Profiler

Season 2 Episode 11

Ties That Bind

0
Aired Saturday 10:00 PM Feb 07, 1998 on NBC
8.0
out of 10
User Rating
25 votes
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Episode Summary

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Ties That Bind
AIRED:

Ritualized murders are occurring in Atlanta and in neighboring states, and the VCTF are called into action.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • An episode that can't decide what it wants to be - which oddly doesn't stop it from being a good episode.

    7.0
    About halfway through Ties That Bind, the episode makes a wild left hand turn into the full on "Huh?" territory. It's a wild, downright bizarre twist from a serial killer to cult members. It shouldn't work, it should leave the viewers shaking our heads and saying "nevermind." But somehow it works and produces a strong entertaining episode. Let's deal with the other stories first.



    The b-story involves the ongoing saga of Malone's daughter Frances. Frances claims she's sleeping with John Grant (she has his keys as proof). John follows Frances and sees her getting into Lou Handleman's car (Lou has been one of the seasons ongoing villains). He tells Malone who confronts Frances who admits Handleman had been blackmaililng her (telling her he'd end her probation) if she didn't do what he wanted. The c-story involves Sam, Chloe and the inlaws who have sued Sam for custody of Chloe. From day one the story of conflict between Sam and her inlaws has felt forced and inauthentic. In the first couple acts, Chloe is taken away from Sam; she has a crying jag in her bedroom, she's comforted by Angel. Of course she gets Chloe back in the end - which part of the problem with this story arc - it's felt entirely arbitrary from the beginning.



    The a-story starts off with a fairly normal Profiler set up - a gruesome double murder, some silver taken from the house, gang graffiti on the wall (the victims a wealthy man and his son; an older son is missing). Marcus, the underused black man in the series says he knows the markings - Birmingham's 16th Street gang. Just so happens some home invasions have taken place in B-ham recently and similar graffiti has been found on the walls there. In a scene that's meant to be urban and gritty but instead comes across as a minstrel show, Sam and Marcus visit the gang leader (Fat Cat) who tells them his gang had nothing to do with the Atlanta killings and that he was going to get the person who did before the FBI do.



    A second set of killings - a Chinese immigrant couple - are found murdered the same way with the same graffiti. Their daughter survived, went to stay with her brother, was murdered while staying with him. They take him into custody (at which point the episodes takes that left hand turn). The brother is arrested; Sam interviews him, realizes he was in a cult. The team does some research (including a funny scene in a gay bar, btw) discovers he found the cult through a "self help seminar." The team visits a host of self help seminars. Sam (of course) finds the right one and is approached by a woman who offers her a chance to "feel better."



    Sam is taken to the cult, meets its "minister of intelligence" the surviving son of the first murder victim. They talk and she is released. The chinese immigrant is still in custody; they release him follow him back to the cult. The compound blows up as they arrive. The final sequence - Jack having a fit that Jill has disappeared and the team finding Jill's real identity as Sharon Lesher - is the first movement in the Jack story in weeks and it's not enough to compel our attention but at least it's movement on this other turgid and uninteresting subplot.



    Don't ask me how or why but this episode succeeds. It's a case of the sum being greater than the parts. As I rewatched this episode, I realized that part of what makes this episode work is its exploration of the idea of family - as constructed versus family of origin, - and the ways in which one can be badly and radically alienated from one's family while yearning powerfully to not be alienated. A powerful desire for connection, to be loved and honored as a unique person, can drive people to do bizarre even self destructive things like join a cult in which one earns special love of the cult leader by specific, even heinous actions. All three primary stories explore various aspects of family, both subtly and not so subtly reinforcing the theme in each story. It all works because it's all connected. It works because it explores similar territory to three earlier episode - Victims of Victims, Birthright, Dying to Live - of the notion of sin and who atones for sin and how.moreless
Ally Walker

Ally Walker

Dr. Samantha "Sam" Waters

Caitlin Wachs

Caitlin Wachs

Chloe Waters

Dennis Christopher

Dennis Christopher

Jack of All Trades / Albert Newquay

Erica Gimpel

Erica Gimpel

Angel Brown

Heather McComb

Heather McComb

Frances Malone

Julian McMahon

Julian McMahon

Det. John Grant

Dylan Neal

Dylan Neal

Philip Nichols

Guest Star

Will Yun Lee

Will Yun Lee

Andrew Young

Guest Star

Michael Keenan

Michael Keenan

Judge Freed

Guest Star

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