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Recap / Criminal Minds S 1 E 1 Extreme Aggressor

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When a fourth woman goes missing over the course of four months, the Behavioral Analysis Unit searches Seattle to profile and apprehend her captor before he strikes again. Meanwhile, unit chief Aaron Hotchner is tasked with determining whether veteran profiler Jason Gideon is fit to return to duty.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Alone with the Psycho: The episode ends with Gideon alone in a gas station with the Footpath Killer.
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  • Berserk Button: Tim Vogel's impotence is the entire reason he's kidnapping and killing women. Gideon outright calling him impotent and making fun of him for it gets the man so angry it makes him careless allowing Gideon the opening to take him down.
  • Boom, Headshot!: The Footpath Killer's signature.
  • Cliffhanger: At the end of the episode, Gideon walks into an isolated gas station and realizes that the attendant is the Footpath Killer. The Killer realizes that he knows, and holds Gideon at gunpoint as he tries to walk away.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: The Footpath Killer, which in addition to being a very odd individual has polaroids of his numerous victims hanging around his workplace. However, the remoteness of his workplace and the fact that the victims are alive in the photos means that most transients won't realize he is the killer in the odd chance they come across him.
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  • Early Installment Weirdness: The lightning and tone of the episode is different compared to later ones, recalling The Silence of the Lambs.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: When Gideon's running through a list of nicknames girls who found out Vogel was impotent must have called him, the one that sets him off is "Tiny Tim".
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Footpath Killer makes little to disguise himself if at all, but he is so far from civilization he is still beneath suspicion.
  • Human Head on the Wall: Downplayed. The Footpath Killer has polaroids of his victims's faces on his wall, while they were still alive. The imagery is still there.
  • Killer Cop: When he is not killing, Vogel works as a prison guard.
  • Kinetic Clicking: The Footpath Killer clicking his rifle behind Gideon's back at the end of the episode.
  • Lecture as Exposition: The episode begins with Gideon giving an exposition on profiling and introducing the show's most iconic jargon, unsub. Another happens when a cop at the scene asks Reid to explain what the BAU's purpose and history is.
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  • My Greatest Failure: Gideon is haunted by an accident several months prior, where he misread a suspect bomber and unwittingly led six FBI agents to their deaths.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Vogel is introduced while trying to have a "romantic" dinner with one of his victims.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The Footpath Killer.
  • The Profiler: All members of the BAU are, but Gideon nail most aspects of the trope in the episode. Unsurprisingly, as he was inspired by John Douglas himself.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Vogel resembles Ted Bundy during his earliest crimes in Washington and the Footpath Killer is based on David Carpenter, the Trailside Killer. The second's predicted stutter is taken from Robert Hansen.
  • Serial Killer: Of course they would be present in the show's premiere. There are two of them: Vogel and the Footpath Killer.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: An atribute of Reid introduced right away. He is asked to tone down his language to make his explanations clearer.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Gideon gets his suspicion of the gas attendant being the Footpath Killer confirmed when the attendant stutters, which is something he has predicted the killer does.
  • Spotting the Thread: Gideon recognizes the polaroids behind the gas attendant as the victims of the Footpath Killer, and then everything unravels. His car is the one expected, he stutters like Gideon predicted, etc.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Reid has eidetic memory and several PhD's already despite being still shy of 24.
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