, saying his client (he’s an agent), has received a threatening note.  Reid and Morgan go to talk to the woman, who is the blonde woman from the gallery.  Her name is Lilah?  Lila?  Anyway, the team talk to her.  She is pretty enough I guess but not really my thing.  Ugh, Reid, wash your hair!

s1e18 ew

The team notes that the victims are all related to Lilah, either as rivals for parts, a director who wouldn’t hire her, or just similar-looking actresses.  Lilah can’t handle knowing people may have been killed because of her (understandable!), and hurries out of the PD, pursued by Reid.  Reid lets her know the situation is serious, that there’s an “erotomanic stalker” trying to win her affections by killing her rivals.  The team, meanwhile, updates the PD with info on erotomanic stalkers, who have a fantasy relationship with a famous person and will do anything to get their attention, referencing some of the more famous ones (Hinckley, Bardo).

Cut to Lilah on set arguing with her agent about police protection.  She commiserates a bit with a blonde woman wearing a headset, who hands her the day’s scripts.  In the envelope is another note, that says “I’ve always been good to you, why would you go to the police?”  Reid, Gideon, Morgan, and Det. Cheekbones hang out in Lilah’s trailer and analyze the language of the note, verb tenses, etc.  Mmm cheekbones.

s1e18 det cheekbones

Morgan suggests maybe getting Lilah “off the street,” which she objects to.  I have a feeling that this is going to be another of those repetitive episodes, where we have this same argument a lot, so I’m going to breeze past it.  Reid is left to keep an eye on her, while Gideon goes to talk to her manager.  Reid adorably awkwards at her, and nearly dies of an aneurysm when she takes her robe off to reveal an extremely skimpy bikini (her tv show is about beach volleyball, which honestly seems pretty realistic).

Gideon, Hotch, and Elle arrive at the agent’s office to find he’s been shot in the head, just like the blonde actress.  He calls Reid and tells him to get Lilah to her home, but not to tell her about her agent.  Gideon and Hotch discuss how the plan of cutting off access to Lilah will hopefully draw out her stalker.  Elle finds some paparazzi photos of Lilah, candid nude shots of her, on the agent’s desk.  She calls Morgan and Det. Cheekbones and gives them the name of the photographer, so they go follow up that lead.  Reid discusses safety measures with Lilah back at her house, which is ultra-modern in a way I’m not a huge fan of.  He seems to freak her out with all his stalking advice.  He notices a piece of artwork on the wall, a photographic collage she says she really likes.

Morgan and Det. Cheekbones bust into the paparazzo’s darkroom, finding lots of candid shots of Lilah and other actresses.  They find a call sheet from Lilah’s show, which he definitely shouldn’t have, and photos from as recently as yesterday, showing Lilah and Reid together.  Morgan calls Reid and lets him know that the paparazzo may be the unsub, just as someone wearing a motorcycle helmet on a motorcycle zooms around the corner, shooting at them!  Det. Cheekbones is hit!  Noooo!  It’s ok, though, it’s just his shoulder.  Cut to ambulance, flashing lights, etc.

Back at Lilah’s house, Reid is intrigued by the collage he noticed earlier.  Lilah goes for a swim, despite Reid’s objections, and tries to get him to join her.  During the pool scene, we keep getting shots through a camera taking pictures from the bushes.  As he goes to help her out of the pool, she pulls him in, laughing.  He’s not very amused since he was wearing his gun and the pool did nothing for his hair.  She grabs him and kisses him and I die of jealousy.  Reid tries to tell her it’s inappropriate but doesn’t seem very convinced, and she is extremely persistent.  God his cheekbones in this scene you guys.

s1e18 reid cheekbones

Reid tells her about her manager’s death and she finally stops trying to undress him.  Sadly.  She is very upset and finally gets out of the pool, and is angry at Reid.  In the bushes, Morgan pulls a gun on the paparazzo, and drags him onto the patio to question him.   Blahblah paparazzo has to get the shot or he don’t get paid blahblah.  Morgan pulls the film (?!) from his camera and destroys it, which Reid appreciates.

Back inside, Reid, wearing a beige hoody with floppy hair, tries to comfort Lilah.  Gideon comes in behind Reid, and lets her know that Reid was told not to tell her about her agent.  Gideon leaves.  It’s weird.  Just a very weird scene.  As Lilah talks about her time at Juilliard, Reid notices something weird about the photo collage.  He tells her he needs to take it apart, and calls in the rest of the team.  As they pull the photos apart and put them back together, they realize it’s a collage of pictures of Lilah, from her college days at Juilliard to her first acting jobs.  She says that Reid’s highschool classmate is the one who gave it to her, so Gideon, Elle, and Morgan go to the gallery to ask him about it, leaving Reid by himself to guard Lilah from a crazed serial killing stalker, with a wet gun and sweats on.  Ok.

At the gallery, Reid’s friend has no idea what they are talking about, he didn’t make the collage, but, he admits, he did give it to her.  This episode is just chock-a-block with wonderful cheekbones.

s1e18 hot2

He says that he was given the piece to give to Lilah but he told her it was from him, to get her to like him.  The piece was from a woman named Maggie, who works on Lilah’s show.  Maggie is the unsub!  Gideon updates Reid, who updates Lilah, who just at that moment gets a call from Maggie!  Yet more perfect timing, what ARE the odds.  Reid calls Garcia and gets her tracking the call.  Lilah keeps Maggie talking, who is doing some wonderful crazy-eyed crazy person acting.  Maggie confesses her love, and Lilah is like “woah.”

