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Last night’s Criminal Minds scared the bejesus out of me

- Season 5, Episode 12 - "The Uncanny Valley"

Though it certainly wasn’t the first to do so, last night’s episode of Criminal Minds left me in quite a quandary. While I love the characters, and I think I would be sad not to know what was happening with some of them, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to watch this show. While many of their cases have left me feeling sick (and they’ve certainly gotten more gruesome as the years have gone by), there was something about last night that was particularly disturbing.

And honestly, I’m not 100% certain what it was. I do know that human dolls was bad enough … once the curveball of pedophilia and sexual molestation came into play, I felt increasingly prepared to just turn the episode off. Which is not something that I want to do.

As weird as it was for Reid to just be sitting there in that chess park, I want to know what’s going on with him. I want to find out how his NA is going, how that gold medallion from the superior FBI agent will affect him or his career. Won’t it? Why else would that door have been opened?

I want to learn if there’s anything more to Prentiss than what meets the eye. We know nothing about her, and it would be nice to explore her life in the same way that we’ve explored JJ’s — whose husband and son I’d like to see more of.

And of course I don’t want to leave while Hotch and Morgan continue to feel out who’s really in charge. The truth is that while Hotch was definitely more dominant last night, it was unclear if that was just his personality out-shouting Morgan’s, or the real dichotomy of the unit. Either way I like how Morgan has a louder voice now, the authority to hand out directives within the BAU, and generally a free hand to pursue investigative avenues of interest to him. I know that’s not vastly different from everyone else on the team, but it’s certainly highlighted more for Morgan these days.

Why can’t a procedural drift in the direction of a drama? Why not turn into a show that focuses on characters first, and cases second? That can’t be an unprecedented format, even for a procedural. Take NCIS, for instance — I’d argue that the characters are much more integral a component to each episode than the cases. Which means we spend more time getting to know them, even if it’s in the context of them working their jobs. But while that’s the method in which we’ve gotten to know the BAU, the horrors of what they do generally supersede who they are.

And I’m not arguing that that’s wrong, just pointing out that the reality of the situation, coupled with the increased level of scary on the show, has left me questioning whether I can do it anymore. If we were getting a bigger portion of the characters, hands down I’d be in, no matter what. But when the awfulness of a woman locking her captives in the shell that is their body dominates what should be the continued story of Hotch’s struggle to juggle being a single father with his job, I question whether the characters are meant to be anything more than props for the gore.

And I don’t want to be thinking like that. But we’ll have to see where things continue to head.

One quote I pulled out, a little off-color, but amusing out-of-context:

“So death isn’t this unsubs goal, it’s an unfortunate side effect.” – Hotch to Reid

Photo Credit: CBS

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Categories: | Criminal Minds | Episode Reviews | General | TV Shows |

13 Responses to “Last night’s Criminal Minds scared the bejesus out of me”

January 14, 2010 at 11:47 AM

I enjoyed last night’s case, or at least as much as you can enjoy something so creepy. After the show was over, I realized that we did not go forward with any of the personal stories. I was left wondering if I’d rather have good cases or a personal story line…

BTW is JJ actually married and did her husband move to Washington? They didn’t seem to address this story beyond the episode when she announced she was pregnant.

What do you consider the most ‘disturbing’ episode? To this day, there are two shows I cannot watch in reruns. The one with the psychiatrist who kills his patients based on their own fears, and the one with the three girls who need to decide which one will die.

January 14, 2010 at 12:08 PM

Cheryl– that one with the three girls still haunts me… I saw a rerun episode of it begin, and I changed the channel so quickly. Another episode that haunts me like that is a Cold Case one (I think it was the first I ever saw), where a mother and her young daughter were found outside the window of their apartment, the result of a horrific misunderstanding…

Aryeh– I thnk ER mastered the formula of patients (the procedural) and personal lives.

January 14, 2010 at 1:07 PM

Thanks. I never watched ER, but its success definitely proves the point that it can be done well … without turning us all into fearful insomniacs.

January 14, 2010 at 1:06 PM

I’m not 100% about the marriage, but a few episodes back started with JJ and him at the drugstore with the baby. I got the impression from that that he moved to DC to be with her.

Most disturbing? I don’t know, but your two are pretty bad – I now have a picture of a face peering out from a sealed box in my head. Thanks! :)

January 14, 2010 at 3:03 PM

I think it was the episode where the guy released anthrax in the public park where it was established that JJ’s husband lives with her and the baby, because she was calling to find out where they were while trying not to break protocol.

