Criminal Minds: Episode 6
The team is back to chasing serial killers this hour, but of course, it gets much worse than that. But the good thing about bad things happening to our team is that we get to get a little closer to them, and learn more about how they got here. Of course, that means getting closer to some of the worst that humanity can offer, and Criminal Minds certainly doesn’t pull any punches about what a bad world it is out there. But with our ace team on the case, there’s always light in the darkness.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
As Ki-hyung closes up his car, he can’t see his son and calls out to him in mounting worry. But when the boy pops up in the backseat, Ki-hyung smiles… until he hears the sound of a camera shutter, which comes from a black-clad figure in the distance. He follows behind, stumbling, and we see it’s the Reaper, Kim Yong-chul.
And then the scene fades, and we see Ki-hyung is actually in a meeting with a doctor, whose voice finally filters in to him, telling him that he could be in danger from his hallucinations, and that he needs to extinguish his obsessive thoughts. Ki-hyung replies that he still has things to do.
Chief Director Baek receives an update on Ki-hyung’s condition, and is left troubled over a report recommending removing him from his position.
Hyun-joon finds Min-young studying a book on criminal psychology, and has some fun quizzing her and Nana on the history of profiling. Despite profiling’s success, Hyun-joon tells her with a smile that they can’t rely on a single algorithm to solve a crime. The next answer is supplied by a just-arrived Han, whose return delights everyone.
In Seoul’s Noryangjin district, a girl named Jo Eun-jung runs out of a study room with a nosebleed. As she comes out of the bathroom, she finds a study notebook dropped on the floor and follows a departing figure to return it. But as soon as she steps into the stairwell, the figure tases her and drags her away unconscious.
Eun-jung’s parents expect her for dinner, and think she’s not answering her phone because she’s busy studying. When they find a DVD in the mail, they think it’s from her. They sit down together to watch it, but horror fills their faces as they realize it’s a video of their daughter being brutalized.
At NCI headquarters, Ki-hyung watches the same video, face grim. The masked assailant in the video makes him flash to the Reaper’s mask, and he blinks hard to clear the image. Min-young reports that they don’t know if Eun-jung is still alive.
The rest of the team is briefed on the new case. Watching the video closely, Hyun-joon thinks the assailant is saying something but it’s drowned out under the loud music. As Nana works on isolating the voice, they also notice a tattoo on the assailant’s wrist.
Judging from the circumstances of the kidnap, Hyun-joon doesn’t think it’s grudge- or ransom-motivated. Instead, the assailant appears to have a sadism fetish, and filming it shows that their pleasure in the victim’s pain overwhelms the risk they might feel of being discovered.
Ki-hyung tells them that the “why” here isn’t important so much as who the video was sent to. He cites three unsolved murders since 2015, where the young women’s bodies were disposed of in places where their parents would discover them first.
They don’t know what to make of the murderer’s shift to making videos, but Min-young observes that those videos of their children suffering would be far more distressing to parents than only discovering their dead bodies.
In the torture lair, the masked assailant studies a picture of Eun-jung and her mom, taken from her wallet, while Eun-jung lies nearly lifeless beside him.
Mid-briefing, the NCI team gets word that Eun-jung’s body has been found. Oh no. Police and NCI swarm the area around the family’s home; unlike the previous cases, Eun-jung’s body was abandoned out of the way in the woods. Sun-woo puzzles over the change in pattern, but Ki-hyung says there’s definitely a reason why her body was dumped here.
Hyun-joon searches the surrounding area, and finds the reason off the trail: a small grave wreathed in flowers, along with a locket containing a miniature of the same photo from Eun-jung’s wallet, of her, her mom, and a puppy.
In the morgue, her mom breaks down when she sees Eun-jung’s feet with their nails torn off. Later, she tells Hyun-joon and Sun-woo that that was a favorite spot for the two of them, so when Eun-jung’s beloved puppy died, she wanted to bury it there.