Garcia realizes THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE.  She actually says that.  Garcia calls for backup just as they hear Maggie upstairs.  Reid is like “WTF Lilah how did she get in???” and Lilah is like “oh yeah she has keys.”  Christ.

Reid and Lilah go upstairs oh god wait hang on

s1e18 oh dear god

Anyway they go upstairs looking for Maggie, and Maggie jumps out, pointing a gun at Lilah.  She crazies all up on Lilah, saying she created her, and they have to go.  Lilah is not super excited about that plan.  Reid tries to convince Maggie that Lilah loves him and they kissed, so it’s over and Maggie needs to let Lilah go.  Lilah goes along with it as much as possible, until Maggie lets her guard down, and Reid wrestles the gun away from her and points it at her, and Maggie screams at him to just shoot her, but Reid of course is being all compassionate and like “we’re going to get you help, it’s ok.”

s1e18 geezy pete

Good god y’all.

We cut to Reid and Lilah trying to say goodbye, as she is harried by her new agent.  Reid’s hair and cheekbones are sad to say goodbye.  Gideon comes and tells him he has to go, that fucking guy.  Gideon, 30 fucking seconds won’t matter ok?  You have a private jet, there’s no timetable here.  Reid squeezes her shoulder and leaves.

Plane quote: Bernard Shaw on privacy.

Back at the BAU, Morgan teases Reid about the girl and falling in the pool.  Reid isn’t in the mood.  Because why would you be.  Reid tells Morgan they kissed, and Morgan tells him he was her hero so it’s not surprising she likes him.  Ok I can get behind that.  Reid asks Morgan if he’s ever crossed any boundaries with a victim in a case he was working, and although Morgan hasn’t (hm), he reassures Reid that it’s ok.  Reid asks Morgan if he’d ever known a woman he wanted to be with for more than one night (I guess Morgan is Barney Stinson?), and Morgan says some stuff about their job and personal relationships, and that Reid doesn’t need to control everything or decide anything right now.  All of which kind of makes me like Morgan better, because it really is pretty good advice.  Reid decides to keep a tabloid with a photo of the two of them on the cover and leaves for the night.  Aw Reid.

You guys, this episode was so chock full of hotness I almost don’t even care about the plot.  Ye gods.  Also though, it was a good, tight episode with plenty of drama, a couple of red herrings, and lots of detectoring.  Gideon comes off as just incredibly awful and unlikeable in this episode and I just can’t with that guy.  Reid was absolutley the star of the show, which I appreciated, obviously.  Now I’m off to have a cold shower you guys because seriously.


Reid’s hair floppiness ratio:  I’m giving this episode a 5 out of 10 because his hair was either super good or super bad.  Nothing in-between here.

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

S1:E16 – The Tribe

Content notes: blood, racism against Native Americans, children in peril, kidnapping, fisticuffs, knife violence

This is a long recap, sorry, there is lots to unpack!  I did my best, and I’m at least passingly familiar with the issues, but I’m very much not an expert on the oppression and violence that indigenous peoples face in the United States, so please correct me where I’ve messed up!


We open on a couple of white teenagers partying in a house in New Mexico that is under construction.  In A Gadda Da Vida is playing, candles, beer, making out, etc.  There’s an ominous van outside, and a white blonde girl stands at a window while we hear voices saying “there’s our girl.”  She goes outside and is suddenly grabbed from behind!  One of the guys is looking for her and we see a knife and hear screams!  Fade to white.

Back at the BAU, Garcia and Elle notice a total hottie walk into the office, a tall white blonde-haired guy in a motorcycle jacket carrying a helmet.  Morgan greets him and tells the women that he is Hotch’s brother.  Neat!  Hotch and his brother, Shawn, talk, and his brother says he isn’t going to law school after all, and wants to go to New York to be a chef.  They argue, Hotch tries to kinda profile him and convince him to be a lawyer, he’s throwing his life away, blahblah, and I can’t shake the idea that Shawn might be a vampire.  There’s something Skarsgård-ian about him.

s1e16 brother

The team discusses the case of the teenagers — five kids, murdered in the house, with minimal defensive wounds and nobody tied up.  No one or two unsubs could control so many victims, so we may be looking at a “pack” (drink), “three or more who kill in unison.”  They will keep killing until stopped.  Stopped by what?  A stronger pack!  Like the BAU.  In case you didn’t get that.

Credits.  Nietzsche on the individual not being overwhelmed by the tribe.  Kinda subtle you guys!

Hotch, Reid, and Gideon arrive at the crime scene.  Hotch and Reid talk to the local police, while Gideon stands off to the side and stares into the middle distance.

s1e16 gideon standing

Admit it, this screen cap could be from almost any episode this season and you wouldn’t know.

So,we’re doing that again.  Ok.

They determine that the kids were “skinned alive.”  Yikes.  They determine that there may have been another girl there, since there is evidence that there were three couples there.  Way to be heteronormative, Hotch.

They go outside and we see a bloody spike.  Reid suggests that the flaying alive and the spike are reminiscent of “war rituals of the plains Indians.”  The sheriff confirms that “everything you see around you is Apache land.”  Oh good, I just bet this is going to get so much better and not at all offensive.  Oh — the sheriff says this is an old Indian burial ground!  Really.  REALLY.  “Ancient Native American burial ground”???  Good lord.

