Criminal Minds

Season 3 Episode 1


Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Sep 26, 2007 on CBS

Episode Recap

At Gideon's cabin:
Gideon is alone in his cabin, writing a letter to a friend about his experiences. He knows it will be his friend who comes to the cabin to check on him, and he realizes that his friend will be scared. He tries to explain what has brought him to this point – how he thought he would be able to recover from Sarah's death at the hands of Frank, how he thought throwing himself right back into his work was the answer. Then, he remembers, the very next case was the spree killings of girls at a small college campus in Arizona.

In Flagstaff, Arizona:
As the BAU team gets off the plane that evening, Det. Jim Griffiths meets them and thanks them for taking on the case at the small, tight-knit university. Det. Griffiths has doubled uniform presence on campus, is running security shuttles, and has imposed a 10:00 pm curfew. He offers to take the team to their hotel first, but Gideon refuses, telling the detective that spree killings in a confined area constitute a race: "he's racing to kill as many as he can, we're racing to stop him." The team drives off to the precinct.

Meanwhile, a campus shuttle is just leaving a stop near the library. A dark-haired female student, Amy, races up but she's too late, and the shuttle is already moving down the street away from her. The girls on the shuttle seem quiet, scared. Two dark-haired friends, Katie and Aliza, walk arm-in-arm from the shuttle towards their dorm, discussing their plans for the evening. Katie wants to invite everyone from the floor into their room, but Aliza would rather study. The dorm's resident advisor is waiting at the top of the stairs with a clipboard. Katie thinks she's strange, and using the situation on campus to get into everyone's business. Stephanie, the RA, glances down at her clipboard and notices that only one girl hasn't checked in at curfew – Amy Deckerman.

As Amy glances nervously at her watch, hoping another shuttle will come soon, Gideon is writing about how he met Sarah on a college campus, not much different from the one in Arizona. "Campuses are supposed to be places of life and excitement, they're supposed to be about the future: figuring out who you are, who you're going to be. They're supposed to be about dreams, not nightmares – about hope." Amy reaches into her bag and pulls out a can of mace. She turns hurriedly, startled, but breathes a sigh of relief when she sees who has come up behind her. Then she screams and falls to the ground as the person attacks her with a Taser.

Gideon, Morgan and JJ meet Det. Griffiths and his investigators at the scene of the crime. Amy's body has been stabbed repeatedly, and then her arms were crossed over her chest. JJ notices that she had her mace out but didn't use it. Det. Griffiths tells them that every victim has been posed with her arms crossed, and Morgan points out that this is a common sign of remorse – the unsub immediately feels bad after killing his victim. It will take a few hours to clear the crime scene, and Gideon tells JJ to have Hotchner set everything up at the precinct while he and Morgan run everything through. As Gideon looks around at the crime scene workers, he sees Sarah, his college friend and Frank's victim, watching him.

The next morning, the RA pounds on every girl's door in the dorm, calling them to a hall meeting with JJ and Reid. The girls gather tearfully, realizing that Amy is dead.

Dean Suzanne Cable meets Gideon and Det. Griffiths.
JJ tells the girls that Amy's parents are arriving in town later today to take her body home to Chicago. Katie lashes out, wanting to know why the FBI cannot catch this killer with all the police swarming all over campus. Reid explains that this fact is significant: because the unsub kills in a well-lit, well-patrolled campus this means he is a part of campus life, and his presence would not alarm anyone. JJ tells the girls that all three victims have been brunettes.

Even though Det. Griffiths has placed security cameras all over campus, the Dean wants to shut down the school. Morgan explains this might not solve the problem: the unsub is a part of campus life and he may leave with the students only to begin killing again as soon as the school re-opens. When the Dean asks Gideon what he would do in her place, he replies, "I can't say." The Dean decides to shut down the campus, unwilling to keep the students there while a killer hunts them.

At Gideon's cabin:
Gideon continues to write his letter, explaining that he could no longer look at anyone without seeing death. He no longer believed in happy endings.

