Last week, I posted about bullying and school shootings from an episode of the long running TV series, “Crime Scene Investigation.” This week and for the next two after, I will talk about similar episodes from the series, “Criminal Minds.” I’ll start with the earliest episode on the subject and move on to the most recent which was from the current season. Therefore, this post will deal with the fourth episode of season seven entitled “Painless.”
A brief synopsis of the programme: Ten years prior, a school shooting and bombing took place at a high school in Boise, Idaho. As the survivors, along with family and friends of the slain, prepare for the ten year memorial service, the principal of the school is murdered the same way as the shooter had done ten years earlier. While the service is allowed to go on, two of the survivors are also murdered. The investigation by the Criminal Minds team reveals that those two survivors were part of a group called “The Top Ten.” These were students who survived the ordeal and who afterwards, went on tours of schools and talk shows to tell all about what happened on that fateful day. They comprised all the high school social groups, jocks, stoners, nerds, cheerleaders, etc. As the climax unfolds, we learn that one young teen is wrongfully left out and that the one popular boy who was murdered actually lied about his role in the shooting. He said that he was the only one who looked the shooter in the eye when in fact it was the boy who got left out. We also learn that this left out boy was knocked out by the bomb that was set off and therefore, he didn’t get the chance to tell his story. This is why he killed the principal and the other two survivors because he was wrongfully denied his chance at fame. Unfortunately for him, he never will get his chance to tell what really happened because the Criminal Minds team is forced to shoot him dead.
While I was watching it, comparisons and contrasts to my book, “He Was Weird,” came to mind. First the contrasts: Unlike Mark in my book, the shooter in the Criminal Minds episode was a popular kid and captain of the wrestling team. That is what befuddled investigators as to why he carried out the massacre. It also turned out that he had assistance from another boy who was never suspected because at the time of the shooting/bombing, he was satisfying his marijuana addiction. Mark, on the other hand, was the complete opposite of this guy, badly bullied and totally acted alone. Another contrast is that after the shooting on the TV show, the shooter’s family becomes national pariahs and are unable to move out of Boise. Contrast that to Mark’s family where his mother reverts back to her maiden name and with the help of relatives, are able to relocate to another state. And although the school officials know about what Mark has done, they are willing to give his younger sister and brother a fair chance.
Similarities between the programme and the book come in the fact that “He Was Weird,” ends with the ten year memorial service of the shooting. At the end of the programme, those at the service light a candle to honour the dead with each person lighting a candle and saying the name of someone who died that day. The younger brother of the shooter, who was killed in the bomb blast, says the name of his older brother. At the ten year service at the end of “He Was Weird,” Mark’s sister points out that actually eighteen people died that fateful day and not the seventeen that had been talked about for the past ten years since her brother carried out the shooting.
On a personal note, one thing I gleaned from this particular episode was the comment that even after high school, the social structures don’t change. The “Top Ten” still thought they had an air of privilege about them, even ten years after graduation. When I came out of the marines, four years after graduation, I ran into three of the jocks and outside a bar and had a beer with them. I thought that the high school group crap was no more. However, when I saw one of them a two months later, he said “hi” to me in a patronizing tone. I took this to mean that even though I had served in the marines, I wasn’t good enough for him. Maybe he was still in high school in his mind. I didn’t let it get to me and if I did manage to get to a high school reunion, I wouldn’t be ashamed of who I’ve become and what I’ve accomplished in my life.
To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1491412808&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird