In the season’s 15th episode, “Broken,” the investigation of a serial killer leads to the discovery of something even more sinister. Read on to find out what the minds behind Criminal Minds have in-store for us this week.
After several people are killed –one man, two women – the team tries to find a connection between the murders. When Blake questions the male victim’s roommate, she learns that the male victim was gay and the team realizes that all of the crimes were sexually motivated.
The team figures out that the Unsub is gay and he lashed out against his female victims after he failed to feel desire for them. When another man is killed, the team realizes that the Unsub kills his male victims because he believes that acting on his attraction to other men is wrong and this belief causes him to become extremely violent. The agents then try to understand who or what caused the Unsub to hold such beliefs about his sexuality.
Gay Conversion Camp Hell
With help from Garcia, Reid pieces together clues the Unsub left on his victims and the team realizes that the Unsub, Paul, was sent to a gay conversion camp to ‘cure’ his homosexuality. As soon as JJ and Blake arrive at the camp, JJ knows something insidious is going on and she pushes the team to discover the truth.
The team learns that Paul’s father (as well as other parents who sent their kids to the gay conversion camp) paid a child molester to abuse Paul in order to ‘fix’ him and make him straight. Paul’s father and the other parents actively participated in their children’s molestation by being in the room while the abuse happened, something we see through Paul’s flashbacks.
After convincing Paul not to take his own life, the agents arrest him and Paul testifies to the abuse he suffered at the camp. The agents raid the camp and rescue the children being held there, while the camp leaders are taken into custody.
And the Creepiness Continues…
In this episode, viewers get a glimpse of Blake in her second career as a Georgetown linguistics professor. Unfortunately, this glimpse is not a way to help viewers learn more about the newest agent but is used to show the audience that the season-long Unsub is still active. In the final moments of tonight’s episode, we see this Unsub looking over crime-scene photos and watching a video of the same lecture Blake gave at the start of the episode. Knowing that the Unsub was that close to Blake and she had no idea adds another layer of creepiness to this episode.
But does the scene serve another purpose, as well? In the scene, Blake speaks directly to several students. Is one of those students our season-long Unsub? Is the Unsub hiding in the back of the class or using one of the students to spy on Blake? Will you re-watch that scene — or other scenes throughout the season — in an attempt to spot the season-long Unsub?
An Unsub to Empathize With
One thing I really appreciate about this show is when the writers find a way to make an Unsub empathetic without excusing his or her crimes. Paul is a murderer and he is arrested at the end of the episode with the knowledge that he will pay for his crimes. Yet the agents understand that Paul’s behavior was influenced by the extensive abuse he suffered as a teenager and viewers are left wondering if Paul would have become a killer had he not suffered that abuse and been programmed to believe that his feelings for other men were wrong.
I don’t think this sympathetic portrayal of the Unsub took anything away from the horror of his crimes but the cases are more interesting when the audience can empathize with the Unsub as well as the victims. But what do you think? Is this episode better for portraying Paul as a victim as well as the Unsub? Hit the comments section and let us know your thoughts.