Criminal Minds

Season 4 Episode 6

The Instincts

Aired Wednesday Nov 05, 2008 on CBS

Episode Recap

The door opens, and Hotchner, Prentiss and Reid shine their flashlights into the dark house. Hotchner is in the lead, moving quickly, jerkily, flashing his light into every corner. Their guns are drawn. Another door opens, and then another, and another, the only light the glare of their own flashlights moving awkwardly through the dark space. Reid turns a corner and is alone in a long hallway, one closed door at the far end, but there is light coming from underneath. He throws the door open and turns around, whispering to Hotchner and Prentiss, "There's a basement." They hurry down the stairs and Prentiss spots a child's sneakered feet sticking out from behind a clothes dryer. She is upset as she kneels down beside the silent, still child. "Are you sure it's him?" Reid asks, but there is no doubt, he is a little six-year-old boy. A sound distracts the young agent and he turns, swiftly, brandishing his gun. A blond baby is crawling towards him across the floor. Reid is confused, why is JJ's baby at a crime scene? Rossi calls his name once, twice, and Reid wakes up. All of the other BAU agents stare at him as he sits up. He has fallen asleep on the BAU jet, file folders strewn across his lap. He quickly apologizes, explaining he was dreaming about a six-year-old boy who was abused and stabbed, and how he was trying to get JJ's baby away from the crime scene. Morgan tells him dream analysis would theorize that a baby in one's dream is actually the dreamer, but Reid quickly tells him he doesn't believe in dream analysis. Hotchner suggests his subconscious is telling Reid that their current case, about abducted children, may be too difficult for him, and that he wants to "sit this one out." Reid denies it. Prentiss asks if it could be the stress of returning home to Las Vegas and asks about his mother. Reid glances around at his colleagues and suggests they return to the case file, but Prentiss is able to get one more jab at the young BAU agent before they do. Five-year-old Ethan Hayes was abducted from his own front yard two weeks ago. His mother wasn't in the house more than a minute or two when he was abducted, and the police found his body in the desert one week later. His clothes had been changed, his nails were clipped, and his hair was combed. There were no signs of abuse, and the boy was smothered, so Hotchner believes the killer might have thought of this death as merciful. Another boy, Michael Bridges, was abducted yesterday. The unsub called each of the families and told them it was their fault their children had been abducted. They have six days to find Michael before he is killed. Michael is hiding in a dark closet when he hears the footsteps. The door opens and his abductor takes him by the hand and leads him to the bed. Michael lies down on his stomach, propped up on a pillow, and the unsub lays down beside him, one arm draped over Michael's tense body. "Amos Bronson Alcott said, 'Who speaks to the instincts, speaks to the deepest in mankind and finds the readiest response.'" The black BAU SUV pulls up to the suburban neighborhood where the Bridges family lives. The street is crowded with police cars, and there are law enforcement officers everywhere. JJ and Hotchner meet Detective Ashby at the Bridges' home and confirm that the telephone company has been served with a Caller Subscription Subpoena. JJ tells the detective they will also run the calls through Analyst Penelope Garcia who can trace any cell calls. Hotchner instructs the detective to remove the police cars from the street - the unsub might panic if he sees such a heavy police presence. When the detective begins to lead the two agents into the house, JJ asks him how the Bridges are handling the situation. Ashby replies, "Separate." Amy Bridges descends the stairs and her husband, Craig, enters from the living room to meet the BAU agents. JJ assures them they will do everything they can to get Michael home. Amy is controlled, quiet, and tells the agents she doesn't want to know what happened to the other boy; she just wants Michael back safely. Craig is anxious to help, but Amy is less cooperative. When Hotchner asks if it was normal for Michael to be allowed to walk to a friend's house by himself, she becomes defensive. Craig explains tearfully that it was his idea for Michael to become more independent, and Amy abruptly excuses herself and heads back up the stairs. Craig is embarrassed for her, but Hotchner tells him everyone handles something like this differently. Craig wants to know what happened to the other boy. The medical examiner pulls out the tray that holds the small body of Ethan Hayes. He explains to Reid and Morgan there was no bruising on the neck or face, and there were no signs of a struggle. He was very thin and his stomach and intestines were completely empty, but, after an extensive examination the medical examiner determined the boy was getting nutrients somehow. There were no marks to indicate an IV was involved, and the medical examiner has no idea how the boy was able to receive nutrients. Prentiss and Rossi have arrived at the desert location where Ethan Hayes' body had been found. The area is strewn with evidence markers, crime scene tape, and trampled debris. Prentiss complains about crime scene techs who want to be cops instead of scientists and insist on compromising scenes instead of staying in the lab. The two BAU agents discuss the