Criminal Minds: Episode 18
A string of violent rapes breaks out across the region, and the team’s challenge this hour is to find a pattern in the seemingly random selection of victims, to prevent him striking again. It’s a case that has special significance to Sun-woo (which means she gets some actual lines, hurrah!), and we find that it’s not just the criminals who use the present to resolve traumas of the past.
EPISODE 18 RECAP
From a darkened rooftop, a man spies on a couple through their window. The power suddenly goes out, and the boyfriend goes to check the fuse box. A crash from outside makes the girlfriend go to the window, but when she turns back, the man from the roof is in the doorway, with a knife at her boyfriend’s throat.
She’s thrown down on the bed, sobbing, and the attacker rapes her while her boyfriend lies bloody and unconscious beside her.
At NCI headquarters, Min-young briefs the team on the serial rape case. She says it started six months ago with four students at a Christian university, but then stopped. But as of a fortnight ago, they’ve started again with two further victims, who bear no correlation to each other or to the previous victims.
Min-young says they know it’s the same attacker because he left identical voice messages for each victim: “I can give you everything you want.” With this many victims, Hyun-joon says they should be able to get a decent description, but Min-young says that they were so traumatized that they can’t remember properly. According to the medical examiner, though his hair was found at the scene, the DNA didn’t match anything in their database.
Ki-hyung says that they have to find out the significance of the six-month hiatus, and why he then changed targets. To Nana’s surprise, Ki-hyung instructs her to come along with him to the police station.
On the way, they go over the case again, and Nana notes how none of the neighbors heard anything in any of the cases. Hyun-joon’s theory is that the attacker had a method that granted him easy entry, and Ki-hyung confirms that a power outage occurred during this attack. He guesses the attacker waited for the cover of darkness for his crime.
Sun-woo and Min-young are on the way to visit the most recent victim, Choi Yu-rim, and Sun-woo has reached the same conclusion as Ki-hyung: The attacker wanted to catch his victims in the dark. Like Yu-rim, the other victims also reported hearing a loud crash, and Sun-woo thinks it was a distraction tactic while he crept up on them.
Ki-hyung and company meet the officer in charge of the case, Detective Hong, who is the head of the sexual assaults unit. She requested their help because she hopes to narrow down the suspects through profiling, and to find out why the attacker changed his targets. Ahh, Detective Hong was one of Sun-woo’s first bosses after she became a police officer. Hong fondly reminisces over their partnership back then.
Sun-woo and Min-young arrive at the hospital and find a battered Yu-rim with her hands bound to the bed due to repeated suicide attempts. They gently ask if she can recall the attacker’s features. Getting increasingly upset, Yu-rim whimpers that she sees his face every time she closes her eyes. Sun-woo reaches out a hand and comforts her.
At the police station, meanwhile, Nana tells the others that voice analysis showed the culprit was in his thirties. Detective Hong says they investigated everyone around the victims, but no one raised any flags. Han thinks he’s someone the victims would have encountered without having a personal relationship, like a service professional.
Sun-woo and Min-young exit the hospital, and in the background, we focus a moment on the security guard watching them—it’s the attacker. At the same time, Hyun-joon theorizes that the attacker has a job that allows him to both access and monitor his victims; he could be the delivery guy, a technician, a salesman—anything.
Detective Hong and Han approach one of the previous student victims at the university. Aware of her fellow students, she doesn’t want to talk to them. Nana takes her aside privately, and apologizes for the way they approached her.
The student is certain that the culprit wasn’t anyone around her, and fearfully recalls the culprit repeatedly trying to force her to look him in the face. But the police told her to forget the incident since she was fortunate not to be killed. “But is it really fortunate?” she asks. Nana wraps her arms around the student as she cries quietly.
Hyun-joon and Ki-hyung examine the crime scene again, noting that though the attacker had carefully orchestrated his entry, the rape itself was violent and disorderly, showing that he was emotionally invested in his crime.
The report cites the power outage as the opportunity for the attacker’s entry, and Ki-hyung has Nana look up whether there have been similar cases in the past. They note how the attacker is making no attempt to hide himself, what with leaving messages and forcing victims to look at him. Hyun-joon thinks he’s being driven by some event in his past, which they have to discover.
Sun-woo meets with her old boss, Detective Hong, and they discuss the low reporting rate for rape. Hong guesses the attacker victimized the Christian university students thinking they’d be less likely to report, and wonders again why he stopped for six months.
Min-young remarks on how comfortably the women work together just like old times, and Detective Hong grins, glad that Sun-woo became so successful in her career.
