Criminal Minds: Episode 10
Time is our enemy today as our team rushes to rescue the kidnapped children. Lives are always at stake in their line of work, but when the victims are so small, it tears at their hearts (and ours) just a little more. But fear is a surmountable obstacle, and even the youngest of hearts can find the courage to look monsters in the eye and spit at them.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
At NCI headquarters, Ki-hyung questions the mother and son who suffered an attempted kidnapping. The mom describes being out shopping when she was distracted by a woman searching for her lost child—the same tactic used to kidnap Yuna. With police help, the mom searched desperately for her son, calling his name, when a car suddenly stopped in front of her and her son was tossed out.
The mom didn’t see the kidnapper’s face, but recalls the female accomplice was young, likely in her thirties. Hyun-joon questions the little boy, who reveals the getaway driver wasn’t an ajusshi, and that gets everyone’s attention. Ki-hyung shows the boy a series of police sketches, and the boy picks out the drawing of Jin-woo, the now-teenager who was kidnapped eight years ago.
The team discusses the possible reasons for Jin-woo being the kidnappers’ accomplice: He may be suffering from Stockholm syndrome, where he feels a bond with his captors, or the attackers may have the opposite Lima syndrome, feeling sympathy for their hostages. Either way, they conclude that Jin-woo is traumatized by the duality of being both a victim and a perpetrator.
A flashback shows Jin-woo taking the boy and driving off, but the boy’s tears combined with the mother’s distress made him hesitate. Unbelting the boy, he tipped him out of the car and urged him to run away.
In the present, Jin-woo tries to protect the children, but the male kidnapper drags him away, while the woman turns on the sobbing kids.
Ki-hyung surmises that Jin-woo hopes to save the other children, and stays in line to protect them. They can’t find a common link between the victims and perps, but Ki-hyung is sure they’re missing something.
Their meeting is curtailed by the arrival of the kidnapped children’s parents. Somehow the news has leaked to them that Jin-woo is an apparent accomplice, inciting one parent to attack Jin-woo’s mom. Hyun-joon arrives in time to block the angry man, and Ki-hyung tells them fiercely that Jin-woo’s mom is the reason their case was ever brought to light. He adds that if they won’t cooperate, they can leave.
Afterwards, Min-young comforts Jin-woo’s mom, telling her not to blame herself. She reassures her that Jin-woo must be doing everything he can to return to her. Breaking into tears, Jin-woo’s mom confesses that she’s just so happy that her son is alive.
Han and Nana discover something in the surveillance footage and rush to show Ki-hyung. They point out a distinctive logo on the kidnappers’ van, and realize that that’s what Yuna was smiling at. It says “Animal Welfare Alliance,” and Hyun-joon looks up photos showing Yuna with stuffed animals.
They show Yuna’s mom a picture of the Alliance’s director. She recognizes the man from an event they took Yuna to, and says he doted on her. Min-young finds out that the victims’ families had nearly all attended such events, providing their missing link.
Hyun-joon and Sun-woo investigate the Alliance director at their offices. Remaining behind, Min-young asks Ki-hyung why he’s troubled. He wonders aloud why the children were taken from public places when it would have been easier to take them secretly.
Min-young’s press conference about Yuna’s kidnapping is on TV at the Alliance office, and the director grows thoughtful watching it. The board indicates that a certain Jang Jin-hwan is away on a business trip, and director grows disturbed to find Jang’s desk drawer full of photos of Yuna and other children.
He gets on the phone immediately, and doesn’t see a gloved figure approach from behind, a heavy object in hand.
The assailant gets away in the same silver van, well before Hyun-joon and Sun-woo arrive. As the NCI search the premises, Hyun-joon opens the door to a seemingly empty room, but he’s horrified to find a pool of blood around his feet. Hidden behind the door, he discovers the director’s body.
Sun-woo orders a full list of the company’s employees, and shows Hyun-joon a framed photo she found on one desk—Jang Jin-hwan’s. She thinks it’s their suspect, pointing out how he fits the profile. They also recall that Min-young said he would be a hoarder, and note the assortment of junk covering his desk.
Back at HQ, Ki-hyung orders Jang’s records, and they discover he has a younger sister. But the siblings have different surnames, having been both adopted as children and the girl, Lee Sang-hee, changed her name back. A glimpse of the past shows us how both children were violently abused by their adoptive parents.
Hyun-joon and Sun-woo visit Jang’s registered address. They find out from the security guard that Jang only goes there to collect his mail, but appears to actually live elsewhere.
