Criminal Minds: They Went There :(

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I’ve spoken before about my love for Criminal Minds’ Penelope Garcia. I stand by that love. She rocks in many, many ways.

But tonight’s episode kind of sucked for her. Major spoilers for the episode Lucky below:

The case of the night was disturbing, as usual. I…wish they’d explained why the Bad Guy only killed and ate women. He was just a sick individual all around, but his symptoms didn’t really seem to dictate a gender preference, except in the obvious way all his victims were women (but whyyyyyy?). Anyway. Believe it or not, that’s not the thrust of my irritation so I shouldn’t have even brought it up.

The episode began with Garcia going for her morning tea. It’s clear she does it every day or often – the barista at the coffee/tea shop greeted her by name and knew her usual. On the way out, she passes a very attractive man whose laptop has just frozen. She notices, and of course fixes it for him. She’s all cool and tech-savvy like that. To her surprise, the guy gives her his phone number, and she gives hers after a shellshocked moment.

Then she goes to work, where she immediately runs into Derek Morgan, the profiler with whom she shares a real innuendo-laced friendship. Garcia doesn’t act the same around him as she usually does, too preoccupied by Hot Guy. Morgan notices, and she tells him about Hot Guy, along with suspicions – after all, hot guys don’t exactly pound down her door. It takes time for people to get to know her in all her glory (she does rock,  have I mentioned that?) before that happens. She wonders if the guy has an agenda. Morgan is a bit taken aback by her telling him the story of Hot Guy wanting to talk to her, I think for different reasons than we’re supposed to believe, and basically agrees with her and tells her to trust her gut.

Later on in the episode, when the profilers are out on a case, Garcia’s Hot Guy calls and asks her out for dinner. She flubs a bit, then pretends to have a cold. Morgan calls just after this, and she tells him she took his earlier advice and blew off Hot Guy. I can’t remember exactly what Morgan says, but it’s vaguely, if unintentionally insulting and Garcia calls him out, telling him that she knows he’d never in a million years ask out a woman like her, but that doesn’t mean other people are as shallow…and then promptly hangs up on him to call Hot Guy back.

(Note: A few extra points to Prentiss who, after hearing Garcia say “I met a hot guy”, knows exactly where the tension between Garcia and Morgan is stemming from and tells Morgan, “When a woman tells a man about her feelings, she doesn’t want him to  fix her, she wants him to shut up and listen.”)

Fast forward to the end of the episode. Garcia’s being walked to her door by Hot Guy. They chit chat about coincidences and luck, that is – him being in the coffee shop and her knowing how to fix his computer and then, when it’s clear she expects a kiss, Hot Guy hugs her and that’s it.  She looks incredibly disappointed and walks up the stairs alone. But then, aha, Hot Guy calls her attention with an “I’ve been wanting to do this all night.”

And then he pulls out a gun and shoots her.

Given the nature of the program, I know their meeting was no coincidence. I’m sure next week we’ll see Garcia has become a victim of a nasty piece of work who’s likely targeted her for some time. I get that, but…did they have to pull the “no hot man is going to fall for a fat (fabulous, damnit!!) woman,  unless there’s something wrong with him” card?

I am SO sick of this message.

Comments

  1. says

    I can see where you’re coming from here, personally though I saw it completely different.

    To me, it seemed clear that Morgan wasn’t taken aback so much as he was surprised and jealous. (Suddenly she’s not flirting with him and is talking serious attraction to another guy?) I read it as he had grown comfortable in their interactions and suddenly saw the possibility of it changing. This then makes his whole swallowing his foot thing make a lot of sense.

    That’s probably ultimately why I didn’t get the same reading as you regarding the scene, since it really seems to me like this is going to be the catalyst for some kind of new development with their relationship. And Morgan’s much hotter than the evil coffee shop guy. :-)

    Unrelated to that, I think they did obliquely explain the criminal’s choice of victims too, when they that the compulsion was the twisting together of the two biological drives for sustenance and sex. So extrapolating, the guy only ate women because he was heterosexual. (Compared to say, Dahmer, who was homosexual and consumed men.)