Back at headquarters, Nana finds out that a student from the same university committed suicide six months ago—during the rapist’s hiatus—though there’s no reference to any sexual assault in her case.
Hyun-joon and Sun-woo visit the parents. The dad is hostile and says his daughter had nothing to do with the assault cases. He also denies that she left a suicide note, though from the mom’s expression, it’s clear there is one.
Meanwhile, Nana’s shares her research on power-outage-related crimes, suggesting the power was deliberately cut off in order to commit them. A flashback to the most recent attack shows the culprit flipping the breakers, and then knocking out the boyfriend when he came to investigate.
Han notices that the cases trace a path up the map, to the region where the present crimes are being carried out, suggesting it’s the final destination—and point of origin, Ki-hyung thinks. He instructs Nana to narrow down the suspects to men in their thirties from that region.
Hyun-joon tries to convince the dad to share the suicide note, but Dad retorts that it took them this long to even look into his daughter’s death. Rising angrily, he says he doesn’t have any desire to help them and storms out.
However, the victim’s mother speaks up and takes them up to her daughter’s room, then hands them a small envelope. “We came too late. I’m sorry,” Hyun-joon says gravely, and the mom cries that she should have stopped it. A flashback shows the girl seeking help from a fellow student, who posted an inquiry online, but it was met with gossip and rumormongering, causing the student more distress.
Sun-woo grows distressed reading the note, and tells Hyun-joon that the student became pregnant from her rape. We see how she became mute and withdrawn after discovering her pregnancy, and she had typed the word “suicide” repeatedly across her screen.
Later, she was found with slit wrists, and her note read, “Mom, Dad, I’m sorry for being this kind of daughter.” The profilers are sure that guilt over her death was the reason for the rapist’s hiatus, but then he returned even more sadistic. Considering Choi Yu-rim’s condition, Hyun-joon thinks it won’t be long before he crosses to murder.
As they drive back, Hyun-joon teases Sun-woo about her soju-drinking days with Detective Hong, but guesses that the sexual assaults unit must have been hard. She tells him that before she left the unit, she had a tough case. Because of what she went through then, she ended up here now.
At Sun-woo’s request, Ki-hyung asks victim Yu-rim whether the attacker said anything about children or family. He explains that one victim committed suicide after finding out she was pregnant from him. Gasping, Yu-rim admits she was trying to get pregnant. She says she secretly visited a fertility clinic a month ago.
Nana tells Ki-hyung that the other recent victim had visited the same clinic at the same time, and he tells her to look into the clinic’s staff and sub-contractors. She adds that both victims were on a medicine that induced ovulation. Now returned to headquarters, Hyun-joon points out that means the victims would be ripe for conceiving.
Ki-hyung concludes that that could be the attacker’s intention: Perhaps he targeted Christian students thinking they would be less likely to get an abortion. But after the suicide, he targeted women who were trying to get pregnant instead. Since he’s playing out his rage and resentment this way, Ki-hyung thinks something to do with pregnancy must have been his original trigger.
When they seek out the clinic director, she strongly denies it was any of their staff, worried that it will bring her clinic into disrepute. Ki-hyung says it could be any of their suppliers or subcontractors, and points out that the victims were attacked after attending this clinic.
Min-young intercepts a patient survey form, and asks the director if those documents have ever been leaked. The director admits selling them to a research company, but swears no patient medical information was released. Ki-hyung looks at her coldly, and Min-young says someone will be in touch about legal issues.
Ki-hyung has Nana look up the research company, and they discover that it’s also connected to the student victims’ university. He and Min-young head to the company offices, where the manager reluctantly cooperates when Min-young threatens to return with a warrant.
At headquarters, Nana cross-references her list of suspects against those who contacted the victims. She narrows it down to three men, all of whom are no longer working at the company. Sun-woo points out the culprit’s knowledge of the layout of the house, and wonders if his present job allows that. They try to find a way to predict the next victim from the leaked data.
In a remote location, the attacker sits in his car while using his phone to spy on a woman with her son via a hidden camera in her house. He makes his way there, and we see that his car bears the logo of a security company.
In the woman’s house, the lights suddenly go out, revealing a silhouette at the door. But when she turns to look, it’s gone. She puts her sleeping son to bed, but on her way out of the room, the culprit attacks her.
The news breaks the next morning, and police and NCI swarm the scene. The attacker watches the news in his apartment, a spare affair made creepy by cutouts of women’s heads pasted on his mirror—his victims. Min-young briefs the reporters, but it’s Sun-woo who catches his eye, as he recalls seeing her a few days before.