At headquarters, Nana uncovers extensive records of the continuous abuse suffered by the siblings, and one occasion where they were abandoned at an amusement park. It’s clear to them that the siblings are playing out their own experiences of abuse and abandonment on the kidnapped children.
In the dank basement where the children are being held, the female kidnapper—Lee Sang-hee—hums her song while she and her brother tie gags onto each child. Yuna shrinks away in fear.
Nana also finds a strange complaint Lee made to a clinic after getting an abortion. Han recognizes them as lyrics to a song—the song— “Why Did You Come to my House,” and Ki-hyung guesses it must be what her adoptive mother sang every time she abused them. It becomes an easy leap to then deduce that the present kidnapped children must be being held in the same place these two were abused as children.
The woman kidnapper, Lee Sang-hee, descends on a sobbing Yuna with a syringe, but one of the other boys knocks her away at the last moment. Jang Jin-hwan, the male kidnapper, seizes the boy and hauls him away.
Nana passes on the address of the adoptive parents’ house to the field team, Hyun-joon and Sun-woo. Sun-woo speculates that the pair must have killed the adoptive parents.
Dressed formally, the kidnappers hold a funeral as Jang buries a small urn under a rose bush, while Lee sings her creepy lullaby as a dirge. Oh no, is that the boy who tried to help Yuna?
Sun-woo and Hyun-joon reach the address, but no one answers the doorbell, so Hyun-joon leaps the wall. But as soon as they enter the house, they’re met by Jang. Hyun-joon shows his badge and they come in to investigate. They immediately find a large collection of framed photos of children.
Jang remains unflapped, and Hyun-joon wonders why someone with the Animal Welfare Alliance would have no pets whatsoever. Sun-woo asks where the children are, and Jang tells them that they’re out with their mom.
Suddenly, Jang dives for his toolbox. But Hyun-joon is faster to the draw and Jang finds a gun pointed at him. Jang lowers his makeshift weapon, and Sun-woo asks him again where the children are. With a nervous laugh, Jang just asks if they have a warrant.
Meanwhile, female kidnapper Lee Sang-hee has the kids packed into a car with Jin-woo driving. Their sobbing just agitates her further, especially Yuna’s, and she silences the girl with an injection. Wait, aren’t those lethal? She threatens Jin-woo next, and orders him to drive faster. Jin-woo asks what happened to Hee-jae, the boy who tried to save Yuna earlier, and Lee says darkly, “I sent him along first.”
The rest of the NCI convoy arrives at the kidnappers’ house, and Jang is brought out in handcuffs. They search the grounds with a sniffer dog, who barks wildly at the rose bush. Jang closes his eyes in defeat as Han discovers a marker that says “Hee-jae.”
In mounting horror, they uncover more and more such markers under the flowerbeds. Ki-hyung bolts inside, seeking Jang, and his guards realize he’s been in the bathroom too long.
Ki-hyung finally manages to force the bathroom door open, but it’s too late: They find Jang dead in the tub, half-submerged in bloody water.
Hyun-joon, meanwhile, searches the kitchen and notices an oddly positioned dresser. He drags it away from the wall to reveal a hidden door. He calls the rest of the team and they head down together, guns at the ready.
In the basement, they all make gruesome discoveries. Ki-hyung finds bloodstains low on the wall, while Han discovers the mirror-room and a single, blood-streaked shoe.
Min-young finds a thick stack of polaroids of what must be every child abducted, and Hyun-joon finds an even creepier display of photos that show each child grotesquely dolled up in makeup and formalwear.
Silently, they emerge from the basement, and Sun-woo reports that they found a security camera over the gate which showed Lee Sang-hee escaping with the children. Just then, Nana calls in with the information that Lee used to run an animal funeral home, which is where the NCI convoy heads next.
The sound of sirens reaches Lee in her car, and she screams at Jin-woo to drive faster and threatens the children more. They finally reach the funeral home and she bundles the tied-up children into a corner, while Jin-woo carries Yuna’s body in his arms. Lee packs her into a makeshift coffin and turns on the incinerator.
At her back, Jin-woo watches her check on Yuna and the incinerator. He thinks back to a time he tried to creep up on her with one of her deadly syringes, but she had caught him, and he had collapsed in terror.
Now, he musters his courage again and seizes another syringe from her bag, which she had tossed carelessly aside earlier.
While Lee fusses over Yuna’s body, Jin-woo plunges the needle into her back. She turns on him with blazing eyes, and he falls back in fear, just as he did in the past. But with one last howl, she collapses, just as the NCI team bursts in.
Hyun-joon runs to Jin-woo first, while Sun-woo discovers with relief that Yuna is alive, though unconscious. Jin-woo unties the other children and gathers them into a hug, everyone sobbing.
