|“||You think they'll remember me now?||”|
— Billy in "Our Darkest Hour"
Billy Flynn, a.k.a. "The Prince of Darkness", was a prolific serial-turned-spree killer, serial rapist, robber, abductor and one-time cop killer who appeared in Seasons Five and Six of Criminal Minds.
Born sometime in 1955, Billy and his mother Nora, a prostitute and drug addict, lived in the suburbs of southern California in his early years. Nora would force him inside the bedroom closet whenever she had a client over, but left the closet door open, which left him able to watch every single encounter. She would also allow them to sexually assault him for money. In spite of this, Billy and his mother would sometimes dance together. In 1968, when Billy was thirteen, he used a gun that he somehow acquired to kill Nora and a client, (ironically named) John, making the latter beg for his life before killing him. The incident left him with a lasting craving to be in that position of power again. He was arrested and incarcerated for the murders, but, since he was a juvenile offender, was released in 1973 when he turned 18, and never explained why he killed them. When he was 29, in 1984, he began performing burglaries in California, coinciding with the first known murders of real-life serial killer Richard Ramirez.
Billy then quickly escalated to assaulting, raping, and then killing the residents of the houses, usually intentionally leaving behind a survivor who would be psychologically scarred by their trauma. In one of the attacks, where he murdered a Santa Monica couple on July 28, Billy left behind the children, Matt Spicer and his then-infant sister Kristin, as survivors. After a few more attacks, he somehow obtained an RV, left the state, and began traveling around the continental U.S., killing victims and leaving survivors all the way. At some point, he also started smoking cigarettes and methamphetamine, which enabled him to stay awake all night, habits that stuck with him for decades. Likely due to his constant traveling, he became an avid radio listener. In 2010, after 26 years of killing, he read a newspaper about Matt, who had become a Los Angeles detective and had a daughter named Ellie; this prompted him to return to California.
Our Darkest Hour (Part 1)
The episode begins with a montage of Billy's RV in several U.S. locations over the years, including New York City, Nashville, Reno, St. Louis, and San Francisco. Upon arriving in Los Angeles, California, on May 20, 2010, he parks his RV on a suburban street, lights a cigarette, and turns on the radio, listening to news relating to rolling blackouts that are the by-product of an intense heat wave. He is then seen standing outside on a hill overlooking several houses, lighting yet another cigarette. He eventually puts it out when the power goes out everywhere. Inside one of the houses, Gregory and Colleen Everson, who are lighting candles and preparing to go to bed, hear a noise outside. Gregory grabs a fire poker and they go to the ground floor. They figure the noise was the wind blowing down a trash can and go back into the bedroom. Colleen notices that the window is closed, even though it was left open earlier due to the heat. Behind her, Billy knocks out Gregory with the fire poker and proceeds to rape Colleen and kill Gregory in front of her eyes.
The attack, in combination with one of Billy's previous home invasions during which he raped and killed two women (in which no witnesses were left as an effort to catch Matt's attention since these murders occurred in his precinct), leads to the BAU being called in by the local police to assist. During the next night, Billy attacks another house during another scheduled blackout. In this attack, he forces a young boy to watch him rape his mother while hiding in a closet (as a reference to Matt watching his parents being killed. During the night after that, he attacks another house, killing a couple and leaving their newborn baby alive (as a reference to Kristin, who was an infant at the time of her parents' deaths). Since he uses the city's rolling blackouts as windows of opportunity to attack, it is eventually decided that the whole city should retain electrical power until he is caught. Billy is seen listening to the recent development on his radio, but he does not appear to be daunted by the news and simply laughs.
When Garcia finds and produces a list of his previous murders, the BAU, and local police learn Billy's connection with Matt, and that Billy is repeating his first set of killings as a way to taunt Matt, who had been seen a lot in the media and is assisting them in the investigation. Realizing Kristin and Ellie are Billy's next targets, he and Morgan go to her house. When Morgan and Matt go to his sister's house, Billy has already abducted them both, having cut the power and broken inside. Morgan then deduces that Billy has taken them to the Spicers' old home in Santa Monica because that was where his and Matt's connection was forged. This causes them to race over to Santa Monica. Meanwhile, the city's electrical grid breaks down as a result of the overuse of electricity, sending all of Los Angeles into darkness and getting the rest of the BAU stuck in traffic. When Matt and Morgan arrive at the house, they immediately split up and sneak inside, as Matt refuses to wait for backup. Morgan finds the house's current resident dead before he is knocked out by Billy and tied up with duct tape by Ellie, after being ordered to do so by Billy.
