Not every vigilante dresses up in green and carries arrows, as Criminal Minds‘ “Protection” shows. Also, not every vigilante does what he sets out to do: protect the city.

Maybe I’ve been watching this show and ones like it for too long, but this episode is all too predictable, from start to finish. (Though I blame the ending being predictable on the information put out about the season finale more so than the fact that I knew this is where the season was going for some time now.)

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Is There an Eyewitness?

As “Protection” begins, Danny hides from the cops and comes home, blood on his face, and those waiting for him, Milena and Patricia, are only concerned about what happened to him, not what he did. It is the first sign, (and really only), I need to know that they’re not real. The second comes in the form of his headaches and the insistence from Milena that the right thing to do is always the hardest and he’s doing the right thing. He misses his mother, and even before the opening credits, there’s all the information needed to figure out exactly what’s going on. His mother was killed in some sort of violent crime, Patricia and Milena are somehow involved and he’s suffering from a mental disorder.

The BAU gets the case after three murders in three days. First, Gary, was found alone by his car, and then Nate was found in his car with Tasha, a prostitute. All three victims were shot multiple times (it’s overkill with a handgun), and nothing was taken. In the case of Gary, it’s possible he too was with a hooker given the neighborhood, and she got away.

Once the team gets to L.A., Morgan and Rossi talk to “Sweetness,” Tasha’s pimp, who tries really hard to sell them that he just works at a car wash, until they bring his mother into it. Then he talks. He didn’t know Tasha was even dead, but he does point them in the right direction of the hookers who work the area where Gary was found.

JJ and Kate talk to Lizette, and while she tries to pretend like she doesn’t recognize Gary, they know she’s lying. JJ gives her a ride home and gets her to talk about her son and about what happened that night. Lizette was with Gary, but when they moved to the backseat of his car, someone smashed the window, pulled him out, kicked him and yelled at him to stay out of his city. When the stranger started shooting, she ran. All she remembers is that he was white and was wearing a hoodie.

He’s Spiraling, and It’s Obvious

Danny keeps drinking at home to help the headaches. Milena helps to explain this to her mother and they continue to express their concern about Danny getting hurt. They then make him promise to be careful when he goes out. Then Danny comes across what he sees to be a mugging and starts shooting. Both the mugger and victim go down, and when he sees that the victim too is dead, (she died of a heart attack as the BAU learns later), he kicks the mugger and tells him it’s his fault and “you’re just like him.”

After they find this crime scene, the team is ready to give their profile. They’re looking for a white male in his 20s. He sees himself as a moral enforcer, a vigilante of sorts. He’s mission-oriented and believes it’s his mission to clean up the streets. He goes out on nightly patrols. He is a victim of a violent crime himself, and as his confidence grows with every kill, so does his believe in his cause. Statistics don’t support this ending well, and he won’t go down easily. His zeal may be connected to a deep mistrust of law enforcement.

Back with Danny, Patricia and Milena continue to help him out and we get a bit more information about why he’s doing this. His mother was their landlady, and Patricia’s ex is responsible for her murder. Danny gets so angry that he blames Patricia. After she storms out, Milena helps him clean up the place and insists that it shouldn’t have been him because then no one would be there to protect them. His mother would be proud of what he’s doing because the cops don’t care.

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When Garcia reports that the “mugging” was likely not a mugging, (the accused  had been a bad kid, but had cleaned up his act and the victim was his high school teacher), it becomes clear that the UnSub jumped to conclusions.

And so, when Danny goes out again and seemingly stops a woman from being raped, my first thought is to second guess what he’s seeing, which is the right move. He thinks he’s shooting a would-be rapist and saving a woman (and hearing her tell him to kill the guy), but he really kills a boyfriend who was just kissing his girlfriend, Lindsey, in an alley. While Lindsey may have been on drugs, she got a good enough look at the UnSub to sit down with a sketch artist and she does a pretty good job.

Who Is the UnSub?

With the latest kill, the team realizes that the UnSub is losing his grip on reality, likely because he’s suffering a psychotic break. Perhaps he’s a paranoid schizophrenic. He’s seeing trouble wherever he looks and his delusions are driving him.

That’s exactly what happens when he arrives home bloody, a cop comes up behind him, he shoots him, and Patricia yells at him for killing the mailman. He needs to take his meds, she says, and threatens that she’ll call the police if he won’t.

Garcia manages to narrow down the search from tens of thousands of people who were victims of violent crimes in L.A. in the last five years to their UnSub with a variety of search terms: Danny Stokes, whose mother was killed in a burglary. He was diagnosed with severe paranoid schizophrenia three years ago. Milena and Patricia, who lived in his building, disappeared two weeks ago. Yep, they’re dead. As for the man who killed his mother, Patricia’s ex, David, he’s in custody in San Diego.

When Morgan, JJ and Reid arrive at Danny’s house, he’s closed himself in a room upstairs and shoots at the door whenever they try to enter, warning them he has hostages. Reid doesn’t hear anyone talking, which all but confirms that the mother and daughter are dead. Morgan tells him they have his mother’s killer in custody and JJ tries to appeal to the part of him that wants to protect Patricia and Milena, all while he continues to see them, begging him to give up and telling him it’s not his fault. When he lets them in the room, he’s the only one there, and Patricia and Milena’s bodies are found buried in the front yard.

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If Something Doesn’t Seem Right…

When the team gets back to the office, Garcia has some bad news for them: case assessments that need to get done ASAP. So Kate texts Meg that she’s back, but stuck at work, and Meg, well, Meg’s out with her best friend, going to meet Bobby and his presumably hot friends, to go to a concert. Everything about this situation screams BAD IDEA, and it just gets worse when “Bobby” texts that he’s stuck at work and his mother is going to pick up the girls and drive them. His mother. Really? I can’t quite believe that they buy that.

“At least now you can stop worrying that he’s some kind of pedophile,” Markayla says to Meg. “She probably drives a minivan.” A couple of points about that: I’m glad that Meg has apparently been worried about meeting this guy, since I didn’t get that impression before, and Markayla pretty much just sealed their fate. A minivan does pull up, and “Bobby’s” “mother” introduces herself as “Paige.” Meg hesitates before getting in the minivan, but does join her friend. Oh, Meg. You were almost smart.

Criminal Minds season 10 airs Wednesdays at 9pm on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Meredith Jacobs

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.