Sun-woo notices a ring on Mom’s hand and asks if her daughter had one, too. With a cry, Mom realizes it was missing from the body, and breaks into fresh sobbing as she recounts that they’d got matching rings for her daughter’s birthday.
Sun-woo reports to Ki-hyung that the dump site had nothing to do with the fathers. Ki-hyung also recalls that the DVD was addressed only to Eun-jung mother, and it dawns on them that in the past cases, it was always the moms who discovered the bodies. Thus the whole family wasn’t the target, only the victims’ mothers.
Nana finds Han replaying the video into the night, and he notices how the assailant keeps shooting glances towards the camera, as if for approval. The next morning, he reports to Ki-hyung that the perp seemed to be acting under someone else.
When Min-young brings the report that shows the DNA collected from Eun-jung was different from the previous cases, Ki-hyung tells them that there are two perps: one torturing, the other filming. Nodding, Han describes it as a folie à deux—a condition of sharing the same psychosis and delusions. Ki-hyung speculates that the stronger one dominates the weaker, forcing him to murder, then using it as blackmail against him.
Hyun-joon and Sun-woo go to the study room where Eun-jung was last seen to examine the CCTV more closely. A shadowy figure onscreen catches Hyun-joon’s eye, and he steps into the hallway to try something out.
Out in the corridor, he notes the locations of the cameras. Sticking close to the walls, he weaves down the corridor while remaining unseen by the cameras, and guesses the culprit did the same, utilizing the cameras’ blind spots. Sun-woo comes to the same conclusion.
Replaying the video several more times, Sun-woo notices the notebook, but wonders about Eun-jung’s reaction to finding the notebook. Making the connection, she goes to the scene and mentally envisions the scene. When she reaches the stairwell, someone grabs her, and taken by surprise, Sun-woo slams him against the wall—but it’s only Hyun-joon.
They’re able to piece together a picture of what happened, realizing that the culprit lured Eun-jung, using her kindheartedness in helping a stranger against her.
Another girl, Kwon Yoo-jin, walks home that night while chatting to her mom on the phone. A hooded figure on a crutch limps ahead of her, carrying unwieldy boxes. Oh, this is definitely not going to end well. He tumbles down and Yoo-jin runs to help, sweetly carrying his belongings for him. Walking on ahead, she doesn’t see when he throws the crutch away and lunges at her with a taser.
At headquarters, Ki-hyung deduces that it’s the same criminal, given the victim type and circumstances. Hyun-joon strongly warns against an open investigation by the police since it might jeopardize the girl’s life. Han agrees: “If there’s no enjoyment to be gained from the victim, there’s no reason to let her live.”
They begin profiling their suspects, predicting them to be young and good-looking. The unfixed timing of the crimes means they might not have jobs, or their jobs have flexible hours, and they would be unsociable and were probably abused as children. Hyun-joon also notes that the victims were picked because of their relationships with their mothers.
Just then, the news shows Yoo-jin’s mom appealing to the kidnapper for her safe return, and Ki-hyung immediately dispatches Min-young to block the reporting. A quick cut to the torture lair shows us that Yoo-jin is alive, though bound and beaten.
A wheelchair-bound man grimly watches the same report. His son, a fearful-looking young man, scuttles out, and Dad barks, “Do you think they won’t find you?”
Min-young finds Nana lamenting over how many times she’s had to watch the horrible torture video. But she wonders why Nana’s dolls are all turned around and Nana cries out—she can’t have her babies witness such horror.
A sharpened picture of the wrist tattoo comes back, revealing an S design. Han recalls seeing that symbol in a pornography investigation four years ago, and he and Min-young trawl the case files.
Yoo-jin’s mom receives the tell-tale envelope and, against the NCI’s prior warning, loads the disc. But she can’t bear to play it, and hands it over to Min-young unwatched. Mom blames herself for the attack, especially since she’s encouraged Yoo-jin to be thoughtful and kind to others. “I didn’t know it would turn out like this,” she cries. Min-young promises to bring Yoo-jin back.
