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Welcome to Criminal Thoughts where, every week, myself and my friend Vic Linde dissect the latest episode of Criminal Minds and see what makes it tick. Or in some cases, tock…
Every now and then, even a show with as high a hit rate as Criminal Minds straight up hits a gutter ball. It’s worst episodes are still pretty good and, increasingly, it’s basically impossible to create a piece of art of any form that’s straight up and down, top to bottom bad. This one, however, certainly wasn’t good. What went wrong for you?
Let’s see. They did everything that I was so glad they avoided in the early episodes of this season. Showing Kate what had happened in Morgan’s past in a blunt way. Targeting Meg because she’s the new child of the team and it always needs to be done. And even the storyline was tired – unsurprising as it was built around getting to various points they wanted to hammer home. Not subtle and not enjoyable.
Exactly. And that ending in particular is a legitimate lose lose. If it’s a set up for something then, as you say, it’s the single most obvious set up for the most obvious character. If it isn’t a set up then it’s two equally unlovely things; a desperately cackhanded attempt to ram home an important message or one of the worst examples of the ‘OR IS IT?!’ ending I’ve ever seen. It even managed to undercut the single valid point the rest of the episode made. After 42 minutes of showing that pedophiles can be anyone, to close with the sweaty, vested, giggling lunatic in his ridiculous Basement of Hideousness was just a staggering faceplant.
The ‘Kate figuring out what had happened to Morgan thing by the way?’ Could have been saved. If they’d left it with her clearly figuring out he was bothered by this stuff and then bringing it up in another episode that would have been great. In fact, their final talk was really rather good. But to have the B plot be ‘BY THE WAY DID WE MENTION AT ANY POINT IN THE LAST NINE YEARS THAT MORGAN WAS ABUSED?!’ was, again, cackhanded and dumb.
It was monumentally mishandled. I usually love episodes where we see that the victims are in fact not really the ones we should feel sorry for but as you say this was completely lost by that final scene. Morgan dealing with this case should have been left alone – Rossi’s gentle check that he was okay, along with JJ deferring to him as they approached the two boys should have been the only hint we saw. They are going to need to do something extremely clever with the Meg storyline to make sure that it’s not a complete mess.
And at this point i honestly think the best thing they can do is write this off as a really badly handled metaphor. Callahan’s fit in just fine, and even this episode showed that. Her little exchange with Dave (‘Not you too.’ ‘Googled it.’) is exactly the sort of character shorthand the show excels at. It’s also basically the only example of it in this episode. Although in fairness the reveal on the photos and Callahan’s delivery on ‘We need to deliver the profile’ was very nicely done.
The victim isn’t innocent thing also got fouled up with needless complication this week. The point where he talks himself out of the pit was actually quite nicely done, even if it was basically a cover version of a scene from Hannibal. But the moment he started talking about one of the victims being just like him, and the botched murder and last second twist that followed, the whole thing fell apart.
The other character moment that nailed it was Kate’s very rushed mention of Garcia’s shoes. These close-knit female friendships have always been beautifully handled and they are so rare in most shows.
They missed the point, messed up the plot and muddled the characters. Anything you liked in this episode?
-That little moment at the start. Every single time we get one of those I yearn for an off duty episode which is just this group of brilliant, slightly broken people finding the joy they can from their lives.
-’Not you as well.’ ‘I googled it.’
-That final speech of Morgan’s. I like, given how open those wounds were when the show started, how he’s able to deal with these cases now.
-’Winner winner Vegetarian dinner.’
-Hotch was wearing an especially nice shirt this week?
-Absolutely nothing else this was actually pretty awful. How about you?
I liked Linda Westbrook. Her reactions were great.
Reid asleep on the plane.
I really *did* like Garcia’s shoes.
Nope. All done. Cannot think of anything else that really clicked for me.
Likewise. Oh well, we get one of these about once a season. I’m sure next week will be better. Thanks once again to SSA Linde for her brilliant insights and you for reading. Join us next time on Criminal Thoughts, for episode 9, Fate.