unsub's ritual - Ethan was clothed in clean, dry clothes, with no sweat stains from the killer, his hair was combed and groomed. The unsub must have re-clothed the body after he carried it from his car - he would have had to drive to the dump site. Even so, the dump site was not an extreme distance from the road, probably because the unsub wanted to be able to drive by and see the body. He groomed Ethan almost as if he was preparing him for a funeral. When Hotchner receives this information he asks Detective Ashby to contact the Hayes family. Ethan's funeral is the next day, and he would like the family to open the funeral to the public. He believes the unsub may attend. Hotchner also asks Craig Bridges if he and his wife will attend. When Craig immediately agrees to do anything that will help, Hotchner suggests that he speak to his wife about it. JJ enters Michael's bedroom slowly where his mother is lying on his bed, staring at his picture. She clutches Michael's stuffed animal and sits up, telling JJ about how hard it was to figure out which photo of Michael to give the police - should he be smiling? JJ tries to comfort the woman, telling her the best thing she can do is allow the BAU to guide them. She admits to JJ that she is completely frozen and feels like a monster. "When they need you you’ll come through," JJ tells her. Amy reaches under Michael's pillow and pulls out a half-eaten candy bar. She'd found it after he was abducted. "I haven't moved it because I don't want him to think he's in trouble for breaking the rules." Changing the subject, Amy asks JJ if she knows the gender of her baby. "It's a boy, JJ replies, smiling. The ringing telephone startles them. Downstairs, Hotchner makes sure Garcia is ready with the trace as the phone rings. He reviews procedure with Craig, but Craig is frantic, wanting to answer the phone before it rings again. JJ brings Amy into the room and suggests the parent who is the least emotional - Amy - is the better choice to speak with the kidnapper. Hotchner quickly briefs Amy, telling her to humanize Michael, and to try to keep the caller on the line as long as possible. The caller's voice is distorted. He immediately asks why Amy is just sitting at home, not out looking for her son. Garcia's fingers move rapidly over the keys of her computer, trying to triangulate the signal as Hotchner shows phrases to Amy on a yellow legal pad. The caller tells Amy that Michael is better off where he is. Morgan and Reid quietly enter the home as the caller refuses Amy's request to speak with Michael, telling her that Michael doesn't want to talk with her because he knows she is a bad mother. "Your three minutes are up," the caller says and hangs up. Garcia tells the agents that the unsub was using a disposable cell phone and it bounced off two towers within Las Vegas. JJ introduces Morgan and Reid, telling the Bridges they will be at the house all night. Amy goes back upstairs, and JJ encourages her husband to go with her. Morgan and Reid tell Hotchner about the medical examiner's findings. It is a strange combination - starvation is a type of torture, but the unsub is careful, almost reverent with his care of the child's body. As Hotchner and JJ walk to the door, Reid follows JJ with his eyes. The Bridges' home is dark and Reid lies on the sofa in the living room. He wakes, as if he's heard a noise, and walks to a closed door. Opening it he finds stairs leading to a basement - the same basement from his dream. He pulls out his gun and glances around, seeing the sneakered feet of a young boy sticking out from behind a clothes dryer. Suddenly Rossi and Morgan are following him. Rossi tells him there was no evidence of forced entry, so it is most likely the boy knew his attacker. Reid looks down at his chest and rips open his shirt to discover he is covered with leeches. He cries out to Morgan to get them off of him, pulling the things from his chest. Morgan hurries into the dark living room and flips on the light, grabbing Reid to waken him from his nightmare. Reid is shaking, rubbing his hands over his face, and the Bridges demand an explanation - they were awakened in the middle of the night by screaming in their own home. Morgan apologizes, and Reid pulls himself together, saying "I'm sorry," to the distraught couple. Craig marches back up the stairs, but Amy remains motionless, staring at Reid. She asks him if he is okay, and Reid replies it was a dream. "Was it about Michael?" she asks. Reid shakes his head, and Amy tells him she is afraid to close her eyes because she is afraid she'll see Michael die. Morgan advises her to go upstairs and try to sleep. Alone again in the Bridges' living room, Morgan tells Reid these cases get to all of them. Reid admits he is dreaming about dead kids and being covered in leeches, and Morgan wants to know what is scaring him. "This boy's going to die and there's nothing I can do to stop it," Reid replies. Amy Bridges stands in the open doorway and watches her husband put on a tie. His eyes are red, and he sees her in the mirror, her face pale but composed. She walks downstairs and tells Hotchner and Morgan that she can't do it; she can't go to the funeral. How can she go to the funeral of the five-year-old boy, watch them lower his body into the ground, while the same man who killed him still has Michael. Morgan explains that the Bridges' presence at Ethan's funeral might startle the unsub into acting. When Morgan tells her the plan has a "reasonable" chance of success, she