After some discussion about the local land disputes (here’s the Wikipedia page on the land claims in case you would like a primer), Hotch gets Garcia on the phone to look for any Native troublemakers.  She finds a local activist whose father was killed in the incident at Wounded Knee.  Oh man, you guys.  I don’t know.  This episode seems like it’s only going to get worse…

Hotch talks to the sheriff about the suspect, John Black Wolf, who is also basically the entirety of the local reservation police force.  The team heads over to the reservation to meet the council president and John Black Wolf.  The president, a dark-skinned woman with long hair, is very suspicious, but brings the team into the school to talk to John, a tall dark-skinned middle-aged man, who is teaching a classroom of kids about local Native American history.  Reid interrupts to answer a question posed to the students about the spirits of the caves, because he just can’t stand knowing something and not saying it out loud, because something something Aspergers.  Guys, this episode is already on my nerves and we’re like 10 minutes in.

They head outside to talk to John, who tells them they are off-base, because it’s not Native groups who commit massacres, it’s white people.  Fair point.  They ask him to look at the crime scene photos and help them understand how the kids were killed, and why, since he’s an expert on local Native culture and customs.  John says he has to go to the crime scene to understand what happened.  When they arrive, Reid spouts some really broad generalizations about “the Apache” and their tracking abilities, typical “Noble Savage” style stuff.  Suffice it to say, even talking about “The Apache” is a gross oversimplification, without even getting into crap like “this diverse group of Native American cultures that encompasses multiple sub-groups and countless individuals are all good at this one thing we stereotypically expect Native Americans to be good at.”  Maybe next week, Reid can tell us all about who is best at basketball, golf, and interior decorating.

John Black Wolf examines the crime scene and it’s all basically a standard Native American stereotype of someone who understands things on a more spiritual level, who is in touch with history and nature, who doesn’t carry a gun because he doesn’t have to (carries a big-ass knife, though!), who can tell things about people just by their footprints, etc.  He tells Hotch that he can tell he carries an ankle gun, and when Hotch tells him he can’t tell that from his footprints, John says Hotch’s problem isn’t with his footprints but with his “perceptions.”  Ok.  That doesn’t even make sense.  Anyway, John says that the rituals represented in the murders are from many different Native tribes, so they aren’t looking for an Indian but someone who admires the culture.  He clarifies, based on footprints and his Apache tracking ability, that there were probably 8 attackers, who ran off over the hills in single file to hide their numbers (yep, just like Sand People!) (oy).

Back at the station, Hotch and John talk, and Hotch asks him to assist on the investigation.  John says he’ll help if it keeps the FBI off the reservation.  I think that’s fair, considering the history of what the FBI has gotten up to on reservations.  After the team delivers their profile, they wonder if the killers could be trying to frame the local Native American activists, and the sheriff says there’s a local “minuteman” type group (serious trigger warning for racist eliminationist rhetoric on the link) who may be responsible.  They bring in their local racist leader and we’re just going to summarize it by saying this guy spouts some incredibly gross racist rhetoric, spiked here and there with second amendment rhetoric.  Morgan is Not Impressed, but the team thinks he’s all talk — his motivation is simply greed over the land developments, not race.  Meh, maybe, but those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Garcia calls to let the team know she may have located the sixth victim based on fingerprints at the scene, a local college student named Ingrid.  Elle, Hotch, and JJ go to talk to the girl’s dad, who says he didn’t know she was missing, since she doesn’t live at home and has her own life, apartment, etc.  JJ asks him to give a press conference, and he agrees.  Hotch talks to Elle and Morgan about how the dad’s behavior wasn’t quite right, and they wonder if he’s maybe involved or guilty.

We cut to two white guys watching the press conference, and we see the girl tied up on the bed.  Cut back to Elle and Hotch at the dad’s house, who take a call from one of the kidnappers.  The kidnapper says the girl’s dad paid them to grab her!  What!  We cut to the two guys surrendering and Elle gets the girl out of a van.  Back at the PD, Elle and Hotch interrogate the two guys.  The dad just wanted her kidnapped, not hurt, and the guys say they know nothing about the killings.  Everyone was alive when they grabbed the girl.  The guys seem like they made a stupid decision and are now in over their heads.  Interesting.  Gideon believes them, and goes to talk to the dad, who is hostile and angry.

Reid goes to talk to the girl, while Morgan takes a call from Garcia.  The girl will only say her name and her SSN, like a POW.  Reid and Morgan update Hotch about her behavior, and let Hotch know that Garcia turned up that the girl left school and vacated her apartment a couple months ago.  Hotch asks for the dad’s phone records and goes back to talk to the dad, asking how long his daughter has been in a cult.  Woah!

Cut to a cop watching the house of the racist minuteman dude, then we see a big knife and blood splattering over a family photo.  Uh oh!

Hotch talks to the dad some more about what he’s done to try to get his daughter out of the cult.  Dad keeps refusing to talk to them, which is weird.  Hotch tells him about the new killings, and suggests that this, combined with a plausible claim for brainwashing, may be able to keep his daughter out of jail for any of the murders.  Dad finally agrees to tell them what he knows about the cult she joined.  Ingrid started acting weird over the past couple of months, distant, repeating phrases and jargon, then she disappeared.  She told her father he was a “trespasser,” that someone named “grandfather” taught her the ways of the spirits (I believe the word they are saying is diyí’, which the actors are pronouncing “gahe,” based on some Wikipedia research).  The team delivers a profile of the cult leader to the locals, a charismatic underachiever with a fascination with Native American cultures.

