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Criminal Minds: Episode 11

Our criminal of the hour seeks justice on his own terms, and it’s the NCI team’s job to stop him before his righteousness leads to a full-on murder spree. But first impressions may not always be right, as our heroes learn while chasing the culprit in this cat and mouse game.

 
EPISODE 11 RECAP

The murderer of the couple last week walks around his room, which is filled with items and images related to Dike, the Greek goddess of justice, as well as books pertaining to the law and justice. While drying off after a shower, the culprit freaks out at the sight of his own skin and desperately tries to wipe himself.

He catches his reflection in a shattered mirror, and slowly walks towards it as if in a trance. The culprit pushes back his hair from his forehead and grimaces, then groans and shakes as a memory from his childhood floods his mind.

As a young boy, the culprit enjoyed drawing, but his father disapproved, dragging him by his hair and throwing him inside a cage as punishment. Though the culprit begged for mercy, his father took a branding iron and burned him, telling his son that they must bring justice to the world. Now, he stares at his scar and holds his head in pain.

Min-young explains to Ki-hyung that the murdered couple had a good reputation with no obvious enemies, and suggests that the killer randomly chose them as targets. However, Ki-hyung disagrees, believing that they’re missing an unseen connection.

Sun-woo arrives with more information about the murders, and tells Ki-hyung that the victims had cuts identical to ones used in butchery. She’s already compiled a list of workers from the nearby slaughterhouses, and Ki-hyung orders her to investigate everyone.

The culprit has uploaded another video of the murder to the same streaming website, but this time he states in the introduction that the world needs to be judged. While the NCI team tries to profile him—assuming more than one person is involved—Han calls for their attention since the laptop from the victims’ house just turned on.

On the other side, the timid culprit watches the NCI team on his monitor, and a gravelly voice behind him says that the world is filled with people trying to stop their cause. Biting his lip, the culprit types something on his computer, and a message is sent to the NCI team in red letters across the laptop: “You can never stop us! If you try to stop us, we will judge you in the name of the law!”

Realizing that the culprit is remotely accessing the laptop, Ki-hyung decides to open the scope of their search and look for any computer repairs the victim may have made. All the while, the culprit’s video spreads rapidly, and Nana is repulsed by the comments praising the uploader—they all believe the footage was staged. Hyun-joon gravely notes that the culprit was right about one thing: “The world is quite sick.”

As deduced by the NCI team, the culprit operates a telephone-based computer support service. Talking with a customer, the culprit learns that she has a camera on her laptop, but as he asks for remote access to her device, a woman on another one of his monitors makes out passionately with a man. The gravelly voice yells at him to kill the witch, and the meek culprit tries to argue with the gravelly voice about punishing the woman.

The NCI team gathers to discuss what they know about the case, and deduces at least two people involved in what they presume to be the first murder. Sun-woo proposes the possibility of schizophrenia for one accomplice while the other oversees the computer work, but Ki-hyung remains unsure since the culprits don’t fit the general profiles.

Hyun-joon suggests that the culprit called not to stop the murders but as a precaution for when they’re caught, indicating the possibility of an abnormal mentality. Regardless of the profiles, the team agrees that contact must have been made between the culprit and victim, so Ki-hyung ends their meeting to look for more evidence.

Sun-woo finds a report from three months ago reporting a stranger loitering around the victims’ home, and tells Ki-hyung about it, offering to go interview the informant with Min-young. As soon as they leave, an officer runs up to Ki-hyung with urgent news: Another murder has occurred.

Arriving at the crime scene, the officer in charge informs the NCI team about the call they received, and how this time the caller seemed to be alone and addressed himself as “The Executor.” The officer explains that they found a man dead upstairs—the homeowner’s tennis instructor—but the homeowner herself has disappeared, leaving behind her keys and car. They contacted her husband for information, but he’s currently away on a business trip.

The team goes upstairs to investigate, and Han recognizes the devil card—placed by the killer—as a representation of sexual corruption. He reads aloud the note that was also left behind, revealing the killer’s motivation: “People who have committed adultery have destroyed a family and deserve to be executed.”

The killer’s sudden change in pattern puzzles Hyun-joon, and Ki-hyung quickly scans the room looking for any clues. He notices the laptop nearby, and dourly says that the culprit must have been monitoring the victim through it before slamming it closed.

In a dimly lit cave, the homeowner/victim is tied to a chair, and she begs for her life. The culprit timidly calls someone father, and denounces their actions as murder. His “father” shouts at him, accusing him of being weak because of his mother, and tells the executor to prepare the execution. With glistening eyes, the culprit apologizes to the victim and then turns to look at the barking dog caged behind him.

