Yes, there’s a case in this episode of Criminal Minds. But if you can bring yourself to care about it after the final shocking minute, that’s impressive. From the time before the team even gets the case to after it’s over, JJ’s worried that an e-mail from Assistant Director Barnes requesting a meeting could lead to history repeating and her having to leave the team. But there’s no way she — or anyone — can predict what Linda wants.
Yes, “Cure” does feature a case, one in which an UnSub is killing businessmen and leaving his manifesto in cryptograms in their mouths, but it’s not as complicated as it seems at first.
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JJ Has Nothing to Worry About with Prentiss in Charge … Right?
The last time JJ got an e-mail like she does from Barnes, she was taken off the team, so it’s understandable that she’s concerned. And while Reid may try to reassure her that Prentiss won’t let that happen, JJ reminds him that Hotch couldn’t protect her.
It doesn’t help that Barnes was the one responsible for decommissioning Simmons’ old unit, and he can’t offer up any comforting words for JJ. Prentiss does after the case is over, assuring JJ that she shouldn’t be worried, “not as long as I’m charge.”
Uh, about that, Prentiss. When JJ goes upstairs for the meeting, Barnes greets her by telling her that effective immediately, Prentiss is on administrative leave pending review and JJ is the acting unit chief for the BAU. Wait, what?!
What’s the UnSub Telling Them?
A man in a ski mask kills a financial manager, using his blood to draw the symbol of the Greek god Asclepius, historically used to symbolize the arts of healing and medicine. The UnSub stages his body to face the symbol, suggesting that it’s directly connected to him.
In case the fact that the UnSub signed his dirty work isn’t enough to suggest that he’s just getting started, he then calls 911, using a voice-changer, and declares, “We are Asclepius. We have begun the bloodletting. You will fear us, for you are the disease and we are the cure.”
Did this “Asclepius” — “we” suggests a group — target Andrew because of what his job symbolized, an evil specter of Wall Street? Did the UnSub(s) suffer a financial misfortune?
The UnSub only tied up Andrew’s co-worker, but she can’t tell them anything about him since he never spoke. Though she tells them of a teenage son of a client who sent a threatening e-mail, the kid has an alibi.
After the ME shows them Andrew’s stab wounds, Simmons identifies the murder weapon as a karambit, a close-combat weapon popular in Southeast Asia. That weapon is consistent with tactical gear, suggesting a possible background in the military or law enforcement. The ME’s assistant then finds a piece of paper in the victim’s mouth.
The UnSub left a cryptogram, and once Garcia cracks it, they read what “Asclepius” declares to be his — yes, they are only looking for one UnSub, someone who wants to feel superior to others — “manifesto.” He proclaims himself the “cure” of the “disease” that he labels the men in law, finance and religion to be.
The UnSub strikes again, killing a CEO of an aerospace engineering company as he reaches his car and staging his body like Andrew’s. The security camera on the parking lot went down an hour before the murder, suggesting that the UnSub was familiar with the property. He can’t leave anything to chance or he wouldn’t have time to stage the scenes. He has to have a list of targets.
When the cipher that worked on the first cryptogram doesn’t work on the second, the team wonders if his motivation is to assert power over law enforcement. Rossi notes the language in the first cryptogram; they’re emotionally confused words and somewhat sexualized as well. Are the victims surrogates of an unfaithful significant other? Will his cryptograms tell them his real target?
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The UnSub tries to strike again, catching up to a man he watched leave his house in the morning when he returns that night, but the man’s girlfriend catches him and calls 911. The UnSub looks at her before running off, and they now have a survivor: Scott Taveras, a family court judge. That doesn’t fit with the victimology. And as soon as his son asks if they’ve caught the guy responsible yet, it’s clear why. There’s just something about him the moment he walks into the room. He’s the UnSub, and the team has missed something.
In the second cryptogram, the UnSub writes about the third corpse marking the beginning of the end. That means that the UnSub killed someone else, but that homicide wasn’t connected to the others. Why? That’s because there was no symbol or cryptogram left with Marcus, a family services director at the court where Scott presides — or so the police thought. Reid finds the cryptogram, on a folded sheet of paper with the symbol drawn on the front, with the mail he had collected before his death.
Scott and his wife are separated but, as they learn from his girlfriend, not divorced so that it wouldn’t get complicated for Julia and her health insurance after she was diagnosed with cancer. (She’s in remission now.)
That’s where the words “disease” and “cure” came from for the UnSub, and once Reid and Garcia crack the real first cryptogram, it reads like a teenager’s revenge fantasy. He thought he could outsmart law enforcement and have his true victim lost in the body count. Scott’s son, Raphael, fits the profile. He had disciplinary problems, had a brief stint in the Army and was dishonorably discharged. He’s not as comfortable with his dad’s new relationship as the rest of the family are.
Unfortunately, Raphael makes his move and kidnaps Elena as she’s leaving the hospital before the team can stop him. They then find him, unconscious, in the trunk of the car, with Elena nowhere to be found. He tries to play the victim, but JJ knows she can crack his cover, thanks to her covert work. The only problem? It works, but as they all realize after Raphael reveals just how much he hates his father, it’s too late. He wanted Elena’s blood on Scott’s hands. All they can do is recover her body.
Did anyone see that ending coming with JJ and Barnes? And after that, did you care about the case at all? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Criminal Minds season 13 airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Criminal Minds Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of CBS)