Han and Nana watch the new video, this time comparing it with photos from an old case file. Han pauses the video and notes the similarities in the furnishings and room layout and deduce that it’s the same room. The case files are for a sadistic porn company called S Culture, and he realizes their symbol is the same as the wrist tattoo. Ssomething spikes Nana’s attention and she rushes out.
She tracks down an old acquaintance at a PC room, and the guy sends over what he’s got about S Culture. He calls to her as she leaves, and smiling, he says, “Noona, I never thought you betrayed us.” I wonder what that means.
With the new information, Nana tells the team about one of the men behind S Culture, a Kang Jae-deok who has a history of doing time for rape, assault, and circulating porn. Sun-woo and Min-young investigate the business address and run in at the sound of a woman screaming. Min-young takes down the masked assailant.
As they arrive at Kang Jae-deok’s home address, Ki-hyung tells Hyun-joon that Kang suffered domestic violence in childhood and his mother ran away. They ring the doorbell, and it’s the wheelchair-bound man who answers. He angrily turns them away but Hyun-joon barges in when he spots the young man fleeing.
He follows him out the window, all the way to a rooftop, where Kang teeters on the edge. Hyun-joon holds out a conciliating hand, but Kang whispers that he won’t go back to prison again, and takes a last step back, plunging to his death. Well, that was over fast. A close-up shows the “S” tattoo on his wrist.
Still with the father, Ki-hyung tells him that his son threw himself off a rooftop. Dad’s face twists in grief and he shouts at Ki-hyung to get out, but Ki-hyung says they still have to save the kidnapped girl. He looks around Kang’s room for information, and from its disorder, he pegs him as a submissive.
Hyun-joon returns in time to see Ki-hyung pick out a red fingernail hidden in an inkpad, which he guesses to be from one of the earlier victims. He digs around for more clues, and discovers a group photo.
We rejoin Sun-woo. It turns out the scene they interrupted was staged, and the fake assailant says you’d have to be a psychopath to be doing it for real. But he does remember Kang Jae-deok, and Sun-woo shows him the group photo she just received. He points out the other person he recognizes, who has the same tattoo: Yoon Jung-sub.
Ki-hyung and Hyun-joon next head for Yoon Jung-sub’s address. A woman (guest appearance by Im Soo-hyang) answers the door, and Ki-hyung notes how she nervously buttons her collar to hide a bruise. Inside, they take in the extremely orderly house, and she explains that her husband likes things tidy.
They ask questions about Kang Jae-deok, whom she knows as her husband’s friend. They inform her that he’s a murder suspect, but he just died. Increasingly nervous, the wife says they had nothing to do with Kang. She pulls at her sleeve to cover another bruise, and they leave her with their number.
Ki-hyung notes that the apartment bore all the hallmarks of a controlling sadist’s personality, with its obsessive neatness and many mirrors. They guess that the wife, Yoo-kyung, is abused by her husband, but is in a Stockholm syndrome situation. Ki-hyung agrees to let Hyun-joon stay behind to keep a lookout for Yoon’s return.
Inside, wife Yoo-kyung still can’t get her husband on the phone, and spots Hyun-joon lurking around outside. Hyun-joon stays nearby in his car to stake out the house, and a short while later hears a clatter and investigates. All he finds is a fallen window grate with a scrap of bloody fabric from the wife’s dress stuck on it.
He reports her escape to Ki-hyung, who’s certain she’s gone to her husband. Nana finds a glimpse of her on CCTV, but they lose her after that. Ki-hyung worries that victim Yoo-jin will be in more danger if Yoon finds out that they visited. Luckily, we can see that she’s still alive.