wants facts - just what is a reasonable chance that Michael will come home? The team decides to go over the characteristics of this unsub, to share his profile with the Bridges as well as the law enforcement officers in suburban Las Vegas. Rossi explains they are probably looking for a white male in his late twenties to mid thirties. Prentiss adds he is not wealthy, but not poor, and he will probably pay more attention to the Bridges than to the funeral service. The unsub probably drives a 4-wheel drive vehicle, so the officers should take down those license plates. There is a very good chance the abductor will be at the funeral based on his method of dumping the body. Talking to Amy and Craig, Morgan tells them to trust their instincts - that we are all conditioned to feel fear when we are in frightening situations, and they should pay attention to their own reactions. JJ will stay behind to answer the phone. "You can do this," she tells Amy. Reid is standing in Michael's room, looking at the boys' things when Morgan approaches him. Reid is fatalistic, reminding Morgan that they will probably only catch this unsub when he dumps Michael's body. He picks up a toy dinosaur from Michael's window ledge and comments that nothing every changes - when he was Michael's age his friends all had dinosaur toys, too. But Reid only had books and notebooks, his mother was convinced that poets and composers like W. S. Merwin and Bob Dylan were watching them and writing about their lives, and wanted Reid to memorize their works. He rambles on, talking about his dream, trying to put everything together. Dreams about basements, he decides, are about the things that are fundamental to one's life. Finally he admits to Morgan he has had different versions of the dream about the dead boy since he was a little kid. "Hey," Morgan advises, "you know nobody'd think any less of you if you took some time off to get your head together." Reid brushes past him and states, "I just want to find this boy." A large crowd stands around the gravesite, dark figures all grieving for Ethan Hayes. The pastor speaks about the community's outpouring of concern, and about the other boy who still needs their prayers. He asks that the crowd bow their heads to pray for that boy. The agents glance over the crowd, looking for anything that stands out, for anyone who seems different. Suddenly, Amy Bridges looks up - she's felt it, that instinct that raises the hairs on the back of her neck. She looks around and whispers to Hotchner, "He's here." Reid stares at the closed casket, and, in his vision the lid slowly opens and a little boy sits up and stares at him, demanding, "Why aren't you helping me?" Standing beside the casket is four-year-old Spencer next to his mother, Diana. She turns to look at her adult son and says, "Spencer - pay attention." Morgan notices his partner's reactions, and Reid says, "I've been here before." All Prentiss has eyes for is one man standing across from her, who has his cell phone camera trained on the casket. She gestures to Rossi, who catches Hotchner's eye. She and Rossi move to flank the man, who puts his phone down, explaining that he read about the funeral in the paper. He came because he loves kids and wanted the family to know that people cared. "And videotaping it? Who's that for?" Prentiss asks. The two agents usher the man away from the crowd. The agents escort Walter Davis to an interrogation room, where Prentiss and Rossi question him. He is nervous and the agents try to pin down his whereabouts when the boys were abducted as well as his true motives for attending the funeral. In the observation room, Morgan enters with a file and asks Detective Ashby to give him and Agent Reid a moment alone. Morgan has found an old case file concerning the murder of a child named Riley Jenkins when Reid was a boy. Reid concentrates but all he can remember is his imaginary friend named Riley. Morgan hands him the file and tells him that Riley was six-years-old when he was murdered in Las Vegas. At the time, Reid would have been four. Riley was found in the basement of his own house behind the dryer- he'd been sexually abused and stabbed. Back in the interrogation room, the Walter denies abducting either boy, but when Prentiss asks him if his reason for videotaping the funeral was because death excites him, the man reacts. "Oh, wait, that's it. Death gets you off," she insists. Walter become more and more nervous as she describes his habits, and what they'll probably find on his computer screen, until he can't take it anymore and he shouts, "I never would have molested that boy!" Walter didn't know that Ethan Hayes had not been molested- he's not the unsub. Reid calls Hotchner to let him know. Hotchner is just dropping the Bridges back at their home and is very disappointed to tell the couple that they have not caught their son's abductor. At a small house at the end of a dirt road, Michael is tugging at the door of the bedroom trying to get out when his abductor comes home. The 4-wheel drive Jeep races up to the house and the unsub slams on the brakes. A few moments later the telephone rings at the Bridges' home and Mrs. Bridges picks it up. "Put the FBI on," the distorted voice demands- the unsub saw the team at the funeral. Hotchner takes the phone. The unsub is angry, accusing Hotchner of trying to trick him at the funeral, but Hotchner speaks calmly and slowly. He tells the unsub how good it was that he went to Ethan's funeral, and how it showed his