Criminal Minds: Episode 7
When one murderer goes behind bars, another one seems to emerge and take its place. The show juggles with multiple moving pieces and cases this episode, and we learn a bit more about the things that haunt our heroes at night. Though cracks start to show within the team, it’ll take more than a psychopathic killer to destroy them.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
Victim-turned-murder-suspect Yoo-kyung knocks out her guard with a taser, and steals the keys in his pocket. She makes her way to the car, and tosses aside her cardigan—the ruse is over. Ki-hyung runs down to the parking lot, but only finds the discarded sweater. He calls Nana, who’s in disbelief, but the cameras reveal Yoo-kyung leaving by herself.
While Ki-hyung walks back to the interrogation room, Min-young tails after him and asks why Yoo-kyung would return to the police if she’s the true mastermind behind the murders. Ki-hyung explains that Yoo-kyung had complete faith in her abilities to control her husband, Yoon Jung-sub.
Watching Yoon Jung-sub in the interrogation room through a one-way mirror, Ki-hyung says that Yoon probably thinks he’s equal to Yoo-kyung, but is clearly the subordinate. Hyun-joon mentions the possibility that Yoon is afraid to acknowledge his own role in the murders, and Ki-hyung says that on the flipside, Yoon must also be feeling manipulated by Yoo-kyung.
They play a video of Yoo-kyung’s testimony for Yoon, showing how she made him out to be the mastermind, and Sun-woo notes how he’s breaking. Hyun-joon offers to question him, but Ki-hyung stops him since Yoon has figured out their ploy.
On video, Yoo-kyung says that she loves her husband, and Yoon composes himself; Han notes how he looks peaceful again. Hyun-joon suggests that they make fake evidence from the porn videos they confiscated from S Culture and trick Yoon into believing that Yoo-kyung betrayed him.
Nana digs into Yoo-kyung’s history and discovers that she was abused and sexually assaulted when she was fifteen. The prime suspect was her stepfather, but nothing ever came of it because Yoo-kyung retracted her statement.
Cobbling together the scenario, the team supposes that Yoo-kyung’s mother stopped her from going through with the accusation. In flashback, we see how her mother pressured her to lie to the police that it was someone else. So because Yoo-kyung’s mother didn’t protect her back then, now this trauma is causing her to target her victims’ mothers.
Ki-hyung goes in first to question Yoon and lies that they’ve found evidence. When Yoon doesn’t believe him, Ki-hyung says that they know why he said “five people” to Yoo-kyung.
He explains how Yoon only committed three of the murders since Kang Jae-deok killed the first two victims, but Kang was a fearful man who chose death over jail. However, they found a victim’s nail at Kang’s house, which means Yoo-kyung must have hidden it there to frame the two of them.
Hyun-joon arrives with the fake footage, then calls Ki-hyung, who pretends to have received more evidence. Panicking, Yoon asks what they did to Yoo-kyung, but Ki-hyung just plays another video of a masked man beating a young woman. Explaining that the video was found in his house, Ki-hyung says that he knows Yoon wasn’t the man wearing the mask, but suggests that Yoo-kyung planted the evidence to frame him. This time, Yoon asks if she really did testify against him.
On the other side of the mirror, Han gives a thumbs-up to Hyun-joon, who smiles. The fake-out ploy worked.
Hyun-joon and a team of officers drive to an out-of-the-way building where the victim is likely being held, leaving Min-young to guard the entrance of the road.
Yoo-kyung arrives there first, and approaches the victim with pliers. She starts to yank out her fingernails, and the victim begs to be killed instead. Her pleas trigger an unwanted memory, and Yoo-kyung remembers her younger self begging her stepfather to just kill her. Yoo-kyung stops and whispers to the victim that she’ll end it for her.
The police arrive at an abandoned building, and Hyun-joon and Sun-woo cautiously lead the team inside with their guns drawn. But Yoo-kyung has already dragged the victim outside, and pushes her into a car. Thus, as Hyun-joon and Sun-woo reach the last room, it’s empty.
Sun-woo realizes that the victim was here just moments ago, and right under their noses, Yoo-kyung drives away with the victim. Luckily, Hyun-joon foresaw this, so Min-young and Han, who are parked by the entrance, quickly chase after her.