The team brings the girl to the crime scene, where John Black Wolf tries to talk to her about actual Native customs and culture.  He takes her to the crime scene and asks her what happened there.  She spouts off her messed-up half-understood Apache spirituality rhetoric, that the trespassers met the “vengeful blade of the tribe,” and tells John that he’s not Apache, and spouts off some really dubious stuff about being taken to the desert by Grandfather to be blessed by the spirits.  John is pretty pissed off at her, and tells her that the word Apache is actually a Zuni term meaning “enemy,” and that the Apache properly refer to themselves as Dine, which means “people,” and that she would know that if she knew the first thing about their culture (I mean, it’s like the very first thing discussed in the Apache Wikipedia page, come on, girl, you’re in college!).  The girl tells him that the Apache are like the Jews, waiting for a Messiah, which John gets SUPER pissed about, because NOPE, and tells her that the children that were murdered aren’t enemies and that she has no idea what she’s talking about.  The girl says something about “the Deadlands,” which at least gives them a clue as to where the cult compound might be, so that’s something.

Back at the PD, the team and the locals talk about “The Deadlands,” and Morgan updates them on a guy Garcia turned up who may be their cult leader.  He was expelled from the school the girl went to for possession of peyote (oy), and took courses on Native American culture. The team tries to narrow down where the cult could be hiding, and figure since they have no way to make a living or, you know, pay rent, they must be camped out in some abandoned building or another.  John tells them there’s an abandoned motel in the middle of the Deadlands, and they head out.  It seems to me this might be a bit premature — the area, as described by John Black Wolf, is 100 square miles.  Surely there’s other abandoned farms, buildings, etc. in that area?

Anyway, we cut to the raid on the motel.  There’s only one person there, “Grandfather,” who is a thin young white guy who looks a lot like Sean William Scott:

s1e16 similar

who tells the team the others are “hunting.”  Reid and Gideon call in to give Hotch, Elle, Morgan, and John info on the cult leader.  Cunning, charismatic, violent, loves attention, unable to stay in a job or university program.  Hotch decides the best way to approach him is to stroke his ego, to “give him an audience,” so they can try to figure out where the rest of his group have gone.  Hotch talks to him, getting nowhere for a bit, until John Black Wolf steps in.  The kid gets super mad and shows his angry, bitter, nasty racist hand.  He calls John the kinds of names you’d expect, and admits that he tried to incite the minuteman group to attack the reservation, first by using Native customs in the murders and then by murdering the leader of the group.  Whoops you are not actually interested in Native culture, you are interested in starting a race war!

The team realizes that the likely target is the reservation, that since “Grandfather” tried and failed to provoke a race war, he’s going after the other side. The team race to the reservation’s school.  Hotch and John walk through the dark hallways and John tells him to put his gun away and use his baton, which up until now I’ve never seen any of the agents carry.  He tells Hotch there are many paths to the same place, and Hotch tells him he sounds like a fortune cookie, HAH.  We see a bunch of white teenagers/young adults with shotguns approaching the school.  When they get into the classroom, it’s empty!  They split up and go looking for the kids.

Hotch and John take out the white teenagers one by one, quietly, with batons and hand-to-hand fighting.  One kid draws a knife on John, and they knife fight!  John kicks his ass while Hotch fights with a kid in a classroom, baton against shotgun!  John winds up having to stab the guy he’s fighting with, and Hotch comes into the room just as two more kids with shotguns burst in!  Hotch fires on them while John jumps out of the line of fire.  John wryly asks Hotch “you just had to shoot somebody, didn’t you?”  Outside, John calls Hotch “Captain America,” hahaha, and Hotch correctly calls him out on having probably killed that suspect he stabbed.  John, for some reason, says “at least I didn’t shoot him.”  Ok.

Hotch goes to see his brother at a diner, and they make up.  Hotch gives him the card of a guy in the New York field office in case he gets into trouble, which seems, I don’t know, I mean, all we know so far is that Shawn got into Georgetown law and decided not to go, he’s not exactly a drug dealer or anything.  Also —  Is Hotch at his brother’s workplace in New York, or is this a place he is working at prior to leaving for New York?  Anyway, Hotch tells him he needs to whatever, be his own person or whatever, and we cut to credits with no closing quote.

Overall a pretty interesting episode that takes some twists and turns, but I think the examination of the tension between Native Americans and white land developers and white racists, and of white people’s general misunderstandings of Native cultures, could have been improved by not having such a stereotype as the main Native character.  It would have been much more subversive (and fun!) for John Black Wolf to be like “what, you think all Native Americans can tell your life story from your footprints? Don’t be ridiculous.”  Reid’s adorableness in this episode was marred by whoever wrote this episode thinking that “genius with possible Asperger’s” could be accurately represented by “someone who can’t stop interrupting people at inappropriate times.”  Also, Gideon is doing that “stand off to the side and stare” thing again, eurgh.


Reid’s hair floppiness rating: holding steady at a 3 out of 10, sigh.

S1:E15 – Unfinished Business

Content notes: strangulation, suffocation, violence against women


We open on Washington, DC, where a thin white older man is giving a talk in a bookstore about the “The Keystone Killer,” who strangled women in Philadelphia and used to send word searches to the cops to taunt them.  We learn that 18 years ago, he just stopped killing, and nobody knows why, though there are several theories — maybe he moved, maybe he was in prison for something else, maybe he died.  Gideon scowls in the back of the room.  Just scowling away scowlingly.  s1e15 scowly mandy

After the talk, Gideon tries to get the guy to come to the BAU to give a guest lecture, but he demurs, saying he is retired.  Gideon accurately points out that writing a huge book on “the one who got away” isn’t exactly a relaxing retirement.  They chitchat some more, and a security guard comes over to hand the author, Max, an envelope.  Woah, it’s a word search just like the Keystone Killer used to send!  In the envelope are two Pennsylvania driver’s licenses — one from his last victim and one new one.  “Lock this place down!” he shouts, and we go to credits.

