Small towns aren’t perfect, and this episode of Criminal Minds proves just that, as the BAU heads to Hitchens, Virginia, to investigate after a police chief’s wife is brutally attacked.
“Full-Tilt Boogie” sees the team having to figure out what exactly the police chief is hiding. Did he attack his wife? Is his assistant police chief hiding something that could lead to the UnSub? And is the victim’s apparent addiction related to why she was beaten?
Can the Police Be Trusted?
Trish sends her husband, Steve and their kids off on a camping trip and then meets her friends at a local bar. There, Rick doesn’t want to take no for an answer, but a well-placed knee gives her time to get away. However, by the time she reports him to the police, he’s gone. Assistant Police Chief Mack issues an APB and drives her home, but she assures him she’s fine on her own, even though she doesn’t turn on her alarm. The attack that follows is inevitable; all the signs are there.
Trish is found beaten nearly to death, partially buried and resuscitated in a shallow grave. While Rick is the prime suspect, he’s never killed before, so they can’t just focus on him.
Mack tells Prentiss that Steve told him he hadn’t left Trish before last night, but he didn’t ask what he meant. Trish’s friend then reveals that Steve sent Trish numerous texts the night before; she didn’t tell Mack because of the “brotherhood of cops.”
During J.J.’s brief meeting with Steve in his wife’s hospital room, we get the typical “hope you find the guy responsible before he does” statement, and she overhears him insist to the doctor that there has to be a mistake in the lab work.
The police might think Rick’s good for this, but the team realizes pretty quickly that he’s not. Rick’s impulsive. The UnSub is organized enough to wear gloves and clean up the blood at the crime scene, but also frenzied enough to want to bury her alive and leave the shovel behind.
If Rick’s not the UnSub, then who is? Could it be her husband? Trish has been to the ER multiple times with injuries consistent with domestic abuse, including broken ribs, broken arms and miscarriages. And he doesn’t have a solid alibi; he wasn’t there when his son woke up at 6:00 a.m. and returned at 7:00 a.m. with donuts. Could he have driven home, things got out of hand and he had to cover it up?
J.J. confronts Steve, and he has an explanation for everything. Her injuries are because she’s accident-prone. No, she doesn’t drink or do drugs. His 42 texts were out of concern because she never goes out and didn’t reply. He’d never hurt Trish, he insists. But J.J. knows he’s hiding something.
Then Mack shows up at the hospital, though he didn’t tell Prentiss he was leaving. It’s suspicious. He disappears during an active investigation. He’s the one who drove Trish home. He was the first responder. Every report they’ve read comes from him. He was passed over for police chief. Could he covet Steve’s career, wife and family? J.J. sees emotional guilt from him as she watches him wipe away Trish’s tears, an involuntary side effect from the woman in a coma.
But he didn’t tell them about the pick-up reads at Trish’s house and burial site. Could that be because they match his off-duty car? And why didn’t he tell them about the woman who found Trish? According to the hikers who were there at the time, he knew her and wasn’t surprised to see her.
Is that woman the person Mack calls asking to come clean and meet him at a bridge? And is she the one who shoots and kills him when he shows up for that meeting? The same pick-up treads are found at the bridge.
Despite Steve’s insistence that Trish doesn’t do drugs, she’s showing signs of withdrawal from something. But no one’s talking. If it’s widespread in the community, everyone’s using, enabling or in denial.
The team learns that the town is basically full of drug problems. There are multiple deaths, ODs and babies born with drug-related issues — in the last week. Garcia finds the name Shelly in Mack’s notes. Could she be Trish’s dealer?
That would be a no, as Steve finally comes clean. Since her miscarriage two years ago, Trish has been losing a battle with oxycodone. She refused to go to rehab because she didn’t want anyone to know. She was taking 50 pills a day, but she’s down to 10; going cold turkey is dangerous and it wouldn’t have worked. Where does she get the pills? Steve’s doctor prescribed him medication for a slipped disc, but he can get by on aspirin, and he monitors her intake.
Here, we get a nice moment between Reid and Trish’s daughter, as Dana admits that she likes learning about things, something to which he can relate. Even though she knows about the drug problem in the U.S., it’s different when it’s her mother, and she can’t help but be angry with her.
The team has a possible lead in one of Trish’s friends, Kat, whom Prentiss hasn’t been able to reach. She saw her talking to Mack the day before. What brought her to Hitchens from Baltimore?
That would be her daughter, whom she spies on (while trying to pop a pill). The woman who has custody of her daughter is Shelly, and she goes over to Kat’s car, demanding to know why she’s there. Kat wanted to see her daughter and she’s worried that they know what Shelly did. Hold them off, Shelly tells her.
Shelly is Michelle Gorman, the wife of the doctor who prescribed Steve his pills.
Trish wakes up, but she can’t remember who attacked her. She tells the agents that she called a helpline because she didn’t want to relapse, and the woman who answered got really mad when Trish revealed Steve got her the pills.
Unknowingly, Trish had told the UnSub she was alone and vulnerable. And Michelle just so happens to own all the helplines in the county. She’s paranoid, so she went to extraordinary lengths to keep tabs on everyone. But if her husband’s prescriptions were legit, why was she worried? Shelly must be dealing on the side.
Garcia uncovers that Kat and Shelly are sisters. In 2014, Kat almost overdosed with her newborn daughter in the car with her, so Michelle and her husband got custody. The sisters came from a broken home, with a single alcoholic father. Shelly managed to clean up her anger-fueled act and married up, and she’ll do anything to keep the life she’s made for herself.
That includes trying to talk her own sister into taking the fall for her — while her daughter is only feet away. Think of her daughter, Shelly tells Kat. If she got into trouble, she wouldn’t be able to provide a safe life for her. But she does have a choice. Kat can either go to jail or go to sleep. And after having Justine say goodbye to her mother, Shelly leaves her sister with enough pills to kill herself.
This isn’t the first time Shelly has wanted Kat to take the fall. Their father was brutally attacked when they were teenagers, and Kat ended up in juvie. Her daughter’s not safe with either woman, but fortunately, Michelle’s husband’s only sin is marrying her. Shelly is arrested, and Kat is found in time to receive medical attention.
What did you think of the case? Were you happy to see Reid back?
Criminal Minds season 13 airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Criminal Minds Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of CBS)