Criminal Minds

Season 4 Episode 1


Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Sep 24, 2008 on CBS

Episode Recap

He is dazed and alone in the silent darkness of the city streets of New York City. Burnt papers float through the air and one charred sheet comes to rest on his outstretched hand. There is smoke rising around him and there is blood on his face. The shattered store window before him is filled with television screens that all show the same picture: it is him, FBI SSA Aaron Hotchner, bloody and battered, standing before a burning SUV. He turns his head and the sounds seem to click back on. He hears the sounds of sirens, alarms, and the crackle of the flames that engulf the SUV across the street. A young man hurries into view. Hotchner knows he is asking the man if he is all right, but the man's voice is muffled by the high-pitched whine that is filling his head. Hotchner tells the young man, Sam, to call 9-1-1. Sam assures him that he already has called, and notices that Hotchner is wearing a sidearm. "Are you a cop?" he asks? Now Hotchner remembers; he remembers leaving the New York FBI Building with Agent Kate Joyner. Hotchner tells Sam to call 9-1-1 and tell them a federal agent is in trouble. He runs to the SUV as he shouts Kate's name. He is unable to get close to the vehicle because of the intense heat and flames, but he takes off his jacket and wraps it around one arm to shield his face. Looking around, he finally notices Kate lying in the street several yards behind the vehicle, and she is lying in a pool of blood. Kate is frantic, and turning her head from side to side insisting that she needs to find her purse. Hotchner kneels over her and tries to calm her. She wants to get up, but can't, and Hotchner tells her to lie still. "Am I moving my legs," she asks him, pleading. He turns her body over to see if he can stop the bleeding and sees that her entire back has been ripped open, exposing her spine. He finds the arterial bleed and clamps it with his fingers. He is gentle, and tells her that he's sorry if he hurt her. Understanding dawns on Kate's face as she replies that it doesn't hurt at all. Ambulances and police cars have arrived, and Hotchner waves his arm, shouting that there is an officer down. He is confused when he sees that the vehicles have stopped far down the street and no one is coming to help them. He waves and shouts frantically, but Kate tells him the emergency responders won't come any closer. He remembers going over the case with his team. They had determined that the New York City terrorists were more interested in attacking the first responders to an emergency than with attacking their initial targets. Lying in her own blood, Kate gasps, "The first wave of responders is the target." "Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified is not a crime." Ernest Hemingway. Kate tells Hotch that he doesn't have to stay, but he looks into her eyes and tells her that he will not leave her. Sam leans over them both, appearing to be confused because the ambulance won't come nearer. Kate tells him the ESU has issued orders that the emergency teams cannot come until the entire site has been cleared. Sam looks at her injuries in disbelief. New York City pedestrians watch the news unfolding on the giant Times Square television monitor. The news reporter shows pictures of the burning SUV, and tells her viewers that the police have closed down the entire area. SSA David Rossi is also watching the broadcast in the NYPD Command Center. Reid hurries in from the elevator - he had tried to reach the other members of the team on his cell phone, but the cell network had crashed. Rossi asks Reid to recall every location of the previous attacks. Rossi believes that, if these eight previous attacks were performed to gauge the response time of first responders, they need to be ready for eight suicide bombers at each one of those locations. Reid corrects him: there will be 16 suicide bombers - eight for the first responders, and another eight for the second wave of responders. The television reporter announces the bomb was within a black SUV outside Federal Plaza. Rossi dials Garcia, who has just heard the news and is inside the CCTV Command Post with Officer Lisa Bartleby. Garcia is shaken when she hears the bomb was in a black SUV right outside Federal Plaza - each of her teammates drives a black SUV, and each was in that area. Rossi tells her, "I'm here with Reid, but I don't know where anyone else is. Find them." Garcia and Bartleby go to work, accessing each of the cameras in and around that area, while Garcia