love for the boy. The unsub tells him that the loved Ethan more than his parents did, and he dressed him in new clothes that he liked. When Hotchner suggests that the unsub tell Michael's parents what he really likes, the unsub states that Michael will never come home since his mother is so cold. The unsub watched Mrs. Bridges look right at him and acknowledge that Michael is better with his abductor. Amy snatches the phone away from Hotchner and breaks down, pleading, "Please give me back my son, please I'm begging you." "Your time is up," the unsub snaps, and disconnects. At the house, Michael is again led to the bed, propped with pillows and made to lie down on his stomach. The team assembles in the Bridges' home to listen to the tape of the recent telephone conversation. Hotchner asks Amy and Craig if they can work privately for a few minutes, but the Bridges are upset. They now know that the unsub was at the funeral but the FBI arrested the wrong man. Reid, going through the file, pipes up that he doesn't believe the unsub is a man. The caller referenced specific details about the clothing that the unsub did. Morgan agrees - the unsub's choice of words -detailing her feelings for the boy, and vivid descriptions of what he liked and how he slept sounds like a woman. This unsub spoke about the care giving nature of the relationship, she didn't brag about not being caught as a man would have. Rossi shakes his head, reminding the team that the statistics tell them that women abduct newborns, men take children. Hotchner asks Garcia to run all the license plates from the funeral and check for any registered to women but she finds none. Reid reads the transcript of the call and notes that the woman's words sound like she's been institutionalized. Rossi sends Garcia searching for more information - for a woman who was released from an institution recently who has some kind of trauma in her background such as the death of a child. Unfortunately, to protect patient privacy there is no database of the mentally institutionalized. Reid believes he can help. Diana Reid sits in the common room of the sanitarium where she lives, her back to the doorway, so she doesn't notice when her son walks in. He looks at his mother for a moment, and is then greeted by her doctor. Reid asks Dr. Norman if he could help him with their current abduction case. He describes the woman they are looking for, and that they believe she was recently released from a mental institution. Reid asks Dr. Norman to put some calls in to the administrators of other institutions in the area and asking for their help. He is happy to help. When Dr. Norman hurries off, Reid slowly approaches his mother and tells her about the case. She tells him that he looks thin, and that she is concerned about his work with things that are "so sad." He explains that he had planned to visit her as soon as the case was solved, but Diana looks closely at her son and asks, "What else is going on in there?" Dismissing his denial, she tells him that mothers always know, they "feel things." The BAU had the funeral videotaped, and Hotchner and JJ review the tape with the Bridges, asking Mrs. Bridges when she felt that her son's abductor was there. Hotchner reminds her that she looked right at him and said "he's here." Watching the tape, Amy hesitates until the camera pans over a distraught blonde woman in a black dress. She had turned her head to stare directly at Amy and Craig Bridges. Garcia freezes the frame and begins running facial recognition software through VICAP. Hesitantly, Reid asks his mother if he knew a child named Riley Jenkins. She recalls the name, but as a story that Reid made up. Reid tells her that he's "been seeing things," and Diana looks around to see if anyone has heard him, advising her son not to make those kinds of statements in the sanitarium. Even when he explains about the dreams he's had since he was very young, Diana brushes off his worries, saying that his reading affected his dreams. She tells him that funeral he remembers attending when he was four was for his Uncle Daniel. Reid becomes agitated, wondering why they moved when he was four, and why his parents argued about it. All Diana remembers is that she knew that Spencer was in danger - she doesn't know how, and she doesn't know what kind of danger. Before they can continue, Dr. Norman arrives with bad news: he can find no woman who matches his description. He tells Reid that perhaps the woman was not released recently - that would not be as important a factor in her mental health as whether or not she was taking her medications. After Dr. Norman leaves, Diana leans forward and tells her son that she went off of her meds when she was pregnant with Spencer. Suddenly, Reid understands. Excusing himself from his mother he hurries after Dr. Norman and asks a question: "Would it be possible for a woman to convince herself that a random five-year-old child's actually her own newborn?" "Absolutely," the doctor answers, if the woman was completely off of her medications. Reid dials Hotchner and explains his theory: the woman was able to starve the children and yet keep up their nutrients because she is breast-feeding them. In the unsub's mind, she sits in a rocking chair in a brightly painted nursery, breast-feeding her baby before putting him into his crib for a nap. She walks to the door, looking behind her at her beautiful child, and slowly pulls the door closed. But the nursery is actually a bedroom in a small home, and