Criminal Minds -- The Vigilantes
Strangers On The Net
They say the Internet can be used to connect with people of like-minded interests, but when they said that I’m sure they never had in mind our two unsubs, Darlene and Ellen.
It’s shades of Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers On A Train, when these two ladies meet online and agree to do each other’s murder for them. Both lost a child and they want to punish the people who caused it, feeling the justice system didn’t punish them enough.
Ellen’s sister’s little boy was killed by a drunk drive and her sister killed herself because of it. The drunk driver was a woman named Brenda. Darlene smashes Brenda in the head with a bat, then chains her to the back of her car and drags her behind it.
Meanwhile Darlene’s daughter was molested by a man and her body was never found. The man arrested for the crime only got 10 years in prison. Ellen wants the man, Mark Coleman, to be aware of every moment of his death, so he’s wide awake when she chains him to the back of her car and drags him to death.
Simple enough. A death for a death. Only thing is before Mark died he revealed there were three other men with him. Ellen insists they have to track all the men down and kill them. Until they do, the job isn’t finished.
Paul Montgomery is their next victim. He swears he didn’t touch Kelly and he tried to stop it. Ellen doesn’t care; he gets no mercy. After him, their next target is Jason, but Darlene and Ellen get more then they bargained for when they go after him. Turns out Jason is a serial child molester and a complete psychopath.
He stops them from chaining him to the back of their car and dragging him to death by telling Darlene he can take her to Kelly’s body. It’s an offer Darlene insists they can’t refuse. She also wants to know just what they did to Kelly.
Up until then Jason was acting contrite and claiming he’d changed his life, but as he started telling his story the true monster he was revealed itself. He said they were high and someone asked if they’d ever been with a child, so they went hunting for one and Kelly crossed their path. He even suggests it’s Darlene’s fault what happened to Kelly because she wasn’t there in time to pick her up.
Then he demands they kill someone or he won’t take them to Kelly’s body. Darlene won’t do it, but Ellen will. Someone’s driving by and she shoots at them. Then she tells Jason he’s next if he doesn’t take them to where Kelly’s body is. He does, sort of. When he digs up a grave the only thing there is a head. He takes great glee in informing Darlene he cut her daughter’s body up.
That’s too much for Darlene to handle and she takes the shovel he used to dig up the grave and beats him to death with it.
Rossi figures out where Darlene and Ellen went on the lam to. The last place Darlene went with Kelly was Mexico. By a twist of fate, Darlene walks away just as Rossi and the police close in on Ellen. As Ellen is being taken away in the police car she looks over at the bus leaving and spots Darlene on it. She doesn’t alert the police as Darlene gets away.
It was an interesting commentary on the justice system. Mark Coleman only got ten years for victimizing a child, while protecting the three friends that were with him. And Brenda Whitley did less time for causing a child’s death while driving under the influence. Because of what she did, she also drove said child’s mother to kill herself. It’s hard to feel sorry for them because they were killed for their crimes. The families’ of their victims have to be satisfied with what time they did for killing two children who never even really got a chance to live their lives, and after they served their time they could start new lives for themselves. It really doesn’t seem fair.
Of the two vigilantes, Ellen seemed the worst, but in a way her loss was worse than Darlene. She didn’t just lose her nephew, she lost her sister. Interesting enough, both fathers found a way to survive the tragedy and not go to the dark place Ellen and Darlene went.
I guess if there’s a moral to the story it’s you have two choices when you’re the victim of a terrible tragedy. You can either find some way to go on with your life or you can let the tragedy define your existence until it eats you whole. Some people are able to get past it somehow, but for others their lives stop at the moment the tragedy occurred.
I’m not sure how I feel about Darlene getting away. I think it’s pretty obvious that Ellen was the one who talked her into “you do mine and I’ll do yours” deal. But even getting away, from what Darlene said, I don’t think she’s going to be able to get on with her life. By becoming a killer it’s just added to the load she carried. I have feeling the guilt over what she did will begin to eat her whole and like Ellen’s sister, she may end up ending her life to finally find some peace and to be with her daughter, again.