This episode of Criminal Minds is easily Penelope Garcia’s biggest and Kirsten Vangsness’ best in all 13 seasons. When the drunk driver who killed her parents when she was 18 is up for parole, Garcia heads home to San Francisco and when her stepbrother can’t give his victim impact statement before the board, it’s up to her to do it. But she has a decision to make: does she say what he wants her to or what she knows is right?
Meanwhile, the BAU tries to figure out who’s behind poisonings in the Arlington business community, and as the title, “All You Can Eat,” suggests, the UnSub is adding a little something extra (and fatal) to food and drinks.
Garcia’s Emotional Trip Home
Before she leaves for California, Garcia tells Prentiss that her youngest brother, Carlos, is determined that Jesse Wilson serve his entire sentence. When Emily asks if she’ll be okay, Garcia assures her she’ll be fine and can work the case remotely.
As we learn when Garcia and Carlos get home from the airport, she hasn’t been by to visit all that often. She doesn’t know that a couple down the block moved or about her brother’s business, but he’s glad she’s there now because he really doesn’t want Jesse getting out early. He also thanks her for the flowers on their parents’ grave every year. But she hasn’t been sending them.
Who’s been putting them there, then? That would be Colette, Jesse’s sister, whom Garcia tells never to call again when she reaches out but ends up meeting anywayt. The flowers are from Jesse, Colette reveals. He didn’t mean to kill her parents and he’s sorry for what he did. He chose to drink and drive, Garcia argues, and he changed her life forever.
But he was just a kid, 18 like Penelope was, his sister says and wonders if she ever made a bad decision when she was younger. She wants Garcia to talk to Jesse before passing judgment and hopes she can find it in her heart to forgive him and give him a chance to start his life again. As Garcia points out, her parents won’t ever have that chance.
Then Carlos tells her he needs her to read his statement for him. Their brothers won’t be there because they can’t be in the same room with Jesse and she knows that since she works for the FBI, the parole board will think her word holds more weight. He wonders why their parents were even out late that night, and a flashback earlier in the episode revealed why: they were looking for Garcia.
She then goes to see Jesse in prison and starts by telling him that she’s going to tell the board that he needs to stay in prison for what he did and what he took from her. There’s a hole inside of her that nothing can ever fill. He admits that he’s been sending the flowers out of guilt. He made a stupid mistake, and he feels that he deserves to be where he is for it. He doesn’t want the chance to prove that prison has changed him, but wishes that he could have made a better choice that night. (She does, too.) He knows it won’t bring her parents back or give her any comfort, but he is truly sorry.
At the parole hearing, Garcia begins by detailing what Jesse did, but then says that keeping him behind bars won’t bring her parents back. She focused the rage, pain and guilt she’s had since that night on Jesse and demonized him, but her parents taught them that a big part of love is forgiveness, and she believes that Jesse is sorry for what he did. It’s important that they move on, she says, looking to Carlos, and she asks the board to grant Jesse parole.
Carlos walks out, and Garcia follows him and confesses that their parents were looking for her because she missed her curfew that night. He leaves.
Then, for the first time, Garcia visits her parents’ grave, with her mother’s favorite flowers. She admits that when she saw their note, she knew they were disappointed and she wished that they wouldn’t come home. When they didn’t, it felt like her awful wish made it happen and she was so ashamed. She hopes they’re proud of the way she lives her life, and she says she’ll make things better with Carlos. Then, she sits down (for a picnic) and begins talking to them about everyday stuff.
All You Can — No, Don’t Eat It!
Within 24 hours, two victims, one a loan officer (Serena) and the other a civilian analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency (Clayton), die after spontaneously bleeding out. Though he could’ve been targeted because of his job, that wouldn’t explain her death. The team briefly think the two could have been having an affair and look into her ex-husband and his wife, but that’s quickly ruled out.
Also ruled out? Ebola. The medical examiner finds rat poison in the contents of their stomachs, and while Garcia looks into sales of it, it’s too common to narrow down a buyer. It’s an extremely painful way to die. The UnSub wants his victims to suffer. Each victim is making this sadist more confident, and they know he’ll need to increase his body count.
That’s just what he does, poisoning the food and drink set out for a business league meeting in Arlington. Multiple people drop dead. The UnSub couldn’t have predicted who would consume what he poisoned, so he couldn’t have been targeting anyone. It’s about what they represent, Rossi realizes.
The UnSub’s targeting the Arlington business community and those who symbolize wealth and success. He only cares about his own wants and needs. He’s using food to mask the rat poison, and he may work in the food industry. The antidote needs to be administered immediately after consumption.
Could the UnSub have a new business that failed? Or could he have owned an older business that was pushed out by new ones? Could Serena have turned him down for a loan? How does Clayton fit in?
They better figure out what the UnSub’s up to fast, because he’s upset and begins mixing together another batch of his poison when he comes across a notice for a grand opening.
J.J., Luke and Simmons look into foreclosures in the last six months. There’s one that closed after nearly 30 years of business, the Henshaw’s, a mom-and-pop place. Their son worked there, too, and he felt betrayed when customers started going to newer places. His mother died last year, and two weeks ago, his father suffered a fatal heart attack. Clayton wrote a negative review of Henshaw’s, and it went viral.
Mark’s next target is an all you can eat buffet restaurant that’s where Henshaw’s used to be (and Serena approved the business’ loan). Mark adds his poison to salad dressings and begins spraying it on the food, but the BAU gets there in time to stop him.
Do you think Garcia made the right call about Jesse? What was more disturbing, the state of the BAU’s refrigerator or what the UnSub did to his victims?
Criminal Minds season 13 airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Criminal Minds Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of CBS)