the baby is Michael Bridges who lies traumatized on the bed. Garcia has found the name of the unsub - Claire Bates - and she had been institutionalized three years ago. From the list of license plates she finds a car registered to Claire's father, but his address is outdated. Prentiss suggests that she pull up birth records; if Claire is breast-feeding the children she would have to have given birth recently. The records do show the birth of Claire's son three weeks ago, but also that Child Services removed the baby from her care after a seven-day evaluation- that is why she holds the boys for seven days. As Garcia reads the case worker's report, Claire is frantically moving pieces of wood into a pile in her backyard. The case worker complimented Claire on her efforts to raise her son, but ultimately felt that the child would be in danger if he was allowed to remain in her care. Garcia tells the agents the address of Claire's home, and they head off, leaving JJ with the Bridges. Hotchner tells JJ to advise Reid of the address so he can meet them there. Claire is pouring gasoline on the stacked logs. The SUVs arrive at the end of the dirt road, and the agents spread out. Rossi and Morgan go around to the back, while Prentiss and Hotchner open two doors into the house. Hotchner sights Claire first - she is holding a large bundle wrapped in a baby blanket. Before he can stop her, Claire heads out the back door and he follows, radioing to the rest of the team to be careful as she is holding the boy. Morgan spots her going through the garage and the agents converge on the backyard. The agents can barely see Claire through the raging bonfire as she cradles the bundle in her arms. "My baby's dead," she wails, but Prentiss tells her the truth- her baby is being taken care of by someone else. Reid drives up and unholsters his weapon, heading toward the house. "I kept healthy, I did good," Claire insists, and Prentiss agrees with her, repeating that her baby is not dead. Reid finds empty room after empty room. Rossi tells Morgan that, if he has a clean shot, he needs to shoot Claire before she can throw the boy into the fire. Reid stands before the last door at the end of the hall. "Do you have a shot," Rossi demands. Morgan does. Reid unbolts the door and throws it open. Michael Bridges is standing in the bedroom. He speaks quickly into his radio, "I've got Michael!" just as Morgan aims. Morgan lowers his weapon. Michael runs into Reid's arms and Reid carries him out of the house. Claire throws the blanket onto the fire. A large teddy bear slides out of the bundle and she stands and watches the bear burn. A police car drives up to the house and Amy and Craig Bridges are out of the car before it comes to a stop. For just a moment Amy and Claire's eyes meet over the roof of a police cruiser before Amy hurries off to find her son and Claire is placed in the car. Coming out the door of the house with Agent Hotchner, Michael sees his parents and runs to them, and they all come together with tears and laughter. Hotchner assures the Bridges that he's going to be all right. JJ also has tears in her eyes as the family is reunited, and Amy Bridges takes a moment to tell her that she will be a great mom. Standing by himself, Reid watches the family reunion. Morgan approaches him, telling him what he should not need reminding of: this is a happy ending. While Reid acknowledges his friend's words, he is still troubled. When he was four, his mother had a sense that he was in danger. He also knows facts about the Riley Jenkins case. Morgan attempts to convince Reid that it is a coincidence, but Reid doesn't buy it. Finally, Morgan tells Reid the truth: "I believe that you could have done anything in this world with your life and you chose to do this job." "For some reason that case was stuck in your head all these years, and it not only led you to this career choice, but to the same city where your mother lives and for us to have the opportunity to save this child." He pats Reid on the arm and advises, "Enjoy your moment." As Hotchner walks past the two agents, Reid asks for a favor- for the team to wait until tomorrow to return home. Hotchner and Morgan have no problem with that idea. "Bob Dylan once said, 'I think the truly natural things are dreams which nature can't touch with decay.'" Back at the sanitarium, Diana is quick to tell her son how proud she is of him for saving the child. He is surprised that she knows, but she reminds him that mothers have their ways of knowing. Dr. Norman has given permission for Reid to sleep on the couch in his mother's room that night. She threatens the doctor with bodily harm if he tries to keep Spencer any longer and, as the doctor walks away, jokes to her son that it helps if they think you're crazy. The other agents sit around a round table at a Chinese restaurant, laughing and talking. Claire Bates lies on her prison bed, hugging her pillow and crying. Amy and Craig Bridges tuck Michael into his own bed for the night, holding hands. Diana Reid sleeps soundly while her son lies dreaming, Riley Jenkins' case file open next to him. Reid climbs down the basement stairs, his flashlight and gun pointed at the man crouched over the child's body behind the dryer. "FBI! Put your hands in the air," he announces. The man stands slowly, hands held out at his sides. "Show me your face," Reid demands. The man turns and stares. It is Reid's father. [recap written by Finnegan77]
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