  2. sbg says

    To me, it seemed clear that Morgan wasn’t taken aback so much as he was surprised and jealous. (Suddenly she’s not flirting with him and is talking serious attraction to another guy?) I read it as he had grown comfortable in their interactions and suddenly saw the possibility of it changing. This then makes his whole swallowing his foot thing make a lot of sense.

    I never said I didn’t see this interpretation, did I? ;) I’m actually kind of a Garcia/Morgan shipper. For the purpose of the message they were getting out regarding that whole sub-plot, though, I focused on the taken aback interpretation. It fed into the not-subtle “fat women don’t get the hot guys” motif.

    Unrelated to that, I think they did obliquely explain the criminal’s choice of victims too, when they that the compulsion was the twisting together of the two biological drives for sustenance and sex.

    Ah, thanks, I must have missed that, though I still wonder why the psycho couldn’t have been a universal offender.

  3. says

    I still wonder why the psycho couldn’t have been a universal offender.

    Actually, this is sadly realistic. Most serial killers in real life target women; those who don’t often seem to target minorities (PoC, lower-income classes). None that I can recall target white men or rich people. The explanation for the focus on women is always that tired old “merging of sex and aggression drive”, but I think there’s a far simpler explanation:

    They are compelled to kill but they know getting caught will put an end to it. So they select victims they perceive as being of less concern to the genuine populace: women, and PoC. I’m just speculating here, but I think psychiatry has made an erroneous assumption that these people all have PERSONAL motives for choosing victims when some of all of them may have PRACTICAL motives, based on our society’s values.

    And if that doesn’t tell you something about your society’s values…

    I do agree, however, that TV focuses way too much on the killing of women and in particular WHITE middle and upper class women, as if to say the audience wouldn’t miss other victims. Even Davinci’s Inquest, which did a brilliant series arc about murdered prostitutes (mostly First Nations) focused on a white girl when it came time for the audience to get personally involved with a prostitute and find sympathy for her.

  4. MaggieCat says

    Most serial killers in real life target women; those who don’t often seem to target minorities (PoC, lower-income classes). None that I can recall target white men or rich people. The explanation for the focus on women is always that tired old “merging of sex and aggression drive”, but I think there’s a far simpler explanation:

    Most known serial killers have targeted women, but it was only recently that law enforcement has been willing to admit that there could be female serial killers. Until now, the idea that a woman could do that sort of thing was pushed far under the rug, and some historians suspect that a lot of famous unsolved cases were in fact the work of women who no one thought could possibly be dangerous at the time.

    I think there may well be some merit in the idea that sex and aggression are connected in cases like this, and the fact that they’ve been ignoring an entire gender of possible suspects has led to only hearing half the story. Consider that female killers are more likely to use harder to trace methods of killing (poisoning, etc) and it’s possible that lots of cases were never connected because the connection was a woman.

    Well I can’t just complain about women being shown inaccurately as victims all the time, right?

  5. Jennifer Kesler says

    ITA, Maggie, and I’ve pointed out somewhere around here before roughly what you said in the first paragraph. Even L&O has given nods to the idea via Munch on SVU (and by including at least one female serial killer I know of).

    Damn, I can’t find one single good link on this topic, but… the sex/aggression theory… I may be restating what you’re saying here, but my problem with it is that it relies heavily on patriarchal stereotypes about men being “naturally” more aggressive and “natural” instigators of sex and so on, and not only are these theories far from proven (or provable), they do nothing to explain why women would serial kill… because so far the very possibility’s been ignored.

    Nor do they explain why most serial killers are white men. Entitlement to ACT on aggression is surely a big part of this. That’s what white men have more of than the rest of us.

