A woman escapes from the clutches of a serial killer, and the team works to track him down before he can claim another victim.
Two women are tied up and blindfolded, and they’re trying to escape before the man who attacked them can return. One of the women gets her hands free and quickly releases herself and the other woman. They find a trap door in the ceiling, and one of the woman climbs up and out. She reaches back to help the other captive, but their attacker arrives to grab the woman’s legs and yank her back down. The escaped captive flees and runs into a man, who calls for help. By the time the police arrive a few minutes later, they find a dead body in the hurricane shelter beneath the house.
The team finds a carved wooden chest filled with duct tape, a bottle of ether, rope, pliers—it’s a kill kit. The pliers were used to remove one of the woman’s fingernails. She was bound with her own clothing and strangled with her bra. Natalia and Ryan talk to the survivor, Michelle Baldwin. She said she was only in the shelter overnight, but the other woman had been there for several days. The dead woman’s name was Bridgette Walsh. Michelle’s husband Dennis comes in to get her and take her home. Natalia says they can set up a therapy session for later.
Eric and Natalia go through documents from the house’s foreclosure, and they find the name of the man in charge of the case: Hugh Parker. Frank and Walter talk to Hugh and his assistant Kayla Hammond, who is beautiful but doesn’t seem too bright. Hugh says he gives out the code to the lock box to any real estate agent that calls, and his only alibi for that morning is Kayla.
Ryan speaks to Molly Sloan, who is looking at the kill kit found in the hurricane shelter. She hasn’t found anything unique in the box, and Ryan hasn’t found anything to connect Michelle and Bridgette. Molly finds a piece of a butterfly wing that belongs to a Miami Blue, which is only found in Fort Sherman State Park. The team combs the park looking for clues, and they find an empty, freshly-dug grave next to a patch of disturbed earth that suggests another person has already been buried here. Bridgette wasn’t the killer’s first victim.
They dig up the body of a woman, who was also strangled with her own bra. The handprints on the shovel found nearby suggest that a woman handled it—it looks like the killer made the victim dig her own grave. The victim in the grave is identified as Allison Caldwell, who went missing two weeks ago. She also has a missing fingernail, which suggests that the killer is taking the fingernail as a souvenir. Natalia finds a pubic hair on Allison’s bra and tests it for DNA. Horatio goes to a bar and speaks with the bartender, Art Gelway. This is where Allison worked, and he admits to cheating on his girlfriend and having a brief relationship with Allison. The food boxes from the bar look like the ones the team found in the hurricane shelter. When Horatio and Walter speak to Michelle, she remembers getting attacked while she was leaving the bar.
The search becomes more urgent when another woman is kidnapped. Wendy Gibson was snatched from the florist shop where she works, and a witness saw a man and a woman in the car. The team brings in Art and his girlfriend, Tricia Quimby. They know Tricia is going by a different name because she was previously arrested for committing a robbery with a partner. Despite how it may look, Tricia says she only wanted a new start. Walter finds fake grass wedged in Wendy’s keychain outside the florist shop, and they suspect the killer might have left the grass behind when he was kidnapping Wendy. Molly tests the fake grass to find its manufacturer, and they make phonecalls looking for homes that were seized by the bank. Walter and Horatio rush to the house, and they find Wendy alive. When they tell her they arrested the people responsible several hours ago, she says that isn’t possible—they only left a few minutes ago.
The house where Wendy was being held captive was foreclosed, and the team is led back to Hugh Parker. He was in charge of this case too, and they wonder if he and his assistant are the killers. They find pictures of the assistant tied up in the office, but Hugh says it’s a ‘game’ they like to play. Meanwhile, Natalia goes to see Michelle to show her a picture of Hugh and ask if she remembers him as the man who kidnapped her. Ryan finds a long hair caught up in Wendy’s bindings, and they wonder if it belongs to the female accomplice. Ryan finds a DNA match to a control sample from Michelle’s rape kit. Natalia is in trouble.
When Michelle leaves the room, Natalia sees a box like the kill kit from the first scene, which has fingernails inside. Dennis sneaks up behind her and grabs her gun, and Michelle explains that she targeted the women so they wouldn’t steal her husband away. She pretends to try to escape with the victims because she likes when the women look at her with hope in their eyes before it is snatched away from them. She orders Natalia to take off her belt and starts to bind her wrists. Horatio sneaks into the house, shooting Dennis before arresting Michelle. Horatio and Natalia ask Michelle about the 10 fingernails in the box, but she refuses to give them names for the other victims. Those women don’t matter because they’re dead. Horatio asks who left her, and she says “everyone”.
