Chris Callahan likely just saved his niece’s life without knowing it in the Criminal Minds episode, “Scream,” while Meg may not be happy that her uncle is babysitting her on her date with “boys from biology class,” that opinion is sure to change when (because it’s only a matter of when, not if) she finds out the truth about “BeachBod24.”
There’s a case too, as always, and the BAU heads to California to investigate when two women are found, beaten brutally and dumped like trash. Just like the UnSub is conflicted, I’m a bit conflicted. Part of me feels a bit bad for him because of his childhood, but a bigger part wants to put him on a most hated UnSubs list for how he’s choosing his victims and what he’s doing to them.
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This Creep Has a Type — and It’s Awful
The UnSub, Peter, seems to live a very controlled life. He makes his bed perfectly, organizes his breakfast plate, washes and dries the dishes, picks up the morning paper, and it all seems very routine. Then he goes down to the basement, dons a bloody apron and a bloody pair of gloves, picks up a bat and starts yelling at the woman he has tied up on a chair. He’s very clean upstairs, but downstairs, the opposite is the case. He yells at her about working hard all day and just wanting a hot meal, and she responds just like any other domestic abuse case, that she’ll do better, she promises. It seems to be very much from a script, and that’s because it is. After, he goes upstairs, sits in his room and listens to his old (so old, it has to be from his childhood, which is the first sign of what’s going on) cassette player as he hits his head against the wall.
The BAU is called in after two women are found, roughly the same age and same look. He has a type, and while they initially think he might be a lonely hearts killer, looking into the victims’ lives reveals that they were submissive. The UnSub is targeting women with self-image issues, and he himself has low self-worth. His only chance of dominance is to target other submissives, and these women are surrogates for the person he holds responsible for his pain. He was powerless in his childhood, and now that he’s tasted that power, it’s like a drug for him.
Greta is just the type to be his next victim. The UnSub is her caseworker, and she’s there because her son saw her husband hitting her. She never wanted him to see her like this, and so she’s leaving. However, as she’s packing to stay with a friend, she finds her son in the living room eating candy that Peter gave him. (Never take candy from a stranger, Conner.) Peter then knocks her out, and Conner tells a neighbor that a man took his mother. It’s the first time he leaves a witness, and they know he’s getting closer to a surrogate, and that’s because Greta’s a mother.
Profiling the UnSub
This UnSub is a projecting punisher, and he’s victimizing women he believes haven’t stood up for themselves. The first two victims’ injuries were consistent with domestic abuse, and Greta is an actual victim of abuse. The UnSub’s mother was abused, but he didn’t see her as a victim. Instead, he resented her for what the abuse meant for his own life, and he hates the idea of what she represented. Hesitation marks on the first two victims show he’s conflicted, and while he feels like he has to hurt the women, he also sees himself as a protector and may want them to fight back. He’s desperate to regain control.
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What the UnSub Wants
Greta comes to in Peter’s basement, and he assures her that her son is fine, now that he’s not in a “toxic environment.” To him, she’s perfect, because she let the abuse happen over and over. Just imagine what that must do to a child. It’s chilling, really. Peter forces Greta to drink salt water before he sets up his record player and cassette recorder and has her follow the same script he had his previous victims follow.
The ME’s final report includes the victims’ stomach contents (a mix for sore throats), which is what leads to Reid’s theory. The torture is just a means to an end. It’s about their screams. When Garcia can’t find Greta in the system, Morgan realizes that the UnSub works in the system. Physical abuse in his household imprinted on him, and he’s now conflicted, seeing himself as both the protector and the abuser. He’s reenacting what happened to his mother, but typically UnSubs like this keep trophies. That’s when Kate suggests he’s recording his victims.
And he is, on his old cassette player. After fixing himself up and replacing a shirt with a blood drop on it, he settles down to listen to his “conversation” with Greta. He later returns to her, upset that she didn’t “do it right,” because it has to be a certain way.
Meanwhile, Garcia’s not having any luck IDing their UnSub, but once the others chime in with information to help her narrow down the long list of domestic cases, she finds Peter. His parents died in a murder-suicide 25 years ago, and he saw the entire thing. The paper trail ends at age 18, so then it’s a matter of figuring out his new name. One name does keep coming up: John Folkmore, the officer who responded to the calls about the abuse.
John gave Peter that cassette recorder all those years ago in hopes that he would record the abuse and they could use it since his mother refused to come forward. He had promised Peter that if he got the recording, they could put his father in jail. Kate thinks Peter took Folkmore’s name, and she’s right, and with that, they’re off to his house.
When Peter breaks a plate in his kitchen, he remembers the night of his parents’ deaths — and the “script” he has his victims following is exactly what his parents said that night. There was a fire in his basement just before the murders started, and he lost that recording. That was his trigger.
Greta manages to free herself and even get Peter’s bat and fight back a bit, but he manages to stop her and get her into the closet as the FBI arrives at his house. JJ finds him and fights back, even though he hits her with a bat. In the end, Kate shoots him from behind.
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Don’t Believe Every Photo Online
That’s a lesson that Meg really needs to learn, as does her friend. Chris takes on the more laid-back parenting role when it comes to saying yes to Meg meeting boys from her biology class at the mall (though he does remind her that Kate owns a gun — or three), while Kate takes on the worrying parenting role, leading to a nice conversation on the jet on the way home with JJ. Kids grow up so fast, and while Meg may be ready to date, JJ’s just happy that Henry still thinks girls have cooties. (Also, it’s so strange to even think about the day when Henry dating is a conversation. That would also mean that Criminal Minds would be on for many more years.)
“Don’t you wish you could just keep them innocent forever?” JJ asks Kate, and oh, she has no idea. Just as creepy guy in the van (a.k.a. “BeachBod24”) pulls up to the mall and is on his way to meet/abduct/do who knows what to Meg and her friend, Chris shows up and reminds Meg not to miss curfew. Sure, he trusts her, but he doesn’t trust boys — and if he had any idea who’s really coming to meet her, he’d probably have one of Kate’s guns on him.
He steps aside and leaves Kate a message (one that amuses eavesdroppers), and part of me is worried that while he has his back turned and is on the phone that this guy is going to grab the girls and disappear and he’ll turn around and they’ll be gone, but fortunately, that’s not the case. Instead, the guy bumps into Chris on his way back to his van and messages Meg that he’s not coming because of her babysitter. So Meg’s angry, blaming her uncle, not realizing he probably just saved her life because that guy’s van is basically the van that all parents are worried their kids will end up in if they talk to strangers.
Criminal Minds season 10 airs Wednesdays at 9pm on CBS.
(Image courtesy of CBS)