The officer approaches Ki-hyung and asks if he has any hunches. Ki-hyung tells him that in typical cases with accomplices, one is the ruler while the other is the subordinate, and that these roles usually never switch. But in this case, they have, and Ki-hyung wonders if the culprit might not be who they think it is.

The culprit faces a hooded figure (the one with the gravelly voice) holding a camera, and says that the law exists to reform people, not to punish them. He pleads with the other man to forgive the victim, but the hooded man says sternly that people don’t learn unless they’re punished.

The hooded figure threatens to punish the culprit too if he says another word, and the culprit bows his head in fear. Grabbing a book (The Seven Deadly Sins and Justice), the culprit reads a passage: “Those who committed adultery shall be put to death, yet to make them pay for their sin until the last moment, choose the most merciless punishment.”

The culprit opens the cage of the barking dog, and the victim screams.

Ki-hyung tells the team that the executor might not exist since they could be chasing one criminal. Han agrees with him since a multiple personality disorder would explain the contradictory evidence, but before they get any further, Nana shows them a new video uploaded by the murderer.

In the video, two dogs circle the homeowner’s lifeless body, and the pieces slowly fall into place. The team realizes the culprit owns a dog-breeding farm—not a slaughterhouse—which was why they couldn’t find a connection.

Meanwhile, Sun-woo and Min-young arrive at the house of the informant, Kim Min-soo, who reported the suspicious lurker. They notice the lights turn off as they get closer, and when they get no answer, Min-young offers to search around back while Sun-woo stays near the front.

Nana builds a list of dog-breeding vendors, and from there, Hyun-joon discovers a man who passed the first entry of the bar exam. Though he’s the closest to their profile, Ki-hyung points out his age, making him too old. Han notes that the man had a son named Kim Min-soo—the same name as the informant.

Ki-hyung realizes that Min-soo called the police to gauge how fast they would arrive, and quickly calls Sun-woo to warn her. Unfortunately, Sun-woo has no signal, so when she hears dogs barking in the distance, she leaves to investigate.

Min-young finds an unlocked window in the back of the building, and discovers Min-soo’s computer and monitors. At the same time, Sun-woo reaches the cave and sees the victim’s body slumped on the ground—right as a dog attacks her. Ack!

Min-young hears two gunshots and looks around in shock, unaware of the door opening behind her. Min-soo pops through the doorway holding a shovel, and knocks Min-young out.

The police and NCI team cautiously approach Min-soo’s house, splitting into two teams. Hyun-joon leads one group to the cave, where they stumble upon a dead dog. Suddenly, Sun-woo orders them to halt and points her gun at them—unable to distinguish friend from foe in the darkness.

Hyun-joon recognizes her, and raises his hands in the air while calmly reassuring Sun-woo that it’s them. Realizing that it’s safe, Sun-woo lowers her gun and leans against the wall in exhaustion. She tells him that Min-soo is the culprit, and then frantically asks if Min-young is okay.

Ki-hyung enters Min-soo’s house and finds the computer shut off—they’re too late. Min-soo escapes right under their noses as he drives away in a van with Min-young strapped in the front, unconscious.

The sun is up by the time Min-young wakes up in a hunting cabin, bound to a chair, and sees her captor sitting nearby. She asks who he is, and in a deep, rumbling voice, Min-soo says that he’s already introduced himself to the police. He explains that he’s the executor of the law, and holding up her badge, he says that Min-young protects it. Moving his face just inches from hers, he asks her what crimes she committed.

The NCI team sets up shop at Min-soo’s house, and Nana checks his computer for evidence. Hyun-joon asks if his browser history has things related to the law or violent videos, but Nana tells him that nothing special has turned up except for the live video feeds from webcams. They notice tarot cards attached to the monitors, and Hyun-joon realizes that Min-soo was watching the live videos to catch someone breaking the law.

Min-soo drags a bag into the cabin while carrying a gun, and addresses Min-young belligerently, as though they’ve never met—it isn’t the angry father or the timid son, so this must be a third personality. He starts butchering a slab of meat, and asks Min-young if she likes blood. He explains that real justice begins with blood, and announces the start of a test.

Han discovers Min-soo’s prescriptions of Zoletil, an anesthetic for animals, which may have caused his mental illness. Ki-hyung guesses that Min-soo probably took the drug to forget painful childhood memories, leading to a vicious cycle that only worsened his symptoms. However, since the murders started recently, Ki-hyung says that some event must have occurred that triggered Min-soo’s trauma.

