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"Watch my brains a minute, and see them whirl around."
Criminal Minds: Angels in the Architecture 
6th-Mar-2007 02:53 pm

truepenny: In the recent Criminal Minds two-parter, "The Big Game" (2.14) and "Revelations" (2.15), the BAU comes up against an unsub with three distinct personalities: Tobias, Charles (his dead father), and the angel Raphael. Two of these three personalities are homicidal; one, at least, is insane. All three are steeped in the Bible, and the language of the Bible. It's not an accident that the website on which the unsub(s) post videos of their victims is tobit.net--pointing us to the Book of Tobit, in which the archangel Raphael helps Tobias save Tobias's father, the eponymous Tobit.

Tobias the unsub is trying to map the book of Tobit onto his life (that's where he gets the thing about burning fish hearts and livers to ward off evil), but he can't, because Tobias the unsub has already FAILED to save his father. He killed him instead, apparently at his father's demand. And so the archangel Raphael, who is the angel of healing, has become an angel of death.

At one point in the ensuing conflict between the BAU and Tobias/Charles/Raphael, Raphael quotes Revelation concerning the seven angels and then demands that Reid, his prisoner, choose which of the BAU is going to die.

matociquala: Even more specifically, the narrative tells us that the seven FBI agents correspond either to the Seven Archangels of Revelation or to seven Angels of Death. The false Raphael, of course, believes they are fallen angels.

truepenny: And this led me to wonder about the seven archangels and the seven members of the BAU.

I would argue that Tobias's Raphael is a false angel, a fallen angel, and that one way to read the complicated interaction between Reid and Tobias's three personalities is the struggle of the false angel to join the ranks of those he recognizes as real angels, i.e., the BAU. My first thought was that, since Raphael forces Reid to choose which of the BAU will die, he intends to insert himself in the hierarchy of angels in the place of the real Raphael. In this reading, Hotch would be Raphael.

However, that doesn't entirely work, since Raphael clearly has no intention of going after Hotch until after he's finished with Reid, and since the ultimate point of his torture of Reid is to make Reid confess to a sin. Any sin. (Partly, this is because Tobias/Charles/Raphael kills only in retaliation for sin, but that rationalization becomes more and more transparent as his attack on Reid is prolonged.) It isn't Hotch that Raphael wants both to cause to fall and to supplant. It's Reid. The episode goes to a lot of trouble to draw the parallels between Reid and Tobias: both had a parent leave when they were 10, both were subsequently warped by spending their adolescence with an insane parent (Reid's mother the paranoid schizophrenic, Tobias's father who if nothing else is a religious monomaniac and a child abuser). They recognize each other in a strange way; Tobias succeeds, perhaps for the only time in his life, in defying his father to give Reid CPR. The false Raphael is both drawn to and repulsed by his captive/victim/killer/savior. Raphael, the archangel of science and healing, is Spencer Reid.

matociquala: I was the one who initially argued Raphael for Reid.

truepenny: A correspondence which I found I could not disagree with.

matociquala: And I don't see anybody else who could fill those flaming shoes, as it were. Raphael is the healer, the scientist, and the intellectual of the bunch.

So, yes, I think this one's the same on either list.

The false Raphael repeatedly tells us that the bullet with which he is playing Russian Roulette with Reid is the Will of God. This round never discharges when the false angel (Raphael/Charles) has the gun pointed at the true angel (Reid); it only discharges when the gun finally falls into Reid's hands.

truepenny: Or into the wall.

matociquala: In other words, the bullet is the will of God. (One of the many interesting meta aspects of this narrative universe is that God does listen. And he is an iron, to use Spider Robinson's phrase.* If you say something--specifically, God help you, if you ask for something--it will come back to haunt you bitterly. And all of the characters know this.)

truepenny: Naturally, this led me to poke around** in the mythology of angels, to see what other correspondences I could find. Of course, the problem is that there is no agreement on who the seven archangels are. Angels are actually latecomers to the party in Judaic/Christian/Islamic tradition, and their naming tends to vary wildly from one authority to the next.

The most agreed on three are Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. (Michael, in fact, is the only entity specifically called an archangel in the canonical books of the Bible.) The fourth shows up as Uriel the majority of the time, and a fifth with reasonable consensus is Raguel. After that, all bets are off.

