'Our Darkest Hour' opens with what looks like an 8mm film of a Winnebago driving across country. Our UNSUB Billy Flynn, creepily portrayed by Tim Curry, arrives in modern day Los Angeles in the middle of a heat wave. LA is experiencing rolling black outs to keep the entire city from going dark. Because of the constant media attention to the rolling blackouts, Flynn knows exactly which areas will be easiest for him to hit.
The first couple we see being attacked is a middle-aged husband and wife, the Eversons. After making a noise to distract the couple, Flynn enters the residence through an upstairs window while they are downstairs investigating the noise. They decide the noise is the wind blowing things around and return to their bedroom where the wife realises the window they left open is now closed. She looks to her husband to see Flynn standing behind his shoulder. (Insert chills here.) Flynn rapes the wife repeatedly while the husband is forced to watch, then kills the husband in front of the wife.
Enter our wonderful crime fighting team! During JJ's presentation to the team, we learn that Strauss has personally called the BAU in to investigate this case. There had also been a double homicide a few days prior to the rape/homicide at the Everson's. On the plane trip to LA, the team throws around information, trying to come up with a preliminary profile.
The team splits up upon arriving in LA to cover different aspects of the case. This is when we first meet our LA detectives working the case, Detective Matt Spicer, played by Eric Close and Detective Eric Kurzbard, played by Robert Davi. Prentiss and Morgan go over the details of the case with the detectives at the Everson residence.
At the same time, Rossi and Reid go to the hospital to interview victim Colleen Everson, played by Linda Purl. She is restrained in the hospital bed due to the fact that she has tried to kill herself....twice. She doesn't understand why she was left alive. Rossi and Reid are both so tender with the victim that it touched my heart. You just knew they that understood her pain. Purl gives such an emotionally touching performance that I, for one, was in tears. It's not often that Criminal Minds makes me cry.
Reid and Rossi head back to the police station to meet up with the rest of the team. Reid talks with Garcia. Since she is unable to find any cases in LA that "equal this level of emotional destruction", Reid asks her to expand the search to Southern California. We see Flynn walking down a deserted street, smoking a cigarette.
At this point Detective Spicer and Prentiss return to the station and meet Reid and JJ. Rossi notices while going over case pictures that the clocks at both crime scenes are stopped at 12:00. Since the double homicide occurred days before the rolling blackouts began, it is a clue that the UNSUB cut the power at the first crime scene.
Now we see a young lady pulling into her driveway as the radio announces the blackout hours and locations. Of course, her garage door won't open. She leaves the car to unlock her front door so she can carry her son, who is asleep, into the house. When she returns to the house, the door that she had left slightly open is now standing wide open. She enters the house with the sleeping boy in her arms and as she puts him down and kisses him goodnight, Flynn sneaks (or creeps) up behind her. She sees him as she turns around and she screams.
The next scene is Flynn watching multiple newscasts about the murdered mother and her child that was left behind. Then we transition to JJ speaking with the press about how they will keep the public safe and whether or not the blackouts will be cancelled - at this time, they will not. Morgan and Detective Spicer interview the child while Hotch and Prentiss talk with Detective Kurzbard about previous summers and rolling blackouts. Hotch asks Garcia to research home invasions during previous rolling blackouts in Southern California.
This time, the UNSUB has left a message in blood on the wall - "HELLO THER". This tells our team that he is uneducated. They determine he is angry since he trashed the house. He has put the pictures face down which tells the team he doesn't want anyone watching him.
As Morgan and Detective Spicer are interviewing the boy, Carter, Spicer shows a lot of empathy toward the child. They determine that Carter had his hands over his eyes when Flynn put him in the closet, therefore, his ears must have been uncovered. Possibly the child heard something.
The team, without Morgan present, deliver a profile and also inform the police that the press has dubbed the UNSUB "The prince of darkness." Hotch explains the dark is Flynn's signature. Hotch states that "Once we unravel his need for darkness, we'll find him."
Morgan and Spicer take Carter to live stay his aunt. Carter is upset and afraid that Flynn will come after him again and Spicer assures him that they will find the UNSUB. Morgan wants Carter to undergo another interview and Spicer is very defensive about it. Spicer admits that his parents were killed when he was young...rushing home to care for him since he was sick. Or so he was led to believe.