Hyun-joon asks the detectives about the victim’s child. Fortunately, the detective says, the child was shut in a closet and didn’t witness his mom’s rape. “You call that fortunate?” Sun-woo asks. Incredulous, she turns heel and leaves.
Hyun-joon confirms with Detective Hong that the pattern here is the same as in Yu-rim’s attack, but the message he left this time is different. They find a mirror scrawled with “Annuntiatio domini”—a biblical reference to Gabriel announcing the birth of Jesus to Mary.
But they’re stumped that this victim doesn’t match the previous victims. The fact that she had a child might mean something, though, and Sun-woo speculates that in making the child a witness, perhaps the attacker is playing out a trauma from his own childhood.
Sun-woo goes to meet the victim in hospital. The woman immediately asks after her son, and Sun-woo assures her that they’re taking care of him. Teeth gritted, she asks Sun-woo to promise that they’ll catch the bastard, no matter what. Sun-woo promises without hesitation.
A little later, Hyun-joon approaches Detective Hong and asks why Sun-woo seemed so on edge today. She says it’s likely related to a past case where hostesses were kidnapped and raped. Sun-woo had made herself bait, saying she wouldn’t have become a police officer if she was going to pick and choose who to save.
She had successfully lured the culprit out into a dark alley, but he caught on and ran away. Sun-woo tried to track him down, but then he knocked her out from behind and dragged her off. He tied her up in his lair, where he also had another girl captive.
He’d used Sun-woo’s handcuffs to batter her, while Sun-woo looked on in distress. Detective Hong relates that that girl was dead by the time they reached her, and after that, Sun-woo had a hard time and transferred teams. But the culprit is behind bars, at least.
Back at base, Nana finds out that the current victim’s data was included in an illegal information transaction by the research company, mined from a divorced singles café. She has one suspect, also a member of the café, who somewhat fits the profile.
Hyun-joon observes that they can’t arrest someone based on a profile, and Sun-woo immediately volunteers to act as bait, arguing that they have to prevent any further attacks. And so, she’s prepared with a false identity, and her faked form sent to the research company.
Hyun-joon is sure she’ll be attacked quickly, at which point they’ll rush in. Ki-hyung tells her the most important thing is to wait for the attacker to make an illegal entry, which will allow them to get DNA evidence from him. The team sends her off with words of caution.
The attacker scans the company database, before putting on his cap and heading out, a faint smile on his face.
Sun-woo lets herself into her fake house, while Hyun-joon is on stakeout outside. In his office, Ki-hyung worries, mulling over the team’s guesses that the culprit’s job gives him access to structural information about the victims’ homes, as well as the research company’s database.
Hyun-joon watches a capped man emerge from his car and loiter around Sun-woo’s doorstep. The man matches the photo Hyun-joon has of Nana’s suspect, and he and the detectives start approaching him from behind. Catching wind, the suspect makes a break for it.
Ki-hyung asks Nana to check if there’s anyone with a past conviction on the research company building’s maintenance staff. She comes up with one name, Kim Hyung-soo, who was convicted for battering his girlfriend. That girlfriend married someone else and moved overseas a year ago, which Ki-hyung thinks is what set the culprit off.
Nana further adds that Kim’s ex’s marriage was registered a week before the first rape. He tells her to look into whether a security vehicle was seen around the victims at the times of their attacks.
From his car, the rapist, whom we now know to be Kim Hyung-soo, licks his lips spying on Sun-woo. Hearing a hubbub outside, Sun-woo tries to call Hyun-joon, who doesn’t answer. She runs outside, taking her phone but leaving the radio. Smart.
Hyun-joon chases his suspect, who leaps into the road and is promptly hit by a car. He arrests the guy for serial rape, and the suspect’s face twists in confusion. While they lead him away, the real culprit’s car passes by them.
Ki-hyung calls Sun-woo and tells her that the culprit is a security guard for the research company, whose car was caught on CCTV around all of the victims. Her eyes widen as she spots that car down the street, but she’s struck on the back of the head before she can do anything.
Hyun-joon sees his missed call from Sun-woo and rushes to the house. Finding it empty, he reports her missing to Ki-hyung, just as one of the detectives tells him the guy they caught isn’t the one.
Kim makes off somewhere with Sun-woo unconscious in the back of his car. He thinks back to the past, where he confronted his then-girlfriend after she emerged from a women’s clinic following an abortion.
Voice rising, she’d asked if he thought she’d marry him when he was a loser who hit her. “I’d rather be alone forever than raise a child like you,” she said, before walking away. Running up behind her, he’d knocked her down with a punch. He was about to attack her with a brick, but onlookers dove in and dragged him away from her.
