Airing on Wednesday, Nov. 28, “Criminal Minds” episode titled “Magnificent Light” opened with the BAU being called to the Seattle area to profile a killer who stabbed two people over 30 times. Without obvious connection between the two victims, the team must determine the commonality between the cases.
Words plastered on the wall (“Hear Your Evil, See Your Evil”) were first thought to have been written in the victims’ blood, but analysis revealed it to be red paint — the first clue that the words were premeditated and not written spur of the moment during a rage killing.
At the scene of the female victim’s murder, Hotch (Special Agent Aaron Hotchner, played by Thomas Gibson) picked up a book with a ticket from the event of a well-known motivational speaker, Barry Flynn. Further inquiry revealed that Cynthia had attended Flynn’s engagement and was one of five people singled out for a one-on-one with him. Based on the time frame, Flynn was now a person of interest since he was likely the last person to see the victim alive.
According to Flynn’s manager, he goes off by himself after every show purportedly to regroup, not letting family or friends know of his whereabouts. Following the Seattle show, Flynn went to a gay bar where he was promptly hit on by another man and they left together within minutes.
Was Barry Flynn still in the closet, and did he murder two people to keep his secret safe?
Investigation revealed that Flynn was a stage name and that he had previously been a car salesman for 12 years then just checked out – quit his job, divorced his wife, etc. After supposedly meditating in the desert, he said he felt a calling and went into motivational speaking. Was he hiding something else from his past?
We next see Flynn handcuffed to a bed, with the unsub holding the weapon used to murder the first two victims, saying: “You made me do this, Barry Flynn.” Flynn is clueless as to the man’s identity and what issue he has with him, but quickly realizes that playing along, becoming the unsub’s friend, might keep him alive.
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Agents find Flynn’s car outside the club along with a high decibel personal alarm and determine that he isn’t the unsub, but now a victim.
Going through the female victim’s financial and phone records, the BAU team finds that she had money problems, and numerous calls were made to an 800 number, which turns out to be a call center for a credit card company. Further investigation reveals that a call center employee that she had spoken with had recently been terminated for ranting and verbally abusing customers on the phone.
We see scenes of the killer talking to people and seeing the words they’re speaking appear above their heads in different colors – yellow, orange, red.
The unsub has synesthesia, a condition where someone experiences two different senses at the same time. In this case, the killer would visually see the words that he heard spoken, and to him, the color of the words he saw told him that the person speaking them was lying or evil. For years he fought the condition, was fired from previous jobs and almost killed himself, then he heard of Barry Flynn, who he said saved him. Flynn’s motivational speaking encourages people to take action, so that’s what he was doing. He now saw his condition as a gift, and would single out people whose words he ‘saw’ in red, planning to kill them and rid the world of evil. He considered himself Flynn’s biggest success story.
Searching Flynn’s database of millions of fans, computer specialist Penelope Garcia (played by Kirsten Vangsness) narrows it down to Seattle area residents, then cross-references with any who have anger management issues, leading them to the credit card call center, and ultimately to the unsub. After being told that the former employee had returned after being fired, they realize that he had taken records of customer calls, which included their names and addresses. Both murder victims’ names were on that list, and it appeared he had been targeting the most recent calls first.
The unsub takes Barry Flynn with him to see the next customer on the list, considering them now a team. He engages with the resident and when he sees words appearing in red above his head, is prepared to kill him. Flynn tries to talk him down, and the killer then sees words turning colors over his head as well, and turns on him. Although Flynn is wounded, the team shows up just in time, engages the killer with their understanding of synesthesia, and is able to apprehend him prior to more bloodshed.
Watch next week’s episode of “Criminal Minds” on CBS at 9 p.m. eastern/8 central. South/central Ohio viewers will find it on DISH and network WBNS-TV channel 10 in Columbus.
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