"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

08 May 2007

Criminal Minds: Modern "Morality"?

Last week, Criminal Minds finally thoroughly disappointed me.

I didn’t catch the quotation at the beginning, so maybe that would make some difference, but I doubt it. The ending left me most frustrated; I hope the issue raised at the end is addressed again but this time with an answer.

The show was a take-off, I’m sure, on a short story I read years ago and can’t now recall the name or author of – a man goes overboard from a ship and ends up on an island, where the psycho who lives there sends him out into the jungle in order to hunt him, since mere animal prey no longer interests him. {Ah-ha: someone finally told me: "The Most Dangerous Game" by Robert Connell.} So the plot of CM last week involved two brothers who kidnap people near their Spokane auto garage and then loose them in the Idaho forest to bow-hunt them.

At the end of the show both brothers die. The younger is attacked and stabbed by one of their kidnap victims, who then also attacks the older brother but isn’t able to kill him. She is rescued by someone – I’m not sure if it was a local cop or if it was Morgan or Prentiss – shooting him just before he can let the arrow go that would kill her.

The victim asks Prentiss how people can do such evil things (she has watched four people die as she and others have tried to escape the killers). Prentiss replies, “They don’t think like we do.”

Fine, as far as it goes. Then they are on the plane returning to D.C. and she is obviously disturbed, so Morgan asks her what’s wrong. She tells him about the victim’s question and her answer. Then she goes into how they – the BAU – actually do think “just like” the killers. They “hunt” killers to “bring them down” and so “how are we any different from them?”

And Morgan doesn’t answer her. That’s what disappointed me.
He doesn’t answer her.

Is it not obvious to anyone with any moral sense whatsoever how hunting criminals in order to bring them to justice and prevent further crime, even learning to think like they think in order to hunt them, is vastly different from hunting innocent people in order to rape or torture or kill them for one’s own sadistic pleasure? How could this be a question without a clear answer?

Speaking of a modern/post-modern way of thinking . . . of course, if you don’t know the difference, maybe you are just like them. Maybe that’s what made it possible for Elle to kill an unarmed man walking away from her in cold blood – maybe she didn’t know the difference either.

So . . . I hope they don’t leave that question hanging like that. Because “that’s just wrong,” as my son would say.

Update: So now they're firing Hotch and putting Prentiss in charge because the team is "out of control" and "has lost sight of the big picture"? Which big picture? The one where they are just exactly like the evil murderers they "hunt"? I sure hope this last show was purely a tease for the fall season and we get Hotch back in control. Unbelievable!


Bad Alice said...

I missed that part in italics. Turn my back for a moment and something happens. I saw that hunting episode and that ending bothered me, too. It's one thing for her to ponder how close each human is to being inhuman--I can get that and it's a question posed many times in literature. But, yeah, why didn't someone respond with the obvious? Maybe it's a reflection of how much we collectively distrust our law enforcement agencies, given that we've tried to sanction torture as an expedient measure (that's kind of glorified in 24, for example).

alaiyo said...

Exactly, Alice -- it's not the question that's so bothersome as the lack of an answer. It does seem that even shows that are about law enforcement do have to pull in at least the occasional pc "cops are evil" message, don't they? Ah, well, it will be interesting to see what direction tehy head next season.

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