  6. MaggieCat says

    I didn’t mean to imply that sex/aggression are necessarily linked in a particular way- a lot of these people are the sort of quiet unassuming type that blend into the background, but aggression becomes part of the equation once you figure in senses of both inadequacy and entitlement. (Gary Ridgway, the Green River killer, once said that prostitutes did the same thing to him as drugs to an addict, which displays both: entitlement to an object, inadequacy since addiction is still often seen as a moral failing rather than a disease.) Hence the white/male majority (as far as we know), where as you mentioned sense of entitlement often runs rampant, particularly towards someone they view as a sexual object.

    While those aren’t the only reasons for such acts, they’re the most explored because of the portion of the perpetrators that law enforcement has been willing to acknowledge. Female serial killers have largely been confined in the media’s mind to the ‘angel of mercy’ (deludes herself that she’s helping people by killing them) or ‘black widow’ (killing for personal gain) stereotypes, but I remember reading something that it’s also a response to feeling threatened or powerless (the reasoning L&O:SVU used, if I recall correctly), which is just a slightly different read on the same base cause as some male killers.

    Sexual orientation comes in when the fact that a heterosexual woman of this type could largely feel threatened by men so that’s where that aggression would display itself. (I don’t feel confident enough to branch out beyond the responses of straight women, so my apologies for the specificity.) But there are few clear and direct lines in things like this, and I’m willing to bet that identifying and analyzing female killers in the same way they have the male offenders would provide a much more complete picture of both sides.

  7. SunlessNick says

    They are compelled to kill but they know getting caught will put an end to it. So they select victims they perceive as being of less concern to the genuine populace: women, and PoC. I’m just speculating here, but I think psychiatry has made an erroneous assumption that these people all have PERSONAL motives for choosing victims when some of all of them may have PRACTICAL motives, based on our society’s values.

    I think this is unlikely as far as true serial killers are concerned (by which I mean “true” in the profiling sense). As well as the compulsion to kill, serial killers have a ritual they’re compelled to act out, which is distinct from their practical MO; the second they can vary, the first they can’t. The choice of victim is usually considered part of the ritual rather than the MO, because it is often based on narrower characteristics than race or sex.
    That doesn’t preclude society’s values playing a part of course: the majority of serial killers seem to be unsuccessful members of whichever group is socially dominant, and they usually select victims from other groups, which society-at-large often blames for anything that’s wrong with it; but my suspicion is that if this informs the actions of serial killers, it isn’t at the level of intellectual choice.

  8. says

    As well as the compulsion to kill, serial killers have a ritual they’re compelled to act out, which is distinct from their practical MO; the second they can vary, the first they can’t. The choice of victim is usually considered part of the ritual rather than the MO, because it is often based on narrower characteristics than race or sex.

    There are two problems with the foundation of what you’re citing here. (1) There are plenty of violently insane people who have no rituals and may well be undetected serial killers. Psychiatry is completely at a loss as to how to diagnose these folks, as the folks neither seek treatment nor leave clues. The fact they base their profiles on the ones who get caught means they have no experience with the ones who are too smart, too well-adapted to the farce of normality to get caught. (2) A lot of this research depends on serial killers self-reporting their motives. I’m not buying this; it’s a known fact that people with certain personality disorders can convincingly mimic remorse, earnestness, etc., just to reel you in to become their ally, their victim, or whatever they need from you at the moment.

    I’m speculating there’s a whole class of virtually undiscovered (and certainly not understood) serial killers who are not trapped in patterns, who have extreme self-control, who can stop on a dime if they think they’re about to get caught. We’re basing all our research on killers who are either less savvy or less self-disciplined because we like to believe no one could be twisted enough to choose to do these things. I think they are. I don’t think you choose to become that twisted, especially not at the age it seems to happen at, and that’s where I feel society is failing children. But once someone is that twisted, they behave just like a regular person – you or me – who has simply decided, “I know! I’ll take a drive down to the coast and get some fresh air, and then have dinner, and then I’ll kill someone! Oh, and I’ve got to schedule that dentist appointment.”