Matt makes his way to the master bedroom, where Billy's attack had taken place years earlier and finds Billy, who holds Ellie in front of him and tells him to drop his gun. His very voice provokes Matt's memories of the attack into returning to the forefront of his mind. Morgan advises against it, but Matt eventually obliges when Billy begins choking Ellie. He then forces Matt to his knees and makes him admit that Billy is responsible for making him who he is. Overcome by the trauma of his parents' murders, a powerless Matt asks Morgan to promise him that Kristin and Ellie will be safe. Billy, clearly enjoying the situation, makes Morgan promise Matt before shooting Matt in the chest execution-style. Immediately afterward, he pulls a sobbing Ellie away from Kristin, mockingly consoling the girl as he does so. When Morgan and Kristin yell at him, Billy sniffs Ellie's hair and says, "I usually don't take much to kids, but this one's just... special." Morgan angrily tells Billy that they will find him, to which he replies as he departs with Ellie, "Is that another promise?"
The Longest Night (Part 2)
After abducting Ellie, Billy attempts to make her an accomplice to his crimes, using her as bait for a couple in their home, unbeknownst to her. The ploy works, and he is able to kill both victims. Afterwards, he takes her back to the RV and declares they will make a great team. Later on, when Ellie calls him a coward for killing people, Billy explains his motivations and makes her choose if he should kill a motorist who stumbles upon the RV's location. Although she tells him not to, he is forced to kill him anyway when the man overhears a radio announcement describing Billy's RV. He then cuts Ellie's hair to change her appearance. Later on, they return to Los Angeles and stop at a house. There, Billy shoots the father when he gets them to answer the front door, gives Ellie a few pointers about choosing houses to attack, instructs her to get the son, and goes upstairs to subdue the mother. However, before he could rape and kill the woman, he spots a family photo showing that the family has two sons and hurries down to their room to get the other boy. Once there, he learns that Ellie used the other boy to alarm the neighborhood. Billy grabs Ellie, takes her to the garage, steals the car, and drives away with her just as the neighbors are about to subdue him.
While investigating the newest crime scene and the abandoned RV, the BAU realize that Matt's success as a police detective didn't prompt Billy to return to California. In reality, it had been Ellie, as Billy felt responsible for her existence: had he killed Matt, she wouldn't have been born. Back at Quantico, Garcia is able to figure out Billy's identity upon finding news articles about Nora and John's murders. Upon being made aware of his tendency to listen to radio stations by a hospitalized Kristin, the BAU decide to make contact with Billy through the city's emergency alert system, which broadcasts their message over every single local radio channel. JJ gets federal approval to use the system and personally contacts Billy, initially appealing to his emotional insecurities to negotiate Ellie's release. However, because she is unable to properly sympathize with Billy due to his atrocities, JJ goes off-script; she reminds him that he is doing the same thing to Ellie and countless others that his mother did to him, and scolds that he of all people should understand how horrible that pain is. Realizing she is right, he releases her, breaks into a couple's home, and takes them hostage.
Once the police has gathered around the house, he makes a phone call requesting that Morgan comes in alone. Inside, Billy has tied up and gagged the couple, and then sits on their bed with his gun ready for Morgan's arrival. Upon entering and finding Billy, Morgan declares that he is not afraid of him. In response, Billy chuckles and asks if he really thinks that is so important to him. However, when Morgan gives him the chance to shoot him, Billy doesn't take it. Billy then recounts how he killed Nora (opening up, probably for the first time in his life) and shares how he always thought that she looked relieved while dying, shedding a tear while doing so. He then asks Morgan if he believes in heaven. Realizing what he is planning, Morgan raises his gun as Billy asks if he will see his mother there and maybe get another chance. He then stands up and tells Morgan that he would like that before aiming his gun at the wife; in response, he is viciously gunned down by Morgan. As his dead body falls to the bed, Billy looks relieved. Morgan then goes outside to inform Ellie that Kristin died in the hospital a few hours ago from collapsed lungs inflicted by Billy's attack. As he does so, Ellie, after being courageous against Billy for the entire episode, sheds a tear.