initiates calls to the team members. Dodging in and out of city traffic, Morgan races towards the scene of the explosion in his own SUV. Garcia is very relieved to hear his voice, but Morgan wants to know what's going on. Morgan stays on the line as Garcia contacts Prentiss. Prentiss is also driving, and is following Det. Brustin to one of NYPD's Critical Incident Command Posts. Prentiss tells Garcia that JJ had been headed back to the hotel in a black SUV, and Garcia quickly dials that number. She only reaches JJ's voice mail. As the three wait for JJ's message to end, the call cuts off. Prentiss' phone cuts off. Then Morgan's. Garcia has lost contact with every member of the team. Officer Lisa Bartleby has tracked down the correct city camera and has found the explosion. At the FBI Field Office, 26 Federal Plaza, an officer is ushering agents away from the building and directing them to Marshalling Area Echo. A black SUV screeches to a halt next to the officer, and JJ leans over to speak to her through the passenger window. The officer has not seen Hotchner, Kate, or any members of JJ's team, and directs JJ to the Critical Incident Command Center at 700 Hudson. The closed-circuit camera is running footage of the SUV explosion - Garcia and Bartleby can see Kate and Hotchner walking towards the SUV, and watch as their bodies are hurled through the air by the force of the blast. "They weren't inside," Bartleby comforts. At first Garcia insists they look for another angle to check on the status of Hotch and Kate, but she quickly realizes she needs to look for something else. She rewinds the camera that had showed the two agents walking towards the SUV until the agents leave the frame. Scanning further back, she sees a hooded figure approach the SUV and plant something under it - they've found the bomber. Bartley looks for other angles to see if the unsub can be seen in a clearer picture. Another camera shows that the bomber didn't leave the area; he simply walked away from the car and hid himself behind a large pillar. Still holding onto the severed artery, Hotchner knows Kate has little time left. He urges Sam to leave, to try to find someone that will help them. Kate laughs as tells Hotchner that she's cold - she feels that it is a cliché, like something she'd hear at the cinema. She gasps in pain. Sam returns with the news that the police told him to get behind the barricade; they will not come into the street. Hotchner grabs Kate and asks Sam to help him lift her so that they can carry her to safety, but he loses his grip on the artery and Kate loses consciousness. Terrified, Hotchner puts her down and screams at his colleagues who are secure behind the barricade. Ambulances wait there, bomb techs are investigating, and officers are donning flak jackets as Morgan arrives. Morgan waves his credentials in Captain Warner's face and demands to know what is going on. Warner advises him to go back to the Federal Building and check in with the proper team commander. Morgan gets in the man's face: "I am not about to do that," he insists. The sound of Hotchner's voice propels Morgan towards the barricades, but an officer stands in his way, weapon drawn. Turning back to the captain, Morgan is losing control. Captain Warner insists that the FBI had advised that first responders are the target and has ordered that no one can go into the area until the blast site is cleared. Standing toe to toe with Warner, Morgan reminds the captain that he was a Marine, too, and their motto was, "Never leave a man behind." After a moment, Warner allows Morgan to go through. Garcia watches the tape as the bomber waits behind the pillar. She watches Kate and Hotchner walk past the bomber's location towards the car. She watches the explosion. And then she watches the bomber remove his sweatshirt and approach Hotchner: the bomber is Sam. Morgan reaches Hotchner and Kate, and he tells Sam to leave and get behind the barricades. The young man begins to move in the opposite direction. They can't move Kate because Hotchner needs to keep his fingers clamped on the bleeding artery. Morgan grabs his phone on the first ring and tells Garcia that she needs to get someone to them right away. Startled, he stops and looks up, noticing that Sam has paused next to the still-burning SUV to look back on the scene. Sam stops and a look of defiance comes over his face. He raises his arms as if daring Morgan to come for him. Telling Hotchner that Garcia had identified Sam as the bomber, Morgan takes off running and chases the man through the dark New York streets. Sam is fast. They rush past