Criminal Minds 8×08: The Wheels on the Bus: Recap and Review
Criminal Minds 8×08 opens school bus filled with high school students. Two boys chat about a cute girl; two girls chat about a boy; some text and take photos. Suddenly the bus stops; there’s a vehicle blocking the road. The driver says maybe they have a flat tire; a student wonders if they’re out of gas. A woman stands and tells the students to all remain in their seats.
The driver opens the door to ask if the stranded motorist needs help; he sees two men in gas masks; one shoots the driver in the leg. The students start screaming and hiding; one student tries to dial 9-1-1, but she gets caught before completing the call.
At the BAU office, Penelope Garcia meets Kevin as he gets out of the elevator; “Kevin I need you!” she says. Kevin tells her that he got her text and has been meaning to call, but she interrupts him. Has he seen the news? It’s all hands on deck. Garcia leads the way and Kevin follows.
At the briefing it is announced that 26 people are missing; 24 students plus the bus driver and a monitor. The profilers all put in their individual bits of knowledge. Probably two UNSUBS; the first two students were dropped off at their regular stop; bus could travel 550 miles on a full 80 gallon tank of diesel. J.J. says they believe the bus is still within a two mile radius. The GPS is disabled; no one is answering their cell phones and the UNSUBS have a two hour head start. Aaron Hotchner says that the team will set up a command post at Central High.
Hotchner Quotes as SUV’s head to High School: “French Novelist Jean Giraudoux said I’m not afraid of death; it’s the stake one puts up in order to play the game of life.”
Inside the BAU team discusses the case. Garcia says that a backpack was found by the local PD containing all of the kids’ cell phones. Spencer wonders why this bus, there were seven others to choose from. The driver, Roy Webster, had been involved with several altercations with students. Carol Roberts, a retired school teacher was hired six months ago to monitor the bus. But who was she there to keep an eye on?
The kidnappers put students in electric collars. One begs “Please, it’s too tight.” The door slams leaving the students in the dark.
At Central High, the team interviews parents and staff. They ask about the missing students and about Mr. Webster. Kevin works with Penelope; he has compiled all of the information, photos, texts and social media from the kids’ cell phones and Facebook. Garcia looks through the photos and finds one time stamped for the time of the abduction.
The principal tells Hotchner that Roy Webster worked for the school for fifteen years. He went to mandatory classes in exchange for keeping his altercations off the records. While Hotch is talking to the principal, an officer comes in; “Agent Hotchner, we have a body.”
At the crime scene, Rossi tells Hotch that it’s Roy Webster. Two gunshot wounds, the first in the leg and second in the chest. They must have needed him to drive the bus. Garcia calls and says that the GPS wasn’t disabled after all; it was just masked. She has located the bus; Hotch says the location is less than a mile away.
Swat and FBI agents all converge on the barn which contains an empty school bus. Dogs are taken around to locate any evidence. The D.C. officer says that the barn was registered to Violet Bergen, who died a few months back. J.J. says it was the perfect place to make the switch. Spencer hears a dog bark in the distance; “They found something.”
The team converges on a hidden shed; inside the students shout “Please don’t hurt us.” Spencer assures them that they’re safe now. “Fourteen here, we need to find the other ten.” Spencer says. The kids are checked out by EMTs on the scene.
In the meantime the UNSUBS are moving the rest of the students. They are put in a locked area, lik a big cage. “What do you want from us?” one of the students cries out. Left alone they begin to speculate on their fate and the fate of Mrs. Roberts. One observes that the kidnappers took off their masks; they are all going to die here.
Suddenly the voice of one of the kidnappers is heard through ear pieces the students are wearing; “Welcome to Hell people. Number 2 and Number 5, step forward.” The kids try to figure out their numbers. Trent and Addison have been chosen.
“The rules are simple – You follow our instructions you live; you don’t…” One of the students doubles over in pain as the shock collar is activated. Two young men man the controls; “May the best man win. Players, the game will commence in 3, 2, 1.”
At the barn one of the students is told to close her eyes and remember. She relates how the bus was taken over. She says they were lined up here, their hands tied. The UNSUBS put collars on some of the students and then took turns… Picking.
Back at Central High, the recovered students are reunited with their parents. Billy’s mother asks about where her son is. She heard that the bus was located. J.J. has to tell her that some of the students are still missing.
Trent ans Addison make their way, listening to the gamers. Trent tells Addison “No matter what, we stick together.” Over the earpiece one of the gamers says that training is as important as the battle itself. He tells Trent to go to the table and open the box on it. Trent finds two small flashlights. He gives one to Addison, and they follow directions, down a narrow corridor.
J.J. describes the UNSUBS; two white males in their early twenties; she and Spencer discuss the separating of the students and the choosing of teams; the shock collars. Rossi says it sounds like a game scenario; Gods of Combat.
Trent and Addison reach the end of the corridor; the two gamers instruct them individually; one must go to the left, the other to the right. Trent refuses to leave Addison, and receives a shock. Addison tells him to go, just listen to them.
Back at the Command post, Rossi describes the game. You attack transportation systems, like buses or trains to get your team. They are controlled with the shock collars, the player with the highest body count wins. J.J. can’t believe that Rossi has played the game.
Addison runs into some rats and her gamer says it will get a lot worse. She stumbles and falls; when she looks at her hand she sees blood. Then she sees Mrs. Roberts’ dead body; she screams.