The Islamic tradition, which I found provocative, especially given the arguments in "Lessons Learned" about the Islamic faith, says the seven angels are Mikail (Michael); Jibril (Gabriel); Israfil (Raphael); Azrael or Ezrail, the angel of death; Malik, the keeper of Hell; Radwan, the keeper of Heaven; and Munkar and Nakir, the Angels of Interrogation.

matociquala: N.B: Azrael and Samael are linked by some writers.

truepenny: JJ is Gabriel the messenger, the angel of the annunciation. His Islamic name, Jibrail, and Garcia's nickname for JJ--Jaje--make a kind of complicated three-way homophonic pun.

Raguel is the angel of justice, fairness, and harmony; he punishes angels who have transgressed. This fits Hotch to a T (see, for example, "The Boogeyman"). And I can see a strong parallel between that and Radwan, the keeper of Heaven.

Uriel, whose name means flame of God, and who is also called Auriel, light of God, is the angel of repentence, the angel who wrestled Jacob, the angel who stands at the Gate of Eden with a fiery sword. He is merciless. My preference is to align Uriel with Elle (fierce, ruthless, the team member with the highest body count) . . . until "Aftermath," when she falls and becomes Lucifer (whose name, of course, means lightbringer).

Michael, the foremost of the archangels, the patron of warriors, I'm assigning to Gideon, whose names--as both the Hotchners (in "Extreme Aggressor") and Frank (in "No Way Out") remark--are those of heroes, of warriors. And Gideon is the foremost of the profilers.

matociquala: Well, I'm not sure you can claim that Gideon is necessarily the foremost of the profilers. He's the oldest, and he's the one with the psych degree. But Hotch is his equal in rank, and it's Hotch who decides that Gideon is fit to serve when there are doubts about his stability.

truepenny: Well, we think he has a psych degree. The show has not come out and told us so directly.

I actually meant "foremost" kind of literally: Gideon is the one in front, literally the leader. (With Hotch trailing behind him apologizing for his atrocious manners.) Gideon is also the first to charge into battle (see especially "What Fresh Hell"), and the first to try to take the battle to the unsub (throughout, though especially notable when it backfires: "The Fisher King," "Revelations"). I don't mean Gideon has more authority than Hotch, just that he's always the first greyhound out of the starting gate.

matociquala: Also, Hotch is the ambitious one, the one we're repeatedly told could run this show (the FBI) someday.

truepenny: Actually, what we see is Hotch being told he's the ambitious one ("Sex, Birth, Death")--and again when Reid is falsely calling him a narcissist in "Revelations," claiming he puts himself ahead of the team. Which is exactly the characteristic Hotch emphatically and correctly denies.

But I totally agree that Hotch has at least as much authority as Gideon, if not more so.

This leaves Morgan, Prentiss, and Garcia. It's quite easy to map them into the Islamic tradition. Garcia is Malik, the keeper of Hell (this correspondence works very nicely in "The Big Game" and "Revelations," since Tobias's hell is that bank of monitors), and Morgan and Prentiss are the angels of interrogation, as demonstrated with their good cop/bad cop routine in "Fear and Loathing" and with their effectiveness talking to the prostitutes in "Sex, Birth, Death."

This obviously isn't an entirely satisfactory schema (just because I can create a pattern, doesn't mean the pattern is there by rights). And one way to look at Season 2 is to emphasize the failure of the pattern. Uriel falls. Elle leaves the BAU. Her replacement is Prentiss, and whichever angel Prentiss may be, she isn't Uriel. So the roles are shifting, and the question is: who is going to become Uriel? Hotch? Morgan? . . . Reid?

And this is where a second interpretation of the pattern because useful and necessary.

matociquala: Of course, it's probably not shocking that I'm the one who slipped Sarah the Criminal Minds crack pipe. (And the show is crack. Because this whole archangel-mapping rises out of a single episode: the show's also got an ongoing Arthurian riff, and... well, if you started lining up thematic elements, you would be there for a while.

truepenny: And the names! Don't forget the names!

matociquala: I think Sarah's interpretation makes a good deal of sense. But then I was thinking, and realized that you can get a pretty good mapping with a more Judaic set of archangels, too. (If you start messing around with archangels... well, let's just say that in a half dozen millennia, a lot of conflicting stories pile up.)

So my list looks a little different:

Hotch makes a damned fine Raguel.

JJ just about has to be Gabriel. If only by simple symbolic correspondence: she's the one who blows the horn (or, er, cellphone) to summon the host.

But I would say the Gideon corresponds to Uriel, the keeper of the flame, the interpreter of prophecies, discloser of mysteries. And the angel of Repentance. Because there ain't nobody who repents more than Gideon. Even Reid hasn't quite caught him up.

Elle, on the other hand, makes a fine counterpart to Samael, the angel of death.
According to some traditions, this is Lucifer's given name. [More commonly, it's given as Sataniel.] And of course, Elle is the fallen knight--or, perhaps, the fallen angel.

