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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Criminal Minds 6.23: The Good Lie

The benefits of lying have been explored on network television drama of late, with an episode several weeks ago on Bones, and now another this week on Criminal Minds.  Episode 6.23 focuses on a long-range serial killer at work for years.   One of his victims may be Derek's niece.

Derek's niece went missing several years ago, and is presumed dead.  Her mother - Derek's aunt - needs closure.   Derek is pained by not being able to give it to her - not being able either to find his niece's body or identify her killer.

The timing could be right with this serial killer, who buries his victims off the Jacksonville coast in Florida.   Derek's niece is not among them, but it's known that the killer was responsible for more deaths than there are remains.   In a climactic scene, Derek questions the killer, and shows him pictures of possible victims.

The killer sees that Derek has more than just FBI interest when he shows a picture of his niece.   The killer says yes, she was one of the his victims, and describes his pleasure in the killing.  But, unlike with the other victims the killer says are his, the killer does not identify Derek's niece by name.  Derek knows the killer was lying to him - his missing niece was not one of this killer's victims.

But when he sees his aunt shortly after, Derek tells her that the killer did admit to killing her daughter.  Derek is finally able to bring her some relief.

Was it right for Derek to lie to her?  I'd say no doubt it was.   The moral of this story is that truth ain't all it's cracked it up to be - there are times when lying is more humane, and therefore more ethical, then telling the unvarnished truth.   Sissela Bok's  Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life wasn't a source of quotes in this episode, but it surely could have been.

See also Criminal Minds in Sixth Season Premiere ... Criminal Minds 6.2: The Meaning of J. J. Leaving ... Criminal Minds 6.3: Proust, Twain, Travanti ... Tyra on Criminal Minds 6.13 ... Criminal Minds 6. 17: Prentiss Farewell Part I ... Criminal Minds 6.18: Farewell Emily ... Criminal Minds 6.19: Fight Club Redux Plus ... Criminal Minds 6.20: Emily's Ghost ... Criminal Minds 6.21: The Tweeting Killer ... Criminal Minds 6.22: Psycho and a Half

And Criminal Minds 5.22 and the Dark Side of New New Media

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sffan12 said...

While I understand why the guy did what he did, I don't really condone lying under any circumstances, even if it is to provide 'closure'.

And what happens when evidence of the real killer shows up to expose that lie? What then?

WV: Chone: A lie to provide false comfort.

Paul Levinson said...

If evidence of the real killer shows up after the aunt departs this life, then there's no problem.

If it shows up while the aunt is still alive, then Derek tells her the truth, and why he lied in the first place - which was to bring her some comfort.

It's a painful situation whichever way you go - that's the result of the niece being murdered in the first place.