“…It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Saw an episode on CBS’s CRIMINAL MINDS about this quote last night. Entitled “The Wheels on the Bus,” this very quote was used near the close of the show. Here’s my recap.
Two demented latch key young men, a product of divorce, waste away their after school hours and become masters in playing video games. Always shown sitting on the living room sofa, the director fast-forwards the viewer through several years of the brothers Josh and Matt incessant game playing, from young adolescence up until their present day ages of a young adult in high school. They become confrontational within their own competitiveness and at the same time, bored with their mastery skill set, they fall into an abyss of reality and illusion and proceed to devise their own video fantasy game, but in real life game.
PRESENT DAY 2013 - EXTERIOR SHOT - DAY - AFTERNOON
Somewhere on the back roads of rural Virginia these boys use a stalled vehicle as a rouse to ambush a school bus filled with the bus monitor, driver of course and students— but kidnapping only ten of the students. These chosen ten in fact, have been predetermined by a set of parameters these crazy boys have concocted in their heads and would no doubt, impress any forensic psychologist.
INTERIOR - ISOLATED BARN
Abandoning the bus and the unwanted students in an old barn the chosen ten are driven to an isolated location outfitted like a modern day Rambo is king of the camp and outfitted with a slew of big brother high tech surveillance cameras and equipment. These innocent, doe eyed students become the brother’s game pieces and are held like GITMO prisoners in a community cell similar to those shown in ‘human experiment’ projects. A dark, dank and cold environment heightens the student’s anxiety as they’re left to wonder why they’re there in the first place, if they will be killed like their school bus driver, and what the hell is really going on.
The player with the most ‘kills’ scores and wins… but of course. That’s how it usually works. So as these crazy boys peer at their captives through surveillance monitors, they bark directives to these scared kids, through blue-tooth technology earpieces and are psychologically controlled and manipulated into carrying out directives. Failure to comply will result in a long taser-shock thru an electronic necklace so anchored.
Big brother-type stuff going on here.
These kids are further dehumanized by being called a number rather than by their given names. Crazy right? Yep. “Number two and number five step forward,” we hear in voiceover. "The game will commence in three, two, one."
I hate it when they cut to a commercial just when the getting's getting good. Don't you?
But continuing with my recap, and P.S., I really think Mark Gordon (no relationship to me) and Jeff Davis need to pay me for this critique--
In one game round we see a female student preselected by the brothers because of her strong willed persona being coersed and ultimately she is forced to kill her male friend, Trent-- in spite of her decidedness. "They said they'd hurt my family," Addyson screams out into the air after she takes the kill shot. (A little out of sync embellishment there.)
Adding insult to injury to the overall pretext of “the game,” the viewer is shown an element of gender bias as the younger brother says to his older brother, "A girl. Dude, I beat you with a girrrrrlllll,” contributing to his folly.
Needless to say my favorite techie guru Penelope Garcia (next to Abby on NCIS) works her computer magic, locates the abandoned makeshift GITMO facility and Special Agents Hotchner and Morgan come in guns slinging, just in the nick of the skinny to rescue them all. But not before Agent Morgan levels one in the heart to the older brother who just wouldn’t stand reason to anything in the episode. THAT brother was indeed a piece of work. By the way, I just love those crisp white dress shirts Hotchner's wardrobe person dresses him in.
My hat goes off to the writer Kimberly Ann for this particular script. “Brokenness of the mind and spirit.” When life imitates art and when man blurs that fine line, we have to wonder just how damaging these fantasy games are to the human psyche.
If you've got 41 minutes and 34 seconds, you can watch the full episode here.