Reid’s in prison because he made a choice, and in this Criminal Minds episode, he makes another choice that affects those in prison with him.
Elsewhere in “Hell’s Kitchen,” with Rossi staying behind and visiting Reid and Tara giving expert testimony, Prentiss, J.J., Luke and Stephen are the only members of the team to travel to New York to hopefully find a teenage girl before she ends up like the victims of cold cases.
The Helplessness of Prison
Two weeks after Luis’ death, Reid’s not doing well and not sleeping, according to Stephen after a visit. Rossi hasn’t been to see him yet, “because I’m no good to him,” the agent tells Prentiss. “I even drove out there and couldn’t go in. Knowing I can’t get him out drives me insane.” But once he hears Reid has been asking for him, Rossi’s out of his office and in his car immediately.
Therapy’s no help, Reid tells Rossi. “No one in here is honest,” he explains. “Not a single person can admit that they’re terrified.” Rossi suggests they’re just numb to it, and Reid never will be because he’s a good person. But, “there’s a helplessness in here that causes people to do things they would never consider,” Reid says before the alarm sounds for lockdown and he has to return to his cell.
Reid overhears Wilkins telling Shaw about a tip about a delivery, and while he thinks he won’t have to worry about Frazier’s stash, especially with Shaw correcting him, the former FBI agent corrects him of that belief. Luis was killed because Shaw was protecting Reid, but there’s only so far he can go.
Another inmate, Malcolm, is brought in to join Reid on laundry duty, and he tells Reid that he knew Malcolm on the outside. Frazier trusts him because Malcolm won’t test his stash. But when Reid brings up Malcolm to Shaw, Shaw claims to have never met him. And when Reid refuses to move the drugs, Calvin warns him that they’ll beat him, maybe even kill him. But Reid’s not worried because Shaw put Malcolm in there. “I think you’re the one who pulls the strings in here,” he explains. “You decide when to help, you decide when to look away, and you have a lot of friends and they’re afraid of you so they play your little game. Like you said, they don’t fight it.”
With Reid’s thoughts of starting to think like the inmates and survive like them and Rossi’s words that he’s a good person swirling around in his head, Reid takes advantage of being alone with laundry soap and the drugs. But later, he finds Malcolm on the ground. They made him try the drugs. And after Wilkins brings Reid back to his cell, Shaw calls the guard over. He too is sick — and he’s not the only one in the cell block.
Not at All a Happy Birthday
Katie celebrates her 16th birthday with a candle, talks about her birthday plans and family and a chance to make a wish. That sounds nice and all, but this all happens with the UnSub. He asks if she think his family is still angry that she lied to them. She hopes not.
Katie went missing five days before the BAU gets the case, after never showing up to meet her friends. The last image they have of her shows her getting out of a cab and realizing she left her phone inside but being too late to stop the car. The victimology matches two cold cases, two girls who look like her abducted within a five-block radius. The UnSub holds onto his victims for a week and takes a few liters of their blood before killing them. If this is the same guy, they have a chance to save her.
The UnSub makes a cursory attempt to clean his victims’ bodies, a sign of remorse, and leaves them face up, hands folded, almost angelic. They showed signs of injuries consistent with a fall and were found around sunrise.
The UnSub sits in his van in the corner of a parking lot, keeping a record of how long he holds his hand out into the sunlight. Seven seconds and no burning. Keep drinking, and he’ll get better, he says before drinking from a thermos. He then goes through a hatch in the bottom of his van through a manhole down to the sewers and brings Katie vitamin C to keep her energy up.
After he switches out the bag hooked up to her IV, he reminds her she hasn’t asked today’s yes/no question. Does he leave because he has a job? Yes, the same one since he was 18. He then shares a story about seeing a coroner loading a body into his van. The woman had been dead a couple of weeks, and no one knew. By the time the coroner entered her apartment, the windows were covered with flies. One dead woman made 100,000 flies. “Crazy, right?” the UnSub comments.
Katie’s mother, Liz, notes that J.J. didn’t ask how she’s doing but wrongly assumes it’s because she’s seen so many cases she knows the answer. “It’s not fair that I ask that question,” J.J. explains. Liz just wants quiet even though her house is full of people, which reminds her of her father’s death and realizing her mother and her friends were all widows. “There’s no word for a mom who loses a child,” Liz points out. “Or for a little girl who loses her world.” Katie’s sister even asked if she’d still be a sister if they don’t find her. She’ll always be a sister, J.J. tells her.
It turns out there are more victims; the NYPD just wrote off evidence since they were addicts. There are at least two dozen in the last decade, some never found, and the ones who were found were held for an average of six days.
While the UnSub works his job as the parking lot attendant, Katie manages to find her way to the ladder and climb up, calling for help. But no one hears her. When he returns to her, she begs him to let her go, even promising not to tell anyone about him, but he tells her he can’t. If she listens, she can hear everything, he tells her. The horses going back into the stables. The buzzing of the cell phone towers. Everyone and everything. But the scary thing is they can’t hear her. He even demonstrates this by yelling. And when he’s alone, he can hear the souls of the city, the ones there before any of them.
Was she afraid of the dark when she was a kid? That’s because they say nothing can hurt you when there’s light, he explains, but not for him. That’s what always brought him pain.
Finding an Escape
The number of victims who went missing from Hell’s Kitchen makes the team think that’s his comfort zone, so is it possible Katie went there after she got out of the cab? Yes, it is, because that’s where her father, Bob, lives. She’s been going to see him twice a week, when her mother wouldn’t know so she couldn’t grill her about her time with him. He didn’t know she was going to stop by the night she was taken, he insists, but Liz still blames him and thinks he made her a target, pointing out how many people who could have seen her on the trains and on her way to his place.
The UnSub asks Katie why her parents get divorced. She doesn’t know. They fought a lot and stopped being happy. Why is he the way he is? What he has is so rare it takes two people with a genetic screw loose to find one another, he shares. What god would want to make such a colossal mistake? She may tell him he’s not a mistake, but his mother thought he was and his father “wasn’t happy,” as she’d say. His uncle was the one to raise him, and while everyone said he changed when he got back from Vietnam, he was good to him. They needed each other, and the UnSub doesn’t know what would have happened if not for him.
When she tells him she doesn’t believe in fate — though he does, given the circumstances that brought them together — she proposes he let her try and find a way out and if she can’t, she’ll change her mind. He lets her do just that, and she runs.
Noting that the healthier victims were missing more blood, the team wonders if the UnSub has a blood disease that benefits from transfusions every five months. Garcia’s search comes up empty. J.J. suggests XP, Xeroderma pigmentosum, a blood disease where people burn when exposed to light, since the UnSub is showing signs of avoiding light; they found his van on street cameras near the abduction and dump sites and the windows are all blacked out.
They find Katie walking by a cash-only parking lot, whose owner died in 2007, but with taxes still being paid, he had to leave it to someone. The van is parked in the corner, and upon finding the hatch, Stephen and J.J. go down into the sewers. Katie runs into J.J. who brings her to safety, but the UnSub knocks Stephen out from behind.
Stephen’s disoriented when he comes to, but he finds and shoots the UnSub. At least he won’t be 100,000 flies, the UnSub muses before dying.
Do you think Reid is right about Shaw? What did you think of the UnSub?
Criminal Minds season 12 airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Criminal Minds Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of CBS)