closed storefronts on the deserted streets. An ambulance races past them going towards Hotchner's location. Sam doesn't hesitate as he turns a corner and plunges down the stairs to the Chambers Street Station. Morgan follows. The ambulance pulls up next to Hotchner and Kate, and the EMT hurries towards them. He tells Hotchner that, although the site hasn't been cleared yet, he could hear Hotchner's calls for help and he couldn't take it anymore. His partner was too afraid to come, so Hotchner will have to help him. The team is slowly collecting at the CIC: JJ arrives on the heels of Prentiss as Rossi and Reid are analyzing the eight crime scenes. Garcia's voice is strained with anxiety as she calls on the video link and tells the team that Hotch is all right, Kate is critically injured, and Morgan is chasing the bomber down the streets of the city. Reid notes the location of Kate's SUV - two blocks east of Federal Plaza. The subway station is being evacuated. The bomber is running in the opposite direction, towards the unmoving trains, and bumps into people as he moves. With his gun drawn, Morgan is not far behind. The train is still, the doors are open, and Morgan can see no movement on the platform. He focuses on the train and demands that the man show himself. The only sound is a sharp hiss of an interior door on the subway. He enters the train, and moves swiftly through empty car after empty car, sliding the doors open and slamming them closed behind him. In the last car, he throws open the last door to look out on the empty tracks. Jumping down and moving into the tunnels, he shouts to the bomber that he has nowhere to run, that there is nothing in the darkness to help him. Suddenly a voice echoes through the empty tunnel. "Is that all you see? Huh? Darkness?" The young man walks into the light of Morgan's flashlight along the top of one of the tracks, cocky, and playing with him. He has taken off his shoes and balances nimbly on the rail. "You're losing here," he tells Morgan, "because you fear what we embrace." He swings his bare foot over to the live third rail and, as Morgan shouts at him to stop, steps on the rail and electrocutes himself. Bloody gauze pads, bandages, and packing material litters the street around Kate as Hotch and the paramedic try to stabilize her. After he clamps the bleeding artery in her back, the paramedic sends Hotchner to get the gurney while he starts an IV. Back at the CIC, JJ tells Reid that Homeland Security has been pouring manpower into the eight locations and, even with all of their resources, they've found nothing. Reid is preoccupied with the details up on the board - the last location - the bombing of Kate's SUV makes no sense to him. Sitting at a desk behind him, JJ holds up the "Death" tarot card that had been found near one body. Reid is confused because the unsubs haven't made good on their threat. Instead, they have targeted a single SUV. Hotch gets into the driver's seat in the ambulance, and the paramedic, working over Kate, tells him to head to St. Barclay's hospital. The emergency entrance is under the hospital. Kate opens her eyes and calls for Hotchner. After she hears his voice, she says thank you to the paramedic. "Don't thank me," he responds, "thank your partner. He did it all." At the entrance to the underground emergency department, Hotchner is stopped by a blockade and group of Secret Service agents. They had placed the hospital on a "strict bypass" and no one is allowed in or out. Hotchner explains who they are and that they've been injured in the bomb blast, but the Secret Service agent is adamant. "I'm losing her! She's crashing!" calls the paramedic from the back of the ambulance. An agent checks out the back of the vehicle and nods that it is all clear, and the Secret Service agent relents and allows Hotchner to drive the ambulance under the hospital to take Kate to the emergency room. Hospital workers hurry Kate's stretcher into the OR, the paramedic straddling her, trying to keep her alive through CPR. Hotchner is left standing alone in the ER lobby and the room begins to spin around him. The blood on his white shirt seems so bright, but the sounds are muffled and blurry. He tries to walk towards the nurses' station, grabbing at a small metal cart to try to keep his balance, but he stumbles and falls, losing consciousness, and nurses rush over to help him.. Rossi, Prentiss, Det. Brustin and Reid gather in a small conference room in the CIC building. Reid posts a photo of the bomber next to a crime scene picture of the terrorist that Prentiss had shot and tells the group that Garcia