Min-young drives wildly after Yoo-kyung, trying to overtake her. She manages to pass Yoo-kyung and swerves her car in front, successfully stopping her. Exiting the car, Yoo-kyung uses the victim as a hostage while Min-young and Han point their guns at her.
Min-young tries to talk to Yoo-kyung, setting down her gun, but Yoo-kyung screams that she did nothing wrong. She raises her knife to kill the victim, but Min-young tackles her arm. The victim falls to the ground, but Yoo-kyung manages to hold onto her knife and slashes Min-young in the arm.
Han threatens to shoot and cocks the hammer of his gun, but Yoo-kyung just scoffs at him and raises her arm to stab Min-young. Right then, Hyun-joon jumps in, and swiftly disarms her.
As Hyun-joon takes Yoo-kyung away, she remembers Nana’s words about saving their past selves, and turns to the victim. She screams that she won’t be able to live like she used to, and predicts that she’ll live in agony for the rest of her life, just like Yoo-kyung.
Yoo-kyung and Yoon are escorted to the police station, where they’re pelted with eggs from the victims’ families. One of the mothers grabs Yoo-kyung, shouting at her to return her daughter. Through it all, Yoo-kyung keeps her head ducked down, face covered by a mask, hands blocking her face from the cameras. But she freezes at the sound of a familiar voice calling her name.
Her mother stands in the crowd, face twisted in tears, and apologizes. Yoo-kyung doesn’t say anything back, but seeing her mother seems to make her defiant. She takes off her mask and reveals her face to the entire world, walking into the station with her head held high as eggs and curses fly at her.
Later, Min-young wonders sympathetically if this tragedy could have been avoided if someone had been brave enough to help Yoo-kyung in the past. Nana, however, feels the opposite—she stops brushing her doll’s hair and angrily asks if she’s blaming the people around Yoo-kyung for this incident. She says that not everyone who’s been abused commits such atrocities, and believes that Yoo-kyung’s actions can’t be forgiven.
Quoting Socrates, Nana narrates, “Those who commit evil deeds hurt others, but they hurt themselves the most.”
As Min-young turns in the case file to Ki-hyung, he compliments her profiling and credits her for saving the victim’s life. She accepts his praise and vows to become a great profiler like him. Min-young leaves, and Ki-hyung experiences another headache, prompting him to look over a file on Kim Yong-chul—The Reaper.
Sun-woo drives late at night and requests backup to be sent to her destination. We don’t know whom she’s speaking with, but she’s clear that this is to be kept secret. Flashing back to earlier, a man named Go Young-man was released from the prosecutor’s office, having been cleared of his sexual assault charges. His lawyer was Ha Yoon-man, the chairman of a powerful law firm—and Sun-woo’s dad.
Sun-woo arrives at an abandoned building and cautiously walks through the rooms. Inside, a female student is beaten and tied to a bed, and she screams at Go Young-man, who climbs on top of her as he films everything.
Hearing the scream, Sun-woo runs toward the sound with gun drawn—and somewhere in the building, a mysterious man in black watches Sun-woo through the surveillance cameras hidden throughout.
Go Young-man smiles as the student dies, but suddenly, the man in black chokes him from behind. By the time Sun-woo arrives, only the dead student and a dying Go Young-man remain.
The NCI team—minus Sun-woo and Ki-hyung —play pool, and they play another round of trivia with cold case information. Hyun-joon beats Han to the answer, and even pockets a ball, impressing the group. Han asks the next question about the prime suspect from the Nadeul River case, but before he can even finish, Hyun-joon answers correctly: “Go Young-man.”
Han asks how he knew the answer, and Hyun-joon explains that he was one of the suspects during that case. Everyone assumes he’s joking, and Hyun-joon doesn’t correct them. He excuses himself to make a call to Sun-woo, but she doesn’t answer.
Sun-woo places her gun against Go Young-man’s head, and asks him if he committed the crime 14 years ago. He says that he didn’t do it, and mysteriously tells Sun-woo that he asked the same question. Before he can explain further, Go Young-man dies, and Sun-woo shakes his dead body, asking him who’s behind it all.
