Like last year's two part season finale, The Root of All Evil delivers an interesting a-story. The story of the "executioner" who sets bombs to punish those who commit evil acts but if you confess your sin, lets you live is well fleshed out, well written and acted. In particular, I found the continuity with Sam's characterization strong - we know she's a photographer and in this episode, she uses those skills to get into the killer's mind. She examines his photos and realizes the pattern and uses it to identify his final target. The story plays out with a pitch perfect sense of tension. The final moment as the killer sits on the mat, confesses his sins, and then allows himself to be burned to death is a bit much but nevertheless rounds out the story.
Root of All Evil is a standout story for several reasons - not the least of which is Sam's actual use of her skills a forensic psychologist - i.e. she looks at the killers house his office, his work, listens to his words and examines his actions and comes to understand him. Some other parts of the episode are workable if not genius - Frances gets admitted to college, Bailey has to come clean to the judge who reacts surprisingly well and lets Frances go off to college (and out of the show). Chloe finally meets her grandfather - Sam's estranged father - in a nicely awkward scene. Had the season ended at this point, we could conclude Profiler had stumbled at the beginning but pulled itself together. Unfortunately . . .
There's just one chess piece to move around - Jack. The details of the plot to draw Jack into the open so the team can capture him are absurdly baroque and don't bear much examination. The giant hole in the plot involves creating a circumstance in which Sam is all alone with Jack many minutes from help from any team member, which of course gives Sharon Lesher time to escape and charge Sam, who shoots her, allowing Jack to escape. There's something about the Jack story line that impairs Profiler's plot and writing and acting ability. Why you design a scheme in which Sam is left almost entirely vulnerable to Jack - minutes away form any help? Why would you design a trap for Jack which the success of which assumes he won't overpower Sam and kill her that he won't have shown up armed? Then, of course, we have a major problem - why wouldn't Sam as soon as she realizes Marcus has been wounded and isn't coming fire a nonfatal shot at jack - something to control him? Yeah, it's a problem but the entire story is a problem. Because of course if that happened Jack couldn't get away. The grand "confrontation" with Jack is duly proforma. Sharon of course has to die which is how Jack gets away. Are we really supposed to believe that Sam wouldn't shoot Jack first? Really? The Jack story line is almost entirely liability for Profiler. It's a story line that is almost entirely device and deus ex machina. Jack is the mcguffin they'll never catch. And I know the actor (Dennis Christopher) playing Jack has a fan base but he's awful. Christopher's acting runs the gamut from a to b. The fact that he's given truly dreadful material to work with doesn't help.
Root of All Evil is one of those episode that falls into the coulda woulda shoulda category. Coulda been great. Woulda been great. Shoulda been great except . . .