"The question isn't why do I kill people. The question is why I don't kill everybody. I decide who dies, but mostly, I decide who lives."
The unsub is a Caucasian male aged in his fifties, a pure psychopath, and an evident sadist who has been killing people for an extensive period of time. He is a highly opportunistic offender, as he travels around the country and kills at random, making him very difficult to predict. His way of making a child watch him rape and killing its mother, therefore taking away its childhood and innocence, suggests that he may have experienced something similar himself. His flawed spelling ("HELLO THER") suggests that he is not well-educated. He is, however, smart enough to successfully plan his home invasions, avoid leaving behind DNA evidence, disable alarm systems, and get away with the murders. Just because his recent attacks are located in Los Angeles, it doesn't mean he is a local. Killing in the dark is what appeals to him the most, and because of the rolling blackouts occurring at the time, it is believed that it is his motivation to come to Los Angeles. His willingness to kill random people says he is an opportunistic offender, who is incredibly difficult to predict.
He appears to have intimacy issues, as he cannot even have personal photos facing him, meaning that he probably never has been in any kind of relationship. He may also have some sort of shortcoming, perceived or real, of which he is obviously self-conscious, such as a physical deformity; something that seems small to someone, but means everything to him. Having one thing that sets him apart from the rest of the norm has led him to a life of solitude and also caused him to develop an aggressive schizoid personality. He takes his victims' power away, both literally and figuratively; he feeds off from making them powerless. Darkness is his signature; it is a habit for him and he has always killed that way.
He has been killing in every city in the continental U.S. for decades and has gotten away with it because he never kills in the same city twice, with the exception of Los Angeles. Leaving the baby of the couple he killed is a message in itself. He is taunting the police and the BAU and is leaving witnesses that are too young to help. His most recent murders are based on his first murders and have been committed to get Matt Spicer's attention, since he is the one who killed his parents when he was a child. His message ("Hello Ther") references what he said to Matt when he attacked his family. He keeps a witness so that they will never forget him, but with Matt, it goes beyond that, because he believes he turned him into Los Angeles's hero. He is not part of Matt's history to anyone, but wants the recognition and for everyone to know he made Matt who he is. He needs privacy to keep Kristin and Ellie Spicer captive and he will hold them somewhere that has history to Matt and means something to him.
He is driving an old and extremely filthy white RV. He is in what is called "complete behavioral chaos". Serial offenders, especially long-term, successful ones, like the unsub, do not just suddenly change what they do or how they do it. Going after a high-risk target such as Matt, a police detective, and then suddenly abducting his child is fairly unheard of. Sometimes serial offenders devolve as they know authorities get closer to them and their time is running out. The unsub is becoming more controlled and does not appear to be devolving, as it generally means a loss of control; they find it harder and harder to keep the outside world from noticing them. He listens to the news incessantly and only stopped beating Kristin whenever he was mentioned by the news announcer, which would make sense for a narcissist, such as the unsub. Underlining Ellie's name in the news articles about her father and stating that she was special means she was his target all along and not Matt. While it was initially believed the unsub was obsessed over Matt getting his law enforcement career by letting him live, he may actually want credit for his daughter; if he had killed him, then Ellie would never have been born. He sees himself as a grandfather to Ellie.
"See, Ellie? Bicycles mean kids. And kids... mean parents who are easy to control."
Billy randomly targeted families living all across the continental U.S. His first (and most distinctive) signature was to always attack his victims at night during an electricity blackout. Usually, he would cut off the electricity of the house, but during the present-day Los Angeles County killings, he always struck wherever there was a scheduled power outage due to intense heat waves. He would enter the houses either by burglarizing the house or using some kind of simple ruse, torture his victims by pistol-whipping them and rape the women repeatedly. He would kill every member of the family except one (unless more children are involved, as he never kills children), though he made exceptions with his later killings. In the case of his child victims, he would put them in closets as a reference to how his mother would put him in a closet as a child. It was mentioned that he would avoid leaving behind any DNA evidence by "covering up".
