This week, Criminal Minds says, “Let’s twist fairy tales,” with “If the Shoe Fits.” Specifically, the CBS procedural drama takes one fairy tale, factors in a killer stiletto (or several), upgrades the carriage and casts Cinderella as the UnSub and her Prince Charmings as her victims.
Meanwhile, JJ must deal with her own feelings about her sister’s suicide when her mother forces her to think about how to tell her son why they can’t visit his aunt.
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That’s One Way to Postpone the “Leave Your Wife” Conversation
A couple is walking their dog and playing fetch with it, the sun is shining. It seems like a nice, normal day. Well, the reality of the situation is that she wants him to leave his wife and threatens to tell her, and he’s not having it. But that all gets shoved aside when he chases after the dog and finds the first victim, with a phone in his mouth.
Douglas was stabbed a dozen times, the car window was smashed, and there wasn’t much blood at the scene, indicating he was killed elsewhere. A search on his phone reveals that he was gay, and just as they’re wondering if they’re looking at a hate crime, a second victim is found, only a mile away from the first. This time, the UnSub smashed every window and punctured the tires. There are bite marks on the phone as well; while Douglas was dead when the phone was jammed in his mouth, the second victim wasn’t so lucky.
Douglas’ partner reveals that no one knew Douglas was gay. He was ashamed and dated women to keep people from suspecting. As for Kevin, he wasn’t gay, but he did film himself having sex with women without their knowledge and send the videos to his friends. The UnSub doesn’t care about sexual orientation; it’s about targeting a sexual behavior that he (or she) sees as deviant.
The M.E. shows Morgan and JJ a common puncture wound in both victims’ necks, and JJ realizes that it’s from a stiletto heel. They’re looking at a female UnSub. Kate gets Kevin’s friend to tell her all about his next conquest by just suggesting that one of the girls could have been underage, making him physically sick. Morgan likes her style, and so I do. Very nice move. Kevin hadn’t sent a photo, but he had been after a townie who was impressed by his car.
By this point, the UnSub has her next victim right where she wants him: tied to her bed. He probably wishes he never approached her or even tried, though I do have to question his willingness to let her tie him to the bed, especially after he sees her room. He realizes his mistake too late — as in, after she talks about wishing on stars and comes out of the bathroom covered in ash. “You take love and beauty and enchantment, and you turn it into something ugly,” she tells him before killing him.
Twisting a Fairy Tale
Originally, the team profiles their UnSub as a female annihilator, a black widow who lures men in with the promise of sex before killing them, with a profound trauma in her past. She sets the alarms on the phones (and the watch in the third victim’s mouth) to midnight to signal a new day and that time is up. The ash symbolizes rebirth.
Well, they’re partially right, and JJ puts the pieces together after looking at the board. It’s a fairy tale gone wrong: young, handsome men with money, high heels, luxury transportation turned to junk and the clock striking 12. She’s an avenging Cinderella, and her victims are the Prince Charmings who don’t live up to her fantasy.
By that time, she already has her sights set on someone meeting her fantasy. She goes to a bar, dressed in a gown from the dry cleaners’ where she works, expecting to dance. A young man, John (played by Matt Cohen, who played young John Winchester on Supernatural, in case you’re wondering why you recognize him and the character name), dances with her, but he seals his fate as her next victim with that wink to his friend. Sure enough, when she refuses to back off, she stops him from driving off with a hit to the forehead and stiletto to the neck to seal the deal. This time, she leaves the murder weapon.
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Reid Plays Prince Charming
The son of her (former) boss, Chris, stops by to see her, and while he’s supposed to be firing her for stealing clothes, he instead offers to drive her to the cemetery to visit her father’s grave. You can just see the light go on over her head that maybe, just maybe, he’s her Prince Charming. The first sign that something’s not right are the vines over her father’s grave. She explains that her father gave her her love of books, read to her every night, and her favorite was — you guessed it — Cinderella. That’s when Chris notices that the grave belongs to a woman who died almost 100 years ago. Claire snaps and throws the vase of flowers on his head.
Meanwhile, the BAU is finally putting together the pieces. The trauma this UnSub suffered manifested itself in this belief of the existence of a perfect man, and when Kate spills coffee on her shirt, she realizes that the dress was a size too big (thanks to a tip from the bartender) because it was from a dry cleaner. Garcia does her magic and gets them Claire’s name. Her father raised her on his own, but when he ran out of money, he left her at a mall with an apology note. She was put in the foster system and lived with a woman and her three biological daughters. Hello, Cinderella. Oh, and that perfect fantasy of her father? Not so much. Her father was convicted of pedophilia, and you only need one guess for one of his victims.
When Hotch and Kate find Claire’s house empty and they find out Chris was stopping by, Garcia traces his phone to the cemetery. Hotch has Reid bring something with him, and Reid pretends to be the Prince Charming to Claire’s Cinderella. He tells her they danced the other night, and she left her shoe behind. She lets him put it on her foot and escort her to her “carriage.” Smart idea on Hotch’s part and a nice job on Reid’s.
JJ’s Mother Forces Her to Think About Her Sister’s Death
JJ’s mother comes to town to visit, and when Henry sees a photo of his mother and her sister Rosaline, Sandy tells him that she’s in a “better place,” something that doesn’t sit well with JJ since now her son wants to go visit his aunt in that “better place.” She and Will have discussed how to handle the subject with Henry (a wise choice since suicide is not an easy topic to address with a child), and the plan is to wait until he was old enough. Sandy thinks she’s just making the same mistakes that she and JJ’s father did. They ignored the warning signs, and maybe if they hadn’t, she would still be with them. When work beckons, Sandy comments, “Avoidance is what this family does best.”
During the case, JJ talks to Reid about the subject, and it all comes back to their case. While Sandy doesn’t think that children should be shielded from the realities of the world, JJ argues that that’s why they read fairy tales, prompting Reid to explain — in detail — how most fairy tales have gruesome origins. (If you’ve never heard those versions before, well, Criminal Minds — and Reid — does a good job of likely ruining the fairy tale for you.) JJ has to admit that this case is the result of the UnSub believing in the fairy tale and not the reality.
In the end, when Henry can’t sleep, JJ chooses to tell him a fairy tale of her own instead of reading one of his books. It’s a story about two sisters who loved each other and lived on a farm and vowed to look up at the sky if they were apart because they knew that they would be looking at the same thing.
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Criminal Minds season 10 airs Wednesdays at 9pm on CBS.
(Image courtesy of CBS)
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.