Norman McClaine on how we should know those we love or something.

The team walks into the BAU late at night, discussing Max Ryan and his many accomplishments.  Hotch says he’s intense, and good at his job, but has “no bedside manner.”  I am not totally sure but I guess Max is supposed to be a retired profiler?  It sounded during the book lecture that he was a local detective or something, but I guess not.  We cut to the word search so that Reid can identify the quote on it and find all the words because he’s a genius. Max and Gideon update the team on what happened at the bookstore, and we learn that the Philly PD went to the address from the driver’s license and found the woman suffocated with a plastic bag.  This is a different MO (drink!) than the Keystone Killer’s previous victims, who were strangled.

JJ comes in and asks Gideon to turn on the TV, where another astonishingly well-timed news report is on regarding the resurfacing of the Keystone Killer.  Hotch tells the team to be on the plane in 30 (drink!), and Max tells them he’s coming with them.  On the plane, Garcia updates them on what the Philly PD know — an older victim than previous, and another change in MO (drink!), where the victim was bound with plastic flex cuffs and not rope.  It’s unusual for serial killers to change their victimology (drink!) like that, and the changes in MO are weird.

Morgan asks Hotch and Gideon how they’re supposed to work with this guy.  I read this as another time when Morgan distrusts what he perceives as mental weakness/illness — Max is too obsessed with the Keystone Killer and can’t be trusted in the field.  It’s an interesting bit of characterization, and I can’t remember whether it goes anywhere or not, or relates to what we later find out about Morgan’s childhood.

In Philly, Gideon, Max, and Elle arrive at the crime scene.  Max is snappish at Elle, which I’m sure she’s gonna just love.  She rolls her eyes at him and goes off to check the rear window.  Gideon reminds Max of the advice he gave him on his first day — not to get too personally involved.  Max grunts.  Meanwhile, JJ gives a press conference to some aggressive reporters while Reid and Hotch check out the rest of the house.  They find another note and show it to the rest of the team.  The note has a quote from Max’s book, which of course Reid remembers the page number of because the writers just kinda throw whatever they can imagine someone on the autism spectrum being like at Reid, and we learn that there will be another victim in two days.

The team delivers the profile to the Philly PD, and are particularly focused on the change in the age of his victims.  They suggest he could be “de-evolving” into a “frenzy,” so that doesn’t sound super good.  Gideon asks Max to give them his original profile from when he investigated the case all those years ago.  Max says “no,” and then stalks off.  Gideon talks to him in a conference room about how different things are in the BAU nowadays.  Max is upset that the killer used the quote from his book.  I don’t understand why he’s so upset and surprised.  If I was a serial killer, I’d read a book about myself!

The team continues to brainstorm about the changes in MO (we should def stop drinking at this, because we will all get alcohol poisoning if we don’t).  Reid notices a name, “S. Harbin,” in the word search.  Max lectures at them angrily about how it’s not him, and when Morgan says he’s going to have Garcia check into it anyway, Max yells at him, which Morgan looks pretty pissed about, rightfully so.  Hotch asks Gideon whether Max wants to catch the killer or prove he’s right, which is a totally valid question I think. Anyway, Garcia tells Morgan that Harbin was paroled and missed his last check in, so they SWAT up his house.  Many aspects of his house match the profile, but Gideon and Max think something isn’t quite right.  Elle fucks with Harbin a bit about how he’s a coward who can’t deal with women who aren’t afraid of him in a nice little bit of camera work.

s1e15 elle

Hotch and Morgan look around his bedroom for any recordings of his crimes while Gideon checks in with Elle to make sure she’s ok because she “got a little hot.”  Elle is all like “WTF I’m fine asshole.”  Morgan and Hotch find a secret compartment under the bed that has a woman tied up in it!  Yikes!  Morgan yells for an ambulance while Hotch unties the woman.

Outside the house, the team finds another note!  This time there’s no word search, just a note taunting Max.

s1e15 note

Back at the PD, the team is still frustrated by the changes in MO and the long time gap between victims.  Serial killers have specific routines and victim types, since they are kind of compulsively committing the same murder over and over again (for e.g., killing their mom or their ex).  Max finally comes up with something useful instead of just know-it-all anger when he says “he wouldn’t have changed all this unless he had to,” he didn’t purposely change his MO.  Maybe an injury or stroke.  They get Garcia hunting through medical records while JJ gives another press conference to the really angry, hostile reporters.  The most recent victim’s brother is there and wants some answers, damnit!

Elle and Max chat, discussing the press conference, his estranged family, etc.  You know, basic BAU “we’re all workaholics who drive away everyone close to them” kinda stuff.  Elle looks Super Serious and I wonder if we’re supposed to be thinking that she is having second thoughts about being part of the team, between this and her earlier outburst.

We cut to an over-the-shoulder shot of a woman teaching kindergarten interspersed with some black and white grainy footage of surveillance photos of her.  She looks up and smiles and waves at the person standing at the window.

Back at the PD, Reid explains strokes to Morgan because there isn’t anything he doesn’t know everything about!  His hair is still kinda lank and tucked back behind his ears but it’s a little floppier than it has been.  It’s fine I guess.  His facial expression here is adorable though.

s1e15 reid morgan

Gideon and Max talk some more about how hard life in the BAU is and how you can’t take things too personally or whatever.  The writing in this show really is pretty repetitive, you know?  Gideon smirks all insufferably as Max gets angry again, and tries to get Max to work with the team a little more.