In Flagstaff, Arizona:
Agent Prentiss is at the coroner's office, examining Amy's body. Every victim was killed by a very strong stab wound to the heart, breaking through the breast bone, but the victims were then stabbed repeatedly after death. She notices a strange mark on Amy's skin, but no defensive wounds indicating she didn't try to fight off her attacker. None of the victims was drugged.

JJ and Reid sit down to talk with Katie and Aliza at the dorm. Katie apologizes for her outburst, and Reid asks them if they saw Amy at the library last night. Aliza remembers seeing her, but they didn't see her talking with anyone, and thought she left before they did. When Katie mentions that Amy wasn't the "victim type" Reid explains that it's almost impossible to determine who is most vulnerable. The girls are all carrying some kind of weapon – mace, pepper spray or even switchblades. Both Katie and Aliza are scared – the unsub is targeting brunette students – students who look like they do.

As she leaves the coroner's office, Prentiss' cell phone rings. It is Section Chief Erin Strauss, checking in on their case. Prentiss' comments are clipped – she tells Strauss that she has nothing to report, and has to get back to work. Strauss reminds her to call when she has information. Hanging up, Prentiss tosses the cell phone into her car through the open window.

Gideon tells Det. Griffiths it will take two or three days to evacuate the campus, which will be their window for catching the killer. Morgan insists that the security cameras being installed be working by nightfall. The unsub will know the campus is shutting down, and that he will have limited opportunities to hunt. Morgan also suggests that Griffiths use some younger officers in street clothes to blend in. As they pass a campus building, Security Guard Nathan Tubbs holds the door open for a dark-haired female student.

At Gideon's cabin:
Gideon continues writing, asking his friend how many victims and crime scenes they have seen. They've looked at families and victims both alive and dead. Now Gideon can only see Sarah.

In Flagstaff, Arizona:
Gideon stands at a board, looking over photos of the campus killings – pictures of the victims alive and dead. He and Hotchner wonder if clearing the campus of students is premature. The team presents a rough profile to the local police department. Hotchner and Prentiss tell them that the man is able to move through a campus full of police without raising suspicion, so they've seen him, and they think he belongs there. Morgan explains that killing 3 women in 4 days labels him as a spree killer who has had a major stressor recently – and since he's killing only brunette women, the stressor is probably related to a woman in his life. Prentiss asks them to look for a man on campus who fits the bill – someone will have noticed his odd behavior – drinking, harming himself, and displaying a great amount of anger. When Prentiss mentions that none of the women fought back, an officer suggests that they might have been Tasered first. Campus Security Guards carry Tasers instead of guns. Prentiss rushes off to check the strange mark she found on Amy's body against a Taser, and finds a match. Gideon asks for a list of security guards.

When Griffiths walks into the conference room with a list of campus security guards, Gideon asks him to check for any officer who appeared at every crime scene, while Prentiss has Garcia checking criminal records.

In his small apartment, Security Guard Nathan Tubbs is manic – drinking, posing with a gun in front of a mirror, checking clippings about the murders that he has posted on his wall, strapping a knife to his leg, and searching through photos he has dumped in the trash of a brunette woman. He takes one photo and tears it in half, keeping the half showing a little girl before he leaves the apartment.

Garcia hasn't found any criminal records for any campus security guards. When she checks for anyone who had been rejected from the military or police academies she finds Nathan Tubbs – rejected from the police academy in 2003 for failing his psych evaluation. Not only was he at every crime scene, a judge gave his wife full custody of their daughter with no visitation for Tubbs only six days ago.

The police and BAU break into Tubbs' apartment, finding the newspaper clippings, weapons, and photos in the trash. According to his work schedule he is not on duty.