Backup finally arrives, and they order her to stop. Sun-woo screams in frustration as the officers cautiously approach the scene. It’s daybreak by the time Go Young-man’s body is wheeled away, and a man in black takes pictures of Sun-woo as she stands with her head hanging.
Reporters bombard Lawyer Ha with questions about Go Young-man and his punishment site where he distributed videos of him “punishing” female students. Lawyer Ha remains silent as he walks to his car while the reporters hound him for answers.
Hyun-joon arrives at work and notices Sun-woo’s messy desk, which has open files about the Online Punishment Café case and a photo of Go Young-man. He recalls Sun-woo questioning him about the Nadeul River case during a game before, and looks back as Sun-woo and Nana come into the office.
Nana asks her why she didn’t come last night to their party, and Sun-woo just says that something came up. Nana notices Lawyer Ha walking in, and Min-young tells Sun-woo that the chief director is calling for her.
Lawyer Ha meets with Chief Director Baek, and the two engage in a tense stare-off as Lawyer Ha asks if the director has forgotten what he said before. Sun-woo arrives, breaking their confrontation, and once the meeting ends, Lawyer Ha speaks with Sun-woo in private.
He asks why she keeps crossing the line, and tells her that the world isn’t as simple as she thinks. Sun-woo remains icy with her father throughout the exchange and tells him to leave, and never come back. Hyun-joon notices the strained encounter from his desk.
That night, Hyun-joon watches the news report about Go Young-man’s death at home. At his desk, he takes out the Nadeul River case file and pulls out a photo of a group of high schoolers at a scholarship presentation ceremony. Hyun-joon flips through his phone contacts and calls a friend, but the line is unavailable.
Sun-woo meets with a coroner who explains that the killer stabbed Go Young-man precisely in the organs. However, the strange thing is that his ear was forcibly pierced. The dead student didn’t have her ears pierced either—meaning that the killer brought an earring.
At the coroner’s advice, Sun-woo meets with someone from the forensics team, and he shows her additional photos from the Go Young-man case. He explains initially thinking they weren’t that important, but then realized there was something strange. Sun-woo asks if he shared these photos with anyone else, and he says that he’d sent case materials to a detective at the Ilyang police station, but that was before he came across these strange photos.
And yet, it looks like those photos have made their way to Hyun-joon, who leaves the Ilyang police station with an envelope of pictures. He’d learned from his colleague at the station that an NCI agent was at the scene of the crime, but it seemed like she had a personal grudge against Go Young-man.
Sun-woo remembers Go Young-man’s dying words as she stares at photos of an earring with the initials “HW” inside. Likewise, Ki-hyung looks over the case file concerning Go Young-man’s death and notices the earring. He flashes back to when he’d gifted his late wife Hye-won with the same earrings. Is the Reaper back?
Old newspaper articles flood the screen, titled with “Profiler’s Revenge” and “The Devil’s Psychologist Yoon Hee-chul.” An old news report explains how Profiler Yoon sought revenge against the killer who murdered his family, but in a twist of fate, was caught by Ki-hyung, his old student.
Next, Ki-hyung visits his old teacher in prison, since he needs his advice on the Reaper. Yoon already knows why Ki-hyung is here, but won’t tell him how to catch Kim Yong-chul unless he gives him something in return.
Ki-hyung adamantly tells him that he has no authority to bargain with him, but Yoon warns his old pupil that only after experiencing utter devastation will he finally understand his words. As a parting gift, Yoon reminds Ki-hyung that Yong-chul will never give up.
At a bar where the NCI team drinks together, Go Young-man’s death dominates the news, and Han speculates about the culprit, telling Sun-woo that it might be a third party unrelated to the case. Meanwhile, Hyun-joon gets a call from the friend he couldn’t reach earlier, and his friend asks him to meet at the old youth center in their hometown.
Hyun-joon drives through the rain to meet his friend, who arrives first. His friend walks through the building to open a locked door, not noticing the hooded figure that stalks him through the halls. Hyun-joon’s friend recovers a box tucked in a hiding spot near the ceiling and checks on its contents—perhaps an item of clothing, wrapped in plastic.