Then the police uncover Min-soo’s father’s dead body inside a barrel, and Han grimly notes that this must have been the incident.

In the cabin, Min-soo timidly offers food to Min-young, and, witnessing the sudden change, she realizes that Min-soo has multiple personality disorder. Utilizing this chance, Min-young asks Min-soo to untie her arms since they hurt, but Min-soo refuses. He does offer to help her, though, and brings out a needle and an anesthetic to help with the pain.

Min-young begins to panic, assuring him that she doesn’t need it. Min-soo ignores her, promising to be gentle and saying that it’ll be their secret from his father, who doesn’t know he has the drugs.

As he places the needle on her arm, the “father” personality takes over, and his face contorts when he realizes what’s going on. He throws the syringe on the ground and accuses her of tricking his son, then slaps Min-young hard across her face.

A police officer informs the NCI team that Min-soo’s father died six months ago, and Sun-woo finds one missing day in Min-soo’s diary. Ki-hyung finds an entry of that day in a different diary, where Min-soo writes that his father wanted to be executed.

The officer asks if that means Min-soo killed his father, but Ki-hyung tells him that the journal entry was from two months ago—much later than the father’s death. The NCI team guesses that experiencing this contradictory command must have caused Min-soo’s dissociative identity disorder.

Nana figures out that Min-soo lured his victims with ads about cheap computer fixes, but Hyun-joon is more interested in knowing if Min-soo’s father also has an account on the computer. To Nana’s surprise, there is an account under his father’s name, and immediately, images of war and violence pop up.

A video suddenly plays on a monitor, revealing Min-young bloody and tied to a chair. The NCI team watch helplessly—unable to pinpoint the location of the video feed—and Min-soo tells Min-young to choose the next target in front of her colleagues or else she’ll die first.

Thinking quickly, Min-young attempts to send a coded message to the team, and says that Min-soo can’t act like a poacher who hunts and kills his targets without proving the accused’s guilt. That angers Min-soo, and he demands that she choose the next victim from the three he’s currently monitoring.

When Min-young refuses to play along, Min-soo calls forth the “executor,” and with two cracks of his neck, Min-soo shifts into that personality, turning expressionless. He walks behind Min-young and brings a knife to her throat, forcing Min-young to comply.

She asks Min-soo to choose survivors instead of a target, and picks one of the women onscreen. Min-soo notes the woman’s name, age, and sin to Min-young, which is just enough information for Nana to find the victim’s telephone number and warn her of the danger.

Min-young chooses a second survivor, and once again, Min-soo states the man’s information and sin. That means the family being watched on the third screen will become the next victims, and Min-young asks if he’s going to kill the children, too. She quickly describes the family composition and general apartment aesthetics, remaining vague to avoid arousing suspicion but giving enough for the NCI to narrow down on possible targets. However, Min-soo sneers at her, knowing her hidden intentions, and punches her in the face.

As the team rewatches the video, they spot how Min-young’s gaze shifts to the camera as she speaks, and Sun-woo notices Min-young’s odd analogy to poachers. They deduce that she must be located in a hunting area.

Min-soo leaves to murder his next target, but can only look from afar since the police have arrived before him. He returns to the cabin and resumes the video feed, announcing that Min-young’s death sentence will occur promptly at 11 p.m.

The team learns that Min-soo was caught on camera seventeen minutes ago at the target’s location, and with that, they work backwards, calculating the possible distance he could have travelled in that short amount of time. They find three possible locations, and the team immediately heads out.

Min-young asks Min-soo if he (the real, timid Min-soo) is there inside that head. She appeals to his humanity, saying that he’s trying to stop his father because he loves him. Min-soo frowns at her words and yells at her to shut up. He grabs her by the throat, but Min-young tells him that she’ll protect him.

She asks him for help, and the original Min-soo regains control of his body. He asks if she can really protect him, and after she promises, he cuts her ropes. He tells Min-young to make it out alive, just before reverting to his “father” personality.

Min-young easily dodges Min-soo’s punches and throws him to the floor, pinning him. However, Min-soo stabs her with a needle containing the anesthetic, and Min-young slumps to the ground.

While driving towards the hunting area, Sun-woo ponders Min-soo’s murder method, believing that this would lead them to the crime scene. Hyun-joon brings up Min-soo’s dead mother, and they learn from Nana that his mother committed suicide, although his father told the police she deserved death for deceiving him.

Hyun-joon remembers that Min-soo accused Min-young of the same sin, and asks Nana what the corresponding tarot card illustrates. She tells them it’s a grave with an image of someone hanging, and upon learning that there’s a gravesite locating on the hunting grounds, they head there next.