At the command post Hotchner is asked for more details; “My Captain’s asking for an update.” Hotch is afraid to release details; they don’t want copycats. Morgan, Rossi and Hotch deliver a profile. These men are avid gamers; it’s an addiction, an obsession. The game has taught them to be methodical and strategic. Rossi says that they chose the students in advance, based on characters from the game. These men can be motivated and positive while the game is going well; when it isn’t then they will feel rage and become violent.
Addison is told to Focus, she must get a key from the dead woman’s sweater pocket. He tells her to grab it and put it on. When she complies he says “Wasn’t so bad, was it?”
Garcia announces her findings about the game; 6 million players, 40,000 in D.C. alone. The team discusses how to narrow it down; there would be bullying, complaints, she isn’t looking for someone who is playing. She is looking for someone who was kicked out of the game.
Kevin tells the team about Mod levels; hacked and hidden levels of the game with no rules. If you die in the Hell Mod, your entire profile is deleted. It’s a Battle Royale. J.J. speculates that losing all the years of work, the loss of access would be devastating. The UNSUBS are holding their own competition.
The gamers argue with Trent and Addison. Trent ignores Addison when she tries to reason with him. Her controller tells her to open the box and blow his brains out. His controller says he has failed, lost the lead they had. Trent is trying to assemble a handgun as his controller tells him how. Addison is told that they know where she lives; her little brother Dylan could take her place in the game. She takes the gun from the box and turns as Trent aims his gun at her. The controllers are ordering them booth to shoot; Addison fires the gun and Trent falls.
Garcia identifies two players that were kicked out a month ago for hacking into a mod level. Both players had the same IP address; either roommates or siblings.
Back in the game, the controllers argue. It’s time for round two, and “Number four, you’re up.” The girl hesitates and then starts choking. Billy feels sorry for Wendy and says he’ll take her place. One of the controllers comes out and shoots Wendy. They have another argument. “She was a pawn, she was gonna die anyway.”
J.J. argues that the two UNSUBS can’t be brothers, they weren’t always at the same IP address; they played at different times over the years. Garcia starts to brainstorm and wonders if their parents divorced. That would separate them part of the time. She finds out who they are; Joshua and Matthew Moore. The team discusses what set them up to be this way. There was sibling rivalry, the game as a babysitter, and then the game as a connection between them when they were apart.
The controllers are now trying to get Billy and Addison to kill or be killed. One tells Billy that Addison already shot Trent. Addison says she’s sorry, that they threatened her family, she didn’t have a choice. She misses her shot and Billy gets away.
The team finds Josh and Matthew’s home. There are ear pieces with microphones attached. They were in the same room, they would not need these. Rossi says they are to communicate with their team of players.
Garcia gets frustrated trying every possible frequency; Kevin tries to help by talking her through the steps. She has tried every above ground frequency. Then she realizes that she hasn’t tried underground frequencies. ELF produces a ping within twenty-five miles. Kevin informs the rest of the team; he says there are factories, bunkers from the seventies, and an old paper mill. Spencer says the paper mill fits the specs of the game. Kevin goes to get the schematics.
In the game, Addison is warned to find Billy and kill him, if she misses this time she’ll be sorry. Garcia hacks the signal and the controller, Joshua, gets upset, the computer has frozen. Matthew can’t get instructions to Billy.
Garcia talks to Billy and says he’s safe. She will help him get out of the collar. She says she has isolated the signal. Back in the control room, the two brothers argue. Matthew thinks that Joshua did this on purpose; he takes a gun from the wall and aims at his brother.
Joshua tries to reason with Matthew, reminding him of a promise they made when their parenst broke up. “It’s us against the world; put down the gun.”
Matthew looks at the computer. “Someone hacked our signal; they know we’re here.” He shuts down the system and Garcia loses her connection with Billy. Addison is still searching and she finds Billy’s collar on the floor. He catches her off guard, tells her the police are on their way and he will help her with the collar.
Matthew tells his brother that it will take a few hours for the system to reboot. Josh says that he’s not waiting; he grabs a guns from the wall; “Only one way to finish this.” Matt grabs the other gun; “Game on.”
The BAU team has located and entered the Paper mill. In the meantime, Billy and Addison find an exit. Billy helps Addison over the fence, but when she gets to the other side she is intercepted by Matthew. Billy threatens to shoot him, but he says that he’ll kill the girl. Matthew wins and leaves with Addison. He tosses her to the floor and says it’s time to finish what his team couldn’t. Hotch and Spencer enter with one team, before Matthew can shoot the girl. He is taken into custody.
Billy runs into Rossi and Morgan, they tell him to put the gun down. Billy thinks they may be part of the game. “I’m Agent Morgan and this is Agent Hotchner; you gotta trust me like you trusted my friend Penelope.” Billy puts down the gun, but Joshua rounds the corner. Rossi and Morgan tell him to put the gun down but he gets ready to fire, and Rossi shoots him.
Outside the coroner removes bodies while the students are reunited with their families. Matthew shouts about his brother, he wants to know where Joshua is. When he sees the coroner wheeling out a body he says “He’s dead? I guess I won.”
Morgan’s quote: “Frederick Douglas said It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
At the BAU headquarters, Penelope thanks Kevin for his help and asks if he wants to get a drink and talk. He says that he already has plans, reservations. The elevator closes as she says goodbye.
Garcia asks Rossi “Ever have one of those days when you want to unplug from everything; literally?”
Rossi opens his bag and asks for Garcia’s phone, her tablet, her other phone. “Tonight you’re coming to my house. We’ll listen to Tony Bennett on vinyl and drink eighteen year old scotch.” Garcia says she doesn’t drink scotch; “You’ll learn.” Garcia says thanks as they enter the elevator. A phone rings and she hands Rossi her third phone.
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