Suddenly, the hooded figure emerges and kicks the stool from under his feet. The friend falls to the ground in surprise, and the hooded figure looms over him.
Arriving at the center, Hyun-joon calls his friend, who doesn’t answer since he’s paralyzed with fear as he stares at the hooded figure. Though Hyun-joon explores the empty center, the hooded figure evades him and drags the friend to his car. He places the body in his trunk, blood splattered across his collar.
Hyun-joon returns to the Nadeul River, and flashes back to the fateful day the female student, Mo Ji-eun, was found dead by the river bank. He’d met eyes with another student (his brother?) who ran from the scene, but was later arrested by the police.
Younger Hyun-joon was also brought in for questioning, and he explained how he planned to meet Ji-eun but saw her walk away with another man he claimed he didn’t know.
Morning comes, and Hyun-joon visits the old station where police officer who once questioned him still works. They seem to be on friendly terms, as the older officer readily gives Hyun-joon the Nadeul River case file. As Hyun-joon flips through the file, he sees a picture of a female student, and the older officer tells him that she was the first witness.
In a flashback to that day, the female student walks through the tall grass, where she finds Ji-eun’s dead body. She sinks to the ground and cries.
And with a jolt, Sun-woo wakes up—this is her nightmare. She was the first witness.
Hyun-joon thinks back to when Sun-woo looked at his photo of Ji-eun, but a call from Nana interrupts his thoughts. She’s found something disturbing, and sends him an image of the earring found on Go Young-man.
At home, Sun-woo stares at photos of her younger self with Ji-eun, when suddenly Hyun-joon bangs on her door. He asks if she knows Ji-eun and why she kept it a secret, but when Sun-woo refuses to answer, Hyun-joon decides to shelve this conversation for later, since they have a more pressing issue at hand: Has Yong-chul returned?
He asks why she kept the earring a secret, but Sun-woo defends her actions, claiming that she had no choice. She didn’t want to make Ki-hyung suffer more, but Hyun-joon asks why she thinks Yong-chul went after Go Young-man. He believes Yong-chul is after the entire team now, since that would make Ki-hyung suffer more.
The camera sweeps Yong-chul’s wall of information, and now Hyun-joon and Nana’s pictures are there, too. A man puts on Ji-eun’s bracelet—the one matching Hyun-joon’s—and then turns around, shielding his eyes from the sun. The Reaper is back.
A man desperately pleads with someone over the phone while stuck in traffic, and continues to search for something in his car even after the light turns green. The woman behind him honks her horn repeatedly, and glares at him as she passes.
Annoyed, the man follows her onto a more deserted road, and tries explain that he was only stopped because of a pressing situation. However, the woman scoffs at him and drives off, which sets off his temper.
He steps out of the car to grab a bag from the trunk, then zooms off after the woman. Pulling alongside next to her car, he pulls out a shotgun, and shoots her car. The woman swerves and runs into a barricade, flipping the car over, and the man drives away in shock over his own actions.
When the man arrives home, he’s still shaking from his earlier deed, and tries ineffectually to stop his daughter from leaving the house. She ignores him, refusing to even acknowledge her father, and he continues to pace around the house, trying to call his wife. Once she comes home, she ignores him too, shutting the bedroom door in her husband’s face, telling someone over the phone that she only lives with him out of pity.
Dejected, the man walks into a storage room where he keeps his hunting equipment. He pulls out a shotgun, and puts the gun barrel in his mouth. He squeezes his eyes shut, and a shot rings out…
Cut to: Hyun-joon and Han, practicing shooting at a shooting range. Unsurprisingly, Hyun-joon hits his mark, but Han continues to miss miserably. Hyun-joon gives him some pointers, and when Han tries again, Hyun-joon compliments him for hitting lane five. Frowning, Han says that he was aiming for four. Ha.
Sun-woo also practices at the shooting range, but can’t concentrate since Hyun-joon’s words keeps swirling inside her head. Hyun-joon finds her sitting in the lounge, and he advises her to tell Ki-hyung the truth about the earring. She says that she’ll tell him later, and turns her attention to the news on the television about a shooting incident with no suspect.
