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Why Criminal Minds Fans Have Questions About This Unsub Scene

While the majority of the unknown subjects — or "unsubs" — who are featured on "Criminal Minds" prefer to work alone, there have been a few murderous duos, and even some homicidal groups, over the years that have caught the attention of the Behavioral Analysis Unit. As explained on the long-running series, serial killer duos are rare largely due to instinctive lone wolf tendencies and their inability to find someone to share in their sick perversions. Most of the duos featured on the show fit within the typical dynamic of a dominant (or alpha) personality and a submissive (or beta) personality.

In Season 4, Episode 12, "Soul Mates," serial rapists and killers William Harris (Michael Boatman) and Steven Baleman (George Newbern) defied all expectations and profiles when they joined together in murder. Both men are the very definition of alphas. And both men enjoyed abducting, raping, and killing teenage girls. That these two predators managed a successful partnership is remarkable. However, a few curious fans of the series have some questions about how these star-crossed killers found each other.

William Harris and Steven Baleman were an unlikely duo

In a departure from the show's usual format, "Soul Mates" opens with the arrest of William Harris for kidnapping and murder. It quickly comes to light that Harris was suspected of rape in Atlanta, Georgia. Due to a lack of victim testimony, the charges were dropped, and Harris, his wife, and their teen daughter relocated to Sarasota, Florida. While the BAU interrogates a smug Harris, the body of the missing girl is found, and her time of death excludes Harris as the killer since he was in custody. Through some hacking and mental prowess, Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) and Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) discover encrypted chats that all but confirm Harris is working with a partner.

Little is revealed about Steven Baleman's background save for the fact that he's a realtor in a somewhat unhappy marriage that produced two children. In their encrypted chats, Baleman and Harris speak to each other with the affection and intimacy of lovers, yet their relationship, while co-dependent and obsessive, appears to be platonic. While Harris is arrested, Baleman kills the missing girl in order to prove his partner's innocence. 

Most of Baleman's story is told through Harris' flashbacks, including the moment the two met.

A chance encounter brought these star-crossed killers together

How did their connection first spark? Evidently, about a week after moving into their Sarasota home, the Harris family attended a local block party, which the Balemans were also at. The two men struck up a conversation over a beer, during which two teen girls offered them burgers. While they watch the girls walk away, Baleman remarks that there's nothing special about the burgers. Harris replies that a "good piece of meat would be nice." From there, the pair exchanged several meat-based innuendos, including Baleman's preference for meat that is "bloody, rare, and tender." Both men turn to the other, clink their drinks, and fiendishly smirk. And that's the moment that has fans perplexed.

On Reddit, user throwaway12132222 recently began a thread questioning how both men interpreted a brief, coded conversation about "meat" as an invitation to join forces to rape and murder teen girls. As the Redditor notes, one or both of the men could have simply been engaging in extremely lewd "locker room talk," which while disgusting on its own, is still a big leap to "Hi, I'm a serial rapist and killer. Let's be soul mates."

Perhaps mur-dar helped them decode the truth

In a reply to the initial post, a user suggested that perhaps the two men had additional conversations off-screen that bridged the gap between innuendo and criminal acts. However, in their online chats, the men did acknowledge that it was their first meeting when they both knew they had found that special someone. 

Another user, though, presented a different option that actually has some support in behavioral criminology. Redditor probably_bananas suggested that men like Harris and Baleman might have a gift for spotting like-minded individuals. In an article in Psychology Today, behavioral criminologist and former FBI agent Gregg McCrary states that some predators have a "highly acute ability to detect potential co-conspirators." McCray refers to it as "mur-dar," a portmanteau of "murder" and "radar."

As disconcerting as the concept of "mur-dar" is, it does seem to fit both the profile of Harris and Baleman as dominant, intelligent predators and the instant kinship the characters displayed on screen during their "meet-cute."