Anyway, I love the show, but I do wish they would have just a little bit more of the personal lives of each character.

January 14, 2010 at 4:00 PM

I will not make any bad or good comments about this episode. I think the makeup artist is very good. But I do agree that there should be more informatio on the BAU members. As you can probably tell, I am more interested in the writers. They seem to be writing a little weaker at this time. Where I have worked I have seen many things that are worse. The things that people can do to others is far worse than anything they can produce on tv or the movies. I pray none of you ever have to deal with such things.

January 15, 2010 at 9:15 AM

I won’t ask about the other thing, but the makeup was unbelievably good, right? I was sure that they were mannequins until their eyes started moving, which made everything even freakier.

January 15, 2010 at 1:50 AM

To me, by FAR, the episode that literally made me SICK was To Hell … and Back. Ugh. The paralyzed guy who had his mentally challenged sibling catching homeless or the type of people no one would miss? The pigs and all that? Ugh. Definitely can’t hardly even THINK of those two epis.

I’m DEFINITELY on board wanting more more more of the character’s personal lives. Personally, Garcia and Reid are my two favorite characters. They have given us a lot on Reid, but, I want to know more about the drugs, was he truly addicted? What happened after he received the medallion? And Give that kid a love interest, so that it gives him a new dimension. I know he liked JJ….then suddenly she’s into Will, which, I NEVER saw, and then she’s pregnant, and nothing was ever said about the possible Reid/JJ again.

And now to my other favorite character…Garcia. I love she and Kevin, but, I would like them to give us MORE.
Do any of you know of any episodes where they are featured besides Penolope, Damaged and…the one where Kevin almost gets a job afar? I am taping episodes that I missed so that would be awesome if there were more. Personally, I always thought there would be more with she and Morgan, and, I think it would be really dramatic for him to suddenly declare himself in love with her, and for her to have to choose.

Sorry for the long post, I guess I’m really a geek. :)

January 15, 2010 at 11:33 AM

Reid got addicted to drugs after, I believe, S02E15 (Revelations), when he’s kidnapped and drugged. The story continues regularly through the rest of that season, and then off-and-on through the next two. Until he gets the medallion, which is the last we’ve heard of it.

And Garcia is really only prominent in those few episodes around her attack, before and after. Nothing much else on her except when they happen to give us a glimpse of Kevin.

I think the best episodes to watch are all in the first three seasons. The fourth (and fifth) are good, but the first three seasons spend more time on the characters. The last season plus has really just upped the gory and gotten a bit lost in it.

January 15, 2010 at 9:13 AM

I think Cheryl may have created the worst party game ever! :)

January 15, 2010 at 4:47 PM

I don’t watch horror shows or movies, but there is something adicting about this show.

January 16, 2010 at 2:37 AM

“I question whether the characters are meant to be anything more than props for the gore”

I agree with the above statement which is why I enjoyed last night’s episode i.e. the decrease in on-screen assault. I watch CM for the character interaction; however, I frequently find myself disturbed by their overuse of storylines featuring graphic female assault. I like that the character’s back story occurred off-screen and that her background produced a criminal element different from their past cases i.e. the (fe)male ‘unsub’ sexually assaulting other (fe)males. Yes, sexual assault is a large issue in society, but there are other crimes. I’d like to see CM explore other criminal manifestations.

I also agree with you concerning character development. I enjoy the interactions between the characters i.e. Garcia & Morgan’s friendly flirtation, Morgan’s big brother act for Reid, and the occasional breaks in Hotch’s hard exterior. I would love to see more of that. I feel certain repetitious scenes are unnecessary/do not extend plot/do not display further insight into the criminal mind, but rather serve as a mainstream TV version of ‘Hostel,’ which they could remove/reduce.

I like the weekly case focus, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more about the criminal mind (not just his/her crime) and the criminal minds’ team (akin to what they did for Garcia regarding her date & Morgan regarding his childhood) – Also, am I the only one who loved Reid’s fire last night i.e. wanting to talk to the father about treatment and then just railroading him when he identified the problem?

January 18, 2010 at 11:19 AM

Yeah, and I got the feeling that the Reid thing had to do with his mother. I wonder if there is more to his childhood that we will yet see explored. How would a mother who was mentally unbalanced have raised a brilliant son without making mistakes?