Criminal Minds: Episode 1
This show starts off with a literal bang as we’re immediately thrust into the world of our heroes and their stories, helping us learn what’s shaped them into who they are today. But with a determined killer on the loose and a ticking clock, it’s going to take more cooperation than some of our heroes may be ready for to find him and prevent another terrible crime from happening.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
In a sea of pandemonium, special forces swarm a building as a reporter tells the audience about a serial bomber. Just then, the building behind them blows up and throws everyone to the ground. Through the muffled sound and ringing, one officer, KIM HYUN-JOON (Lee Jun-ki), turns around before entering the fray.
KANG KI-HYUNG (Sohn Hyun-joo) leads his team inside a building where the serial bomber is currently detained. His subordinates inform him about the bomber’s past, and Ki-hyung barks out orders, asking them to find a connection between the bomber and the hospital where the last bomb remains.
Special forces find the bomb, and Hyun-joon watches from behind a protective barrier while a young operative is tasked with defusing it. Seeing the young operative’s nervous face, Hyun-joon tries to switch places with him, but another operative stops him, citing protocol.
Over a walkie-talkie, Ki-hyung instructs the young operative to cut the white wire, and with shaking hands, he does so. The time continues to count down, and the young operative asks for the answer to the final hurdle: push “pass” or “by-pass?”
Ki-hyung turns to the serial bomber they now have in custody, thinking to himself that the man is lying about how to diffuse the bomb. One of his subordinates comes in to inform him that the bomber, who sports a large burn scar on his face, was never burned during his military service. Armed with this new information, Ki-hyung pauses when the bomber instructs them to push “pass,” and instead, he tells the young operative to push “by-pass.”
Enraged, his superior seizes the walkie-talkie, but Ki-hyung argues that the bomber would never pass up the chance to detonate the bomb—even if it means imprisonment. However, Ki-hyung is unable to answer when his superior asks if he’s certain, so his superior orders the operative to push “pass.”
Hearing two conflicting commands, the young operative hesitates as he stares at the two options, and then pushes “pass.” Before anyone can react, the bomb explodes and envelopes the hall in flames.
The aftermath of the explosion turns the building into a wasteland, and amid the rubble, both Hyun-joon and Ki-hyung stand stunned. Soon, medics arrive and take away the injured and deceased, and Hyun-joon weeps once he’s alone outside.
A year passes, and in a café, a young woman messages someone about buying a car. She meets with the seller, who lets her test drive the vehicle and check the engine. She’s satisfied with the car, so when the seller offers to take her home, the young woman happily accepts without a second thought.
As he drives her home, he begins to ignore her directions, and then locks the door. Panicking, the woman asks to be let out, but the seller knocks her unconscious. She wakes up blindfolded and chained inside a metal cage, and when she hears footsteps approaching, she begs for her life. Silent, her captor merely raises a pair of scissors to her fingernails, and the woman screams.
At the National Criminal Investigation (NCI) building, Chief Director BAEK SAN tells someone over the phone that they cannot move without an official request from the police. Finishing his call, he turns to the two agents in his office, both from Ki-hyung’s unit during the serial bomber incident last year.
YOO MIN-YOUNG (Lee Sun-bin) informs the chief director about the recent abduction case, and HA SUN-WOO (Moon Chae-won) calls it a serial murder case. Chief Director Baek wonders what Ki-hyung would do in this situation, and asks them when he’s coming back—this may be his last chance to return to the NCI.
A modified voice says that killing people is hard, and Ki-hyung turns off the recording as he addresses his class. Ki-hyung explains that there are two famous voices in Korea: “his voice” and “this voice.” The recording they just heard of “this voice” belongs to “The Reaper” who murdered twenty-one people in a span of ten years.
The Reaper always left behind an item from his previous victim at the crime scene, but mysteriously disappeared seven years ago. The reigning theory is that the killer was arrested for unrelated charges, but Ki-hyung thinks it unlikely that The Reaper would choose to be an anonymous prisoner when he’s an attention-seeker.