    And that is why they remain undetected and unpunished. And yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if some or even many of them were women.

    This is all my speculation, of course.

  9. SunlessNick says

    I’m speculating there’s a whole class of virtually undiscovered (and certainly not understood) serial killers who are not trapped in patterns, who have extreme self-control, who can stop on a dime if they think they’re about to get caught.

    I don’t doubt that there are such killers; most groups that engage in routine killing are like that, so I’d imagine there are individuals too; I just think we need a different term for them than for those coming from a place of compulsion/ritual (though “A serial killer” and “B serial killer” would probably cover it).

  10. says

    Sorry, SBG, I definitely drove this thing right off the topic cliff! :D

    Nick, I would agree with a separate classification. Also, the sort of casualness exhibited by some killers is precisely the attitude exhibited by a lot of people who don’t kill – i.e., domestic abusers who whap the shit out of a family member, then casually sit down to watch TV. Many of these people never escalate to killing, but they have more in common with the totally cool, calculating serial killer than they have with someone who abuses people in a more compulsive way. We need to rethink how we select groups for study, and base it on their approach to wrongdoing, not on precisely what they’ve done wrong.

  11. K Lee says

    Regardless of how you read Morgan’s reaction to Garcia’s revelation, her reaction on the phone call is understandable and quite frankly I was happy with it. It is a nice reminder to Morgan of the true fabulousness of Penelope Garcia, and of all women who are not “model perfect.” The interaction also nicely played into Prentiss pointing out the problem men, Morgan in this instance, have with thinking they have to fix whatever the women in their lives tell them.

    I’m sure next week we’ll see Garcia has become a victim of a nasty piece of work who’s likely targeted her for some time. I get that, but…did they have to pull the “no hot man is going to fall for a fat (fabulous, damnit!!) woman, unless there’s something wrong with him” card?

    I am SO sick of this message.

    Amen on that. It is old, it is tired and I’m quite disappointed that the show went down that route. I have some theories, based on spoilers, but I won’t mention those as regardless of outcome that “card,” as you called it sbg, doesn’t need to be played.

  12. sbg says

    Sorry, SBG, I definitely drove this thing right off the topic cliff!

    Not at all. This show has, in the past, shown killers who are indescriminate – anything’s fair game (like the story last year of the people hunters who just liked to hunt). Usually the ones who do discriminate, it’s very clear that the killings are personally motivated somehow – all the victims look alike, all exhibit the same types of behavior, etc. It was just in this case I wasn’t totally clear of the motivation. Sometimes my mind wanders. ;)

  13. sbg says

    Regardless of how you read Morgan’s reaction to Garcia’s revelation, her reaction on the phone call is understandable and quite frankly

    I was happy with it. It is a nice reminder to Morgan of the true fabulousness of Penelope Garcia, and of all women who are not “model perfect.” The interaction also nicely played into Prentiss pointing out the problem men, Morgan in this instance, have with thinking they have to fix whatever the women in their lives tell them.

    Oh, yeah. I just know had she not been on prime time, Garcia would have dropped the eff bomb on Morgan, and rightfully so. Even if his reactions were based on his own unresolved feelings, he needed the reminder.

    And true about Prentiss’ comment. I’ve dated guys who have wanted to fix something for me, when all I wanted was for them to try to understand that something. It’s my job to fix me, presuming I need fixing, not some guy’s, no matter how much they care about me. ;)

  14. sbg says

    I have some theories, based on spoilers, but I won’t mention those as regardless of outcome that “card,” as you called it sbg, doesn’t need to be played.

    I forgot to comment on this and for some reason it wouldn’t let me edit my comment. I do think the effect they were going for could have been accomplished without accentuating the whole trope.

  15. Pari says

    AMEN!!! Preach on!! That’s what I’m talking about. Garcia is GORGEOUS, and any man would be damn lucky to have her.

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