Last night Criminal Minds aired an all new episode called Amplification. As usual, this good show is all about the mistery, and last night was no exception. If you want to be spoiled, stay here… but under your own responsibility.
Complete Recap and Spoilers of Criminal Minds 04×24 – Amplification
Annapolis, Maryland — A man walks through a public park where parents and children play. He checks the wind and then uncorks a vial of white powder. The powder blows through the air. Later, a woman puts her child to bed. Both are coughing wildly. “We must have caught something today,” she says. She coughs up blood. Cut to the hospital where EVERYBODY is coughing up blood. Uh oh.
Jennifer introduces the team to Dr. Linda Kimua, an expert in pathogens. Twenty five people were hospitalized with the same violent symptoms. Twelve are now dead. Spencer notes that anthrax doesn’t kill this fast. “This strain does,” Kimura says. Hotch demands a media blackout. “Our best chance of protecting the public is by building a profile as quickly as we can,” he explains. Rossi notes they should be looking for a scientist.
While Jennifer worries about her infant son, the team heads out to meet the military. Rossi explains to Emily that bad blood exists with General Lee Whitworth. That much is evident as soon as Whitworth enters the room and nods curtly at the team. Hotch requests a list of all military scientists working with anthrax. “I’m outranked by someone who believes in your profiles,” Whitworth snaps. “I’ll get your list.”
Derek and Emily visit the park, which has been closed (the cover is “methane buildup”). “This park doesn’t scream ‘target’ to me,” Emily says. “Maybe it’s symbolic for the unsub.” But symbolic of what? No time for that now. At the hospital, the 17th patient has died. “Whoever created this had to, at some point, go through the trouble of testing it,” Spencer notes. Kimura insists that they would’ve known about any previous cases of anthrax in humans. “Not if it presented itself as something else,” Spencer responds. But what something else?
Back at military headquarters, Jennifer wants to warn her husband and, in turn, son. Hotch gives her a clear, but gentle “no.” Spencer calls. He explains that three different people died of meningitis in the past few days, but it could have also been from an extremely high dosage of the nasty anthrax strain. Garcia does some checking, discovering that the victims all visited the same book store the day they became ill. Seconds later, the military is at the book store. Tests for anthrax are positive. “He’s got to have a history with the place,” Emily says.
Profile time. The team gathers will the military men to explain that they’re all looking for a “homegrown terrorist.” “We believe it is someone from the science or defense community,” Derek explains. Also: It’s likely personal with this guy/gal. A man approaches. “There’s something I think you should see,” he tells Hotch. And what is that? A video from 2002 showing a Dr. Nichols, who was forced out of his job, raving about the dangers of anthrax and the government’s poor response to 2001 attacks. Nichols fits the profile to a “T.” Derek and Spencer quick head over to the doctor’s house. Spencer stumbles into a home lab — and discovers Nichols dead in the corner. Worse: broken vials of anthrax litter the floor. Spencer slams the glass door, locking himself inside and telling Derek to “get back!” Says Reid: “I’m sorry.” Not as sorry as we are, boy wonder.
The team plus Whitworth arrive at the house. Luckily, Reid took a preventative pill earlier in the day, but there’s no guarantee it will work against this aggressive strain. Derek, in the meantime, explains that Nichols appears to have died from “blunt force trauma to the head.” Reid estimates that the scientist has been dead for three or four days. Meaning: Nichols could not have staged the bookstore or the park attacks. Derek urges Spencer to come out and be taken to a hospital, but Spencer refuses. “My best chance is to stay here, see if there’s a cure and try to figure out who killed Dr. Nichols,” he says. Hotch reluctantly agrees. And it’s a good thing too. Spencer notices two sets of handwriting among the detailed notes and files. Nichols had a partner! But whom?
Back at military headquarters, Jennifer just can’t take it anymore. She calls home to warn her hubby, but no one picks up. A close call. Just then, Garcia gets a cell-phone call from Spencer. “I know I can’t call my mom without alerting everyone at her hospital,” he says. “I need you to record a message for her in case anything happens to me.” The message is heartfelt and full of love. “I spend everyday of my life proud to be your son,” Spencer says. He tears up. Garcia tears up. We tear up. Spencer begins to cough. He then gets back to work, frantically searching the lab for clues. Spencer discovers that Nichols used to be a professor. “He may have opened his lab for educational purposes,” the sweating, coughing Spencer theorizes. He also finds a thesis with Nichols’ notes written in the margins in red ink. Nichols was helping a student with his/ her thesis! But who? Time for “baby girl” to go to work. Garcia looks up doctoral students — and finds one that used to work at the book store. A match!
The man’s name is Chad Brown, who has been arrested twice at protest rallies. “You did good kid, now get the hell out of there,” Derek tells Spencer. Just then, Kimura enters the lab wearing a protective suit. “You said the cure would be hidden somewhere we didn’t expect,” she says. “What about Dr. Nichols’ inhaler?” It’s worth a shot.
Emily and Rossi head to Brown’s home, but find it empty. Well, almost empty. Emily finds the business end of a light bulb in the trash. “He’s using light bulbs to carry spores,” she says. “He throws them on the ground — anthrax bomb.” Rossi, in the meantime, holds up a stack of subway maps. Uh oh. Back at military headquarters, Garcia informs the team that Spencer has taken a turn for the worse. Hotch tries to focus everyone on the task at hand when Jennifer enters with news: Chad Brown proposed to a girl at the nearby park and was rejected. He also worked at the bookstore and was bitter about not being promoted. “So both locations represent rejection to him,” Hotch says. Where does the subway fit in? Whitworth has the answer: Brown wrote a classified study that simulated a mock anthrax disaster in the D.C. subway system. Hotch believes, based on the profile, that the unsub will attack government employees traveling to and from a lab that rejected Brown twice. That stop runs along the green line. Whitworth strenuously disagrees. “I could really use your help,” Hotch snaps at Whitworth.
Hotch and Derek hustle to the subway stop in question and begin clearing trains. Seconds later, Hotch spots Brown — and pulls his gun. “Put the bag down!” Hotch demands. Just then, Whitworth steps in between the two. “Order from the president: the U.S. Army is taking this man into custody!” he yells. “He’s the only one who can show us how it is made.” Is Whitworth crazy? Crazy like a fox! He tells Brown that the government “needs him” to come work at the lab that had rejected him twice before. Brown is overjoyed. He begins to stammer, insisting that the government name the anthrax strain after him. Whitworth smiles and nods. As soon as Brown hands over his bag of light bulbs, Derek cuffs the man. Brown screams in anger at being rejected once again. “So how did I do?” Whitworth asks Hotch. Says the BAU man: “Effective.” Damn skippy.
On the next episode of “Criminal Mi”– wait! What about Spencer? Turns out our boy wonder is recovering nicely. The cure was indeed hidden in Nichols’ inhaler. As the episode ends, we watch a man in a protective suit slide the new strain of anthrax into a sterile containment center. The camera pulls back to reveal dozens and dozens of containment units. Just what does the government have that they’re not telling us about? Perhaps it’s best we don’t know.