Another possibility is that he died, which Ki-hyung admits is the only way for an obsessive killer to stop. Leaving the question open-ended, he then poses another one: Does The Reaper have a mental disorder, or is he innately a psychopath? He reminds his students that a psychopath is still someone’s neighbor and family member, and with that, class is dismissed.
Having slipped in during class, Sun-woo meets with Ki-hyung, who skims over the case file she handed him. Sun-woo tells him that there’s only four days to save the recently abducted woman, but Ki-hyung closes the file and asks her if she ever thought that they might be wrong.
He gets up to leave, but Sun-woo stops him: “If there is another voice inside your head shouting, don’t hide it. That’s the most violent thing you can do to yourself.” She tells him that he once told her that, and asks for his help.
Hyun-joon drives to an abandoned building, which is the last place the abducted woman’s phone turned off. His partner complains that it’s just a simple missing person case, but Hyun-joon ignores him as he goes through the evidence in his head. However, his partner receives a call and tells Hyun-joon that the suspect was caught.
Meanwhile, Ki-hyung reads to his son about a watch that will grant the user ten minutes in exchange for their happiest memory, and his son says that he would accept it if he could help his dad. They decide to play hide-and-seek, but as Ki-hyung counts, he’s brought back to the explosion from last year and sees himself standing in the rubble, making eye contact with Hyun-joon.
His wife finds him dazed and nervous, and with a gentle shake of the arm, she helps him return to his senses. She asks if he’s all right, but Ki-hyung says everything’s fine before asking about his wife’s doctor’s visit. She teases him for not realizing it sooner, and tells him that she’s eight weeks pregnant.
Later that evening, Ki-hyung looks over the abducted woman case files and remembers Sun-woo’s words. His wife walks in then and asks if he met with Sun-woo, since she called earlier. She tells her husband that he should return to the fight, but he avoids answering and hugs his wife as he asks what they should name their child.
Min-young reports to the group about the serial murders, and LEE HAN (Go Yoon), another original member from the bomb incident, explains the killer’s methods. Sun-woo points out how the killer is destroying evidence in the more recent murders and says that he’s learning.
At the police station, Hyun-joon tells the chief that they captured the wrong person and explains how the current suspect lost all his jobs as a deliveryman because he has sleeping problems and can’t drive properly.
Right then, Chief Director Baek and his crew enter the station, and they announce the new joint-investigation between the NCI and the police. Hyun-joon scoffs at the idea and tells them to not kill people before leaving the office.
Minus Hyun-joon, all the officers listen to Min-young and Han as they brief them about the serial killer. They explain the killer’s patterns of abduction, victims, and method of murder, and Sun-woo tells the group that they only have forty-eight hours before the next victim dies.
Hyun-joon helps out at a restaurant, and the pictures on the wall reveal the deceased young operative with his family. After his partner finds him there and leaves, NA-YOUNG, the young operative’s sister, comes up to Hyun-joon. Cutely, they nag at each other like siblings before he also leaves.
Hyun-joon returns to the scene where the abducted woman’s phone was found before beginning to visually retrace her steps. He realizes that she must have willingly entered the car, and goes to the café where she last used her card.
Following the little bread crumbs left behind by the abducted woman, Hyun-joon walks the streets, reimagining that rainy afternoon as he follows the trail of CCTV cameras. As Hyun-joon reaches the end of his trail, he spots Sun-woo standing at the corner.
Min-young and Han interview the abducted woman’s brother, and his dog barks at the intruders. He tells them that their dog must be stressed, sensing that his owner is missing, but Han corrects the man, explaining that the dog must be smelling a chemical from people’s sweat glands.
The brother starts to question Han, thinking he’s too young to be a professor, but Han corrects him again, needlessly sharing how he has two doctorates and has an IQ of 187: “Yes, I’m a genius.” However, the resident genius shies away when the dog barks at him, and then asks if the abducted woman was interested in classic cars, having just found her scrapbook.
Back on the street, Hyun-joon asks if Sun-woo was following him, but she ignores him as she explains that the killer used this blind spot to kidnap the victim. Hyun-joon already deduced all of that, but still doesn’t know why the abducted woman circled around the perimeter.