“Blood Lust” opens with a misleading first scene. Michelle looks every bit like the scared victim, which is revealed to be a lie much later in the episode when Natalia unwittingly finds herself in the clutches of the very serial killers she’s trying to track down. If the scene ended with Michelle outside the hurricane shelter after Bridgette got snatched back inside, it wouldn’t seem so odd, but instead Michelle runs away looking terrified until she collides with a friendly neighbor. Why does she do that? Is she caught up in the role she’s playing? The flashback scene where she smirks down through the opening of the hurricane shelter after the women are pulled back suggests otherwise. Did Michelle and Dennis decide that dragging the police into the mix would make things more exciting? The way it plays out is successful at setting up the episode and painting Michelle as an escaped victim, but once you know the truth, it doesn’t seem logical.
During Michelle’s flashback, it shows her holding the belt behind her back, pretending to be bound. During the initial scene, however, she is actually tied up and struggles with the belt around her wrists. Her reactions after taking off the blindfold and after Bridgette is pulled back into the shelter are different between the opening scene and the flashback as well. Something similar happened in last week’s episode, “Stoned Cold”. At the beginning of the episode, it sounded like the students’ voices were coming through the stadium speakers, and Blaire wasn’t wearing earbuds. It also looked like the victim was alone on the field, and her attackers were crouching down out of sight. Later on, when the flashback revealed what happened the night of her murder, you can see that she’s wearing earbuds, and the parents are clearly visible standing next to the pile of stones. The changes aren’t huge, and they help to set up a misleading first impression of the crime, but it ultimately comes down to continuity. Many viewers might ignore such discrepancies, or not care either way, but it seems odd to present what’s happening in a way that omits details just so they can be revealed later in the episode.
Alicia Witt did a great job of portraying a terrified victim as well as a remorseless serial killer, although something about the character seemed suspicious early on. Dennis didn’t have much characterization, but it fits with his more submissive role in the relationship. The episode presents the concept of folie à deux (or “madness shared by two”), which is a shared psychotic disorder in which two or more people experience the same paranoid delusions. In this case, Michelle believes that other women are trying to steal Dennis away from her, and Dennis shares the same delusion due to their close emotional connection. Folie à deux is a real phenomenon, although it is very rare. Sharing the same delusion doesn’t automatically imply that two people will commit murder, of course, but it can be a dangerous situation. One well-documented case involves twin sisters in the United Kingdom who threw themselves in front of moving vehicles on the motorway. It is believed that the women shared delusions, and when one of the sisters, Ursula Eriksson, threw herself in front of oncoming traffic, Sabina Eriksson immediately did the same. Both women survived, and Sabina went on to stab a man to death several days later. During the murder trial, Sabina’s defense argued that it was a case of folie à deux, and she was influenced by her sisters delusions (link).
The episode also features another real-life rarity: the Miami Blue butterfly. The nickel-sized Miami Blue is a critically endangered species that is currently only found in one small area of the Florida Keys. In “Blood Lust”, the team is led to the fictional Fort Sherman State Park by the butterfly wing. In reality, the only known natural colony of Miami Blues was located in the Bahia Honda State Park until very recently. The species was thought to be extinct after Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida in 1992, but a colony was discovered on Bahia Honda in the lower part of the Keys in 1999. Another colony was located in 2006 on the unpopulated Marquesas islands, and the colony on Bahia Honda disappeared in 2010 (link).
“Blood Lust” marks the second appearance of new tech Molly Sloan, played by Leven Rambin. Molly gets a scene with Walter in addition to Ryan this week, which is nice. It would be disappointing if she only interacted with Ryan, even if the writers seem to be planning a potential flirtation between the pair. I haven’t seen enough of Molly to pass judgment on the character, but Rambin has done a good job of portraying her as the eager, albeit slightly nervous, new member of the lab. Her quip to Ryan about not being able to identify the butterfly species from a glance is amusing, although it does require Ryan to make a bit of a stupid comment in the first place. Why would he assume she knew the type of butterfly just by looking? Ryan gets to be snarky a bit later in the episode, when Natalia points out the way he is holding a shovel while processing dirt from the grave site. She brings it up to Dr Loman while analyzing a shovel found by the graves, but Ryan suggests that Dr Loman should also notice that he’s the only one digging. There weren’t a lot of jokes this week, but Ryan’s snarky humor is usually good for a chuckle.
Natalia has a prominent role in this episode, which is always a treat. It’s great to see her make a connection with someone involved with the case, although that puts her in harm’s way this week. I know Horatio is the leading man, but I do wish she’d been able to save herself from the killers instead of having to wait for Horatio to swoop in and save her—although it certainly does increase the suspense! Natalia got several good scenes in “Blood Lust”, but Calleigh was MIA. Emily Procter only missed filming one episode of the series after giving birth to daughter Pippa, and she’ll be back next week in costar Adam Rodriguez’s writing and directing debut, “Hunting Ground”. It’s a disappointment not to see Calleigh in the lab, but it’s good to know that Emily and her baby are doing well.
See also: “Blood Lust” episode guide