After a showdown with Mr. Scratch, the BAU has a lot of work to do to get back to any sort of normal. And in “To A Better Place,” the team comes back from their six weeks leave ready to take on a new case. They work with new team member, Matt Simmons, to track down a killer who is leaving young woman folded up in suitcases.
The Team Gets Back To It
The episode begins with two bicyclists who have been sidelined by a flat tire. They hear a buzzing sound and follow a swarm of flies to find a dead body folded up in a suitcase. Cut to Reid, who is in a shooting simulation, testing to be reinstated back in the FBI. He meets in a final session with a therapist, which was mandated in addition to the six weeks leave the rest of the team received. The therapist informs him that the review board has decided to reinstate him, but there’s a condition.
At the BAU, Emily and Tara discuss their “vacation.” Agent Simmons has been working on cases while the rest of the team was away. Prentiss gets a call that they have a new case. Garcia informs the team that the girl in the suitcase was found in Florida. Her apartment was found ready for a fancy dinner, she was killed and then moved to the dump location. Two weeks prior to finding this victim, another victim was found in an old suitcase, but she was unidentified. The team leaves to fly to Florida. Meanwhile, we see that another suitcase is left at a bus stop.
On the plane, the team discusses the victimology of the second woman found, Ann Baker. They postulate why she had a fancy dinner set up for two, but didn’t have a significant other. Garcia informs everyone of a third victim found at the bus stop.
Reid and Prentiss go to the police station and Reid reveals the condition of his reinstatement. After every 100 days on the job, he has to take 30 days off. Prentiss already knew about this; she was consulted about her opinion prior to the board making their decision. She has arranged him to teach seminars during his 30 days off and insists she’s confident in Reid’s abilities.
Luke comes in and reveals blood was found on the suitcase. It might belong to the unsub. A man with a bandaged hand is getting coffee in a coffee shop. One of the baristas encourages another to make a move on the guy because he’s clearly been coming in on his day off to see her.
The team discovers that the unsub brings the lipstick with him. Both of the victims had no significant other but used dating apps. They realize that the unsub is gravitating towards those in need and discuss a methodology similar to Ted Bundy. They also find out that the lipstick, called “Midnight Surprise,” is nearly 30 years old. With the old lipstick and old suitcase, the team theorizes that the unsub is hung up on the past when he was left by someone.
The guy from the coffee shop goes home to his sick grandmother. We find out that his mother left him when he was a kid. He tells his grandmother about the girl from the coffee shop, but when she says that Helen is “just like all the others,” he freaks out, throwing a can of oxygen. It is then revealed that his grandmother isn’t really there.
Tara is trying to find any overlap between the victims. Simmons hypothesizes that they’re connected by death, loss, and medical professions since one woman was a nurse and the other was seeking help for depression after the death of a friend.
We flashback to the unsub talking to his grandmother. He has a drawer filled with pictures of girls with their lips all colored in red marker. He says his grandmother was right about Helen.
The team delivers the profile. They mention that the victims come to the unsub and that he has what they call the “Florence Nightingale effect.” He has abandonment issues and due to a recent trauma, is unable to separate his normal life from his homicidal tendencies. The unsub (the guy from the coffee shop) is watching Helen. He has a suitcase in the car and hears his grandmother’s voice. He’s losing it. He goes to the beach and is watching young women, but leaves when he sees a young boy with his mother. He stalks a businesswoman walking by and attacks her as she walks into her home. After killing her, he puts lipstick on her and lies down next to her, crying.
The Connection Is Edith
Meanwhile, the team finds out the identity of the first victim, a woman named Patty Dunlap from Philly. Rossi and J.J. find the latest victim, the businesswoman, and discover that she had been assaulted and redressed. The same lipstick was used, but other than that, the details are all over the place.
The unsub returns to his grandmother defying her saying that he’s going to meet Helen from the coffee shop. He flashes back to his mother leaving and his drunk grandmother yelling at her.
Simmons and Tara go the first victim’s house. She lived alone, had limited friends and family, but they discover a ton of kitchenware in her house. Garcia discovers that Patty was running an under-the-table catering service from her home.
The unsub returns to the coffee shop, telling Helen that he quit working there, but he would like to take her out. Helen agrees to a date for later that night.
In discussing the change in pattern, Reid thinks that the unsub might actually be in love with his ultimate target and is doing everything he can to avoid killing her, therefore, directing his impulses someplace else.
Helen and the unsub meet for a date. He asks to visit his grandmother first to introduce her. Garcia informs the team that the connection between the victims is a woman named Edith (the unsub’s grandmother). The first victim, Patty, catered for Edith’s memorial. Garcia tells the team about William aka Billy, Edith’s grandson who has a lot of issues. The murders started right after Edith’s death says Garcia.
The team, hot on Billy’s trail, go to the coffee shop and his home, but don’t find him there. The other barista tells Simmons and Tara about the date. Reid tells Rossi that he doesn’t believe that Billy’s mom was the type to abandon him. He contacted an old friend of hers, but she wouldn’t talk, so Rossi decides to pay her a visit.
After striking out on finding Billy, Luke and J.J. send Reid to the grandmother’s house. On his way, Reid finds out from Rossi that the friend was planning on living with Billy’s mom. His mom had sent belongings, including Billy’s red toy tow-truck. Reid arrives at the house and busts in as Billy holds a knife to Helen’s throat.
Reid says he knows something about Billy’s mom and tells him about her friend and the toy truck. Billy remembers that his grandmother killed his mother with a liquor bottle as she was trying to take Billy and leave. Eventually, Reid talks Billy down and Helen is saved.
Back on the plane, we find out that Billy’s mom was buried in the grandmother’s backyard. The team enjoys a drink after their first case back on the job and Luke praises Reid for his work. Reid says things have changed, but some of them are good. After all the chaos with Mr. Scratch, it seems like the team is back in their regular groove.
Criminal Minds season 13 airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Criminal Minds Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of CBS)