Monday, April 16, 2012

Review 'Heathridge Manor'

“Heathridge Manor”
Written by : Sharon Lee Watson
Directed by : Matthew Gray Gubler

After watching this episode no less than four times, I’m still not quite sure what I think about it. For me, there is still something lacking in the writing. The story was laid out too soon and was very predictable after the first 10-15 minutes. There was no tension, no suspense, and very little action – except for the wonderfully choreographed fight scene between Hotch and James at the end. It reminded me a bit of the fight scene from “The Tribe”, which is still one of my all-time favourite episodes – and I’m not even the Hotch fan of the group!

James, who is just as delusional as his mother was, thanks to her brainwashing him as a child (at least that’s how I interpreted it), is killing women who he believes are the devil’s wives. It’s hard to believe that his younger sister, Lara, is a willing participant in the killings. Their relationship is a strange one, almost bordering on incestuous. He makes sure that she is completely dependent on him and that she has no one else to turn to, no friends, no contact with people at school. In the end, during one of his delusional breaks, he paints a picture of his sister, and believes her to be one of the devil’s wives. 

Lara knows she will die and begs James not to sew her into the poisoned dress. Thankfully the team arrives in time to for Emily to save her, while Hotch hunts down her brother, fights with him and in the struggle to get the UNSUB off of him, Hotch knocks James against the well and James accidentally falls to his death. Hotch tries to reach to catch James, but is unable to save him.  

What I did like about the episode was great acting, all around, from the cast and the guests. I loved the way the lighting was done, especially in the morgue scene and the scene where JJ and Prentiss were searching for medical records from the psychiatric clinic. It was a great touch from MGG to make it look more macabre. I liked the music throughout and thought it added a nice touch and made a story that wasn’t very suspenseful at least seem as though it was a bit. I loved that we saw more of Emily in this ep. It’s almost as if she’s been an afterthought this season. My favourite line from the ep was Garcia’s comment about the system being down and the fact that she nicknamed the system Persephone. I just thought that was a great line. 

Some of the other banter from Garcia throughout the episode almost seemed forced and out of place, like the writer was trying too hard to incorporate some of the banter from previous eps – it was almost overused, in my opinion. I would have loved to have had more tension, more suspense. Not to have known that James was the UNSUB from the beginning. To have not had Lara involved in the murders – for her to have been clueless as to what her brother was up to. At least then, someone would have been left guessing what was going on.

It certainly wasn’t one of my favourite episodes of the season, which makes me really sad, because I believe that Matthew Gray Gubler is a brilliant director when given great material to direct. I hope that the writing for next season will get back to the basics of what made CM great: suspense, tension, not revealing the UNSUB from the very beginning of the episode, and some action thrown in here and there.



  1. I so agree. Overall theme this year was about the Unsub and I've had it. The only ones that really did it for me was Jim Clementes episode and the Company from last week. Not because of knowing an Unsub but more the subject and overal weirdness but also knowing it really happens. Breen said writers were listening and next year, it should be more old fashioned but seeing
    is believing.

  2. This whole "Year of the UnSub" is getting really old. I miss the focus being on the team and their profiling skills.

    That being said, I was VERY impressed with all the details in "Heathridge Manor" and how well they suited each scene. The slowly-filling torture well in the basement? Creeptastic! The beautiful frozen-in-time opulence in the house itself? LOVED it! The moody lighting in the dead, decaying facility and other places? Amazing! Brother's strange love for his sister? EWEWE!

    I think if this episode had been allotted two hours instead of one, it would have been even better...and creepier. I'm so tired of the "All Unsub, All The Time"/"Show the UnSub in the first 2 seconds" crap. I want more team time, and I want to see more of how the team PROFILES the case.

    The story, and the directing, were well above average, and if given the freedom could have been absolutely superb. I felt, however, that they were somehow bound by some vague, strange sort of company policy forbidding active team-member character development and profiling...same as the past two seasons.

    Excellent episode, excellent writer/director, macabre management.

  3. If MGG was given full freedom with no 42 minutes squeeze constraints.
    How would it be?
    Suggestions: MGG write your next ep/direct/edit/act make it 2 hrs & be my ever Sweet Genius in everything you do.
    Please make sure you're back for Season 8 ,9, 10 & beyond.

  4. Agree...hopefully Breen will follow up with what he said in the chat about no showing the unsub in the first 3 minutes next season. This episode was okay...MGG did great but there wasn't much suspense and the witch thing kind of was TOO predictable. Liked the ending though:P will have to rewatch before I can be uber critical.
    Loved "The Tribe" mention. I LOVE that episode...but it's NEVER brought up anymore. Good to know I'm not the only one that hasn't forgotten it
    Thanks for reviewing each's interesting to see what other people think about CM!

  5. i liked this episode but the brother's attraction to his sister freaked me out a little bit. i found it really gross and especially in the prom scene, when he slides his hand down her back, and she looks uncomfortable but submissive, which makes you think that he may have raped her before, and i find that horrible to think about.


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