Max finally sits down with the team to try to figure out how to narrow down the pool of potential suspects, since just “someone with some kind of injury” isn’t helping too much.  Reid thinks maybe an auto accident, since they’re so common, which to me is not narrowing things down all that much?  Anyway, they get Garcia to try to cross-reference injuries with the type of car they profiled him driving.  Garcia’s lip color is really terrific.

s1e15 lip color

Garcia and Morgan realize that one of the car accident victims was picked up outside the latest victim’s house back in the 80s!  He installed home alarms so he had a way to get into the houses with no forced entry, and used to work with the Harbin guy!  They got him!  Max is happy, and they race racingly out of the PD.

They go to the suspect’s house but the guy isn’t there.  We cut back to the kindergarten teacher and an older, nerdy kinda bald white guy arriving at her house.  She welcomes him in and shuts the door behind him as he makes a creepy face.  Back at the suspect’s house, a woman answers the door and Gideon and Max ask her about her husband’s habits and demeanor.  Back with the kindergarten teacher, nerdy bald guy has pulled out a gun and has her put the plastic cuffs on her own hand, then hits her with his gun.  Max and Gideon ask the wife about an area in the house that is off-limits, and ask her some very leading questions about his behavior and recent mood changes.  She realizes something is up with her husband and shows them where his darkroom is, which is chock-full of information about the investigation, press clippings, photos, a scrapbook of photos of his murders, etc.

Reid remembers that the recent communications with the killer have been about “unfinished business,” and that his car accident was in the neighborhood of his most recent victim.  That’s why the victims are older!  Because they were picked out 20 years ago and the killer needs to kill these particular women!  He’s  perfectionist and needs to finish what he started all those years ago.  They look through the photos and scrapbooks to try to figure out who the next victim is.  They apparently locate him pretty quick because the next shot is a SWAT team and the BAU team outside a house in a nice residential neighborhood.

SWAT and the BAU move in, rescuing the kindergarten teacher just in time!  Gideon lets Max do the honors of handcuffing him, and Max has kind of a bittersweet look on his face.  His hunt is over but now what will he do with his life?  The killer tells Max that he’s enjoyed the ride, ew.

Plane quote from Abe Lincoln about the life in your years and not the years in your life, sheesh.

The team jokes around on the plane and Max tells a story about pranking Gideon by planting the director of the FBI’s schedule in a bomber’s car, which is kinda funny but pretty mean because Gideon understandably interrupted a high-level meeting between the director and the attorney general when he found it.  I mean, how was he supposed to know??  Ugh I hate pranks.

Elle talks to Hotch about how lonely life at the BAU is, and wants to know how Hotch can do this job and still have a wife and new baby.  Hotch says basically he tries to compartmentalize really well, which is maybe not a great strategy.  Elle says she doesn’t want her life to pass her by while she’s out chasing monsters.  So I guess we are seeing the beginning of Elle’s issues with the BAU here, which actually is a pretty decent long-term story arc with an actual resolution instead of one that just fizzles out because the writers forgot about it.

Overall a kinda meh episode.  I felt like the repetitive writing was pretty bad in this one, between the “why did the killer change his victims and MO,” and “life in the BAU is hard you guys.”  Reid’s hair was only ok, and his “genius” about absolutely every single thing anyone mentioned was pretty one-dimensional.  Meh.  At least these early episodes are somewhat light on the Garcia-Morgan shit.


Reid’s hair floppiness rating: 3 out of 10 this time.

S1:E14 – Riding the Lightning

Content notes: child endangerment, murder of young women, graphic discussion of death penalty and electric chair, scenes set inside a prison



I remember kind of enjoying this episode, despite its extensive amount of Insufferable Patinkin (everyone is getting Mad Max names today).  The villain is pleasingly deranged, and it has some really nice human moments, and it has a lot of complicated thoughts on bodily autonomy, the death penalty, and parenting.  I think this is going to be a long recap since there’s a lot of conversation and plot, so hang in there.  Let’s see if it holds up!

We open on Insufferable Patinkin smiling during a cello recital, then we cut to him, JJ, and Eyebrows in an SUV talking about Sarah Jean and Jacob Dawes, who murdered a series of young women over a span of years.  They are on death row, and the team is heading there to interview them.  We cut to the other SUV, where Elle is driving Cheekbones the Delicate, Genius Garcia, and Stoneface Crimesolver.  Garcia is freaking out because visiting death row is not in her job description, and Reid adorably tries to get her pumped up about how fascinating this case is.

s1e14 reid

Now wait a second.  It really ISN’T in her job description.  She’s a technical analyst.  Why on earth is she going along on this?

Anyway, they continue to exposit the case — the couple killed a bunch of teenage girls with blonde hair, and Sarah Jean killed her two-year-old son.  They were caught and confessed, and received the death penalty.  During the trial, Sarah Jean’s demeanor was icy and detached, and Gideon thinks there may be more to her story.

We cut to the prison, where the warden is speaking to Sarah Jean about what will be happening between now and her execution.  She asks the warden if she can see the full moon the evening of her execution.  She is a middle-aged blonde woman with a sad, yet stoic, face.  We cut to the SUVs arriving at the prison and learn we are in Florida (of course).  Protesters line the road to the prison — anti death penalty protesters as well as, um, pro-killing these particular people protesters, which is gross and gives me the heebie jeebies.

We cut to Jacob Dawes being led to the “death watch” cell by the warden.  He is a smug, sneering white middle-aged man, and we see he has a “Sarah Jean” tattoo on his arm.  We cut to credits.

Quote is Genesis 9:6, so you know, very subtle.