Later, Ki-hyung is informed of a visitor. It’s the wife, Yoo-kyung, sporting fresh bruises and a split lip. Ki-hyung questions her, and she admits that she told her husband everything. She makes excuses for her beating, but Ki-hyung presses her. Crying, she eventually reveals that her husband is only violent when drunk—he’s good the rest of the time.
Sun-woo notices the ring she’s wearing is the same as victim Eun-jung’s, and asks Yoo-kyung if her husband gave it to her. When Yoo-kyung hears where it came from, she throws it away with a horrified scream.
Based on what Yoo-kyung tells them, they locate Yoon at a gambling den, where Hyun-joon takes a squad and arrests him. In the back of his car, they find all sorts of kidnapping and torture paraphernalia, including the distinctive mask.
Nana takes care of Yoo-kyung, who’s even more shaken at the sight of Hyun-joon bringing her husband in. But once in the interrogation room, Yoon remains cool as a cucumber.
Sun-woo estimates that as a dominant, Yoon will have mentally prepared for this situation, so their aim is to create a situation he won’t have expected. If they can unbalance him, they have a chance of finding out the victim’s location.
He does seem to react to the changes in temperature and lighting, and that’s when Hyun-joon goes in to destabilize him some more. With a sharp smile, he asks Yoon if he enjoyed pulling out the girls’ fingernails, but Yoon doesn’t bite.
Hyun-joon guesses the DNA results will match Kang Jae-deok for some of the murders, and Yoon with the rest. The evidence is piling up against him, Hyun-joon warns, so he’s better off revealing it now. Yoon tells him to just to do it by the book.
Ki-hyung reckons that Yoon is putting up a front, and he asks Nana to ask her to convince Yoo-kyung to help, since Nana’s the one who best understands what Yoo-kyung is going through. Ooo, Nana’s secret backstory. Ki-hyung says they’re nearly out of time to save Yoo-jin, but leaves the decision with her.
And so, Nana reluctantly seeks out Yoo-kyung. Passing her a hot drink, she admits that she’s much better at talking to people online. She begins to tell her own story, how she met a guy when she was 21, and she liked him so much that she even learned to be a hacker like him, just so she could be with him more.
Then, she realized her hacking (messing with the stock market) resulted in someone’s death, and one day, she went home to find her boyfriend had stripped the place of everything and vanished without a trace. “I lost everything then,” she tells Yoo-kyung, a tear slipping out.
Yoo-kyung finally speaks, and says her husband only struck her cheek at first. She tells Nana how he took her in: “That person was everything to me.” Nana pleads with her to help save Yoo-jin, and Yoo-kyung sobs that she’s scared.
“Will it really be okay?” she asks. Taking Yoo-kyung’s hand in hers, Nana smiles warmly at her and replies, “The two of us…shall we save our past selves, with our own strength?”
The whole team looks on as Yoo-kyung faces her husband. Voice shaking, she asks if he really killed someone. “Why did you do it?” she cries. Turning to the two-way mirror, Yoon shouts that he’s not going to tell them a thing, and demands they take his wife out.
Crying, she asks him where Yoo-jin is, and he coldly replies, “Why would I tell you that?” He yells at her to realize that the NCI are trying to make them out to be murderers, and tells her to get out, since it’s nothing to do with her.
“You really won’t talk?” she asks, tears running down her face. “I won’t say a word,” he replies. Crying quietly, she leaves the room, and Nana and Min-young run to comfort her as she breaks down.
Ki-hyung watches the women from a distance. Noticing him, Yoo-kyung nods to him, and then excuses herself for some air.
Ki-hyung watches her pensively and thinks back to the messy disarray of Yoon’s car, compared to the obsessive tidiness of the couple’s home, and how neither of the men have animosity towards their mothers. He wonders why on earth those two committed crimes like this.
He goes back over the interview footage with Han and Sun-woo, and realizes that Yoon’s tough talk was defensive rather than hostile. They go back over the footage of Yoo-kyung, and Ki-hyung notes a lack of fear, considering how she easily makes eye contact with Yoon. If she were afraid, she would have looked anywhere but his face.
