Season 1 Episode 3

Dead Letters

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Nov 08, 1996 on FOX
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Episode Summary

Dead Letters
Against the initial resistance of the Group, Frank travels to Portland, Oregon, to investigate a murder at an animal shelter. He meets with Jim Horn, a profiler and candidate for the Millennium Group. But Horn is distracted by his imminent divorce, and there is tension between him and Frank. When the killer strikes again, Horn is losing control, and Frank not only has to catch the killer who leaves grisly messages on his victims, but he has to contend with Horn as well who is more than ready to stop the murderer with terminal prejudice.moreless

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Chris Ellis

Chris Ellis

Jim Penseyres

Guest Star

Ron Halder

Ron Halder

The Killer

Guest Star

James Morrison

James Morrison

Jim Horn

Guest Star

Brittany Tiplady

Brittany Tiplady

Jordan Black

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • The Killer leaves two messages on the bodies of his victims. The first is "Hair today, gone tomorrow." The second is "Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained."

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Frank: He needed one lens replaced -- the left lens?
      Janice: Well, that I don't remember. But what I do remember is that he was getting all weirded out.
      James: Weirded how?
      Janice: I guess his glasses got a little lost in the shuffle, so I asked him for a service slip number and he gets all sweaty, and his eyes got real weird. So I went back, I asked the technicians, maybe they had seen them. And I guess they were in the tray right behind me but all the trays are marked with the customer's name on it. And he starts going: 'I have a name! I have a name!'

    • James: I thought it was the guy. We all did.
      Frank: What if it was, James? Is bouncing the subject's head off the hood of the car going to do anything to change all the other murders that will occur today?
      James: Come on, Frank! Some guy cuts your wife and your daughter into eight pieces and you just stand there and you read him his rights?!
      Frank: He hasn't killed our wives or our families and he's not going to. If you make every one of these personal, you'll go insane and that's from having been there, James.
      James: I get so far into the heads of the killers and the victims.
      Frank: You haven't got there at all.
      James: Don't you tell me where I am!
      Frank: You put them in your head.
      James: I keep reliving... what it's like to be cut in half... or four... or eight.
      Frank: This isn't about you, James! The whole thing... what's going on out here... it's about us! Me, you... the killer and the victim.
      James: I can't help but take this personally. Another person is going to die, horribly. Because I s-... we screwed up. I-... we did all this for nothing.
      Frank: No, we didn't. We handed out 30 pins from the hospital charity to be placed here. There's 31. We wanted one taken, but one was left. He was here.

    • James: I don't know, Catherine. Maybe it's because T.C.'s been taken out of my everyday life. Or... he's two now and he's becoming a person, you know? But I can't... these murderers... before they were a... fascinating, psychological, societal puzzle. Most I could even feel sympathy for them because of their horrible lives. But now... when I walk into a crime scene, all I see is my little boy's face superimposed on the victim. And... and these... killers can't be simply cases or psychological anomalies anymore. They're just... monsters. Just monsters.

    • Catherine: They play well together.
      James: Yeah. It's great to watch them, huh? They have no idea. Things we see... things we know are out there. I hope I'm not screwing him up... I never ever dreamed at that perfect moment that... my time with him would be regulated by petitions, attorney retainers, orders of the court... that mother, father and son would become nothing more than a case number... that as a father, I risk adding nothing to his life. I could become nothing but... face covered in gray tape.
      Frank: When I read Dostoevsky there was a passage, something like: 'There's nothing more sad than a life that ends and no one knows or cares.' Hair today, gone tomorrow. The subject is angry that his life will go unnoticed... that he will have left nothing. The hatred of himself is directed toward the world which has held him back because it objectified him... reduced him, reduced us all to universal bar codes. We are animals in a caged shelter, controlled by dog catchers. The gray tape makes the victims look like how he feels -- faceless -- a dead letter lost at the post office. He's killed before... when he was young... most likely a female prostitute, after an early setback... a girlfriend, a job. He sought out a woman that wouldn't turn him away. The solicitation increased his feelings of nothingness and so he killed her before sex. My guess? He was never caught. He got away with it. Subject has felt guilt ever since, angered at a world that should have punished him but didn't. The murder, however, was the most significant event in his life. He's returned to this place, to the event. He wants nothing more than to be stopped. But he will do everything in his control to remain significant.

    • James: You profiling me? You got that look like you're profiling me.
      Frank: No, James. Just wondering what's wrong.
      James: Sorry. My wife and I are going through a separation and, uh... I had to disconnect the fax line out at the house and the phone company... Man... they can make you feel like a worthless ass.
      Frank: Sorry to hear about your wife. I see you have a kid... Me too.
      James: That's my boy, T.C. He just turned two.
      Frank: I've never been separated, but I hear it's rough.
      James: Yeah... this work... makes things hard, you know.
      Frank: I've been there.

    • Frank: What's the matter, honey?
      Jordan: I had a bad dream.
      Frank: Oh... come on... Everybody has bad dreams.
      Jordan: Why?

    • "For the thing I greatly feared
      has come upon me.
      And what I dreaded
      has happened to me,
      I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;
      I have no rest,
      for trouble comes."
      ----Job 3:25,26

  • NOTES (3)


    • Character Name:

      James Morrison's (James Horn) son in this episode was named T.C. This is a reference to the character James Morrison played in Space: Above and Beyond, Lt. Col. Tyrus Cassius "T.C." McQueen.

    • The Killer: It's just... my glasses fell off when I tried to shut the door with my arms full and I can't... don't worry. I'll find them. Thank you.
      The scene in which the killer cons a woman into helping him, a seemingly weak man, carry a large package into his van, is a tribute to a similar scene in the Thomas Harris novel-turned-film The Silence of the Lambs. Writers would later pay tribute to Harris a second, and unfortunately final time, in the last two episodes of the series.

    • Penseyres: Others think we should wait... applying the Holmes criteria defining serial killers involving three victims with a time period between murders of at least 30 days.
      This is most likely a reference to the work of Ronald M. Holmes, a real-life psychological profiler.