Previously on Criminal Minds: The Unit goes on vacation! Murder ensues! There’s a head in a box but sadly it’s not Gwyneth Paltrow! Garcia loves RPG! The lab was sent on a quest! They need to find the girl and save her! Gunshots are fired chez Greenaway!
Fade to white.
Welcome to the second season of Criminal Minds! A brief view of an airplane interior and the back of a brunette head, all in high contrast dream-o-vision, and then we cut to Gideon looking think-y. JJ drops by with a folder, a photograph, and an announcement: that the hostage from last season’s finale has been identified at Rebecca Bryant. Gideon, forgetting that Blondie here is even a character on the show, tells her to drop it and scram; only when she is gone can he bring himself to look at the photograph. He thinks. He does that a lot.
Pan across a sheet of numbers that Reid is considering very seriously. Hotch busts out with the SAT logic quiz: “How many books do you think are published in a year?” Reid suggests thousands. In the whole world. What, really? I think you underestimate the power of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, boy. Go big, go millions.
The Knights of the Round Table of Exposition (Hotch, Morgan, and Reid) refresh our memories. The Unsub (that’s unknown subject, n00b [MS Word highlights “noob” as incorrect, but lets “n00b” slide. I like it.])… Where was I? The Unsub is toying with our Unit, and has sent many clues and riddles relating to hostage Rebecca Bryant. Butterflies, keys, baseball cards, really all that is missing are a few foreign stamps. Each of the clues represents a hobby of a Unit member, and Morgan looks over the clues and comments that he did not know the things about the unit that the Unsub seems to know. At the same time, Reid works a riddle over in his mind, in the process commenting that he has an eidetic memory. How nice for him. Anyhoo, the sheet of numbers is actually a coded passage from a book, and Reid needs to figure it out. That’s what this show is about, isn’t it?
Gideon walks in, and they discuss victimology: “why this particular victim in this particular place at this particular time?” Why indeed. The Knights decide that clues be damned, it’s just another Unsub. They head out on the hunt, Reid staying behind, charged with solving the riddle. He picks up the picture of a younger, happier Rebecca Bryant, and the camera pulls in tight, as the image changes to a coughing, sweaty, miserable present-day Rebecca Bryant. She’s in a dungeon of sorts, with concrete block walls, chained by the legs to a bed. She looks up at a surveillance camera and begs for help. Cameras, noted for their swift response to sobbing damsels in distress, would normally leap off walls and into action at such a pathetic display. This particular camera simply blinks impotently at our fair maiden. Harsh.
Back at Quantico Hotch harasses Anderson, the agent charged with escorting Greenaway home at the end of last season. Anderson says that he took her home, and then came back to work. Hotch is like “you dink – WE ARE DEALING WITH DANGER HERE – go back over! Now! Now!” Anderson looks strained, probably trying to figure out the going rate for moonlighting as a baby-sitter, but finally turns to go. Hotch grabs a phone and looks intense.
Back on the Dream-o-Vision Air Express, a pilot type fellow addresses Agent Greenaway, who was the brunette we’d seen earlier. Just, if you hadn’t figured that one out on your own. Greenaway looks confused as the pilot asks for a case file. He needs the case file, he says, or she’ll have to get off. The rules are very…
CLEAR! Back in reality, a paramedic just threw a few thousand volts of electricity at the bloodied body of Elle Greenaway, confirming that she did in fact get shot by the Unsub at the end of last season. There is blood all over the place as the medic voices that they need to be careful or they’ll lose her again, permanently. Panning across the apartment, we see the word “RULES” written in drippy Elle-blood all over her nice white walls. That is so not going to come out.
Credits! This is the Behavioral Analysis Unit at Quantico! A review of the cast: Mandy “Inigo Montoya” Patinkin as Jason Gideon, Thomas “Greg” Gibson as Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner, Lola Glaudini as Elle Greenaway, Shemar “Eye Candy” Moore as Derek “Eye Candy” Morgan, Matthew Gray Gubler as Dr. Spencer “Awkward” Reid, AJ Cook as Blondie… er, JJ, and Kirsten Vangsness as Penelope Garcia.
Reid is standing in front of an expository white board, thinking up possible book titles. His first thought is that his task is impossible, and then he thinks some more and runs HILARIOUSLY out of the room. We’re talking ramrod straight pixie steps. He busts into Gideon’s room to review all the necessary elements of finding the right book – the correct edition, year, all that jazz. None of this really matters, but while we’re having a Reid scene I’m just going to say that I find Matthew Gray Gubler to be really cute (have you SEEN the modeling pics?) and his website is hilarious.