Sun-woo receives a call from Min-young, and after learning that the abducted woman was looking for a used car, Hyun-joon realizes that she must have been test driving the car. Having gotten some answers, Sun-woo offers Hyun-joon a ride back, but he rejects her invitation since he has his own car… which then gets towed. Ha.
Thus, Hyun-joon has no choice but to ride with Sun-woo, who asks him when he realized that this case wasn’t a simple missing person case. He doesn’t answer, so Sun-woo continues talking, guessing that he used to be part of the special forces. She explains that it’s because subconsciously scopes his surroundings and uses a unique tie for his shoelaces.
Unimpressed, Hyun-joon calls profiling useless, which only spurs Sun-woo to start profiling him. She notes his strong outer behavior, but from his neat handwriting and meticulous note-taking, he must be hiding his softer personality, which may be a result from a past family trauma.
Hyun-joon neither acknowledges nor denies the assumptions, and instead returns the favor. He surmises that she must be a rude only child who appears neat to try and hide her chaotic thoughts. He then asks if she’s the one with family problems, and Sun-woo remains silent. A phone call interrupts their conversation, and Sun-woo hears that his headquarters has been moved to the NCI.
Ki-hyung goes to a storage room where he retrieves a file concerning a deceased girl. Elsewhere, Sun-woo visits NANA HWANG (Yoo Sun), another member of Ki-hyung’s old team, and she scours the internet to find any trace of the seller. However, she comes up empty-handed.
Meanwhile, the abducted woman lies in the cage and jumps up when an alarm rings. The killer reaches through the bars to stroke her cheek, and then strangles her with a metal chain. Though she struggles, her efforts are futile.
Sun-woo tells the group that the killer lures women by selling used goods on a website, but as she’s giving out orders, Ki-hyung enters and says that it’s already too late. Hyun-joon questions his abrupt assertion, and Ki-hyung recognizes him as one of the operatives in the serial bomber incident. Hyun-joon asks what will happen to the dead and brushes past Ki-hyung as he leaves.
However, just as Ki-hyung predicted, the abducted woman’s body is soon discovered in a food disposal bin. The NCI agents investigate the body at the scene, and notice a digression in the killer’s methods. Han proposes that the killer might have dissociative identity disorder, but Ki-hyung dismisses the idea since none of the suspects match. Since everything except for the marks on the body are the same, Ki-hyung guesses the killer could be purposefully misdirecting them.
Hyun-joon thinks back to the explosion, and flashes back to the young operative’s funeral procession. Hyun-joon had carried his portrait as their squad saluted their fallen comrades. In the back, Ki-hyung also attended, but the operatives complained about his presence, blaming him for their comrades’ deaths.
Likewise, Ki-hyung remembers Hyun-joon’s earlier accusations and thinks back to the funeral. Standing on a hilltop, Chief Director Baek had asked Ki-hyung if he was wrong, and Ki-hyung told him that this could have been prevented if he was more confident with his profiling.
Interrupting his thoughts, Sun-woo enters and asks if he knows Hyun-joon, and he tells her that Hyun-joon was an operative during the serial bomb case. Though the circumstances make it awkward, Min-young confesses to being happy to have Ki-hyung return, and with some nudging, Han agrees while Nana sends some virtual cheers.
Han asks Ki-hyung how he knew the victim would be dead today, so he explains that the police missed a victim: a runaway girl. Hence, the abducted woman was the fifth victim and only had three days to live (instead of four, like they initially believed).
Ki-hyung briefs the entire team about the killer’s profile by stating his height, weight, appearance, and occupation. Ki-hyung stands in front of the hooded killer as he explains that their suspect probably suffers from paranoia and uses killing as a method to display power.
He then tells the group that the killer lacks the ability to have sex and mostly likely has a criminal record, which means someone in this room has probably already seen him. On a final note, Ki-hyung says that until they catch him, the killer will continue his murderous spree. The camera pans across a busy police station before stopping at a particular person, revealing his face and making him the prime suspect.
Meanwhile, the prime suspect finds his sixth target and sends a message to a female student about selling sneakers. As fate would have it, the student is the young operative’s sister, Na-young.