Another dark-haired girl walks alone down a deserted campus street. She realizes a car is following her, and turns to find it is a campus security cruiser. Nathan Tubbs leans out the window to offer her a ride to her car – she shouldn't be walking alone. She reluctantly accepts. Tubbs tries to make conversation with the girl, talking about his daughter, and how he isn't allowed to see her. He asks the girl if she'd do something like that, and asks her to swear she wouldn't. She nervously swears and begs him to let her out. As he begins to get angry several police and FBI vehicles pull up and surround him. Morgan, Prentiss and Gideon, guns drawn, demand he get out of his car. While the men cuff him, Prentiss leads the young woman away, comforting her. Searching Tubbs, Gideon finds the knife and Morgan leads him away.

Hotchner watches through one-way glass as Gideon interviews Nathan Tubbs. Even when Gideon confronts him with his match with the profile, Tubbs insists that he was only doing his job, that he didn't kill anyone. Hotchner advises Prentiss that Gideon is "winding him up," trying to get Tubbs to explode with the rage he shows in his killings. Meanwhile, Prentiss has collected items that may be evidence: Tubbs' Taser, his knife, photo of his wife, clippings. Even though they are clues, the team has no direct evidence to charge Tubbs with the crimes. Prentiss brings photos of the victims into the interview room for Gideon. Tubbs can't seem to take his eyes off of Prentiss, and Prentiss is clearly rattled by his attention.

In the conference room, Morgan and the team discuss the fact that they have no fingerprints, no DNA evidence and nothing definitive against Tubbs. Reid, JJ and Prentiss head off to search Tubbs' work locker for potential "souvenirs" he may have collected.

Gideon explains his thinking to Tubbs – the he chews his cuticles to punish himself, that he'd like to kill his ex-wife but kills girls that look like her instead. When Gideon asks him why the judge won't let him see his daughter, and why he failed his psych evaluation, Tubbs asks for a lawyer.

Reid finds pornography, alcohol and a change of clothes in Tubbs' locker – nothing else.

Tubbs' lawyer is adamant that the police release his client because they have no physical evidence against him. Gideon explains how Tubbs fits the profile exactly. Morgan interrupts to tell Gideon that Tubbs' psych evaluation showed sociopathic tendencies. Griffiths asks the agents what to do. As Gideon watches Tubbs through the one-way glass, he tells Griffiths that only a guilty man could put his head on the table and sleep in this situation, as Tubbs is doing. Griffiths tells Tubbs' lawyer that they'll hold him for 72 hours.

Walking back through campus, Reid, JJ and Prentiss notice how the mood on the campus has changed. Aliza and Katie approach JJ, asking if they've caught the killer. When JJ admits that they have someone in custody, Aliza hugs her. Later, there's a party at the girls' dorm, and Aliza leaves to try to get some studying done at a late-night café nearby. She is a little nervous walking by herself, but doesn't expect it when a hand comes out of the dark and knocks her to the ground.

At Gideon's cabin:
Gideon writes about how he let them down – the girls at the campus, Sarah – when they believed in him.

In Flagstaff, Arizona:
A dark-clothed figure hits Aliza with a large rock, and then stabs her repeatedly.

At Gideon's cabin:
Still writing, Gideon is wondering why he even participated in the Arizona case, as his mind was unfocused. He had told his friend many times about the danger of letting something in his personal life cloud his judgment.

In Flagstaff, Arizona:
The yellow crime scene tape is surrounded by students trying to find out what is going on. Morgan asks the detective's men to move the crowd back as they need room to work. JJ elicits the help of the Dean in talking with the students. When Griffiths says he should release Tubbs the team explains all of the differences between the first three kills and this latest one. It could be a copycat crime. Aliza was beaten, not Tasered, the knife wounds were hesitant, not strong and the hands were not posed. As Gideon looks around at the crowd, he again sees Sarah watching him. An officer hands Griffiths a note received at the precinct that reads, "He's innocent. I'm still out here."

JJ notices Katie approach the crime scene and see her friend's body. Katie is angry, reminding JJ that she told them they caught the killer. Katie spits in JJ's face and strides away as Reid rushes over. JJ assures him that it was nothing.

Back at the precinct, Hotchner is trying to hold off Tubbs' lawyer who has found out about the note and the other victim. Morgan is worried – they might not have the right man, and wrongful accusations could ruin an innocent man's life. Gideon is confident.