Moving on, Hotch interrogates the poor bastard delivery man who took a package to Hotch’s house last season on behalf of the Unsub. He did it for the cash. Illuminating.
In with Garcia and Reid, and Garcia is geeking out. I love Garcia, but scenes with her are all “lol computarz!” SHE IZ SO 1337!!! Anyway she finds a user “Sir Kneighf,” which, as anagrams go, is kind of forced don’t you think? Reid bends down to look at the computer screen and sniff Garcia’s hair. Okay maybe not that last part. Some babble about databases, and then Reid requests that Garcia type something into a search engine for him. He says this very carefully, as if it is, like, hard. So he rattles off a rhyme, Garcia gets a hit, and it prompts his memory of a book his momma used to read. Garcia is like “um.” Reid goes on to say that this particularly piece is “widely considered the first Valentine’s poem” and Garcia is all “…issues.”
Reid does some mind mapping as visions of numbers and clues flash all around him in a really weird special effect. Did they do this last year? Was this show always this cheesy? Oh don’t answer that. Anyway through the magic of “search engines” Reid and Garcia hit upon a book called The Collector. Ding ding! We have a winner! I expected no less from the unit savant.
Oh, and we’re back to the delivery guy. He doesn’t remember what the baddie who paid him to deliver the big mean package looked like. He does recall that what he did see was “all messed up” and “scarred.” This is… um, progress?
Hotch and Gideon exit the interrogation room and strut into the hallways, where they rendezvous with Reid and Garcia. Reid pulls them up to speed on the fact that he picked exactly the right book out of millions on his very first guess. He’s so dreamy!
Gideon gets a call from someone calling himself the “Fisher King,” which Reid immediately notes is an anagram of the aforementioned “Sir Kneighf.” This could be the Unsub! Gideon learns us: “the fisher king is at the end of all grail quests.”
The unit gathers around the phone for the call. The raspy voice on the other end whines that he didn’t want to do what he did, reiterates that There Are Rules (and if Mario Lopez and Dancing With The Stars have taught me anything, it’s that America was founded on rules!). Gideon, playing the know-it-all, is like “ANYWAY how’d you get those burns?” and Sir Kills-A-Lot is like “ACTUALLY Agent Greenaway did not have to die like that! PWNED!”
Many close-ups of stunned unit members. Oh shit. I am Inigo Montoya, you killed my FBI agent, prepare to die!! Oh, Elle Greenaway’s name placard. Wait, what? Were they taking the call at her desk? Listen guys… boundaries.
Back on the Mile High Daddy Issues Express, Elle is conversing with her daddy, and then her real-time unconscious body is wheeled through the halls of a hospital. Hotch and Gideon storm into the hospital, where Agent Anderson apologizes profusely and is totally never getting hired as a baby-sitter again. He didn’t even get to sing the baby-sitter blues! Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to being interrogated by Hotch. Anderson gives the rundown (summary: she got shot, oops), and then Hotch dispatches him to do more bitchwork.
Back at the round table, Reid and Garcia are teleconferencing with a breathy phone sex operator… er, librarian, getting the scoop on the book. You know all those memes that are like “stick your arm to the right and grab the first book you touch and turn to page 83, and on line 12 post the phrase?” This is that.
Hospital, Gideon and Hotch pace, and vie for the title of Who Was More Responsible; so far Hotch is in the lead, because he didn’t type up an elaborate set of rules to post to the fridge. Also next time he’s totally going to ask around for a sitter before just settling on the first person who walks into his line of sight. Anyway, they try to reach JJ and Morgan, with the exposition that they’ve been out of cell range. Shit, they need to get the Melinda Gordon plan.
JJ and Morgan are driving along in an SUV, as JJ reviews what we know about Rebecca Bryant. Oh yeah, her! Turns out she’s been missing for two years. They talk it out and decide that there is something “funky” about the whole Bryant investigation. Needing to make a call, JJ exposits that she’ll do so as soon as they “re-enter the world of cell phone service.” A helpful sign says they’re nearing South Boston. I guess they don’t have technology in Virginia.
