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Criminal Minds now has a North Dakota connection

December 9, 2010 - Andrea Johnson
The new FBI cadet/consultant on CBS's serial killer show "Criminal Minds" is from North Dakota.

Not only is she a North Dakotan, she's the daughter of a SERIAL KILLER from North Dakota, a man who murdered 25 women and is still alive in the state pen because "North Dakota doesn't have the death penalty," as the show notes disapprovingly.

Now we're straining credibility, which I suppose a show about serial killers and the FBI agents who catch them is allowed to do. I usually can't stomach the violence on "Criminal Minds" but the North Dakota connection meant I kept watching past the point I'd usually have switched the channel.

Young Ashley Seaver (Rachel Nichols), the new member of the team, is an appealing character who feels really bad about what her dad did and is conflicted because she can't bring herself to hate him. She says as much while she is being held at knifepoint by the serial killer in last night's episode. As usual when the victim is an attractive woman in her twenties, the camera lingers lovingly on her terrified expression.

Seaver asks the man not to kill her in front of his preteen daughter because the girl will never get over it. She knows this because "My father was just like you. A serial killer." That's cranking up the melodrama. Seaver's words alone are enough to make the serial killer have a change of heart and let her go, though he decides to commit suicide by cop instead of turning himself in. He charges the FBI agent holding a gun on him and earns himself two bullets to the heart.

The character will be around for at least the next two episodes, which might be enough to make me watch just to see if they mention North Dakota again. We usually only rate a mention on one of these prime time shows when Mulder and Scully are looking for aliens in a missile silo in some fictional North Dakota town on "The X-Files" or a character on some other show is afraid of being stationed in North Dakota as a punishment. A few times shows have filmed in California and we see mountains in what is supposed to be "North Dakota." The rest of the world probably doesn't know any better.

With the serial killer angle, though, I think they got it all wrong. North Dakota probably has had a few people killed here and there by a serial killer over the years, but it's rare enough for an unsolved murder to still be shocking.

If this state had ever had a homegrown serial killer who killed 25 women over the space of a few years, a federal prosecutor would have taken over the case when he was caught and that fed would have made darned sure that the death penalty was on the table. The state would probably also be looking at reinstating the death penalty at the state level as well. Personally, I hope the state never does have the death penalty and I hope every state that has it abolishes it. I find the death penalty barbaric and a stain on the reputation of this country.

But, realistically, the fictional Ashley Seaver's fictional serial killer father would be sitting on death row in a federal maximum security prison somewhere, not writing her letters from our state penitentiary.

"Criminal Minds" airs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays on CBS.


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