Criminal Minds -- Terror In The Sky
Death takes to the sky
I'm actually surprised the network green-lighted this episode, because it really puts forth quite a fear, especially in the post-age of 911. The thought that some terrorist could get control of an airplane and cause it to crash is a terrifying thought. But it's not, unfortunately, something that might not be possible. With everything being run by computer, someone could hack into a airplane's flight controls and do what the unsub did in this episode. It's truly a terrifying thought.
The episode opens with a plane in flight as its unsuspecting passengers have no idea what's about to happen to them. Suddenly their wireless devices go black and the plane starts experiencing extreme turbulence. Fast forward to the wreckage of the plane strewn all over the ground and the co-pilot as the only survivor.
The team is brought in and immediately suspect sabotage. Their first hypothesis is a ground to air missile.
The team worries this case will hit a little too close to home for Kate. Her sister and brother-in-law died in 911 at the Pentagon. The teenage girl we saw Kate come home to is actually her niece, who she adopted and has been raising since the death of her sister and brother-in-law.
If the co-pilot Frank didn't have enough trouble with recovering from the injuries he sustained in the crash, he's got angry families calling him and spewing hate at him because he survived and their family members didn't. People are lovely like that, aren't they? And since he's the sole survivor the team suspects him of doing something to bring down the plane.
Another suspect emerges when a witness to the crash, Mr. Petaski, says he saw a flash in the sky before the plane came down. He says he knows who brought the plane down. It was the military. He saw some military types wandering around the woods.
This leads the team to suspect a militant militia group. They surround the group and they become prime suspects when soviet missiles are found in Marshack's place. They have a lot of different suspects for this, but none of them are a good fit. Then they learn of a death threat one of the passengers on the plane that crashed got and it finally leads them to the unsub.
Kristina Morrow went on a blind date with a man named Hayman Vasher. It wasn't a good date and she did what a lot of people do who are on social media. She talked all about it, and Vasher found out all about it. Needless to say he had a grudge against the woman and sent her the death threat. However, she wasn't the primary reason he brought the plane down. It was more about Julius Robert Oppenheimer, who Vasher is a fan of.
Oppenheimer was an American theoretical physicist and was a professor of physics at Berkeley. He's among the people who are referred to as the father of the atomic bomb for his involvement in the Manhattan Project, the World War II project that was responsible for creating nuclear weapons. Vasher even uses Oppenheimer's famous line, "Now I am becoming death, the destroyer of worlds."
Vasher, in his warped and twisted mind, sees himself as some modern day Oppenheimer. For the last 8 years he's been perfecting his hacking software and now he's putting it to use. Since he didn't get out of it what he wanted by crashing the first plane, he's set his sight on a new plane and the team has to find him before its too late.
His new target is a plane called IA61. The team puts out the warning for all flights to be grounded until the Vasher threat is over, but IA61 doesn't get that warning. In the cockpit, the flight crew hears the warning and then that's the last thing they hear as they lose all communication with the tower and all control over the planes controls.
The government fears this time Vasher wants to make an even bigger noise by causing the deaths of not just the people on the plane, but perhaps the people on the ground as well. If he could crash the plane in a heavily populated area the death count would skyrocket and he would attain the fame he's seeking. To prevent that from happening the military sends fighter jets after the plane with orders to shoot the plane out of the sky to stop an even bigger tragedy from occurring.
The team tracks Vasher to his lair, but he's got his finger on the trigger to take the plane down, so he forces the military to send the fighter jets away from the plane so they can't shoot it down. Hotch tries to get in the man's head and make him see that Oppenheimer tried to lobby for control over nuclear weapons to prevent obliteration and a possible arms race with the Soviet Union. When that doesn't work, to save the plane and all on it, Hotch shoots him in the head.
I know I complained about the team always trying to bring these psychos in alive, but Hotch has been pretty fast on the trigger finger this season.There's been quite a few unsubs that ended up being taken away in a body bag.
For a few tense moments no one knows if they took out Vasher in time. The plane has disappeared from radar and since the fighter jets were ordered to back-off, they lost track of the plane. Thankfully, the plane gets control of its communications back and informs the tower they've landed safely.
As I said at the beginning, I'm surprised CBS green-lighted this episode. What Vasher was able to do in this episode isn't beyond the realm of possibilities. What with this episode and Person Of Interest where an evil machine now controls the world, it seems CBS is sending a message to the public that maybe we're relying too much on computers to the point it could lead to disaster for us all.