What do handwritten death threats, arsenic poisoning and Greek mythology have in common? The UnSub in this week’s episode of Criminal Minds, “Fatal,” which sees the BAU travel to Long Beach, California to try to figure out what makes this UnSub tick – and how he’s choosing his seemingly random victims.
Meanwhile, Hotch struggles with the idea of talking to Jack’s class about being an FBI agent, and worries about the memories it could dredge up for his son regarding his mother’s death, even though they talk about it, which, hey, continuity! After all, Jack was in the room with Foyet and had to hide to keep from being his next victim. Thank you for not forgetting about that.
I feel like now is a good time to mention how much I love callbacks and mentions of previous cases, and we get just that as the team learns about the case in the roundtable room. So far, they have two victims who have been found dead from arsenic poisoning after receiving notes reading, “You have less than a day to live. There is no way to prevent the inevitable.” One guy even forces the police to hold him overnight by throwing a garbage can, but he still ends up dead. Really, that guy’s concerns about his life being in danger are so much more important than the woman who assaulted a guy who paid for two lap dances with postage stamps. But back to my point. Reid brings up the UnSub who used those missing posters back in “About Face” in season 3, with this week’s UnSub sending warning letters. Nice touch.
A Greek Obsession
Before the BAU has even arrived in Long Beach, the UnSub has killed a third victim, after going into his shop and exchanging his muffler. This time, however, he leaves a piece of twine on his body. Once at the crime scene, Blake notices a pinhole in the water cooler, and a test confirms that’s how he was poisoned. As for the other two victims, the UnSub slipped arsenic into the guy’s drink and poisoned the woman’s chocolates. This UnSub is ballsy and interacts with his victims.
This is when we get a look at the UnSub’s Bon Voyage party (and learn his name – Bill), as he’s retiring and leaving for Greece, a trip he almost made 20 years ago, only to miss the shuttle van because his boss, Wick, had gotten him too drunk the night before. Don’t you hate it when you miss a trip to Greece (with presumably a non-refundable ticket) because you’ve been out drinking? After his party, he goes home to his place dedicated to all things Greek and after raging a bit, hears voices and then takes out twine, scissors and measuring tape and gets to work. (Side note: Anyone else think of Teen Wolf’s Lydia hearing voices just a bit?)
A woman arrives home from work and finds an envelope waiting at her door, but when she calls 911, she just thinks she’s filing a complaint against some neighborhood kids. Oh, is she wrong. The officer who answers at the police station immediately flags down Rossi, who tells her to check her doors and windows, and this woman reacts exactly like she should in this situation, checking everything, panicking and arming herself. But it’s too late for the police heading her way, because Bill is in her house and this time, he uses the twine to strangle her.
[Video] Criminal Minds Sneak Peek: Deadly Letters and Telling Twine>>>
Reid’s Mind at Work Is a Beautiful, Beautiful Thing
Reid realizes the significance of the twine: the lengths, in centimeters, are the exact ages of the victims. This all goes back to Greek mythology, according to which, a person’s destiny is in the hands of the three Fates. He’s deciding the fates of his victims. Since he can’t control his own fate, he’s controlling others’.
Garcia is able to figure out that the latest victim may have lived outside of the geo-zone, but she did buy a double soy latte in the middle of the UnSub’s hunting grounds, so Blake and Reid pay the coffee shop a visit and find all four victims standing in line – but there’s a fifth person, and Bill has his eye on her. Fortunately (maybe?) for her, Wick stops by to pick up the key he forgot to turn in and reveals that he purposefully got Bill drunk all those years ago because he was going to go halfway across the world with no prospects. Now, he can do Greece in style. Oh, hello, Bill’s next victim.
The BAU doesn’t know this, so the team is still working to ID the fifth person in line, and that’s where Reid’s impressive self comes in. While Rossi suggests that perhaps the UnSub received bad news – a terminal illness? He was thrown a curveball, so now he’s throwing one back? – Reid and Morgan realize that the UnSub saw his victims from the parking lot of the coffee shop and took down their license plates when they left. Reid decides to sit down and watch all five weeks of video footage from the coffee shop in an attempt to ID the other person in line, and don’t worry, he has time. After all, he read War and Peace in the original Russian for breakfast. Oh, I love when other people are amazed with Reid. Also, I just love watching Reid’s mind work. I don’t think I’ve ever hidden that fact. He successfully finds the woman, and she’s wearing hospital scrubs with a name tag, while the rest of the team checks out Bill’s apartment after Garcia does her own magic and IDs the UnSub.
The UnSub’s Final (and New) Victim
With the fifth victim IDed, it’s a rush to save her, just as she has a pizza delivered and doesn’t hear her phone because it’s on vibrate in her bag. (Come on, people, leave your phone’s ringer on. You never know when the FBI could be calling you because you’re a potential victim of a serial killer.) The police and FBI arrive and take over her house, but while she does have a death note in her mailbox, there’s no arsenic anywhere. Bill has found a more important target.
That would be Wick, who has brought him a drink to “return the favor” from 20 years ago. Garcia gives the team the rundown on Bill, and it’s a sad story. He’s been diagnosed with cancer, and it’s possible he got it working at the shipyard. However, that’s not all. He was part of a massive police search and rescue at the age of 6.
Meanwhile, Wick’s drinking away and congratulating Bill on going to live his dream while he’ll be working on the docks for the rest of his life. If Bill has his way, that sentence would be true. Bill then tells Wick all about what happened to him when he was 6. He was camping with a friend, and when it started snowing, they separated to find a way back for help. He survived, but his friend did not, and people blamed him for splitting up. His first grade teacher brought him a kids book on Greek mythology in the hospital, and inside was a picture of the Labyrinth, and it reminded him of the forest where they’d gotten lost. He sees himself like Theseus because he escaped and thinks it’s all fate.
Bill confesses everything to Wick: his diagnosis, seeing the people happy in the coffee shop after he found out he only had a few months to live and the poison in his drink. But when Morgan and JJ find him, they have news for him that changes everything: the shuttle 20 years ago crashed. Wick kept him alive by keeping him from going on that trip. Bill should be thanking him, not slipping arsenic into his drink!
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The Next Generation of Profilers
In the end, Hotch decides to go ahead with Jack’s career day, and his class gets a tour of the BAU, and to be part of their own investigation: who stole the stapler. Hotch breaks it down and explains how he identified the culprit, and while Garcia leads the others to see her office (a.k.a. the bat cave), one girl stays behind and profiles their teacher: She likes Hotch. Awk-ward. That teacher can’t get out of the room fast enough. As for Hotch, he’s a success, and you have to feel bad for the other parents because it’s going to be pretty hard to beat this.
All in all, this is an enjoyable, normal – as much as a Criminal Minds episode can be “normal” – hour of television for this show.
Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays at 9pm on CBS.
(Image courtesy of CBS)