His second signature was leaving one person as a survivor was so they would develop emotional scarring due to being the only survivor of the murders and so that he wouldn't be forgotten. As a forensic countermeasure, he never killed in the same city twice, with the exception of Los Angeles, as it was undergoing a series of rolling blackouts at the time. He typically used a .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 19 Snub Nose revolver to kill his victim(s) (though he was seen to kill them through other means) and used duct tape to tie them up. He is also seen licking the bullets he loads into his gun for unspecified reasons, possibly as a lucky charm. After killing his victims, he would take anything that was valuable and presumably pawn the items to pay for the gas for his RV and the meth he would use to stay awake at night. In the case of the Everson's, Carter's, and the unnamed family, he based his attacks (the last two referencing his attack on Matt Spicer and his family) on the first murders he committed in 1984, hoping his crimes would be connected and that Matt would realize he was the one responsible for the deaths of his parents.
Billy seems to have been inspired by Carl Panzram - Both were prolific serial killers, rapists, and robbers, began their crimes at a young age, used guns frequently, and victimized children in some way (Billy traumatized many and later abducted one, Carl killed them).
He may have also been inspired by Paul Ogorzow - Both were serial killers and rapists who killed during blackouts, raped and bludgeoned most of their victims, and were given nicknames for their crimes.
He is also similar to Gordon Cummins - Both were serial killers and robbers, were given nicknames for their crimes, had some sexual element in their crimes (Billy raped the women he targeted, while Cummins would sexually mutilate his victims in some way), and had children as witnesses.
Billy may have been inspired by Henry Lee Lucas - Both were prolific serial killers (possibly in Lucas' case) who had prostitute mothers who they watched have sex with numerous men, later killed their mothers and were incarcerated for it, and had some sexual element in their crimes (Billy raped women, while Lucas engaged in necrophilia with his victims).
Billy is very similar to Richard Ramirez, being compared to him by both the BAU and the media - Both were serial killers, rapists, and robbes who committed their first murders in California in 1984 (except Ramirez stayed put while Billy traveled around the U.S.) in evenings and nights. They both committed home invasions and usually killed their victims with revolvers (Billy used a .44, Ramirez used a .22). Also, they both had severely discolored teeth; Billy primarily due to smoking meth, Ramirez due to poor diet and hygiene. Most importantly, they both killed their victims in the middle of robberies and would lock the children in closets while they committed their crimes.
Billy may have also been inspired by the unidentified Original Night Stalker - Both were prolific serial killers, rapists, and cop killers (possibly in the Stalker's case) who targeted couples all over the U.S., raped the women, killed their victims by bludgeoning or shooting them, and were given nicknames for their crimes,
Matt Spicer: You destroyed me, is that what you want to hear?
Billy: (shrugs): Well, it's... better...
Billy: (to Ellie, about a motorist outside his RV): Should we kill him?
Ellie: (shocked) What? No!
Billy: See, Ellie? We are a team. You just decided to let that man live. See, the question isn't why do I kill people. The question is why I don't kill everybody. I decide who dies, but mostly, I decide who lives. I'm like... God. And now you are too.
(radio announcer speaks from motorist's car's radio)
Radio Announcer: -They're now saying that the Prince of Darkness may be in an older white RV making its way around Los Angeles tonight.
(Billy frowns as the motorist stiffens and looks at the RV, then stands up and gets out a cell phone)
Billy: Uh-oh... (his gun clicks)
Ellie: What are you doing?
Billy: Even a god finds that sometimes... people just have bad luck.
(Billy steps out of the RV and walks toward the motorist, who notices him)
Billy: (to the motorist, smiling) Calling someone?
Motorist: (starts to back away) Just calling Triple A. I got a flat. Just, um, trying to get it... fixed.
(Billy nods, still smiling, then raises his gun)
(Billy shoots him four times)
Billy: (from The Longest Night promo, wiping a blood drop from Ellie's cheek) We're gonna make a great team.
Billy: Go get the boy. Bring him to the parent's room.
Ellie: What are you going to do?
Billy: I have a widow to comfort... Go.