Sarah also argued me around to Hotch as Raguel. It's really hard to beat.

But I think Morgan corresponds to Michael. Michael the warrior, Michael the messenger who walks among the common people and can seem as one of them.

truepenny: Morgan is Action Hero Guy, it is true.

matociquala: Prentiss I am not yet sure of. Although an Islamic angel of interrogation makes a great deal of sense, as one of the first things we see her doing as a member of the team is interrograting an Arabic-speaking prisoner. (She's fluent in Arabic and appears to have been raised muchly in the Middle East.) Also, she's an outsider.

But my pick for Garcia is Metatron: The Voice of God. Where God is the F.B.I.

truepenny: And I think Metatron is a lovely correspondence for Garcia, who is most often linked to the team via cellphone.

It also makes sense that the Messenger (JJ) and the Voice of God would be friends.

And I like the dual nature of God you've proposed: God the Iron (Old Testament) and God the FBI (New Testament). The FBI--which is also very carefully and explicitly demonstrated to be fallible ("Charm and Harm," "No Way Out")--is a compassionate god, in fact working as hard as it can against the more structural, pitiless, oftentimes cruel God whose will is in Tobias's bullet.

*if a burglar commits burglary, then God is an iron.
**on Wikipedia. I'm not pretending to any kind of expertise, exhaustivity, or really much of anything here.
6th-Mar-2007 09:44 pm (UTC)
And I like the dual nature of God you've proposed: God the Iron (Old Testament) and God the FBI (New Testament). The FBI--which is also very carefully and explicitly demonstrated to be fallible ("Charm and Harm," "No Way Out")--is a compassionate god, in fact working as hard as it can against the more structural, pitiless, oftentimes cruel God whose will is in Tobias's bullet.

I think this is exactly correct. Our Guys are the messengers of the generous, loving, forgiving, interventionist God; the one that comes when you call. They do everything they can to save people, often people who are broken by the Old Testament God of the world. (I am reminded of the Robinson Jeffers poem "Hurt Hawks:" The wild God of the world is sometimes merciful / to those that ask mercy. / Not often to the arrogant.)

And if they cannot save them? Then they act, ruthlessly, to remove them for the good of everyone else.

Interestingly, when they kill it's in sorrow, though. Only the fallen angel kills in vengeance.

And the world *does* break people, in this narrative universe. So many of those they hunt are damaged through no fault of their own.

So there's this balance of compassion and ruthlessness.

Oh, and as the proverb says--in the CM narrative universe, God helps those who help themselves.
6th-Mar-2007 09:49 pm (UTC)
Oh yes. The potential victims who survive are the ones who fight.

Or the ones who are smart and observant (the girl in "Fear and Loathing," the woman on the street in "The Last Word," the prostitute with the cop whistle in "Sex, Birth, Death") and have the balls to say no. Gideon says something in "Fear and Loathing" about what the unsub can talk people into, and we witness in "The Big Game" just how easy it is for Tobias to get people to give him what he needs. Over the phone, no less.
6th-Mar-2007 09:56 pm (UTC)
I think "fallen" and "failure" are also problematic. Not in the sense that Elle isn't fallen. She is. But in that they're all teetering toward the edge of the fall all the time, and dragging themselves back, or dragging each other back.

After "Revelations," Reid thinks he's failed. JJ thinks she's failed. And I think that question--of what constitutes failure--is being very delicately posed and very meticulously examined.
6th-Mar-2007 09:58 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah. Gideon's fallen too.

But he hasn't--oh.

He hasn't committed the unforgiveable sin.

Which is hubris.


Taking God's role onto yourself.
6th-Mar-2007 10:42 pm (UTC)
So in synthesis, we've got:

Elle--Azrael ==> Lucifer

And Prentiss, the newcomer, the stranger, the disruptor (both Hotch and Gideon are very resistant to her), possibly as an Islamic angel of interrogation--let's say Munkar, who gets namechecked by Byron.
6th-Mar-2007 10:54 pm (UTC)
Now that is interesting.

Yes, why not?

Have you noticed how many of the QOTWs this year have dealt with living with your scars?
6th-Mar-2007 10:57 pm (UTC)
Oh yes.

This season is about being broken and putting yourself back together. Or not.

