Criminal Minds returned this week with an episode titled “A Badge and a Gun”. In the opening scenes we spend some time with Morgan (Shemar Moore) as he stresses out a little when girlfriend Savannah texts saying “we need to talk”. We all know that’s code for something serious or bad. Rossi (Joe Mantegna) enters at just the right moment offering some sage advice but more so just encouraging the already present sense of worry. The saving grace that is Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) walks in stating that they love each other, it should all be ok. However, dinner and the talk will have to wait, they just got a case.
The case of the week involves women in Los Angeles, California who have been suffocated and wrapped up in household items. The team start to brainstorm motive, and behavioural characteristics – could the UnSub have been romantically involved with someone similar to the victims? Is it a revenge plot? They note that the wrapping up of the bodies is significant, and with the quick succession of kills the UnSub could be about to devolve into a spree. Not only that, there is a possibility he is using the “charm and harm” method to get to his victims. They have their work cut out for them, wheels up in 30. We cut to the latest scene of the Unsub, where a seemingly well put together man is door knocking in an apartment building. As the lady opens the door, we learn that he is a police officer or agent (so he says) investigating a string of home invasions in the area. It isn’t long before the audience can see significant agitation from the UnSub. The woman offers him a glass of water and he accepts only to follow her into the kitchen and choke her to death. We have one brazen Unsub.
The team arrives in Los Angeles, with Hotch (Thomas Gibson) and JJ (AJ Cook) headed to the field office, Rossi and Morgan to the crime scene and Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) to the morgue. As they receive word of a new victim while in transit, they have confirmation that the Unsub is on a spree. Each member of the team uncover particular traits to the crimes being committed; Rossi and Morgan describe the Unsub as criminally sophisticated and organised while Reid tries to deduce whether his method of killing is his ammo or ritual. These scenes are transitioned with the Unsub approaching his next victim and it is obvious that he has begun to devolve. Luckily for the team, the security cameras at one of the earlier victim’s apartment blocks caught him in the act and although they could not see his face, they believe he is a police officer. More specifically, an FBI agent.
This discovery required high level security and caution with a little bit of Garcia magic on the side. As they troll through every available lead, narrowing down the suspect pool, the team uncover that he is not in fact an officer, but an individual perpetuating the identity of one. He is calculated, and after receiving some evidence from an eye-witness, they are able to develop a sketch. That, and it is time to deliver the profile. They describe the Unsub as incredibly violent but can appear extremely non-threatening and he may be suffering from anti-social personality disorder. His crimes depict the need for constant affirmation, and believes that killing is the only way to achieve that.
The team continues to narrow down the suspect pool, and uncovers that the Unsub may be in possession of a police scanner. With such a tool, he is able to track down particular crimes (home invasions) and use them as a decoy or cover. This information provides the team with a way to catch the Unsub out; a sting operation is set up. With undercover officers in place throughout the neighbourhood, the Unsub goes about his normal business until he in confronted by a “fellow” officer. A gun fight erupts with the Unsub being wounded but unfortunately getting away. Meanwhile, Garcia has successfully delved deeper into the past of the Unsub (Andrew Meeks) and discovered that in high school he was bullied. So much so that the way in which he was targeted is exactly the way he kills his victims. We now know the symbolism behind this path of destruction.
In an intense stand-off with police, Meeks has taken a hostage and is refusing to drop his gun. Wounded from the previous altercation, JJ and Reid take point and attempt to talk him down. With mention of his past, something is triggered in him, he drops the hostage but opens fire, barely missing JJ. Luckily, Spencer is a clean shot and pops two to the Unsub’s chest, covering JJ like a boss. The team heads back to D.C. with Morgan and Savannah trading texts that seem to calm his prior nerves – “just bring the icecream”. This ending is strategic and subtle, clean and precise. A bystander walks past Derek during his phone call, bumping him. Within seconds, Morgan is showing signs of disorientation; he’s blinking harder, trying to remain upright and his words are slurred. And when the second man bumps him, all is not well for Derek Morgan. A group of men surround a now, nearly unconscious Derek as he tries to warn Savannah – “Call Hotch, Call Hotch!” With next week’s episode titled “Derek” it is safe to say the BAU team will be in full force trying to save their teammate. Big kudos to Shemar Moore, the last couple of beats in this episode were brilliantly done.