Flying. It’s something so many people do every day, and therefore, it’s the perfect way for Criminal Minds to really get at its fans, as it does in the third episode, “A Thousand Suns.” Taking a plane somewhere already puts your life in someone else’s hands, but on these flights, the passengers’ lives are in the hands of a mass annihilator who wants to play God.
Meanwhile, the premiere introduced a young woman in Kate’s care, and fortunately, it doesn’t take long for them to answer who she is and what Kate’s secret is, and I like how they do it. They don’t draw it out, and they don’t make it a big deal. It’s not really treated as a secret, though that is the word that has been used, and instead, it leads to a nice moment between Kate and Reid.
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What Caused a Plane to Crash Mid-Flight?
The episode opens with a look at what can be any flight on any given day with any passengers. There’s the family with the baby, the businessman on his computer, the kid with his toy, the worried flier. And then the horrible turbulence begins, the plane begins going down and…
The BAU doesn’t even have time to go to the office, and instead, Garcia updates them on their way to where the plane crashed, in Colorado. Someone reported seeing a streak of light in the sky, and it’s up to them to determine if there has been a crime and if so, to profile the offender. There’s only one survivor, the co-pilot, Frank Canvers, who seems to have just lucked out. When JJ and Morgan speak to him in the hospital, he only remembers a jolt, severe turbulence and saying “stop.”
Meanwhile, Hotch speaks to the witness who saw the flash of light, but that ends up feeling like a waste of his time as the guy seems very into conspiracy-theories and the whole “the government can’t be trusted” thing. Tracking down and questioning a group of “engagers” to see if they shot down the plane with a missile also seems like a waste of their time and resources.
It’s Reid who figures out that the crash was caused by something internal, and I love the walkthrough on the plane. Anyone else miss when Criminal Minds used to be that visual when it came to giving the profile? It’s all very technical about how the pane broke apart, with Reid giving everyone a quick Airplane 101 lesson, and then they find the black box. The pilot and co-pilot had to reset the system because there was something wrong, and it looks like someone else was controlling the plane. Someone hacked the plane, and since it would be difficult to remote control fly the plane while onboard, it was someone on the ground who may have had a connection to a passenger. With the strong possibility of this happening again, all flights are grounded immediately, but the UnSub already has his eye on his next target, and no one can reach flight IA61.
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Praying for Safe Travels
Garcia goes through the texts and emails of the passengers of the first flight for “icky” keywords and finds that one of them received a text, “I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds,” from a prepaid throwaway phone in New York. Years ago, Christina had gone on the world’s worst blind date with an aerospace engineer, Hayman Vasher, and posted about it on Facebook. After, he quit his job and dropped out of society, and he posted a lot about Oppenheimer. He’s obsessed, and he wants to create his version of Oppenheimer’s bomb. He tested his hacking software on Christina’s flight because she had posed about it on social media, but now, he’s after something bigger.
It’s around this time the pilot and co-pilot on flight IA61 realize something’s wrong, and while they can hear the message about grounding all flights and no response from them, they can’t communicate with anyone. Fortunately, Vasher makes a mistake and calls the co-pilot’s hospital room and hangs up, but it’s enough for them to get coordinates and track him down. They’re racing against the clock because the government is willing to shoot down the plane since it’s headed for a heavily populated area and has switched course to D.C.
Hotch and Kate burst into Vasher’s shack in the woods, and when he tries to run, Morgan’s at the other door. He threatens to blow up the plane, and in order to get them to call off the fighter jets, he forces the plane to descend rapidly. Hotch tells him that in the end, Oppenheimer regretted what he’d done, and Vasher says if he calls off the jets, he’ll let the plane land. The jets are called off, Vasher says, “I am become Death,” and they have to kill him. It’s a few tense moments of not knowing what happened to IA61 before the pilot radios in that they made an emergency landing.
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Kate’s Family Tragedy Revealed
While at the crash site, Reid notices that Kate has been quiet, and she tells him what Hotch and Rossi already know: her sister and brother-in-law died on 9/11. They were working at the Pentagon. She adopted their daughter, Meg. She doesn’t want to be the weepy agent with the tragic past, so she doesn’t want him to walk on eggshells around her. In the interest of sharing, Reid tells her his girlfriend was killed in front of him and his mother is schizophrenic. Other than Rossi checking on her later on and her telling him she’s managing and Meg calling at the end, it’s really only that one scene, and I like how it’s handled, especially Kate’s comment about not wanting to be the “weepy agent.” She can’t be doing what they do, and while it is a tragedy, given the nature of the episode, there isn’t more time to dedicate to it, and I’m glad they don’t try.
What did you think of the case this week? Thinking about avoiding getting on a plane anytime soon? What do you think of Kate’s “secret”? Do you want to see more of Meg?
Criminal Minds season 10 airs Wednesdays at 9pm on CBS.
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(Image courtesy of CBS)