Finally Garcia and Reid have cracked the book code. It reads, as if you care:
The path to the end
Began at his start
To find her first calm
Her long broken heart
She sits in a window
With secrets from her knight
Is it adventure that keeps
Him out of her sight
Reid says “it’s a riddle.” Like… wow. I’m glad you’re here, boy, because I can barely keep up! Might be the alcohol. Bailey’s Irish Cream mixed with Eggnog, you won’t be disappointed!
A series of bizarre close-ups and camera shots, punctuated by expressive eye movements and a need to verbalize every little thing that crosses his mind, yes folks this is once again the part where Reid Figures Something Out. And what he figures is that his mother is in Grave Danger, and needs to be brought into protective custody. Garcia is like “wut.” While on the phone, Reid further exposits that he believes the Unsub is known to his mother and that she may be in danger. Garcia is like “wut.” Reid reluctantly states that his mother is at the sanitarium. As a patient. Garcia is shocked.
Sanitarium! A nurse approaches Diana Reid and says that someone is there to see her – she looks up and appears alarmed. Commercial!
Back in the SUV, JJ has apparently finally gotten cell reception, and gets the bad news about Greenaway. She passes it on to Morgan, who is doing the driving. His reaction is to first pull over (responsible!) and then to pull the U-Turn of WHAT across a median and in front of oncoming traffic (not so much!). He wants to go to the hospital, but JJ is like “what are you, a doctor?” She explains that all they know is that Elle is in surgery.
So of course here we are at Elle’s surgery, which looks…um, bloody. And then she dream-cams away to Cloud 9 on the good ship Daddy Issues. It was hard growing up without him! It is somewhat unnerving that Daddy is clearly presented as the age he died (which is young) and so he looks the same age, if not younger, than Greenaway in these segments. He says that whatever happens is up to her.
Back at the hospital, Hotch and Gideon talk about the Unsub, and how shocked he appears that the agents aren’t following his rules. Hotch exposits that the Unsub is delusional, thinks he’s a mythical king. Gideon on the other hand doesn’t think that someone going to such effort could claim to be “suffering psychotic breaks from reality.” Anderson comes back all apologetic, and announces that scene processing got them a partial print of the Unsub, and now they’re looking for a match.
In the office, Garcia approaches Reid to let him know that his mother is safe, having been picked up by agents. Reid mutters about how people tell him their secrets all the time, because he doesn’t “have anyone to betray them to.” Anyone except his momma. Aw. He waffles, before rhetorically asking if Garcia knows that schizophrenia is genetically passed. Ah, and at last we see the source of Reid’s constipation… consternation. I say “at last” because this the first time he’s actually said it, but it’s been out there for awhile. He and Garcia give each other Serious Looks.
Chez Rebecca Bryant, the family has stored all of the girl’s stuff in boxes in the garage. Morgan gets the mom out of the garage by asking for coffee, to which the mom reacts as if he’s just asked for a hit of acid – “Excuse me?!” JJ drags her into the house, as Morgan talks to the detective who did the original work on Rebecca Bryant’s case, back when it was a missing person deal.
Morgan says he thinks the garage storage is weird, that most families keep their children’s rooms intact, holding out hope – “parents don’t give up, ever!” The detective says that this case wasn’t cut and dry, that Rebecca was no angel. Hold onto your caps for her list of crimes, folks, because it’s a doozy of a rap sheet: dope, vandalism, theft, truancy! I definitely clutched my pearls.
Morgan yells at the detective, because none of this was in the police report, and in fact no one really bothered to look for her at all. He asks why Rebecca was “acting out,” and just in time for Bryant Mom to come back with coffee, asks if there was abuse. Mom says that since they’d brought Rebecca in, they’d treated her like an angel. See, she was adopted! Something terrible had happened to her whole family, and her name used to be Rebecca Garner.
In the dungeon, Rebecca coughs as Papa Garner, oh, I mean “the Unsub,” brings her a delicious chicken dinner! That’s so fatherly. Rebecca thumps him on the back of the head with a try, and though it has no effect, when he turns around the camera finally gets a full view – massive, full-body scarring from serious burns covers the Unsub. He says that he won’t kill Rebecca, because he loves her too much. She cries.
In Garcia’s computer lab, the phone rings, and it is Morgan. You know, she should really turn on the lights in that room, because frankly the glow of 20 LCDs is not enough to protect her eyes from damage. I think the FBI can afford some lamps. Garcia is cranky from Reid’s revelation, but manages to snap out a search for Rebecca Garner-Bryant’s birth parents. She finds some records, but they need to be unsealed, so in the meantime…
We revisit Gideon and Hotch at the hospital. They still can’t get a profile on the Unsub. Gideon’s guilty conscience monologues about how Elle will understand his choices.
