The narrow margin between video games and modern warfare was effectively explored on Criminal Minds Season 13 Episode 4.
Someone was selectively killing workers in Silicon Valley, but the how and the why were the interesting parts.
It was jarring when gunfire suddenly shattered the idyllic, creative work life of Silicon Valley, not once, but twice.
This case wasn't a natural fit for the BAU, but in the end, it was still all about the unsub.
Why was somebody shooting up tech workers, with a drone, no less? As the plot unraveled, it turns out that choice of weapon was poetic justice.
The real villain of the case was the aloof, self-assured Mr. X, played coolly but menacingly by Wallace Langham. He talked abstractly about psychological testing and body counts and poo-pooed Prentiss' opinion that the unsub had slipped through the cracks in his system.
Even more horrendous was the mission that went awry, with the drone team killing 372 students in a school. The Defense Department rightly canceled Peakstone's contract, but the whole massacre was covered up, so the public didn't learn about it.
Tori may not have considered herself to be complicit in this crime, but she was almost equally at fault, going along with whatever Peakstone ordered.
Peakstone's whole concept was repulsive: recruit gamers hooked on shooting games and offer them the chance to use drones to kill "terrorists," based on flawed intel, wrapping the whole idea in patriotism. Never mind that many weren't psychologically equipped to make that shift from fantasy to reality.
The result was the unsub, Jake Loban, who felt so guilty about the school massacre that he was taking out anyone involved, starting with his former drone team. He abducted Tori to try to get answers or find absolution. Ultimately, he probably would have turned the drone on himself.
Tori wasn't the one to give Jake the clarity he sought, essentially telling him he was just a cog in the machine, doing his part to keep America safe. The woman was in cover-your-ass mode when she first appeared, so she wasn't one to make Jake feel better. She just seemed to think she was simply a recruiter.
The BAU logically worked the case. Only three were killed in the first workplace shooting, which meant the victims were targeted. It was the same with the second shooting. It was just a matter of finding the connection among six of the dead, with the security guard a definite outlier.
Next they uncovered the want ad recruiting gamers for a military mission, which led them to Peakstone.
Peakstone must have had some pull as a military contractor, the way the Home Security Agent waffled about confronting them.
It was a good thing Prentiss forced a meeting with Mr. X, so that at least she could understand what had caused Jake the unsub to appear initially. Processing high scores is one thing, body counts quite another. It's impressive Jake was the only one of these volunteers to snap.
Still, the BAU didn't know who the unsub was. They needed a lucky break, and Tori escaping and finding a good Samaritan to drive her to the hospital was that.
Even though she kept lying through her teeth, she did give them Jake's name, so they could theoretically stop the killing. It ended up that Jake and his drone were done killing, but Peakstone had one more target, Tori.
That's one way to cause someone to roll over and testify against you -- try to kill them. So the case was tied up in a neat little bow.
Jake was one of those Criminal Minds staples: a killer who got driven there through little fault of his own. He may have been a sniper as a gamer, but he wasn't a killer in reality until Peakstone made him into one. It was just a shame that Peakstone, the real culprit, had a building that was probably impregnable to the drone.
I figured the Mr. Scratch storyline had died too quickly. Alvez's honest report may come back to cause trouble for the BAU. After all, "He fell" is a lot easier to justify than "I made no attempt to help him, then he fell."
Prentiss was right that Scratch probably would have tried to take Alvez with him, but it's hard to tell how a bureaucrat might react.
SPOILER ALERT: Derek Morgan is back on Criminal Minds Season 13 Episode 5 to help Garcia through a rough patch. I'm betting it will also be packed with ads for Shemar Moore's SWAT.
To miss what you've missed, watch Criminal Minds online.
Jake: villain or victim? Tori: villain or victim? Even dead, will Mr. Scratch continue to be a problem? Comment below.
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.