The team looks through the evidence of a copycat. Reid mentions the two types of copycats that fit the age range and situation: school shootings and teen suicides. Unfortunately, this copycat doesn't want to take credit or hog glory – it's all about getting Tubbs released. Reid suggests it is a groupie – someone who looks up to Tubbs. Tubbs may answer some need inside the groupie.

At the dorm, another student, Anna, is hacking off her long blonde hair. She takes a clipping about Aliza's murder out, cuts herself and drips the blood on the picture of Anna.

Nathan Tubbs, released, walks past the team on his way out of the precinct. Gideon tells Griffiths that they are going to need his security cameras.

The resident advisor approaches Katie and asks for her help. She asks Katie to talk with Anna about the campus closing. When Anna opens her door to Katie's knock, Katie notices that Anna's hair is now dyed brown. She also sees clippings about the murders on her walls, with all the girls' pictures covered in blood. After closing the door, Anna wraps a bloody knife in a towel.

At Gideon's cabin:
Gideon wonders if his judgment was clouded when he allowed Tubbs to be released.

In Flagstaff, Arizona:
Tubbs retrieves his alcohol and magazines from his locker and walks out of the security office. The other officers shun and ignore him.

Katie has called Reid and JJ about Anna's behavior. Anna tells them what she saw, and that Anna is always talking about committing suicide, but the other girls make fun of her. Reid calls Gideon and tells him that he knows who they are looking for. JJ comforts Katie, and tells her that she did the right thing to call.

Prentiss and Morgan are shadowing Tubbs. Morgan calls Gideon to tell him that a brunette girl just approached Tubbs outside the security office. He tells Morgan to stick with them but keep his distance as he and Hotchner will watch on the surveillance video.

Anna leads Tubbs into a courtyard and tells him that he is just who she needs. Morgan and Prentiss cannot enter the courtyard without being seen, so Hotchner and Gideon will watch and listen – they need one of the two to admit to the murders before they move in. Anna tells Tubbs she knows what he did, and shows him the knife she used to kill Aliza. The BAU realize that Anna wants to be a victim, but they can't move in unless Tubbs takes the knife.

Anna tells Tubbs that she's ready, but he thinks it's a trap and tells her she's crazy. Anna admits she killed someone for him and Gideon tells Morgan to move in. Tubbs calls her stupid and Anna stabs him in the stomach. Morgan and Prentiss hold their guns on Anna and tell her to put the knife down. When she realizes that they won't shoot her, she turns the knife on herself. Gideon and Hotchner watch horrified as Morgan and Prentiss try to save both Anna and Tubbs.

The coroner takes away the bodies of Anna and Nathan Tubbs as Gideon continues to write his letter. He wonders if there is ever really any black and white, or if the world has always been in shades of gray. He doesn't believe he can trust himself any more. In Flagstaff, all of the agents are affected.

The team heads for the plane, and Det. Griffiths thanks them for their help. Morgan asks Gideon if he knew how it would end – if he let Tubbs go knowing that he and the copycat would find each other. Gideon reminds him that profiling isn't an exact science. As Morgan walks away, Hotchner reminds Gideon that releasing Tubbs was the best chance of catching them both.

Back in Quantico, Section Chief Erin Strauss meets with Aaron Hotchner, demanding he answer for what happened in Flagstaff. Hotchner takes full responsibility for allowing Anna to meet with Tubbs, telling her that he had hoped for a different outcome. Strauss can't believe his answer, and demands his badge. She tells him he is suspended for two weeks without pay pending an investigation into his conduct. She hopes he never gets his credentials back.

At Gideon's cabin:
Finishing his letter, Gideon tells his friend that Hotch's suspension for something Gideon did was the "last domino." He again thanks his friend for being the one to come up to his cabin, and apologizes that "it doesn't make more sense." He puts the letter into an envelope and seals it, writing a name on the front. He then picks up his gun, fingering it, and says: "I'm sorry."

[recap written by Finnegan77]