Back on Air Daddy, Elle tells ghost dad that she is scared of not waking up. Daddy tells “peanut” that she does have a choice, and that she can choose to fight. Elle kind of wants to stay with him, and he says that that is a choice, too. Ooh, drama! Will she stay, or will she go now?
At the FBI, Reid pours a cup of coffee as his mom comes in the room and announces that too much caffeine has made him too skinny. Reid looks fairly pleased to see her, though she immediately berates him for having “those fascists arrest [her].” Reid is bemused, explaining that the agents are not fascists, and she was not arrested. Oh I get it, she’s schizophrenic! Sigh. Reid asks her to follow him…
Garcia is tap-tapping away, pulling up news articles about a fire. Rebecca Garner-Bryant’s house went up in flames, and took the whole family with it – except for Rebecca. Seems Mr. Garner had pulled her out, but then when making a second attempt in the burning house for other family members, sustained burns so severe that he ended up signing over custody of Rebecca while in the intensive care unit as a hospital – allowing her to be adopted. Garcia also notes that Mr. Garner had won a huge settlement from the contractor who built the house, and… “huh” – turns out Garner had spent some time in the same sanitarium as Diana Reid. Garcia barely refrains from spilling Reid’s secret to Morgan and JJ, illuminating for the audience why people only tell their secrets to Reid. “Sir Kneighf” pops up on the screen, and Garcia quietly “oh my god”-s.
Round Table Room, Reid brings his mother in to “ooh” and “ahh” and grab at the evidence board! Well, he didn’t intend for her to do that last bit. So he breaks the news that the Unsub knows things that only she should know, so does she write about it in her journals? She freaks that her journals are not the government’s business. Reid persuades her to watch a tape of the Unsub to see if she recognizes him, and she does – Randall Garner! At just that moment, Garcia rushes in to announce that Sir Kneighf, the Fisher King, is… Randall Garner! Garcia passes on that Garner is Rebecca’s biological father, and Reid looks surprised.
Oh, well done, team! Seriously, sometimes I wonder if this show is meant to be a mystery to the viewer. I hope not, since I always figure it out ages before the team does.
Back in the hospital, Hotch enters the room in which Gideon is sitting thoughtfully, to announce that Garcia and Reid have identified the Unsub. Hotch heads off to join the fun, while stalwart Gideon stays behind to be there for Greenaway whenever she wakes up from surgery. Just before Hotch leaves, Gideon tells him that the Unsub truly believes that he is the keeper of the Grail, and needs to be convinced that it isn’t real. Good luck with that.
Back at the round table, Diana Reid is expressing her surprise that Rebecca has turned out to be a real person, as apparently Garner always spoke of all his children as being dead. She states that she thought Rebecca was a metaphor, an ideal… Reid follows up with “a grail,” and for those of us just tuning in, states yet again that the Unsub believes that he is the Fisher King. Morgan and JJ come in just in time for Diana to elucidate that Garner believes that Team Quantico are all modern day Knights of the Round Table. As she makes this statement, they are of course gathered around the table that is round.
Morgan is like “qui est?” and Reid introduces his mother, but then Hotch storms in wanting to “find the son of a bitch” and so the team gets to business. They review all their dead ends – adoption records, taxes, etc, and then all of a sudden Diana is like “oh wait actually somebody gave me a picture of a house with an address!” Wait, is deus ex machina a part of Arthurian legend, too?
Also, the picture of the house was taken at night, apparently for no other reason than so the camera could pull up tight on it in transition, so that the next thing we see is FBI agents storming the place. Ahh, TV. As they go through the house, they find various things, such as Greenaway’s gun and ID sitting on a table, a lot of overwrought medieval-inspired artifacts, and then finally Garner himself.
From the perceived safety of the hallway, Reid addresses him – all they want is to help Rebecca, and that’s what he wants, too, right? Garner wants Reid to “ask the question.” Reid explains that Garner believes that if Reid asks the right question, all of Garner’s wounds will be healed. One small problem, there is no such question! Garner once again asks Reid to ask the question, and addresses him as Sir Percival.