We now see Flynn reading about the havoc he has unleashed upon the city and also looking for where the next blackout is scheduled. Back to the police station where our resident technical analyst has some pretty heavy information for the team. The UNSUB has been doing this since 1984 and has been traveling the country killing, robbing and leaving a witness, but never hitting the same city twice. Except LA. Now the question is, why did he come back?
Back to Flynn in his home, that Winnebago with the ashtray full of cigarettes on the dashboard. He is getting high. Now, have I mentioned how absolutely disgusting his teeth are? He steps out into the night and gives this totally deranged look to the sky. Freaky! Curry is simply amazing in this role.
When we rejoin Detectives Spicer and Kurzbard, they are at the next crime scene where parents have been killed but a baby has been left alive. The BAU team is back at the police station and the blackouts have finally been called off. Prentiss is trying to determine why he killed the first two women in LA. Our profilers are trying to make the connections between the original killings in 1984 and what is happening now. Looking back through the case files they realise that Spicer's parents were among the first victims and that Spicer was the first child that the UNSUB left alive. Because Spicer has been all over the news, Flynn knows who he is.
Morgan takes Spicer aside for a cognitive interview. After some prodding, Spicer's memories of that night finally resurface. He remembers smelling cigarettes and seeing Flynn. As Spicer the child watches from his parents' bedroom closet, Flynn murders his parents. At this point, it is determined that Flynn wants credit for what he has done to Spicer. When Spicer asks how he's going to achieve that, Hotch notices the picture of Spicer and his daughter on the detective's desk. Hotch asks where the daughter is now and Spicer says she is with his sister at his home.
Spicer and Morgan go to the detective's home only to find it empty, but with a newspaper article about the detective on one of the beds. The power to the house has been cut and the car is still there so they realise the girls have been taken by Flynn. The radio announces that power use within the city is rising dramatically. Morgan tells Hotch and Prentiss they are going to his sister's place and to meet them there. Then, after he hangs up the phone, he realises that Flynn has most likely taken them to Spicer's childhood home. As they try to coordinate by phone with the rest of the team, all cell service is lost because the power goes out city wide.
Morgan and the detective arrive at Spicer's childhood home. Morgan wants to wait for backup, but Spicer is determined to go in. The man who now resides at the home has been murdered. As Morgan enters the bedroom where the girls are being kept, Flynn hits him in the face and knocks him out. He then puts Morgan in handcuffs and has Spicer's daughter duct tape his legs.
As Spicer is walking through the house, he is having flashbacks to the night his parents were killed. When he gets to the bedroom, Flynn has his daughter in a chokehold. Spicer continues to have flashbacks. By hurting Ellie, Spicer's daughter, Flynn convinces Spicer to put his gun down, despite Morgan's protests. Flynn comments about Spicer's sister and how she's grown up to be pretty, but "she squirms too much." Spicer asks Morgan to promise that Ellie will be ok. Morgan finally makes that promise. As soon as he does, Spicer tells Ellie that he loves her and Flynn shoots Spicer in front of Morgan and the girls.
Flynn kicks Morgan in the face. As the girls are screaming, he takes Ellie and says "I don't usually take much to kids.....(insert sniffing of Ellie's hair and a smug grin that only Tim Curry could deliver).....but this one's special." Flynn casually exits the room with Ellie, leaving both Morgan and the sister tied up and helpless.
You never even hear Flynn speak until the final few scenes, but when he does.....well, if you have seen it, I'm sure you understand. It speaks, not only to Curry's talent, but also to Erica's writing and Ed's directing that this UNSUB can deliver so much on screen without having to use words.
This was an absolute gem of a season finale. Erica's writing was superb and Ed's directing and the lighting of the ep really drew us into the story. 'Our Darkest Hour' was the perfect end to a fabulous season that everyone involved with the show has worked so hard to give the fans.
Honestly, "Our Darkest Hour' almost leaves me speechless. I screamed, had chills and cried. It was creepy, intense, emotional and the best of what makes Criminal Minds the best show on television. This will be an episode that fans will be watching all summer - keeping them busy speculating until September comes around. I know for the members of the CMRT, September can't get here soon enough!
Thank you Erica for an unbelievably creep-tastic end to Season 5. One of the best episodes of the season!