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The Gathering - Recap

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The episode begins with the team discussing about the “Replicator”. Morgan looks at the pictures clicked by the replicator and wonders how he got so much access. The security department confirms that there have been no breaches. So, if the Replicator is not hacking in, how did he get the case details? Alex thinks that the Replicator could be a journalist. Hotch thinks that he could simply be watching them. Reid says that watching them is impossible because he assembled the “almost accurate” time table of the Replicator, and infers that when they were solving the cases in Miami, the unsub was dumping his victim in New Mexico. Despite that, he managed to get back in DC to watch Reid hit his first home run!

Garcia looks at one of the pictures taken during the baseball game and she sees a reflection on a woman’s sunglasses. It appears as if someone was clicking pictures. Erin arrives and tells the team that the Director wants the Replicator to be classified “inactive”. Erin tells them that there are other cases piling up and so the Director wants them to pay attention to those cases.

Next, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, a girl, Nicole walks out of a bar and her boyfriend, John tries to calm her down. She tells him that she is tired of his drinking habit and wants to go home. John tries to convince her to wait. At that moment, a man walks up to them and punches John and tells him to stay away from Nicole. John leaves. Nicole is surprised that he knows her name. He grabs her by her hair, smudges her lipstick and pushes her into the car. The next day, at the café, Garcia runs into Sam (a guy she dated for a while) and Garcia is still attracted to him. Kevin is jealous. Later, at the office, Garcia updates the team about their latest victims. Two women were found murdered with their tongues removed.

The first victim is Patricia who was found in a park and the second victim is Nicole who was found near a local restaurant. Both of them suffered multiple stab wounds. Rossi states that the MO suggests overkill and the removal of the tongues is one of the most horrific forms of torture. Next, we see that the unsub puts a file labeled “Nicole’s Knight” back on the shelf. He then picks up a file labeled “Laurel’s Open Window”. He opens the file and begins reading what appears to be a story. The unsub then kills his next victim. On the flight, Garcia updates the team about the latest victim, Laurel and her brother and these victims were killed in their house. Laurel’s tongue was missing but her brother’s was intact.

Later, Morgan and Reid meet Detective Paul Boseman at Laurel’s house. Morgan notices that Laurel had installed an alarm. Garcia tells him that she installed it two weeks ago, and she has been living in that house for three years. This clearly means that Laurel was scared of something and having her brother around made her feel safer. This also suggests that her brother was a “victim of circumstance”. Rossi meets the coroner and the coroner tells him that there were ligature marks only on Laurel’s legs. Rossi also learns that the girls were alive when their tongues were cut off.

JJ talks to John. John tells her that he and Nicky were having some relationship problems. He tells her that it was his fault that he left Nicky with that man. He thought that Nicky knew that man because the man knew his name. JJ asks him if he could describe the guy and John tells her that he was too drunk and doesn’t remember anything clearly. Garcia calls Hotch and tells him that their three victims were really “active” online. They did a lot of blogging, tweeter etc. So, that is how the unsub knew these women. Next, Peter is at work and his boss feels that something is not right about him. Peter is talking to someone online and he thinks about stabbing his female boss with a pair of scissors.

At the unit, the team reads the tweets and blogs posted by the victims and they see that each victim was killed in a way she fantasized. Laurel wanted someone to climb into her room through the window and ravish her with bondage. Rossi now knows why there were ligature marks on Laurel’s legs. The unsub knew that she was into S&M. They then figure out that the unsub is socially awkward and the victims connected with him online, without knowing how he looked. We then see that Peter is watching a girl swim. After she gets out of the pool, they exchange texts and he tells her that he is still at work. Later, the unsub is reading his next file, where he reads that Kayla ignored him every time. She walked by him as if he did not exist. After that, the unsub kills another woman at the laundry.

The local PD informs the team that the latest victim is Kayla Jefferson. Hotch notices that the MO has changed from stabbing to strangulation. The team profiles the unsub. They tell the cops that the unsub is a guy who trolls the victims’ online activities and turns their fantasies into nightmares. His MO has two steps. The first step keeps changing but the ritual of removing the tongue remains constant. Next, the unsub is reading a file on “Tammy’s Midnight Swim”.

Garcia educates the team about Kayla and tells them that Kayla had no online activity. However, she had a scary, secret admirer, Tyler, who lived in the same building. He has posted a lot of things about Kayla on his blog. She tells them that Tyler is being held in a mental institution for attacking his mother. The team knows that Tyler cannot be their guy. Despite that, Hotch wants Reid to talk to Tyler. Reid learns that Tyler was a part of an online community that shared psychopathic stories by remaining anonymous.

Rossi and Alex talk to Dr. Houston, who has a particular form of therapy for treating this sort of a psychopathic disorder and it involves two steps. First is expressing their fantasies, and the second, to determine the root cause of the problem. Reid thinks that the unsub could have created his own writing group. He feels that the unsub could have attended one of Houston’s lectures and adapted “a part” of his therapy. Instead of working the steps, he only concentrated on acting out homicidal stories. Next, Peter is attending a group therapy session, headed by Mark Jackson. Mark makes the group members write their stories and read it out loud. Peter is a part of the group and his latest story is titled “Betrayed”.

Garcia tells the team that she did some digging and has found a lead on the unsub. There are three other murders with the same MO that took place two years ago. She says that Dr. Houston gave his first lecture in a call center in Tampa. A few days later, a guy named Mark Jackson, who worked there, went AWOL and the tongue-less bodies started showing up. She tells them that Jackson is now in St. Paul.

At the group session, everyone leaves and Peter confronts Jackson. He accuses him of stealing his stories and using them for himself. He also accuses him of lying to him and telling him that writing down his fantasies would make them go away. He asks Jackson if Tammy was next and Jackson says yes. Peter is furious because Tammy is special and he cannot let Jackson have her. Jackson tells him that he should be honored that he followed his stories to the smallest details. Peter tells him that he got one thing wrong; taking the tongues wasn’t a part of his stories. He realizes that Jackson was the one killing the women. Next, the team finds Jackson’s dead body and they realize that there is another unsub. They deduce that Jackson was his first kill. They are sure that he will kill more.

Rossi tells Alex that when Jackson was young, his nanny abused him, but when child services arrived she changed her story and blamed Jackson. That is why he removes the tongues; he considers all women liars. Next, Alex finds the files with the stories and she figures out that the stories on Patricia, Nicole and Laurel were written by a guy named Peter, who was also a member of that group. Garcia does a search on Peter and manages to get the address. They know that Tammy is Peter’s next story and he would drown Tammy in the pool. Garcia tells them about the nearest community center that has a swimming pool. Next, Peter is at the swimming pool with Tammy and her hands and legs are tied. He pushes her into the pool.

The team arrives and Morgan jumps into the pool to rescue Tammy. Peter knows that this is the end and he slits his throat and kills himself. Next, Kevin apologizes to Garcia for acting stupid about Sam and he wants to be friends again. Garcia agrees. She then goes into the living room and plays the ukulele for Sam. The episode ends.

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Warning: Criminal Minds season 8 episode 17 guide may contain spoilers
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