has been running facial recognition programs, but has no hits. Although the media is reporting this as a failed attack on Federal Plaza, the team knows that it is not the case. Det. Brustin argues that Homeland Security feels the same way because they found nothing wrong at any of the sites the BAU had targeted. "Maybe this thing is over," Brustin remarks. "Or maybe," Rossi replies, "that's exactly what they want us to think." Watching the video of the bomber, they notice he uses his cell phone as Kate and Hotchner approach the SUV rather than waiting to activate the bomb after they are inside. When Reid claims that so far the terrorists have accomplished nothing, Brustin bristles that his partner has been shot, Emily has killed a man, and eight civilians have been shot, which is hardly nothing. Rossi gestures towards a photo of the Twin Towers on the wall and explains that the attack on those buildings was memorable, but this current bombing was anything but. The doctor explains to Morgan that Hotchner has acoustic trauma to his right ear and he had pulled shrapnel from of his leg, but is interrupted by Hotchner's own voice from the curtain area next door. Entering the room, they find Hotchner out of bed, pulling leads from his arms, and demanding his clothes. Morgan calms Hotchner by telling him that Kate is in surgery and his "go bag" is on its way. But Hotchner is upset for another reason: the profile is wrong. Rossi and the team have come to the same conclusion. All of the attacks, seemingly random, hacking into the surveillance system, the tarot card, the shooting of Det. Cooper, were all put in place to throw the BAU off the trail. Reid suggests they were all diversions "to ensure our attention and analysis of any given situation with an incorrectly informed profile." The bombing of Hotch and Kate's SUV was also a diversion. On the phone, JJ calls to the team, telling them that Hotchner wants them all at the hospital. They tell Det. Brustin that Homeland Security needs to keep the city locked down: it's about to be hit. The team regroups at the hospital and Hotchner asks about any developments as he gingerly dons his flak vest. They know that terrorist cells learn from one campaign to the next. The only thing they could learn by planting one bomb with one target was how to attack one target effectively with one bomb. Reid explains the bomb mechanism that was probably used on the SUV, and how it could fit into something as small as a cell phone. "Imagine what something as big as an oil drum could do," remarks Morgan. Hotchner comments that a chemical engineer would be needed to make something like that, and Rossi tells the team about a recently deceased bomb maker known as "The Demolition Man." This man treated each bomb as a work of art and became infamous. In order to find the bomb maker, you have to figure out how a large bomb could be deployed. Prentiss sets up her laptop so Hotchner can watch the video of the explosion. Dabbing at his still bleeding ear, Hotchner asks if "Sam," the bomber, had actually called 9-1-1. Morgan tells him that Sam dialed one number six times to a disposable cell phone. If he didn't have another device to activate, why did he stay with Hotchner and Kate? Rossi realizes the bomber had to be there to be sure the ambulance got to them. An ambulance with lights on and sirens blaring could make it through any roadblock. If Sam was calling the "paramedic" that had helped Hotchner, the bomb could have been placed in the ambulance. And Hotchner had driven it into a hospital where the Secret Service is protecting someone. Someone important. Ben Abner, the "paramedic," is lovingly putting the finishing touches on a complex bomb hidden within the gurney in the back of the ambulance. Finally, he carefully attaches a PDA and red lights glowing from 10 synchronized devices. With one flip of a switch, the PDA screen shows "Ready." He leaves the ambulance and closes the doors behind him. Approaching a large group of Secret Service agents, Hotchner and the team inform them there is a large bomb in the ambulance parked in the underground garage and they have to move their "important person" out of harm's way. Agent Lagan can't do that - the person is undergoing surgery - but he does have monitor screens that show the location of the paramedic bomber. The bomber is holding a cell phone in his hand. Rossi radios to Garcia to shut down cell service within the hospital's grid. She can do it - but only for a few minutes before the satellites have time to upload. Watching on the monitor, the agents see that the bomber has noticed