How difficult is the BAU’s job when a murder occurs in a community of sex offenders? Pretty hard, especially since, as they figure out in Criminal Minds‘ “Pariahville,” they’re looking in the wrong place for the UnSub.

Meanwhile, Tara is presented with an opportunity she would be crazy to turn down, but it would mean leaving the BAU. However, what it comes down to is, what’s best for her?

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Did an Offender in Glenport Village Kill One of Their Own?

When Paige Lincoln is found murdered in a cheerleader outfit in her home in Glenport Village, the BAU is called in even though it’s just a single murder so far. Glenport is a planned community of sex offenders, one for which Tara wrote the psychological questionnaire used to choose residents. Reverend Santos leads the community, and everyone there is supposedly dedicated to reform. Sick of the harassment from others, they self-isolate. Families with kids live there. However, it seems that the experiment has backfired. In fact, they get the case two days after Paige is found because it took that long to verify her husband’s alibi; he had been found covered in her blood, but that was from trying to resuscitate her. So who killed her? Someone from the community or someone from outside of it?

Once in Florida, Reid and Morgan talk to Kyle, and the first order of business is finding out whose fantasy the cheerleader outfit (which she was dressed in after she was killed) was since it was purchased under Paige’s Amazon account. It was his, he tells them, explaining that he’d send her an internet relay chat (like a text that self-deletes when the window is closed) to have it on when he got home. When they question the need for that kind of privacy, he tells them about the contract the Reverend had them sign and the surgically implanted tracking chips that they’re required to have. That’s a fact that he kept from the local Sheriff, but the Reverend defends his actions. If a resident lives there without trouble for five years, the chip is removed. “Everything is done in the name of our protection,” he insists.

Fortunately, they can use those chips to track who was in Paige’s home the day she died. That leads them to Randy, who flashes married women. But why would he dress her as a cheerleader? It’s when Tara talks to him that she realizes that the reason he had no friends, other than Paige, was because he didn’t want to risk anyone finding out his secret: the women he flashed weren’t his targets. The children they had with them were. He went to Paige’s place for coffee every day to watch the kid who lived next door. The Reverend wouldn’t have let him live there if he knew he was a pedophile.

When the UnSub seemingly strikes again (this time an actual cheerleader) the profilers wonder if she was the UnSub’s ideal. This also helps them narrow down the suspect pool; she was killed 10 miles from Glenport, meaning it couldn’t have been anyone with a tracking chip. After this latest victim, it’s time to present the profile.

They’re looking for a man in his late 30s or early 40s, and whether or not he’s a resident of Glenport, he’s experienced, organized and patient. He’s practiced extreme self-control to sublimate his desires. Frequent precursor crimes of this kind of fetishist murder include peeping and petty larceny of objects like undergarments. Now that he’s gotten a taste, he’s going to want to keep killing and will take increased risks to do so.

Then it’s time to start interviewing anyone from Glenport without a tracking chip, and the Reverend sees this as the beginning of the end of the community. Even though he believes that no one there is responsible for the crimes, no one will believe it. Having a place like this makes them easier targets, and while without it, these people have nowhere to go. He argues that if not for his community, Paige would still be alive.

When all the residents check out, Tara realizes that this was part of the UnSub’s plan, the perfect forensic countermeasure. He took advantage of the fact that they’d look inside the community for the killer. Since the people inside Glenport self-police, it is possible that one of them saw something and didn’t even realize it. Tara has an idea just who to talk to: Randy.

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The Case Gets Personal for the Sheriff

When the Sheriff’s daughter, Riley, asks if she can go to a party (in the opposite direction of Glenport), she’s surprised when he agrees, as long as she watches her brother until he gets home and is back by 10:30 p.m. However, as the case progresses and after the second victim is found, he brings his kids to stay at the station with him. He later decides that there’s no way that she can go to the party, which means, of course, she decides to sneak out instead.

Riley’s friend, Adam, picks her up, but when she refuses to let him kiss her, he kicks her out of his car and leaves her to walk home. As she’s walking, a car pulls up alongside her (UnSub alert!), and she knows the driver (definite UnSub alert!). She accepts a ride home from Matt, who drives away from the police station and stops short so she hits her head on the dashboard and is knocked unconscious.

Though Randy insists he didn’t see anyone, Tara walks him through the day of Paige’s murder. Since the kid he watches wasn’t outside that day, she knows he would have been hyper-focused looking for him, so something might’ve caught his eye. He did see a gray car with a sign on the side of it for an IT service. Garcia’s search for someone using that and the rest of their criteria comes up empty, but once they realize they got the age of the UnSub wrong in their profile and have her search ages 18-25. She gets four results and the Sheriff recognizes Matt’s name. He’s his next-door neighbor. It turns out he was arrested for stalking a cheerleader in high school, but she dropped the charges and was also questioned in the murder of a cheerleader, but there wasn’t enough evidence.

When Riley comes to, she’s in her cheerleader outfit, and when she asks Matt why he’s doing this, he says it’s the same question the other girls asked. There’s no cure for him, no cure for the guys in Glenport, he says. His first victim was too old, and the second did it all wrong, but maybe Riley can get it right. She plays along and gets him to take her upstairs, where she briefly gets her hands on one of her father’s guns, but he slams her into the window just as the police show up outside. Morgan has to stop the sheriff from running inside, and instead, he and Tara find Matt holding a knife to Riley’s throat. Tara tells Matt that they’re going to talk through it, that she’s trained to listen, and when she has the shot, she takes it.

Outside, Morgan tells her that he’s surprised she took the shot. (Her first time.) She is too, but he assures her she did what she had to do. She knows. “Tomorrow’s a new day,” he says. Sometimes the days are rough, and that’s just the job. And sometimes, they get to see father/daughter reunions like the Sheriff and Riley’s.

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Does Tara Decide to Leave the BAU?

When Hotch tells Tara about a new job opportunity — supervising and coordinating the team for a comprehensive review of every serial criminal in federal prison — it’s not all good news. She would need to start immediately and leave the BAU. “No, I came here for a reason. I love what we do,” she protests. “I don’t want to leave.”

While Garcia voices her opinion in two words (“Don’t go!”), it’s Rossi who offers Tara the best advice. After telling her about his birthday “tradition,” he admits that it takes something out of him to sit across from the killer every year. “You can do something I can’t do,” he says of her work with serial killers behind bars. “It takes something out of me too,” she admits. “Scary thing is, sometimes I don’t even notice it ’til long after it’s gone.” What she needs to ask herself to make this decision, Rossi advises her, is where she can do the most good and herself the least harm.

Once they return from the case, Tara tells Hotch she doesn’t know what to do. She can’t pass up the opportunity presented to her, but she also doesn’t want to leave the BAU. Fortunately, Hotch already came up with a solution and had it approved by the director: coordinate the team and consult with the BAU.

Criminal Minds season 11 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.