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Criminal Minds Season 4 Episode 19: House on Fire

Criminal MindsThe BAU is called out to a small town in Indiana after 31 people were killed in two separate fires set by an arsonist. The profile starts out with an insistence the unsub is a male, which is basically a red flag that a woman will be involved in some way. The team gets to town and start their investigation, with help from the fire chief, town doctor, and EMTs.

Meanwhile, Garcia is tasked with digging into all the residents’ dirty little secrets. In a small town, everyone knows everyone and anyone could be their unsub. The BAU is unhappy they have to conduct a witch hunt but there’s no getting around it. Garcia doesn’t like her assignment, because she prefers to deal with data, not people. She complains to Hotch that she’s not a profiler but he’s like, “Suck it up.”

While most of the townspeople are at the memorial service for those who died in the recent fire, another fire is set across town at a local bar. Five people die but one hangs on long enough to tell Hotch and Rossi that an unfamiliar man came in and moved around to several different seats. This gives the team a clue that the unsub was unfamiliar with the bar, which was built only a few years ago. It indicates he left town several years ago. Morgan also notes that the door was chained, which is new, and he tells the frustrated fire chief that the change in the unsub’s MO will help them catch him.

Garcia discovers that Tina, an EMT who was recently married to the now-deceased bar owner, lost her parents in a fire when she was young. Tina also had a brother, Tommy, and while she adjusted to the tragedy relatively well, Tommy was mentally unstable. He fixated on Tina as his entire world until a rumor started to spread that Tommy and Tina were too close, like in a kinky Dean and Sam Winchester kind of way. Garcia furiously condemns the town as she explains how Tommy was kicked out of school and beaten nearly to death by grown men, all based on a rumor. She says Tommy’s grandparents sent him to boarding school out of state and cut all ties between him and Tina.

After Tommy was kicked out boarding school and ended up in juvie for several years, then disappeared for a while until he showed up back in Indiana. The team heads off to Tina’s house but they’re too late; Tina has disappeared. Rossi says she’ll be safe unless she rejects Tommy, so they need to find the siblings as soon as possible.

Tommy takes Tina to the last place where they were together as kids, the setting of a high school dance. He keeps saying they can be together now and nobody will keep them apart anymore. Horrified, Tina realizes Tommy is responsible for all the fires, including the one that killed her husband. Prentiss, Hotch and Rossi arrive as Tina is trying to get away and Tommy holds her around the neck. He kicks over a gas can and lights a match, but Hotch urges him to look at Tina and remember how much he loves her. Tommy releases Tina and he’s taken into custody. I really thought Tommy was going to set himself on fire; predictable, maybe, but having him go quietly to prison is anti-climactic.

Back at the BAU offices, Garcia is packing away the case information when Hotch arrives. She thinks he’s going to scold her for overstepping her bounds when she called out the town officials for letting a rumor destroy Tommy’s life. She defensively says she believes in the good in people and being forced to see the flip side has totally harshed her buzz. Hotch blinks and says he was just coming to tell her what an excellent job she did. He adds that her positivity about humanity is what makes her special and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

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