Morgan's already done it ("Profiler, Profiled"); Gideon's already done it (as we learn in the pilot); Elle fails. Reid is in the crucible.
7th-Mar-2007 04:39 am (UTC)
Y'all should look into the Judaic angels of punishment (of which there are seven), too. Tha'd be Kushiel ("rigid one of God"), Lahatiel ("flaming one of God"), Shoftiel ("judge of God"), Makatiel (plague of God"), Hutriel ("rod of God"), Pusiel or Puriel ("fire of God"), and Rogziel ("wrath of God"). These are all angels associated with judgment, punishment, and intervention between God and the souls of humans in Hell.

PS - I find it a bit amusing that the seven deadly sins boil down to sins of excess (of which there are six) and of lack (sloth = not just laziness, but despondancy, despair, lack of faith, etc.), personally, but if you're going to talk about the agents corresponding to angels, it might be worth it to map out who would correspond to which cardinal sin and/or its flipside among the seven holy virtues, just to see where their strengths/weaknesses are.
7th-Mar-2007 08:59 am (UTC)
Wikipedia sez: The seven Cardinal Sins are: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride/Hubris.
The corresponding seven Holy Virtues are: Chastity, Abstinence, Liberalty, Diligence, Patience, Kindness and Humility.

An explanation of the Virtues might be in order:
Chastity: Courage and boldness. Embracing of moral wholesomeness and achieving purity of thought through education and betterment
Abstinence: Constant mindfulness of others and one's surroundings; practicing self-control, abstention, and moderation.
Liberalty: Generosity. Willingness to give. A nobility of thought or actions.
Diligence: A zealous and careful nature in one's actions and work. Decisive work ethic. Acting energetically without excessive reflection.
Patience: Forbearance and endurance through moderation. Resolving conflicts peacefully, as opposed to resorting to violence. The ability to forgive; to show mercy to sinners.
Kindness: Charity, compassion, friendship, and sympathy without prejudice and for its own sake.
Humility:Modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. Giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying one's own self

After reading the definitions, I'm even less sure who would correspond to which, but I think
Kindness goes nicely to Garcia.
Diligence - that has to be Hotch. Who else?
Chastity might be Reid's. He's bold, even though he might not seem like it most of the time.

That's as far as I got. Anyone want to pick up the thread or even start over?

7th-Mar-2007 12:27 pm (UTC)
well, for this exercise, we were sticking to Angels of the Presence, as indicated in the text. *g*
7th-Mar-2007 07:14 am (UTC)
Or, just to make the game interesting...

JJ is Metatron -- who transmits the word of God on which souls will be taken (which missions?) ooo or maybe she's (also) her own twin Sandalphon, who transmits prayers to God so they can be answered.
Garcia is Raziel -- author and keeper of a book of secrets of the Universe and how it operates and the most compassionate of archangels towards man.
Hotch is Michael -- chief of all angels, a prince of heaven (there's also that lovely 'who is as god' version of the name... which might have a question mark on the end, or not). Rescuer of souls, champion of men, and the one who brings men to judgement.
Morgan... Gabriel -- the angel of action, the strength of God. The guy who says 'Fear not because God is with you' and means it.
Reid is Uriel -- most learned of angels, and if I segue over to Milton (for his Mum) that's the archangel who was both tricked by Satan and tried to give warning in vain. The archangel of repentance.
Elle could be Satan, but maybe also Raguel... because at the same time Uriel was demoted he got named as a demon passing themselves off as a saint.
Oh... or maybe Gideon is Raguel... who brings bad angels or mortals to Michael's attention. (He's the guy who does psych evaluations on the CIA, and in SBD)

::grins:: that way I get to play that Reid, Gideon, and Elle are all marked for their falls from grace by being angels who failed the cut at the Council of Rome. -- I wonder how close Simiel is to Samael...

BTW isn't there an Islamic tradition about there being seven archangels who'll be joined by an eighth?

Prentiss, I haven't seen enough to be sure, but I'm missing a third official archangel... so maybe she can be my Raphael. How's her sense of humour?
7th-Mar-2007 12:20 pm (UTC)
I like this.

I think it's a great game because if we accept that the team are the angels of the presence (as Hotch and Raphael suggest they are) we still have like twenty lists to work from. *g*
7th-Mar-2007 02:24 pm (UTC)
The wonderful thing about standards is how very many of them there are.:->
8th-Mar-2007 12:28 am (UTC)
Plus the multiple possible versions of each name... it's Lego! a new toy every day :)
7th-Mar-2007 06:38 pm (UTC)
I did a bit of digging around on archangels. Which I shouldn't have done, cos I have work to do, but I did read that the name Raphael is eytmologically linked to the Jewish word for doctor - they have the same root - and that seemed to be another link to Reid.

and there is my thought for the day.

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