"Criminal Minds" Normal (TV Episode 2008) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • A serial killer known as the Road Warrior is gunning down blonde women on roads in Orange County, California and the BAU suspect that the victims are surrogates and that it's only a matter of time before he kills the real one.

  • Middle aged Caucasian blonde women are being gunned down on the freeways around Los Angeles. Based on victimology, the BAU determine that the women are surrogates for someone in the unsub's life, probably his wife or former partner. The unsub is feeling emasculated, this feeling onset by some specific traumatic event, but precipitated by perceived attitudes toward him. However, the killings are getting progressively brazen, where the BAU believes the unsub will eventually kill the real blonde woman in his life, and the children associated with that relationship. When the team locate the unsub, it may be too late.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Vanessa Hill says goodbye to her older and creepier husband Norman, who gets into his SUV and pulls out. CUT TO the highway, where Norman is nearly hit by a distracted woman yapping away on a Bluetooth. Norman seethes. He pulls up next to her, calmly produces a shotgun and FIRES. The blast sends the woman's car careening off the road. Granted, Bluetooth users ARE annoying, but Norman's actions seem a tad extreme. Later that night, he curls up next to Vanessa, seemingly happy as a clam. Has a serial killer been born?

    Yes, says Jordan, who briefs the team on a flight to Orange County, California. Apparently, our Norman has been a busy boy. Ms. Bluetooth was paralyzed from the waist down while two more middle-aged, blonde women have been killed in highway shootings. "It's the same shooter," Rossi says. "He's devolving and quickly." The media, meanwhile, has dubbed the unsub "the Road Warrior." Ah, media. Is there nothing you can't trivialize?

    The team arrives in Orange County and meets Detective Salinas. She explains that the populace is terrified and anxious for the case to be wrapped up quickly. You think? Hotch and Emily immediately head to the hospital to visit Ms. Bluetooth -- a.k.a. Judy Hannity. The woman seems to blame herself, saying that she yelled at the unsub, telling him: "You drive like an old lady!" Says Hotch to Emily: "She made it personal."

    Back at HQ, Reid theorizes that the man is not killing random women, but women that remind him of his wife. Since we have already seen Vanessa Hill and noticed that she is a middle-aged blonde, we tend to agree. Hotch explains that the unsub is likely chasing that first high. "He is becoming a more lethal addict," he warns. "He will never stop."

    Rossi, Hotch and Salinas head to a construction site near one of the murder scenes. "The driver would've been going extra slow like he was daring anyone to cut him off," Rossi tells a worker. Indeed, the man recalls just such an occurrence and describes the car. Hotch worries that the unsub's small SUV is a family vehicle and that he might have a wife and kids. "It's only a matter of time before he tries to wipe out the real thing," he says. Mr. Buzzkill, that Hotch.

    The team briefs the local fuzz, explaining that the killer suffers from a "masculine identity crisis." Derek explains that something so horrible happened to the man that he all but snapped. Hotch explains that the man's home life is the "key to his pathology."

    Indeed, we CUT TO Norman, who is delusional and thinks that his wife and daughters sneer at him. Norman also imagines that he is being talked down to by younger employees at work. Suddenly, Norman notices Jordan on the TV, giving the press the details of the profile. White. Middle aged. Male. Norman imagines that a cute blonde coworker is laughing at him. Uh oh. Later, Norman pounds on his steering wheel in anger and frustration when a car pulls up next to him. He hallucinates that they are laughing at him. The Road Warrior pulls out his shotgun and opens fire. Blood everywhere.

    The team arrives on the scene. "Something triggered him," Rossi says. You think? Hotch figures out that the press conference must have set off the unsub. He is now devolving at a rapid rate and no longer killing only "surrogates." Given the time of Jordan's press conference, the killer must live or work within 10 miles of the crime scene. Derek calls Garcia, asking her highlight that 10-minute radius.

    Jordan, meanwhile, gives another press conference. "He is a husband and a father," she says to the cameras. "He is violent and troubled but must be capable of mercy and compassion ... please, turn yourself in." Norman is watching and seems to take Jordan's words to heart. He walks into the living room to find Vanessa. "I'm the Road Warrior," he says. Vanessa just laughs. "And I'm the Zodiac killer," she says. Uh oh.

    Meanwhile, one of Norman's coworkers has called the team. He explains that Norman experienced a family tragedy in the not-so-distant past. What tragedy? In a FLASHBACK, we see Norman changing a tire when his little girl wanders out into the road and is RUN DOWN.

    Back at the ol' homestead, Norman demands that his wife and two older daughters get into the car NOW! Moments later, we see Norman running through stop signs and weaving in and out of traffic. "We've got to get out of here!" he tells the terrified women. Deluded dad explains that they can never be a family as long as they live in the house where the younger daughter used to sleep. Suddenly, a cop car appears and gives chase. Back at HQ, the team gets the call. "Sounds like our guy," Hotch says.

    The chase continues. Norman tells his wife that he knows she blames him. Then hubby pulls the shotgun out from under a seat and starts shooting at the cops. "He's losing it," Derek comments. You think?

    Hotch, Rossi and Jordan, meanwhile, arrive at the Hill house. Rossi notices a horrible smell. They check the bedrooms -- dead bodies everywhere. And they've been dead for a good long while.

    Back to the chase, where Norman says he knows the rest of the family blames him for the youngest daughter's death. After much arguing to the contrary, Vanessa admits that she does blame him for her baby girl's death. She grabs the steering wheel and the car flips and crashes. The unsub emerges from the smoking wreck, yelling that the police need to help his family. "They were never with you!" Derek yells. Indeed, the car is empty. Norman killed his wife and older daughters weeks ago -- the night he returned from paralyzing Ms. Bluetooth, in fact. Understanding dawns on the man. "Oh God!" he screams. "What did I do?! I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!" Derek cuffs the Road Warrior.

    Case closed -- and tragically too. But we're not done quite yet. The team returns to Baltimore to find J.J. holding her newborn. They coo. Even Hotch cracks a smile. Ah, the circle of life and all that.

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