Back at headquarters, Min-young assuages Jin-woo’s mom’s fear that her son won’t recognize her, saying that he must feel exactly as his mom does.
She takes her to rejoin the other parents waiting for their children’s safe return, and one of the moms cries in fear for her son, Hee-jae, whom she’s heard no word of. Oh no, poor mom.
One by one, each child arrives, and they’re met by their parents in tearful reunions. Oof, there’s something in my eye. Yuna, still in her frilly frock and smeared lipstick, comes nearly last, hand in hand with the older girl who specially looked after her.
But last of all is Jin-woo, and he approaches his mom slowly, crying more with every step. She asks uncertainly if he recognizes her. He nods and throws his arms around her, sobbing. Only Hee-jae’s parents are left alone. Oh my god, isn’t someone going to tell them??
The older girl approaches Hee-jae’s parents and gives them a toy. She tells them Jin-woo brought it back with him because Hee-jae treasured it so much. Crying, Jin-woo tells Hee-jae’s mom that her son had tried to save Yuna… but he can’t finish and his voice trails off.
The parents are devastated, and in voiceover, Ki-hyung quotes Nietzsche: “Hope, in reality, is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs the torture of man.”
Later, Jin-woo sees a therapist with his mom and Ki-hyung meets him afterwards. He says he’s come for a favor, and asks Jin-woo if he’ll come with him to return the deceased children to their bereaved parents.
Before they do, they sit down with an artist who renders sketches of each child based on the polaroids and Jin-woo’s descriptions.
Describing Hee-jae, he says, “When he smiled, his eyes became like half-moons.” He adds that Hee-jae used to get mad when anyone touched his toy—his mom had gotten it for him and he was afraid to lose it.
Hee-jae’s funeral is held, and the whole team attends.
Some time later, Hyun-joon calls Sun-woo out to meet him on her day off. It’s for a playdate with little Han-byul, since they’d agreed to take turns looking after him, and they spend the day eating pizza and playing at a kids’ cafe, like a happy family.
After they drop Han-byul off at home that night, they share a drink with Ki-hyung, since they have something to tell him.
To their surprise, he already knows it’s about Reaper, and Hye-won’s earring being found on Go Young-man’s body (in Episode 7). Hyun-joon asks why he didn’t tell them he knew, and Ki-hyung turns the question around on him—why didn’t Hyun-joon tell him?
He tells the two of them not to get involved, as he doesn’t want to put the team into danger. “This is something I have to solve myself,” he says.
As Hyun-joon works late into the night, Ki-hyung’s words trouble him. He had asked if they didn’t trust him, and had told them, “I have a plan. Until then, don’t say anything to the team.”
Elsewhere, a couple hosts their friends for dinner, laughing and reminiscing together. They’re unaware of a hooded man watching them from outside, who whimpers to himself, “No, I can’t do it. I don’t want to.” But another voice growls at him to get inside now. As the hosts see their guests off, the hooded man slips into the house through the back door.
When the couple comes back in, they notice the back door open. They figure they must have left it open by accident earlier, and neither sees the hooded man already in the house.
As the wife loads the dishwasher, she cries out when someone grabs her from behind, but it’s only her husband. Grinning, he nudges her to come to bed and she laughingly acquiesces. Turning out the lights, they head upstairs.
In the dark, the hooded figure picks up the downstairs phone and dials the police. He nervously reports the address and asks for help because the people here are in danger. “The couple who lives here has too much,” he says, referring to their wealth. He tells the operator to hurry, because it’s going to start soon.
He spasms, dropping the phone… and then a different, deeper voice growls into the phone that “the executor” will kill the “sinners” of the house. Ditching the phone, he strides away, and screams echo from the upper floor.
An hour later, the case lands at the NCI, where there’s a full-team briefing. The husband was an investment company CEO, and they hear that the police arrived within five minutes of the murder thanks to the phone-in. Min-young explains that there were two criminals: the first who made the call, and the second who committed the murders.
Han identifies a picture found at the scene as Dike, the Greek goddess of justice, who also represented the rule of law. A page about the seven deadly sins was also left, and Sun-woo recognizes it from an obscure extremist book. Due to the self-righteous nature of the killers, they’re certain they killers will strike again soon.
Our hooded culprit escapes to a remote location and rails against the other person (though it seems pretty clear that it’s himself—or at least, another personality within himself). Suddenly noticing the gloves on his hands, he yanks them off and finds his hands covered in blood. Tearing out of the car, he wails at the other person that this wasn’t punishment for sin: “That was just murder!” He sinks to the ground, keening in distress.