that cell service is down, and he is walking back towards the ambulance's location, apparently to detonate the bomb. Without one word to the rest of the team, Morgan is also racing towards the ambulance. Agent Lagan gives his team instructions to fly their charge out of the hospital as soon as the surgery is completed as Hotchner leads his team down the stairs to the underground garage. Morgan arrives in the ambulance bay first, and Garcia contacts him to learn his status. He tells her to take down the ambulance number, FDNY 108, and then carefully opens the door to the rear of the ambulance. The four BAU agents move quickly through the corridors and stairways towards the garage. Morgan has never seen a bomb like this one before. After finding out that Garcia can only jam the cell signals for only a few minutes, he realizes he must get the ambulance away from the hospital. He grabs a screwdriver and gets into the driver's seat, working on the ignition. He tells Garcia to find him a clear route away from the hospital to a safe location. Garcia is upset that Morgan is taking this chance, but tells him to go north and floor it. He screeches up the ramp and away from the hospital just as Ben Abner arrives and empties his gun into the back of the ambulance, screaming, "No! No!" The team is getting closer. Reid and Prentiss find the elevator open with Agent Lagan and his team shot to death inside. A bloody footprint leads them to the ambulance bay. Siren screaming, Morgan pilots the ambulance through New York City with Garcia as his navigator. Ben Abner sits against a chain link fence in the underground garage. In one hand he holds his cell phone, trying to get a signal again and again. He is holding a large knife in his other hand. The satellites have moved back into position - there are just a few seconds until full cell coverage resumes. Garcia tells Morgan to "drive to the opening and get the hell out," but he is trying to tell her something. He's not quite close enough to leave the ambulance, yet, and he wants her to know how much she means to him. "Call Connected" pops up on Ben Abner's cell phone screen and he smiles. Simultaneously, the ambulance explodes into a huge fireball in Central Park. Garcia's phone line goes silent. As all four BAU agents confront Abner seated against the fence, he raises the knife to his throat, cuts it, and falls over dead. Morgan clutches his shoulder and gets back on the radio, telling Garcia that she is his "God-given solace." She is relieved, but tells him that she can't talk to him right now because she's mad at him, and hangs up. Behind the black cloud of smoke and red-orange flames, the glittering lights of the New York City skyline are still bright and clear. There is no sense of urgency or focus in the open operating room now. The techs are cleaning up and mopping Kate's blood from the floor, and the surgeon removes his gloves and mask. The paper sheet has been pulled up over Kate's dead eyes and the doctor tells Hotchner that they did everything they could. He pulls aside the sheet for a moment, and then takes her cold hand. He gently places it back beneath the sheet before leaving. Det. Cooper is trying to sneak a cigarette upstairs in his hospital room, but SSA Emily Prentiss catches him in the act. He's embarrassed to be seen by her in his hospital gown with tubes in both ends, but he is happy to see her. She hands him an envelope containing Mets tickets for him and his family. He is surprised because most people think he is a Yankees fan. She smiles and reminds him that she isn't "most people." Morgan insists on carrying Hotchner's go bag to the waiting car. He has volunteered to drive Hotchner back to Quantico because his ear injury prevents him from flying. Hotchner tries to argue, but Morgan won't take no for an answer. Quantico has requested that Morgan be transferred to take charge of the New York Field Office, but he needs Hotchner's recommendation for it. Morgan questions his boss, and wonders if he did recommend him for the job. Hotchner hesitates. While acknowledging that Morgan's actions were brave, Hotchner also believes they were the actions of a man who doesn't really trust anyone else. He tells Morgan if he wants the job, it is his. But all Morgan wants right now is Hotchner's real opinion. Hotchner looks him in the eye and asks him if he really trusts his life to his teammates. They both stop a moment as they look at the black SUV waiting for them at the corner. "Still want to drive?" asks Hotchner. Morgan replies by pressing the unlock button on the key tag. [recap written by Finnegan77]