Back in the present, Nana scans CCTV for signs of Kim’s car. It’s morning now as the rest of the team descends on Kim’s home. The place is empty, but they find the creepy bureau, plastered with the pictures of women’s faces.
Ki-hyung gets Nana to look up if Kim had an address registered with his ex, and then to see if his car shows up on any CCTVs nearby. Nana comes back quickly with an address and a sighting, and the team heads out again.
Sun-woo slowly comes to, and finds herself face-to-face with Kim Hyung-soo. Holding her gun, he taunts her about trying to catch him. “Without this, you’re just a weak woman,” he says. Totally unfazed, she smiles slightly. Dude, you should be scared of that face.
He goes into a dippy delusion of how much the women wanted him, and says that once she gets to know him, she’ll want to bear his child. Coolly, she calls him a perverted sadist who gets his kicks overpowering women.
His jaw tightens and he comes closer. “Let’s see how different you are to other women,” he says, and smacks her to the ground. Leaning over her, he says she’s the first woman to look at him like that, and it turns him on.
She fights him off when he comes closer, and he draws the gun on her. But she disarms him quickly, and rolls away. Grabbing the gun, she aims it at him. Outside, police cars pull up, sirens blaring.
“Let me ask you one thing,” she says. “Why does a bastard like you want a child?” The question sets him off into a spiel about how she wants him but acts like she doesn’t, and how she acts pure when she’s dirty.
He flashes back to his childhood, when his mother forced him into a closet while she got cozy with a man. In the present, he tells Sun-woo that that’s what women are like, and he’s only trying to make them have children that are like him.
Looking at him, she sees the faces of the victims and their grieving loved ones, and her own younger self. He offers to do her like the victims on TV…
Hyun-joon and the others stealthily make their way up. But when a sudden gunshot rings out, they rush ahead. Kim collapses with a bullet to the heart, Sun-woo still holding the gun high. Again with the kill shots?
Hyun-joon goes straight to her, but as they take in the scene, everyone stares at Sun-woo in shock. Eyes empty, she turns away, and Han narrates the closing quote from Robert Kennedy: “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.”
Okay, that’s super-dark. And it would be brilliant if this show ever followed up on its big game-changing moments with actual development. But it won’t, I know it won’t—it never has. Even if it’s interesting, we won’t explore it. Moreover, there isn’t time left to explore it, and there’s no way the last two episodes will be about anything but Reaper. The fact that this week’s episodes were pure filler is clear just in how they’ve finally changed the format to contain the case within the episode.
Let’s talk about Moon Chae-won, though, and why this development is too little, too late. Sun-woo has been a shadow-character this entire show, and given that she and Lee Jun-ki had some really good chemistry in the opening episodes, I’ve been frankly disturbed and just how much of a non-presence she is. The Nadeul River case was swiped out from beneath her feet (pretty sure her childhood counterpart had a bigger role than she did), and that tiny interlude with Lee Jun-ki in his car earlier? Left me cold. If this were real life, I’d say they secretly hate each other and only stay together for the kids.
The problems in this show have been fairly consistent from the start, and I agree with lovepark about how frustrating it is to see potentially great stuff just get thrown away. The show promised such a good story, but it hasn’t delivered any real character development and just haphazardly sprinkles some team moments in, in a way that feels actually cruel. I’ve said previously that I’ve yet to see even the worst cop show get “team-mance” wrong… but here it is. K-drama strengths lie in how they create strong emotional groundings, which means that even if the plot lacks coherence and everything is crazy, there’s still something to care about in the characters. But Criminal Minds totally fails at making you care—not because the characters are unsympathetic (they’re not!), but that you simply do not get enough of them. Talk about the waste of a high-powered cast.
And let’s talk about the cases. I’m not good with brutality to start with, but lately I just feel desensitized. Like guys, it is not even hard to make me care. I cry when I step on snails! But we’re at the point where we’re just recycling the same elements. Although perhaps that’s my bitterness with the show as a whole speaking, because I did actually find the way the swim team kidnapping case played out dark and riveting, and that was only last week.
But the Reaper case is meant to be the big case, right? Instead of building suspense towards it each week, we’ve just been delaying it, and it’s obvious that it’s just being withheld for the sake of a big finale. Two references between opener and finale do not effective tension make. At this point, whatever this show gives me, even if the finale is amazing, will still feel like a kick in the knees. But at least we’ll get at least five minutes of Oppa, and if nothing else, he has made every shirt he wore this show look better than it deserved. Thanks, man.
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