The team meet in a gray cinderblock room to review the case some more — a tip was called in by a woman about Sarah Jean and Jacob.  The police interviewed them, and something didn’t add up, so they came back later with a search warrant to find the couple’s son had vanished and the remains of a dozen young women under the yard.  Sarah Jean admitted to the murder of her son but not to any role in the other killings.  According to prison psych reports, Sarah Jean’s demeanor was that of someone who has been traumatized, while Jacob was a “sexual psychopath,” who is obsessed with “total possession” of other people.  A man interrupts to ask if they have agreed to the interviews and Elle is a total bitch to him for no reason, and it turns out it’s their lawyer.  Genius Garcia is setting up a bank of computers to monitor and record the interviews.

Eyebrows and Elle go to Sarah Jean and Jacob’s home.  CGI reconstructs the way the house used to look around them and it’s not particularly effective, and looks really terrible honestly.

Not sure if you can really tell how bad the green screen background is from this screen cap.  But it's bad.

Not sure if you can really tell how bad the green screen background is from this screen cap. But it’s bad.


Eyebrows and Elle decide to go visit Sarah Jean’s mother, whose house is covered in graffiti related to the crimes.  She answers the door clutching a cup, and is not all that interested in talking to them, but grudgingly invites them in.  Insufferable Patinkin goes to talk to Sarah Jean, who is sad and stoic.  Back at the mom’s house, we learn Sarah Jean’s mom is an alcoholic as she pours vodka into a cup at like 9 am, and she tells us that her husband was an abusive shitheap who was cruel to Sarah Jean and violent towards her.  Eyebrows compassionately (spit) asks why she didn’t leave, and she angrily tells him they had no place else to go.  Christ, Eyebrows, get educated on DV before you say anything else, ok?  The mother reveals a letter that arrived from Sarah Jean, which Elle says is a “statement of innocence.”

Back at the prison, Sarah Jean tells Reid his mom must be very proud of him, and then Jacob is walked past where she is standing.  He tells her she looks “fine” “babyface”(?) and that they will be together “forever,” while Stoneface looks on, stonily.  Sarah Jean stares at him, sadly and stoically, and tells Insufferable Patinkin that she knows he designed it to happen.  Stoneface interviews Jacob, entertainingly sociopathic, who tries to get him to participate in a card trick and asks him why he doesn’t smile, heh.  Stoneface stays focused on whether there are more bodies.

Elle calls Genius Garcia, who patches her through to Insufferable Patinkin’s earpiece.  He relays the words of the letter to Sarah Jean, who gets agitated.  The letter seems to disavow any knowledge of Jacob’s crimes.  Sarah Jean rips Insufferable’s earpiece out, and Cheekbones the Delicate picks up the letter reading.  She eventually sits down, sadly and stoically.  They ask her why she didn’t say anything in court about being uninvolved in the crimes, and Insufferable Patinkin says that the letter means an innocent woman is about to be put to death.

The letter isn’t enough to get a stay of execution, though.  Back in the monitoring room, the team explains to the audience that Jacob’s particular “love map” (WTF, also, drink) that was set during a lifetime of abuse, meant that he would need to be alone with the girls he was torturing and killing.  The theory is still not enough for a stay — they need evidence, especially since Sarah Jean admitted to killing her son.  If they can get Jacob to confess to killing the son, they could get Sarah Jean off death row.  Insufferable Patinkin notices the paintings in Sarah Jean’s cell, and wants to know what they mean to her.

Stoneface brings JJ into his interview with Jacob, who creeps like woah on her.  Ick.  She is just his “type,” ew.  Jacob offers a deal — a hand of poker.  If Stoneface wins, he gets another victim, if he loses, Jacob gets to smell JJ’s hair, and I’m SO creeped out ick ick ick.  JJ says it’s ok.  Stoneface OF COURSE gets aces and 8s, the deadman’s hand.  Jacob has a straight, so he wins, and looks creepily at JJ.  Stoneface says whoops sorry forgot about this other ace so he actually has a full house, hah.  Jacob says there are no other bodies.  Stoneface stands to go, and pretends to suddenly hear on his earpiece that Sarah Jean has been granted a stay.  This pisses Jacob right off,  and he becomes agitated, saying he will tell them where the son is buried (under a gazebo at a house he renovated) and that she did totes kill him.

Sarah Jean apologizes to Insufferable Patinkin, who smiles insufferably, and Sarah Jean tells him he has a nice smile, which he does not.  He brings in the paintings from her cell, which she says are “private,” so I’m not totally sure she understands how prison works.  He tries to guess what they mean, and tries to get Sarah Jean to explain what happened to her son, Riley.  She is sad, and stoic.  I don’t know if I mentioned that before.  Sarah Jean keeps trying to deflect the questions, asking Insufferable about his marriage and his job and his kids.  She seems to be saying she is trying to protect her son, not Jacob, by refusing to discuss her son.  She never says he is dead, though, just that she protected him and that he’s in a “better place.”

We see Eyebrows and Elle at a fancy gazebo next to a pool, where a GPR technician is scanning the ground, looking for Riley’s body.  The GPR guy turns up an extremely clear picture of a skull, and I want to say for the record as a geoscientist that this is NOT what you would see on the screen of a GPR unit if you found human remains under a gazebo.  I’ve used GPR plenty in my day and this just isn’t how it works.

s1e14 nope

Back at the prison, they get an ID on the body under the gazebo.  That seems awfully fast?  It’s not Riley, it’s another victim, a 14 year old girl.  Insufferable goes to see Sarah Jean in her cell, where she is eating a fast food burger meal as her last supper.  She is sad and stoic and deflecting.  Insufferable tells her about the new victim and she is shocked.  Also sad and stoic.  Stoneface tells Jacob he lied, and wants to know how many others there are.  Jacob declines to continue the interview, saying he only has a few hours left and would like to be alone.  Sarah Jean asks Insufferable to leave so she can spend her last few hours alone. The parallel wording is clearly intentional, but I’m not sure what we’re supposed to glean from it.