The police officers create a stack of suspects to send to the NCI, but Hyun-joon takes a file with him since he thinks they should catch the culprit themselves. Elsewhere, Na-young waits at an intersection, remembering Hyun-joon’s worn sneakers. (Aw, she wants to buy the sneakers for him.)
The suspect drives up to Na-young and convinces her to inspect the shoes inside the car since he can’t park along the road. Na-young agrees, but as she examines the shoes, the suspect locks the doors and speeds up. Remaining outwardly calm, Na-young takes out her phone and secretly calls Hyun-joon.
Unfortunately, Hyun-joon misses her call since he was talking to someone else, but he immediately calls her back. As Na-young’s phone rings, the suspect puts on his glove, and Na-young answers before the suspect knocks her unconscious. Hyun-joon hears her screams before the call ends, and though he tries to call back, the suspect has already thrown the phone out the window.
Sun-woo informs Ki-hyung about the sixth victim, and Nana quickly searches the nearby security cameras for any clues. Hyun-joon is already on the scene as he checks the voicemail Na-young left. She asks him why he’s not answering, but Hyun-joon hears another voice in the background.
He spots a food truck nearby, and the owner of the truck matches the voice he heard. He asks the owner if she saw Na-young, and though she did, she wasn’t able to recognize the man she left with. Right then, Sun-woo appears and brandishes a photo of the suspect.
Luckily, the owner remembers that they left in a silver SUV, and Sun-woo notices an illegal parking control car driving in the vicinity. They stop the patrol car and easily find the license plate number of the suspect’s vehicle.
Na-young is blindfolded and chained in a metal cage just like the abducted woman from before. The suspect watches her panic through his security cameras, but he’s interrupted by a call from a driver who scratched his car.
The suspect checks a different camera to look at the accident and then looks out the window to check if the coast is clear. He comes out to deal with the driver, who turns out to be none other than Min-young. As the suspect bends down to check the scratch, Ki-hyung comes out with his gun drawn, and the suspect is swiftly apprehended.
Hyun-joon and Sun-woo enter the suspect’s house and make their way to the basement. Na-young hears sounds and nervously asks if anyone is there, but through a clever set of tense reveals, we see that she’s actually being held in a different location.
The basement is empty, and Hyun-joon asks where the suspect is currently detained. Sun-woo tries to calm him, reminding him that they still have time, but he coldly tells her that he doesn’t believe in her profiling nonsense.
Min-young and Han investigate the suspect’s room, and they comment on how the room doesn’t feel like it belongs to a killer. Han notices a baduk game, and after examining the board, he guesses the suspect is an extreme assailant.
He suddenly stares at Min-young and leans in closer, much to her surprise. However, he’s only reaching for a criminal psychology book written by Ki-hyung. Han flips through the pages and finds a new article clipping about Ki-hyung and the bomb incident.
The suspect addresses Ki-hyung by name and asks what he thinks of those who criticized his work. He admits that he personally thinks Ki-hyung did nothing wrong since it’s impossible to stop a monster.
Ki-hyung doesn’t let his taunts faze him, but rather asks the suspect if he’s confessing to the murders. He then questions him about Na-young’s location, but the suspect smiles, acting like he has no earthly idea who Ki-hyung’s talking about.
Suddenly, Hyun-joon bursts into the dining room and shoves his gun into the suspect’s temple. Ki-hyung stands up, and Hyun-joon whips his gun towards him in response. Not even blinking, Ki-hyung grabs the gun and asks Hyun-joon if he’s going to kill the only man who knows where Na-young is. Ki-hyung tells him to go back and do his job, and he’ll do his job.
In the hall, Hyun-joon hits the wall and screams in frustration. Sun-woo admits that profiling doesn’t solve anything, and like everything else humans do, it’s prone to mistakes. However, she asks what Hyun-joon is doing instead, and tells him to remain level-headed if he wants to save Na-young.
In the suspect’s room, the officers try a password written on a sticky note, but just as Han warns them not to use it, the computer turns off. Fortunately, Han is able to recover the hard drive, but the suspect has placed a lock on his computer that will only allow five tries. They call Nana for help, but she tells them that it would be much faster to retrieve the password from the suspect’s head.
