In tonight’s episode of Criminal Minds, “The Edge of Winter,” Morgan realizes that so much that the BAU thought they knew about a case from 2013 is wrong when he visits one of the survivors of unusual stabbings in Upstate New York to prepare her to testify as a witness.

Something this show does very well is know when not to include a B-plot, light-hearted or otherwise, and this is just another one of those episodes where that’s the case. Something else it does well with this episode is keeping the mainstays despite the change in format, with Morgan speaking to Daria in the present. Everything else about the case, with the exception of a call to Hotch, takes place in flashbacks as Morgan goes over what happened with Daria. However, the case still begins at the roundtable and on the jet for the team, they still visit the disposal sites, they still set up in a conference room, they still deliver a profile to local law enforcement, and they still hunt down an UnSub.

The BAU’s 2013 Investigation

Something Criminal Minds does is constantly add places, people and situations to a list of things to avoid in case of serial killers. That happens again in this episode, as the UnSub’s charming and he picks up his female victims in bars, as we see when he goes hunting after Daria escapes and he needs another victim.

[Video] Criminal Minds Sneak Peek: What Will a Survivor Tell Morgan?>>>

In 2013, the BAU is called in after three bodies are found with 20 puncture wounds in groups of four, with the last victim, Ben, found strung up like a scarecrow in a way that suggests they’re looking for more than one guy. Reid’s the one who figures out that one of the UnSubs must have OCD based on the pattern of the puncture wounds. This is something that Daria later confirms when she explains that while Joe was messy, he made his friend keep things neat.

Daria’s the lucky one who manages to escape after what turns out to be about a year of horror, torture, and listening to different ways the UnSubs could kill their victims, but a fellow captive, Carrie, doesn’t make it. Joe shoots  and manages to hit Carrie, and while Daria momentarily stops, she keeps running until she hits the road and a car hits her.

Once in the hospital, JJ tries to talk to her, but she freaks out and sees Carrie instead, so Morgan takes over, establishing the relationship we see in the present when he visits her in a mental institution, but she doesn’t remember much. The doctor explains that Daria’s retrograde amnesia is caused by the trauma she suffered when she was held captive and from the car accident. While they wait for Daria to remember something that can help them, another victim is found, but this time, the puncture wounds are bigger and there are no signs of OCD present, which can be attributed to the UnSub’s rage since Daria escaped.

Daria’s sister, Ellen, is the one who helps them get a solid lead on Joe when she recalls the events of the day her sister disappeared. She had dropped her off at work, and a guy in a truck had made a comment. Ellen remembered part of the license plate and something about a broken furnace on the radio, and voila, they have an ID on him. However, when they get to his place, he’s already left on a road trip with Carrie in his trunk and has another male victim with them. Joe’s place is completely clean.

While trying to ID his partner, Garcia digs up his background, and it explains it all. After his parents died, he lived with his alcoholic nurse aunt who locked him a shed, didn’t feed him for days and sicced bees on him. The puncture wounds are supposed to symbolize the bee stings. His trigger was his aunt dying, and Daria’s her surrogate. Morgan returns to Daria to see if she can remember anything about his partner, and she gives them the name Coby, whose place is OCD clean to match the profile but whose appearance is not when they catch him. He does know where Joe is, only because he’s at a friend’s cabin, and they take down Joe. So who’s his partner?

The Truth About Daria

Morgan’s in for a shock in the present, however, as Daria reveals that she remembers she got into Joe’s truck willingly and they went out for dinner. She fell in love with him, she liked being there, and she let him touch her so he wouldn’t beat her. Morgan and Hotch know the classic signs of Stockholm syndrome, but Daria’s not done with the new information she now remembers.

While Daria previously identified Coby as Joe’s partner and told Morgan about the box where he kept the ice pick he used on his victims, Morgan noticed that she kept fidgeting with her blanket and fixed it as soon as he messed it up. As he reminds her of this conversation in the present, it begins to come back to her. Daria’s things were also found in the box with the ice pick, and the reason Joe needed a second victim after Daria escaped was that he needed a new partner. In the hospital, Morgan had explained to her that victims are forced to do the unthinkable while held captive, and her mind snapped and let her think Coby was Joe’s partner. In 2013, Daria began screaming.

In the present, it’s a different story. Daria explains that after a while, Joe didn’t even have to ask her to do anything; she tortured people on her own because it’s what he wanted. Oh, and she’d do it again if he asked her because she loves him. Daria’s not testifying as a witness, and she’s not going anywhere, as Morgan has to explain to Ellen. This is the safest place for her. She’s permanently damaged because of Joe, and she proves Morgan’s right about that when she asks if he thinks they’ll ever catch Joe’s partner as he’s leaving.  

Hmm, a charming serial killer named Joe who gets others to kill for him. However, this Joe’s not nearly as charming as Joe Carroll on The Following and this is very different from his cult, but still, maybe add charming Joes to that list I mention above.

Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays at 9pm on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Meredith Jacobs

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

If it’s on TV — especially if it’s a procedural or superhero show — chances are Meredith watches it. She has a love for all things fiction, starting from a young age with ER and The X-Files on the small screen and the Nancy Drew books. Arrow kicked off the Arrowverse and her true passion for all things heroes. She’s enjoyed getting into the minds of serial killers since Criminal Minds, so it should be no surprise that her latest obsession is Prodigal Son.