Through the Looking Glass
With Criminal Minds in its 8th season, avid viewers can’t help but find similarities between new and past episodes. This episode has aspects of The Fox, North Mammon, Paradise and Children of the Dark.
Beth and Hotch’s scenes were very sweet and little Jack is growing up – he has lost his baby teeth. It is wonderful to see Hotch smiling. I like that they didn’t just drop Beth’s character, but are writing her out by her taking her dream job in New York. It leaves the door open for possible visits and they are closing the circle on that storyline by giving it closure instead of just dropping it with Beth never to be mentioned again.
The case takes place in Kansas City, Kansas and its environs where seemingly perfect families are being abducted and found dead on the side of the highway, with the exception of the youngest child, a son. One family, the Yamadas, were found dead and the BAU was called in. While the case was being briefed, they find that another family has been abducted.
We find out there are cracks in the seemingly perfect families – that the Yamada father had a gambling problem; the Acklin’s – father was the subject of a lawsuit, was behind in his mortgage payments and had an affair with Vanessa, their son Braden’s tutor (Braden had recently been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome), the teenage daughter, Mackenzie’s, drug problem and the mother suffered from depression and owed money to loan sharks – not so perfect, despite Mrs. Acklin’s idyllic Facebook postings and the photos of the happy family on the Yamada family website.
We see the UNSUB making the Acklin family admit to their shortcomings, which causes a rift amongst the family members and makes them watch as he kills the tutor and the teenaged girl’s boyfriend who supposedly got her hooked on drugs.
The UNSUB keeps the youngest child with him. The Yamada boy’s dead body was found while the team is trying to find clues and the team surmises that the UNSUB uses the youngest child as leverage against the families and also that he may identify with the young boys.
Garcia finds a commonality between the two families – they had both gone to a wilderness camp called Ravenswood Camp – a type of counseling camp to try to bring families back together. This in addition to the cheery social media postings that Garcia found had been visited numerous times each day by the same person, whose IP address was routed around the world.
The painting of toy samurais I don’t understand, except that they are a child’s toys and the UNSUB is painting them, so he could have arrested development to that age, which could mean that the UNSUB experienced a trauma at a young age and identifies with the young boys.
Braden uses some tools and escapes the house while the UNSUB is out supposedly disposing of Vanessa’s body or abducting Mackenzie’s boyfriend, Darren, who the UNSUB offered up for the mother, Debra, to choose between his life and the money she owed to the loansharks.
Meanwhile, the team was putting together how the UNSUB found out so much about the families and hit on that both families had recently had their homes renovated/remodeled. Hidden cameras were found throughout both homes. Garcia found that the same electrician worked on both homes AND that he was one of the people who found Yamada boy’s body – KA-CHING – case solved. Now to find him before he kills the Acklin’s.
MEANWHILE, Braden didn’t make it too far with his escape. The UNSUB found him as he was running across the yard and the next time we see Braden, he is sitting in the same chair that Vanessa and Darren were sitting in with the UNSUB telling the family that if they killed themselves, they could save Braden and if they didn’t the UNSUB would kill them all for the bad choices they made.
The Acklins are in hysterics, with much crying and hand wringing and finally Debra, the mother, grabs the gun and shoots herself to save Braden as the team rushes the room - half to rescue the family and half to apprehend the UNSUB. Morgan finds there is no blood on Debra and Alex found that the gun was loaded with blanks. This scene seemed a little chaotic, like they were trying to quickly wrap up the case so they could get to the more fun stuff at the end. I think they could have taken another minute and wrapped it up more cleanly.
Garcia greets the team at the elevators with a tray of drinks and tells them all that she loves them and wanted hugs from all of them.
The episode ends with Hotch and Beth talking about her moving to New York and Hotch telling her that New York was just a train ride away and that they could still see one another. They end it with them leaving the coffee shop/restaurant to check the trains schedule.
Early on in the episode, Garcia tells the team that Braden Acklin had recently been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and Reid was talking about the various aspects of Asperger’s and the fact that several talented people had Aspie tendencies and Alex said something like, “like you?” to him and Reid just barreled on and didn’t respond to her. Later, while he and Alex are going through the Yamada house, she mentions her statement and apologizes for it and Reid told her he didn’t even realize/recognize what she said but it made me wonder whether he really didn’t notice or just didn’t acknowledge it.
The episode was good and the case was interesting. There was a pretty good mix between the team and victims – since the victims were still alive, the story was centered on them, but since it was an interesting story, I didn’t mind.
Also of interest AJ Cook was featured in a CBS Cares commercial during the episode which was about the fight against breast cancer.
~ Lady of the Lake