The team listens to the call recording again, and they’re having trouble figuring the relationship out. They identify the first voice as a submissive accomplice, but wonder if there’s a third person, since the second voice talked about an executor. However, Ki-hyung says it’s not unknown for murderers to refer to themselves in the third person, either to self-aggrandize or to obfuscate.
Judging from the efficiency of the kills, Hyun-joon reckons it isn’t his first time, and Nana gets onto finding any similar cases. Sun-woo is dispatched to the morgue, while Hyun-joon goes to the scene of the crime with Han.
The detective on the scene is confounded by the murder, and Han tells him that it was a “missionary” murder according the Holmes typology, meaning that the murderer is motivated by a sense of duty to kill those he judges unworthy.
Like the NCI, the detective wonders if the first caller was also a victim, but Hyun-joon says the relationship between accomplices can be complicated. He refers to a murder case where there was a dominant-submissive pair, but the submissive turned out to be the one who killed the whole family.
He wonders at the inordinate amount of blood on the bed, and the detective demonstrates how the husband’s throat was slashed, ear to ear.
At the morgue, Sun-woo learns the same thing: Both victims were killed by single cuts to the throat, and long cuts from wrist to elbow, severing major arteries. The medical examiner says it resembles animal slaughter methods, and would only require knowledge of where major arteries are.
Back at the couple’s house, Hyun-joon retraces the murderer’s footsteps: He would’ve attacked the husband first, since he was the bigger threat.
They then look towards the bathroom, where the wife was found. They deduce that she must have seen her husband’s body and retreated to the bathroom, where the killer forced his way in and killed her.
The detective tells Hyun-joon that no fingerprints were found, which doesn’t fit the missionary killer type—they tend to be unconcerned about cleaning up. He guesses the first accomplice might be responsible.
They survey the scene again, and Hyun-joon remarks on how practiced the killers must be, to have finished the whole job within three to four minutes. The detective blames himself for not responding quickly enough, but the profilers firmly disagree, saying that none of them could have prevented these murders.
Nana’s shocked to discover a video of the couple online, titled “Judge avarice via the law,” on an illegal video site called View Inside. It starts off intimate, just minutes before they were killed, but then goes on to show the actual murders occurring.
Hyun-joon follows her description of the vantage point, and Han points to an open laptop, where the camera light flashes red.
Hyun-joon peers into the camera, and the killer watches him on the other side. “Nooo,” he whines. “This is a warning! It’s not a movie or a show!”
“You see,” says the other voice, “How crazy and insane the world is? It’s now—this is where it starts.”
I’m ready to agree that the mid-episode case-changing does have a jarring effect. The conclusion of the kidnapping case came with such a powerful crest of emotion that I needed a bit more decompression time. My favorite aspect of it was that, in an unexpected turn, the kids ended up saving themselves. This is certainly one of Criminal Minds’ best cases, and the show really excels at creating the dark, evocative atmosphere that affects you on a very visceral level. The technical components required to create tragedy are broad tropes that are easy to exploit, but by zeroing in on Jin-woo—his conflict, his desperation, his fear—it produced a deep sense of emotional realism, perhaps also because it played to such an everyday fear of loss that we can all relate to.
At the same time, however, I find myself struggling to contain my dissatisfaction over some aspects of this show. Like lovepark, I think it has settled into its groove, and we basically have a mid-level procedural that is pretty good at times, and a little less at others, and the uneven quality (and ugly camera) is here to stay. But while the role of profiling is the show’s central conceit, and meant to play the most fundamental role in solving the crimes, the profiling process itself remains a bit mechanical. The route to the answers tends towards the linear, and we always know the criminals’ names before we find them… shouldn’t it be a little harder?
But I appreciate how good the twists have been, and just as I thought I had Criminal Minds’ number and could anticipate them, I’ve got to give it credit for successfully faking me out once again. I knew that voice the hooded murderer was hearing wasn’t real, but they definitely one-upped themselves by knowing I would know, and then turning around and making it that. This time, we have the benefit of dramatic irony, and it’s pretty fun to watch the team labor under the misapprehension that there are two killers, one dominant and one submissive. That becomes a much more interesting conflict knowing that they’re alters of the same person. There’s a completely different dynamic between the strong one and the weak one, where one pretty much does not exist while the other is active—so how much is one able to affect the other? I’m definitely relying on the show to give us a compelling dissection next week.
I’m also pretty desperate for more character development for the team, as well as real quality time spent with them. So far, they’ve all been playing second, third, fourth and fifth fiddles to the villains and heroes of week, and that’s just not enough Oppa, you know?
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