Insufferable Patinkin realizes that the paintings from Sarah Jean’s cell call back to the story of Moses, being sent down the river in a basket of reeds, and thinks that her son must still be alive.  Genius Garcia gets to digging into abandoned babies, adoptions, etc.  We cut to shots of the electric chair being prepped and see we have only two hours to go until the executions.  Sarah Jean’s lawyer gets the governor on the phone while the team tries to find the son.  Insufferable thinks she will protect Riley until Jacob is dead, and asks the warden to get into her cell for five minutes to look for evidence.  The warden takes Sarah Jean out to the exercise yard to see the moon, despite it being against regulations.  She is sad and stoic, and the warden seems to genuinely like her.  Insufferable goes through her stuff, and the warden tries to get Sarah Jean to exonerate herself.  Insufferable finds a photo on the back of one of the paintings of a young man, cut out from a newspaper!

Genius Garcia believes it is Riley, and starts to try to figure out who he is; Stoneface asks JJ to circulate the photo to the press.  Jacob, meanwhile, is being moved to the execution chamber.  He yells to Sarah Jean that he’ll be waiting for her.  He tells Stoneface he won’t be making his peace with god, that he made it 18 times (that’s four more victims than they knew about!), and yells some more at Sarah Jean.  The Catholic priest who is with them looks like the same guy from the kidnapping episode.  Sarah Jean hears Jacob yelling at her about riding the lightning (yikes) and holds the painting while her hair is trimmed for the electric chair.

Jacob is prepped and strapped to the chair, all smug and cool.  There are a bunch of people watching — a Catholic priest, as they do (this is one of only a few places the Catholic Church has things right, IMO), as well as the victims’ family members.  The warden asks for last words, and he says “bring it on.”  He is cool and smarmy until Stoneface shows up with Riley’s photo, slaps it against the window, and tells him “you lose.” Jacob screams “NO,” and then his face is covered and he is electrocuted.  It’s an incredibly taut, effective, and upsetting scene.

Insufferable Patinkin goes to see a newly-bald Sarah Jean, and hands her the photo of Riley, telling her Jacob is gone and he is safe now.  Insufferable tries to convince her to come clean and not go to her death for something that she didn’t do, to give Riley the gift of his mother.  She says she made her decision all those years ago and that THIS is her gift to Riley.  This is a fascinating bit of plot that touches on the death penalty, as well as bodily autonomy and the right to say when your own life ends.  Sarah Jean clearly thinks Riley will be better off in his life if he never knows where he came from, and wants to willingly go now to her grave protecting him.  She almost seems like she views this as her penance for her complicity in the murders of the girls, which she kind of knew about but didn’t participate in.  On the other hand, though, her method of ending her life is through the death penalty.  That seems awfully….selfish, maybe?  To be part of the dysfunctional system of state-sponsored murders of people, some of whom are undoubtedly innocent, voluntarily, as an innocent person?

Anyway, Genius Garcia finds the boy’s family, and Eyebrows and Elle speed to their house.  Insufferable tells the warden that they have found her son, and Sarah Jean insists that he is dead, and the warden tells them both that time is up, and that he can’t do anything to stop the execution.  Sarah Jean says she is at peace with her decision, that she made for her son, that she wants to protect him from the knowledge of who his parents are.  Insufferable argues with her a bit more, and she is sad and stoic, and says that her life ended the day she met Jacob, and that Jacob, even in death, is who she wants to protect Riley from.

Eyebrows and Elle arrive at the son’s family’s home, a beautiful huge mansion, but nobody is home.  Insufferable and the warden argue.  A car pulls up to the family’s house, and they talk to the father.  Elle asks Stoneface through her earpiece what to do.  Sarah Jean asks Insufferable to not let her son be Jacob’s last victim, to please let her go, let them both go.  Insufferable hugs her, which seems wildly inappropriate, and tells Stoneface to tell Eyebrows they have the wrong kid.  Eyebrows apologizes to the family, and the father thanks him in a super meaningful way that indicates he has an inkling of what this is about.

Back at the prison, Sarah Jean smiles beatifically, and asks Insufferable to be the last person she sees.  He goes into the audience chamber and watches her smile as her face is covered, and insufferably smirks.  The warden, with tears in his eyes, nods at the officers, and we cut to Insufferable Patinkin’s face.  It’s another really good, affecting scene, with a lot going on.  I’m kind of choked up actually.

Cut to Insufferable watching Riley play the cello at a recital, as a single tear rolls down his cheek, for fuck’s sake really?  This whole episode was so good and this is how we end?  A literal single tear literally rolling down his stupid, insufferable face?  Sheesh.

This episode really does have a lot going on, and I really liked it, despite the difficult subject matter.  The pacing is good, the conflict between Sarah Jean and Gideon raises some interesting questions, and the execution scenes in particular are just really exceptionally good.

Ending quote about how what we do for others and the world is immortal.


Reid’s hair floppiness rating: still holding at around a 2/10, I’m afraid.

S1:E13 – Poison

Content notes: drug-induced hallucinations, blunt force violence, sexual assault, drug-enabled assault, choking, poisoning, breathing difficulty


There is a brief description of a victim’s recollections of having been assaulted while drugged in this piece, so I’m placing it behind a cut.  I’ve called out the relevant part with notes, too, so you can skip it if you would like.