Meanwhile, Ki-hyung and Sun-woo watch the suspect get hauled away and note that he didn’t have any marks on his body despite the evidence that says that the last victim fought back. They also find it weird that someone suffering from paranoia and OCD would throw away the body in such an open and public area. Putting the pieces together, they deduce the suspect must have an accomplice, which could also mean he’s not even the “actual” killer.
As the police continue to search for more clues, Hyun-joon finds a business card in the suspect’s car. Elsewhere, Ki-hyung and Sun-woo start profiling the accomplice, and surmise that he must have a more dominant personality than the suspect. Thus, they decide to look into the suspect’s records while he was in a juvenile protection center to look for possible accomplices.
Sun-woo finds the place listed on the business card and looks for a man named Ma Hyun-tae. The mechanics at the shop he goes to don’t take kindly to Hyun-joon’s orders, but Hyun-joon simply kicks a man’s head through a window and pulls out his gun.
Meanwhile, Sun-woo meets with the suspect’s parole officer, who doesn’t remember anything until a worker mentions a friend named Ma Hyun-tae. Nana runs a background check, and finds his current address for Sun-woo.
Ki-hyung interrogates the suspect and mentions how the suspect must have needed a protector while in the juvenile protection center. Ki-hyung drops Ma Hyun-tae’s name, but the suspect only smiles back.
In a dark room, a man watches the news about the serial murders and calls the police to make a report. Before the man can speak, however, a shadow passes across the window, and he looks up in fright. Soon after, Sun-woo arrives at the darkened building, but Ma Hyun-tae is already dead.
She goes through the back door hoping to catch the culprit, but as she exits, a speeding car crashes into her. Sun-woo tumbles in the air and lands on some well-placed boxes, cushioning her fall. However, as she looks up, the culprit walks out of the car and points a gun at her.
While Hyun-joon has yet to officially enter the fold, he’s already starting to add a nice dynamic to the group as the antagonistic officer who questions the very essence of the NCI profiling team. I’m enjoying all the characters so far, though it’s a bit early to tell where the show will take them. However, one thing is for sure: The cast is phenomenal, and I’m especially enjoying Lee Jun-ki and Sohn Hyun-joo’s performances. As usual, Sohn Hyun-joo is amazing and captures the inner turmoil of Ki-hyung well through even the subtle shifts in eyes or posture. Also, Lee Jun-ki plays the hot-blooded cop wonderfully (which isn’t a surprise given his previous shows), and adds a vulnerable dimension to the character, allowing Hyun-joon to be more than a one-dimensional hero.
In addition, Ha Sun-woo also seems like an interesting character so far. She knows how to motivate people and say the right things to them when she’s trying to get them to act. She was the one who talked with Ki-hyung and made him think about what his heart was truly telling him, and with Hyun-joon, she helped him calm down by provoking him to reconsider his behavior and realize what the best course of action would be to save Na-young. The main trio is definitely showing layers, and I look forward to how the show will develop their relationships.
The show is slick, and the directing feels assured. I enjoyed the camera tricks where Hyun-joon retraced the victim’s last moments as the two scenes were overlaid. While some of the CGI moments seemed a little less polished, overall, I think the director is doing a good job setting up the tone for the show and pushing the plot along.
Coming in with no prior knowledge about the original, I found the case to be interesting even if the development wasn’t the most surprising. While twists are nice, I’d rather have a show be able to build tension and not rely on cheap gimmicks to try and catch the viewers off-guard. In that regard, I think the writer is doing a good job setting up tension and creating a chase between the killer(s) and the NCI team. I also think it’s actually a better sign that the story felt well-paced rather than surprising, because the show is inherently a remake.
I assume some of the audience will already know the cases and certain plot trajectories, so rather than get caught up with twists and trying to trick the viewers, the writer should utilize what works with the original and focus on creating tension and a well-flowing story. Even if the ending is revealed, I’m a firm believer that the journey and the storyteller have a greater influence in setting up an engaging atmosphere, rather than an innate mystery. In that sense, I think Criminal Minds is off to a strong start.
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