Reid tells Garner that there is no Grail, that Rebecca is his daughter. Garner moans that he has no daughter, all of his family died in a fire. Reid tiptoes forward, hands in the air, towards Garner’s room, as he reiterates that Rebecca is alive and well. Garner says that Diana Reid had made him understand that Rebecca wasn’t real at all – that’s when Reid busts out with the “my mother is a paranoid schizophrenic!” to the clear surprise of Morgan and Hotch, who are watching apprehensively from further down the hall.
Reid finally reaches the room Garner is in, and carefully pushes open the door to reveal a seated Garner, hands shaking with his thumb on the trigger of a huge, glowing-red bomb that is strapped to his body. “Ask the question.” He begs Reid to ask the question, and to heal him. Reid reluctantly re-states that there is no question, and that the Fisher King wounds cannot be healed by someone else; his wound is a wound of the mind, not the body.
Reid says that the only really important question is whether Garner can forgive himself. He shakes and sighs and says that he couldn’t get to them in time. Reid looks hopeful and says that Garner can save Rebecca now if only he’ll tell Reid where she is. Garner says that Reid knows where she is, because Garner sent Reid’s mother the map. Garner asks if he can forgive himself, and Reid looks apprehensive and starts slowly backing away in awareness of what is about to happen. “No, I can’t!”
Reid turns, and yells “run” as Garner detonates.
All escaping unharmed, Hotch and Morgan retrieve Reid from a debris-littered hallway as a fire starts to burn in the house. Morgan barks that perhaps the presence of a bomb is something that Reid should have mentioned to the rest of the team. Reid stops to think, pulling it out that if Garner is the Fisher King and the house is his castle, then Rebecca must be inside!
Anyway, Reid uses that eidetic memory of his to recall that in the photograph, there was a basement light on in the house, thus revealing the other reason why the photograph was taken at night – to solve the final mystery! Um, because dungeons are not historically in the basement or anything. As the team hurtles down the stairs, Rebecca coughs and asks if the house is on fire. Poor girl! She’s chained to the bed, but Reid has, courtesy of Garner’s clue-mail, the key. The chains are unlocked and Rebecca is hauled up and moved out just before a fireball comes rolling through.
Reid voiceovers with a quote from Rose Kennedy – that people have said that “time heals all wounds,” but she personally does not agree. The wounds remain, but the mind changes to mask them, to protect one’s sanity.
Back on Air Daddy, Elle apologizes to her father figure because the last thing she ever said to him was that she hated him. She flashes to her eight-year-old self and puts her tiny hand in his. “I love you daddy.” He loves her, too! And that’s all the help she needs. Flashing back to her appropriate-aged self, unconscious Elle tells her dad that she can’t stay with him. He smiles, and says he’ll be there when it is time.
The passing of ceiling tiles, and then the looming face of a doctor, and Elle Greenaway is conscious! I guess love really is all you need.
At headquarters, the team struts in and JJ rushes to meet them with the good news about Elle. The team does some back-patting, and Garcia comments that they couldn’t have done it without Mrs. Reid. Speaking of her… Reid goes to find her, and tells her that Rebecca is safe, and that Mrs. Reid had helped. She continues writing in her journal, looking thoroughly disinterested, until finally she looks up and asks for lunch – she needs her energy to give a lecture on Tristan & Isolde. Reid gets smushy and asks if he can attend the lecture, too – he hasn’t read the material, but it has been read to him! The family Reid nod at each other.
Time for the episode-ending montage!
Elle’s hospital room. Gideon comes in as Five for Fighting plays over the soundtrack. He takes Elle’s hand.
Garcia’s computer lab. She sits on the floor as Morgan squats down and hands her a screwdriver. They grin at each other. Aw! What are Morgan/Garcia shippers, anyway? Gargans? I’ll go with that.
JJ wipes off the clue board. She gets the shitty jobs.
Reid and his mother are on a flight heading back to the sanitarium. She looks anxiously out the window as he holds her hand and reads to her.
At Greenaway’s house, the police crime scene tape comes down, as Hotch enters. He gets a bucket with water and starts scrubbing at Elle’s bloodstains. It’s really not coming out. Told ya so!
So in summary, Garner had himself in a psychological Arthurian hell, left a lot of obtuse clues for the unit, killed some people and harmed some others, and gained nothing, ultimately killing himself in exactly the kind of fiery demise he escaped the first time around. I’m glad we could all learn this important lesson about…
See you next week, when in a shocking turn of events, it becomes apparent that the internet is for porn.