Min-soo places a noose around Min-young’s neck, and down below where his van is parked, Hyun-joon and Sun-woo arrive. Backup is on the way, but they decide to go investigate first because they’re pressed for time.

As they weave their way through the graves, Min-soo turns on his camera to start the video, and Nana gasps in horror when the feed begins and she sees Min-young being strung up with a noose.

Hyun-joon and Sun-woo reach the hilltop near the tree Min-young is tied to, but Min-soo remains out of sight, hidden in the shadows. They guess that he’s waiting for them to save Min-young so that he can attack, but Hyun-joon heads on anyway.

Min-soo begins dragging the rope, lifting Min-young’s body into the air, dangling from her neck. Hyun-joon runs to prop up Min-young’s body, and as he lifts her up, Min-soo jumps out and slices him in the arm.

Hyun-joon grapples with Min-soo, but the two seem evenly match as Min-soo pins Hyun-joon against the tree. With a deft kick, Hyun-joon knocks Min-soo backwards, but the killer merely lunges at Hyun-joon again.

Sun-woo shoots as Min-soo raises his knife to attack, and Min-soo crumples to the ground. She hurries to Min-young’s side, begging her to wake up. Slumped on the ground, Min-soo asks them to save Min-young, and with his dying breath tells them that his mother is buried here and that Min-young reminds him of her.

Min-young is transported on a gurney, and the profilers huddle around her, asking if she’s okay. Min-young silently reaches out towards Ki-hyung, and he holds her hand before she’s wheeled into the ambulance.

Ki-hyung asks if Hyun-joon’s arm is all right, and he brushes it off as a minor wound. With a pat on the shoulder, Ki-hyung tells Hyun-joon that he did a good job. Inside the ambulance, Min-young thanks Sun-woo, and she smiles at her, telling her that it’s fine.

 
COMMENTS

The recent cases have all been enjoyable, and part of the fun comes from actually seeing the profilers’ thinking process. Unlike the beginning episodes where the team found culprits offscreen and acted almost indistinguishably from police officers, they’re now working alongside officers and discussing possible profiles of the culprit. As Saya pointed out in Episode 10, the audience already knew the killer had no physical accomplice, so unlike other cases, we saw how the NCI team started off with the wrong assumptions and slowly reoriented themselves, putting the pieces together as they uncovered more clues. Not only does it reveal that our heroes are fallible, it also illustrates how profiling is a process that requires evidence to make strong conclusions like any other scientific approach.

The casting for villains has been very strong in this show, from Im Soo-hyang to Jo Han-chul and now Jung Tae-woo. The downside of casting a capable actor in a guest appearance is that the audience is primed to expect a big role, so when cases depend on twists and hidden identities, some of the surprise is taken away. However, when cases reveal the culprit early on, as in today or with the drive-by shooter, the element of surprise isn’t needed in terms of the reveal because the twist lies in an aspect of the character. Thus, casting capable actors like Jung Tae-woo allows complex characters to flourish.

While I want the show to be about the team members and subsequently learn more about our heroes and their relationships, I admit that the recent improvement in criminals and cases has stemmed some of my disappointment in that regard. I feel more engaged with the plot as the focus turns towards the process of capturing a culprit rather than the results and consequences. Now that we’ve reached the halfway mark, it’s a good thing the show is finding its rhythm, and since the source material has plenty of cases and stories to tell, I doubt the typical lag that plagues many shows will necessarily be a problem here.

Though the criminals have been taking the spotlight, I am still eager (and hopeful!) to delve deeper into the NCI team, especially since the show reveals snippets of possible relationships that raise a barrage of questions. I’m still a firm believer that Sun-woo is a passionate marshmallow underneath her calculating and blunt persona, and seeing her feel so guilty towards Min-young only made me want more of her backstory and understand what motivates her to try so hard. In addition, Ki-hyung continuously demonstrated his leadership capabilities both in terms of skill and interpersonal relations this episode. It’s revealing that Min-young reached out to Ki-hyung first, seeking comfort in his presence, and I’m enjoying the growing bond between Ki-hyung and Hyun-joon, even if the show only gives me crumbs at most. (I’m not bitter.) On that note, there’s been an odd lack of presence from the titular hero—and not in terms of screen time which he still has plenty. I feel like Hyun-joon isn’t coming through as a character as much as the others, and almost blends into the background or simply moves the plot forward with his actions. He’s rarely a focal point, but the show still has plenty of time to remedy that—which I’m sure it will. Fingers crossed!

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