Ellie: (about the son of a victim) He had a brother. I told him to tell the neighbors to call the police and then tell the next house, and the next house, and the next house. You know, he's probably told the whole block by now. You can't kill them all, can you?
Billy: I can try...
Billy: (knocking on the Farradays' front door, to Paul) Is this your son's bicycle?
Paul: (sees the trashed bicycle in his hands) What the hell... (opens the door)
Billy: I may have run it over.
Paul: What did you do, back over it again?
Billy: Actually... twice. (pulls out his gun and shoots Paul)
Billy: (to Morgan) My mother used to dance with me. Do you know who Cyd Charisse was? She kinda looked like her.
Morgan: Put the gun down, and get up.
Billy: When I... shot her, she looked at me with such... She was... I think relieved. I think I helped her escape. Was that really true, or did I just imagine it, to make killing her easier to live with? Did I help her escape? Did I... set her free?
Morgan: Is that what you think you've been doing all these years? Helping people?
Billy: (shrugs, a bit awkwardly) Well, no, I suppose not.
Billy: Do you believe in heaven?
Morgan: (raises his gun towards him, knowing what he is planning) This is your last chance.
Billy: Do you think I might see her there? Maybe get a second chance? (stands up) I'd really like that.
(he begins pointing his gun at a hostage and is shot and killed by Morgan)
- Flynn seems to have been inspired by at least three unsubs in the show's past:
- Season Two
- Frank Breitkopf ("No Way Out" and "No Way Out II: The Evilution of Frank") - Both were prolific serial killers and abductors who killed over 100 victims all over the U.S., had mothers who worked as prostitutes and motivated them to kill in the first place, watched their mothers having sex with their customers, claimed their mothers as their first victims (though with Frank this was only implied), refrained from ever killing children despite their psychopathic tendencies, abducted at least one child, and were antagonistic towards certain members of the BAU.
- Season Four
- Armando Salinas ("Catching Out") - Both were serial-turned-spree killers, robbers, and one-time cop killers who devolved, were active in California (though Billy was also active in all of the other continental states), were given names by the media for their crimes, committed a number of murders that were initially undetected by the BAU and local authorities, broke into their victims homes at night, robbed their victims after killing them, suffered from drug addiction, and were based on infamous real-life serial killers (Billy was based on Richard Ramirez, Armando on Ángel Maturino Reséndiz).
- George Foyet ("Omnivore", "To Hell and Back, Part 2", and "100") - Both were prolific serial killers, spree killers, and cop killers (though Flynn was only once) who were active in at least two different cities, had multiple victims, committed a double homicide as their first crimes while they were underage (Foyet killed his parents when he was nine years old, Billy killed his mother and one of her clients when he was thirteen), had various M.O.'s (one of which involved shooting victims execution-style using .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson revolvers), were motivated by fear and control over their victims, killed a police officer, appeared in two seasons of the show, and, in the same manner as Billy, were particularly antagonistic towards certain members of the BAU. Foyet also appeared in Season Five.
- Season Two
- With his total body count in the hundreds, Billy Flynn is the third of only eight unsubs in the show's history who are confirmed to have claimed hundreds of lives. The other seven killers are:
- Season One
- Season Two
- Season Seven
- Season Ten
- Season Eleven
- Season Thirteen
- Though Flynn is credited by his actual name in "Our Darkest Hour", his name is never actually revealed until "The Longest Night". This makes Billy the first of only eight unsubs on the show attributed to this fact. the next eight are:
- Flynn's alias, The Prince of Darkness, is interestingly similar to Tim Curry (Flynn's actor)'s role as The Lord of Darkness, the main antagonist of the 1985 film Legend. It's unknown if this was a coincidence or an intentional reference.
- Season Five
- Season Six
- Season Ten
- "X" (indirectly referenced)
- ↑ On Garcia's list, it says that Gomez was killed on May 3, while Kohl was killed six days later, although Hotch states that they were killed three days before the Everson attacks, while Matt Spicer mentions that the Gomez-Kohl and Everson homicides occurred a week apart. These were likely errors on the writer's part.
- ↑ While being briefed on the current case, Morgan and Rossi bitterly state that this was the second case in Los Angeles they've been called to in less than a year