Examination of a Criminal Minds Episode
Criminal Minds consists of a group of FBI profilers who analyze criminals to anticipate their next victim, motive, and who the suspect could be. Episode "Fear and Loathing" (S2, E16) focuses on the deaths of four African American juveniles in Groton, Connecticut. Groton is a predominantly White community, consisting of 42,000 individuals. Since murders are uncommon in this area, the state department calls the FBI BAU for their assistance.
The profilers and main characters in this episode are:
Although this episode consists of a primarily White cast, two Black lead investigators play a major role in identifying and capturing the suspect.
When the team arrives in Connecticut, they explain to the police the possibility of a women suspect. The profilers interrogate a potential suspect, Tonya, 17, who is left alone in the interrogation room by herself. While observing this scene one may find it uncomfortable and unrealistic that she had no parent/guardian or lawyer beside her. Derek Morgan tells the detective to "leave her in there for a few minutes," and "I want to scare the hell out of her" (min 10). In this interrogation room, Derek “plays bad cop,” meanwhile Emily seems to try to get more sentimental with Tonya, as a “good cop.” After questioning Tanya, the profiles conclude Tanya did not murder the juveniles. They also begin to believe the suspect is a male.
During the delivery of the suspects’ profile, there was much debate on whether his race, Black, should be revealed. Since there was tension among the community stirred by Reverend Williams, announcing there was a Black serial killer could result in greater unease. When Agent Hotchner delivers the profile, he explains that because the majority of the victims were Black, the suspect must be too, because "sexually motivated killers almost always kill within their own race." The mayor is the most reluctant in vocalizing to the public that the suspect is Black, because he fears the community will engage in "racial profiling."
Reverend Williams expresses his concern to the public on how the FBI arrived "only after a white boy was killed. We cannot rely on the police."
Agent Morgan and Detective Ware observe a suspicious car and decide to follow it on foot and search the surrounding houses. Unfortunately, a White male mistakenly identifies Ware as the suspect. As a result of releasing this profile to the public, Detective Ware gets shot while patrolling the backyard of a neighborhood and eventually passes away.
When the team narrows down names, Morgan calls Garcia to help identify who the unsub could be. He states, “well, we need you now more than ever, hot stuff,” which would not normally be stated in a professional setting. The development of their relationship and treatment of each other is also seen in other episodes.
During this episode, Reid's abusive use of drugs, Dilaudid, is depicted. This appears to not have added much to the episode and is unrealistic to how police systems operate, since one would assume drug testing is periodically conducted, so Reid would have been dismissed.
After the FBI team and police arrive to where the suspect is holding the victim, they find Terrance Wakeland grabbing the juvenile’s arm. It appears as if the police officers’ first instinct was to shoot the suspect, Terrance Wakeland, claiming he could be armed. Morgan shouts for them to lower their weapon so he could move closer and arrest Wakeland. This scene appeared realistic as the polices' first instinct was to believe the suspect had a weapon. There are more White male serial killers than Black serial killers, but a real-life Black serial killer was Craig Price, who also only murdered women. I think this episode added some important value in its depiction of the criminal justice system.