They notice now how placid she is, despite the horrific murder scene photos all over the wall, and how Yoon looks to her for cues. Oh man. They now decode the couple’s conversation for the real meaning: Yoo-kyung’s parting question was actually confirmation that he’d take the fall and keep her out of it. Ki-hyung asks where Yoo-kyung is right now.
At the same time, Nana is finally able to isolate the assailant’s voice from the video. But she’s shocked to hear a woman’s voice saying, “Crazy bitch, sluts like you should be killed.”
Ki-hyung continues to put together the pieces: Yoo-kyung used both Kang Jae-deok and Yoon Jung-sub, and then acted like she was a victim herself. He thinks to himself that she was actually the one to conceive and plan everything. A flashback to Yoo-jin’s kidnapping reveals that the limping “man” was Yoo-kyung, whose hood had covered her face.
The guard escorting Yoo-jin outside gets a call to alert him to the danger. But before he can react, a cold-eyed Yoo-kyung knocks him out with a taser.
Okay, firstly, NCI, don’t tell me you let someone with a hidden taser into your building and that didn’t get caught in the security checks? Secondly, when did she have the time to put Evil Eyeliner on? But lols, minor necessary plot holes aside: That’s more like it! Just as I was worrying that the whole case was too straightforward, it’s good to know the show can play with an ace up its sleeve, and bring it down with well-calculated aplomb. I just find it really satisfying to be taken for a ride where I don’t figure it out until the twist is upon us (though I admit I am also a little dense sometimes).
I’m also glad that we’re finally addressing how profiling is an inexact science, because so far, all the profiling has been delivered with the gravity of a medical diagnosis. Although I think psychological evaluations can have a lot of value, the margin of error is always going to be wider and it needed to be acknowledged. It fits that it’s Hyun-joon, the man of action who once rejected profiling, who points out that profiling isn’t a tool to be used in isolation, nor is it foolproof.
I actually prefer the cases to span multiple episodes, for a number of reasons. When a case is opened and closed in a single episode, I think it can end up lacking the emotional tension that makes you unsettled and nervous as a viewer. When they are single-episoders, it makes more sense for them to be lower-key than, you know, an anthrax attack, with the plot augmented by a backdrop of meaningful character moments. I want to lose the nagging sense that this show is trying to reproduce something; they’ve certainly got the acting power for it, so I’ve decided to remain firmly optimistic that it will find its own rhythm.
Since it’s a fairly large ensemble, I think it’s been over-conscious in giving each member lines and character moments, instead of going about it more organically. If each member had clearer specializations, it would go a long way to giving them more cohesive development, both individually, and in defining their roles within the unit. I think that’s why Hyun-joon remains the fullest character so far: He’s active, involved, and sympathetic, giving us clear lines of connection between what he does, what he says, and what he feels, whereas I think Sun-woo and others are given much less to work with. Hopefully that’s something that will even out in the weeks to come, especially since we’re still waiting for more about the Nadeul River case that Sun-woo and Hyun-joon have in common, as well as the various hints dropped about everyone else’s backstories.
I’ve read a few complaints about Nana and Han, based on how they don’t match up to the characters from the original, so I must be in the minority when I say I really like them. Even if they’re a little one-note, it’s a good note, and their quirkiness breaks the serious vibe the rest of them have nearly all the time. Though we’ve seen Hyun-joon have fun and crack more than one smile, he’s not exactly a joker, and I enjoy the levity and touch of weirdness brought by the socially-awkward nerd and the fluffy hacker. I mean, the dolls were a little creepy, but Nana is absolutely adorable about them, and I find her bubbly warmth infectious. But then maybe that’s just one nerdy recluse relating to another, who knows? And I always have a soft spot for flaily women, so Han’s flaily-supergenius-manchild is welcome to my flaily-farm any day.
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