Show: Criminal Minds
Title: Ashes and Dust
Original Air Date: March 21, 2007
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“The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul.” — John Calvin
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Ghandi
Synopsis: A couple sleeps in their bed as someone pours an accelerant and lights its on fire. The son wakes his parents to help them all escape. Everywhere they go it’s more fire. They finally find a door but it’s locked or stuck and they can’t get out. They all succumb to the smoke. Someone comes in in a full fires suite and mask. He unpins the door so he can get out and leaves them to die. He drives away as the house is completely engulfed. At the BAU, JJ briefs the team. This was the third time. It’s a serial arsonist who is not like other arsonists. Hotch gives everyone assignments and gives himself the hardest. He’s going to the burn ward to speak with Charlotte. The doctor tells he and Prentiss that the woman won’t live very much longer and she does not know her husband and son are dead. At the scene, the arson investigator has already done a lot of leg work. Hotch and Prentiss have to gown up to visit Mrs. Cutler. She’s able to tell them that the water wasn’t working. She wasn’t woken by the smoke alarm but by her son. She also tells them about seeing the fireman. She asks about her son and husband. Hotch lies to her and tells her they are ok and in the waiting room. Prentiss is clearly emotional and affected by this. She doesn’t want them to see her like this. Hotch tells her he can stay with her till she’s ready. Back at the scene, the water news has sent the search in a new direction. Morgan realizes that by turning the water off at the main someone had to go outside. While the door was open he snuck in to pour the fuel and set the fire. The investigator finds where the door was jammed. At the station, Reid goes into his analysis zone. He figures out at the men, the husbands were the target. Hotch joins and them at the station and tells them Mrs. Cutler died. The team delivers the profile. Garcia finds a link with the men. Another family heads out. The father and two kids get in the car. The garage door opener doesn’t work. He pours gas all over the car with the farther and two kids inside. It’s a very large explosion. They have the leader of an eco activist group brought to the scene. They interrogate him on the scene. He leaves in a huff. They know he didn’t do it. Prentiss posits that the unsub likely joined the EDF thinking it was an arsonist club. They talk to the wife of the leader of the EDF. He’s got an odd way of paying child support too. Hotch and Prentiss are tailing Abbey. He appears to be getting ready to leave the area. That night, Hotch has Emily photograph everyone who leaves his house. He comes out to tell the agents that he disbanded the EDF and told everyone in the group he did not approve of the fires and murders. The arsonist storms off to his car from the meeting. He’s furious at what happened. A guy walks past him in the crosswalk he stops and pulls a Molotov cocktail out of his car, lights it and throws it on the guy. They now realize that the unsub was at the EDF meeting. Gideon decides they will have to trust Abbey with the profile. Hotch and Prentiss realize that Abbey has cancer as he was at the oncologist’s office. Hotch finds him at his sons baseball practice. He has about 6 months left to live. Hotch shows him the pictures taken and starts describing the unsub. Abbey hand him the pictures of the unsub and gives them a name, Vincent Stiles. They storm his place. He’s not there, but photos of all the victims are. Morgan gets a call that Abbey shook the tail they had on him. He goes to meet with Stiles. Hotch is upset that Abbey called Stiles. Hotch and Gideon realize he’s going to burn the guy. A 911 call comes in about a fire in the harbor district, but there is not one yet. Garcia checks the property, it’s just been rezoned as an elementary school. But based on Hotch’s conversation with Abbey there is a leaking benzene tank under ground there. In the warehouse, Abbey meets Stiles. He’s already pouring the fuel about. He pulls a gun on Abbey, but he knew that would happen. In the warehouse, Abbey and Stiles discuss how hot a benzene burns. Stiles has the temperature very wrong. He realizes that something isn’t right. When he asks Abbey how he plans to get out, Abbey tells him he doesn’t. Stiles realizes he screwed. As the team gets closer they hear the call for the fire. Hotch is with Morgan. The fire is already massive in just minutes. Hotch is not the only one affected, Gideon is too. The investigator found a note in Abbey’s car and gives it to Hotch. Hotch goes to see his son. He gives him the note with his mother’s permission.