Our road-rage shooter is alive after all, and he returns to the road with his shotgun. When the woman behind him honks and tries to pass him, he swerves to prevent her. Finally, the woman gets her opening to pass and turns to swear at him as she drives past—and our shooter takes out his gun and fires right at her. As he drives away, he sighs in relief and smiles.
The NCI team reviews the shooting case, but have no leads. While the first victim survived, she’s unconscious, and they’re having difficulty finding CCTV footage or witness testimony. Nana checks the black box of the victim’s car, but the images are too blurry to be useful.
Min-young guesses that it could be a random hate crime, but Hyun-joon wonders if the second case might be a copycat since the bullet holes are larger than in the first one. Ki-hyung disagrees, and explains that the shooter cut the muzzle of his gun after having learned from his first experience. Hyun-joon grimly notes how the shooter is learning what it’s like to murder, and Ki-hyung says that’s why they’re on this case.
Sun-woo reports to Hyun-joon about their unsuccessful attempt to narrow down a suspect by looking at veterans and military officers. Hyun-joon suggests that the shooter could have made his own shotgun, and as they go over the photos of the crime scene, they discover the differing bullet hole sizes.
Covered in blood, the shooter catches his reflection in a mirror, and the sight seems to freak him out—he shakily tries to wipe the blood away, then slams the butt of his gun into the mirror. The glass breaks, and as he stares at his distorted reflection, the shooter calms and smiles.
This episode felt odd since it picks up where the previous one left off, but then ends with three cases needing to be solved. I think on paper what the writer was going for makes sense and is ambitious. The Nadeul River case is probably the “finale,” but rather than being a standalone, the Reaper case is now becoming entwined with it. However, the execution felt a bit rushed and haphazard. While Kim Yong-chul is supposedly super smart and evil, I’m still confused as to how he’s managed to avoid the police while still manager to gather more information about the team and kill people who matter to them. I guess he could have been using these months to prepare, but at the cost of making the bad guy look powerful, the creators have made the NCI team look incompetent.
I also didn’t like how this episode ended with a random hate crime. I find the case itself fascinating as we see the birth of a murderer, but the overall timing was weird. Hyun-joon and Sun-woo know that Yong-chul is back, but they’re deliberately keeping everything a secret and letting it fester while they tackle a new crime. Part of my frustration also comes from the teasing the show is doing with the other two cases, which makes me feel like the random hate crime is more of a detractor than an interesting addition. We keep getting snippets of the Nadeul River case, but the show doesn’t follow through with the new discoveries it shows the audience. For example, Hyun-joon realized for the first time who the first witness is (which seems farfetched for someone who’s supposedly obsessed with the case, but I’ll roll with it), and goes to confront Sun-woo about it. However, besides their one conversation, the topic is dropped, and while it’s for a good reason, it’s deflating. By pushing things back, I feel like the show is destroying its own momentum.
In addition, so many characters were introduced this episode, but with very little buildup or explanation. We suddenly learn that Go Young-man was the prime suspect in the Nadeul River case, but then the Reaper (probably) killed him as a way to hurt Sun-woo. Then Hyun-joon’s friend dies by the Reaper, and we barely saw him. It seems like the Reaper might know a lot about the Nadeul River case, otherwise it doesn’t make sense how he knew about Hyun-joon’s random friend he suddenly contacted. Even the Reaper killing Go Young-man seemed like a stretch, so I’m hoping that maybe someone else is helping the Reaper, which would means the two cases are occurring simultaneously. Regardless, unless the show provides some explanations in the near future, my suspension of disbelief is stretching thin.
One of the few new things from this episode that I did enjoy was the reveal of fallen profiler Yoon Hee-chul. It’s a short but effective appearance. It explained why the higher-ups are so concerned with Ki-hyung and his mental health, and it also added another component to the Reaper case. I do hope the show delves into Ki-hyung a bit more and the inner struggle he faces as he chases after Yong-chul who’s determined to destroy his life. It seems like Ki-hyung is sticking with the team despite his PTSD in order to catch Yong-chul, and while it might be admirable, it’s also dangerous and reckless. He may be more of a liability to the team than he lets on, and even if he’s an amazing profiler, he’s still human.
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