Monday, December 17, 2012

Criminal Minds episode review : The Magnificent Light


Criminal Minds episode review : The Magnificent Light


The Lady of the Lake wishes to apologize for being so tardy with this review.  What with a very busy schedule of holiday parties, concerts and shows, she has been a tad over-committed these past weeks.  Also, she was not overly fond of this episode, so procrastination came easily.

The episode opens with a single flame burning as a voice speaks and says “Your life is about to end; you will all die.” The disembodied voice continues and the stage lights come up and we find we are at a motivational speaker’s show,   Barry Flynn, the motivational speaker, rouses the audience and singles out audience members, calls their names, spotlights them, tells them to live their dreams.





After the show, Barry meets one-on-one with Cynthia Strobel and encourages her to live her dream.  He walks her out and tells his assistant that he needs some private time and leaves.  Cut to the backstage door where a hooded figure follows Cynthia.

When Cynthia gets home, she puts one of Barry’s motivational CD’s into the player, gets a glass of wine, and sees the hooded figure, who kills her.

Back at the BAU, the B story begins with Garcia and Morgan talking about an invitation he received to attend a dinner at the British Embassy.  Morgan doesn’t want to go, but Garcia tries to talk him into it, saying that she would go with him and even wear her contacts!

As the team meets, Garcia briefs them on two murders in Seattle:  Lincoln Bell on Friday night and Cynthia Strobel, the previous night. Both were killed in their own apartments and the message “Hear your evil.  See your evil” was written on the walls of their apartments in what they presume to be blood.  

Once on the ground, the team splits up, Rossi and Reid to the ME and the rest to Cynthia’s apartment.

The ME tells Rossi and Reid that the blade that killed Lincoln and Cynthia had a distinct curvature to the blade, and they also find out that the message written on the wall was written in red paint, not blood.

At Cynthia’s apartment, they find Barry Flynn’s CD in the player and a ticket stub to the show.  They then go to the theatre and talk to Flynn’s manager who doesn’t know where Flynn went after the show.

The team has Garcia investigate Flynn and she gives them information about Flynn and seems to completely buy into Flynn’s message – so much so, that later in the episode, she is drinking out of one of Flynn’s promotional coffee cups – my favorite parts of the episode.


Cut to a bar - Flynn is seen in a bar and a man sits down, introduces himself as Ricky, trying to pick him up. They make small talk. He asks if Flynn wants a tour guide and they finish their drinks and leave.  Total pick-up, if you know what I mean, wink, wink!


Back at the local PD, the team discusses the fact that Flynn has been missing since Cynthia left the theater and they also learn that Lincoln Bell was a follower of Flynn and that’s the connection to Cynthia.

Garcia gives them the 411 on Barry Flynn, which is his stage name.  His real name is Harold Kerwin; he had some assault charges years ago, spent twelve years as a car salesman. Then he disappeared into the desert for three years and came out transformed into Barry Flynn. Soon he was selling out venues as a motivational speaker. Garcia tells Morgan that she hopes he isn’t the UNSUB because she likes him and wants Morgan to find him.

Meanwhile, Barry Flynn wakes up handcuffed to a bed. His CD is playing and a man sits in a chair. The man rises holding a weapon with a distinctly curved blade.  He says, “you made me do this, Barry Flynn.”

The team finds the bar that Flynn had been to, not really sure how they did it, but they did.  They realize that it is a gay bar and understand Flynn’s need for secrecy—why he disappears and doesn’t tell his manager where he is going. They find blood that’s the same type as Flynn’s and find a 100 decibel personal alarm near Flynn’s car.  They realize that Flynn is not the UNSUB but now think that he has been kidnapped by an “extreme fan.”

Back with the UNSUB, who identifies himself as Carl Finster, tells Flynn that Flynn helped him see that he had to use his gift. He talks about his gift and his past.  Flynn tries some of his psycho-babble on Carl, but Carl isn’t buying it. He tells Flynn that he is Flynn’s biggest success story. 



Carl tells Flynn that he doesn’t hear things the way that most people do; he sees what they say. The doctor’s said it was like a birthmark; the wires in his brain are crossed. Carl says that he’s realized now that it’s a gift. Barry asks what he’s planning to do; Carl says he will show him.

Back at the command post, J.J. says that if the UNSUB has poor social skills, he must have had help to lure Flynn out of the bar. She is going to let the media know that he may have had a temporary partner. Morgan calls Garcia; and she tells Morgan that Flynn has 2 million followers; 100,000 of those are unstable. She tells Morgan that Flynn really helps people and reads the offer on his website. Morgan makes her promise she didn’t sign up.  Garcia promises as she takes a sip of coffee out of a Barry Flynn coffee mug. :P

Garcia tells Morgan that she researched the event at the British Embassy that he was invited to and tells him that Madonna and Steven Hawking are going. She tells him that Reid would kill him if he turned down an opportunity to meet Steven Hawking. Morgan blows her off and then tells her how to cross reference Flynns fan base to narrow down the suspect list.

Carl visits his old employer and downloads a file onto a USB drive. His old boss confronts him; Carl asks why he was fired and is told he had complaints from customers and co-workers. It just isn’t the right place for him.

A man comes forward after JJ makes a statement to the media about the UNSUB having a temporary partner.  He told the team that a man paid him 200 bucks to get Flynn out of the bar. He says the guy was weird, couldn’t look him in the eye when he talked and kept talking about a magnificent light.

Back with Carl and Flynn, who is now bound and gagged in the back of Carl’s van.  He tells Flynn that he got the transcripts of the calls he handled.  Flynn begs Carl to let him go, but Carl tells him that when he was a kid he had a dream that he was a super hero with a partner and that they killed evil people with a powerful knife. Gesturing to his USB drive, he says he’s going to kill these evil people.

Carl drives to the next victim’s home, Janet Dodd.  He goes in and kills Janet while Flynn screams from the back of the van.  When the team arrives at the crime scene, there is a new message painted on the wall, “Hear your red, See your red.” The team feels that the UNSUB is devolving.  They find out that Janet was divorced and having financial problems.  They check her phone and find numerous calls to an 800 number for LUXOR bank cards.

They give that information to Garcia who comes up with one name after cross-referencing her lists of Flynn fans to those with anger management issues and LUXOR bank cards. She says there is a 100% chance that Janet talked to Carl Finster; the call logs show he talked to her three of the times she called.

The team goes to LUXOR and talks to Carl’s former boss and find that not only had Carl been fired several months previously, but that he had been there that afternoon, and his former boss thought he might have downloaded information from the company computers.  He told the team that Carl threatened to kill a co-worker and then played the team a tape of a call that Carl had been on to show them how off-script he went and how verbally abusive he had been on the calls. 

The team goes to Carl’s home and searches it.  They find the knife and pictures he has drawn.  Reid hypothesizes that Carl transcribed his calls and put the words in different colors and made his hit list.

Back to Carl and Flynn.  They go to the next victim’s house, a Howard Jepson, but find out that the family living there isn’t the Jepson family.  The man says he isn’t Howard Jepson; he’s Steven Caldwell. They’re renting the house and never met him. While he is talking, Carl sees the words Steven is saying in white text spelled out around Steven’s head.  Carl believes him because his words are white. Flynn tells Carl that they should leave because they have the wrong man and Steve says that they won’t call the police if they leave, Carl sees Steve’s words spelled out in red text this time – meaning that he is lying, so he hauls off an hits Steve with his gun. 

Meanwhile, the team is trying to get a handle on the list they found at Carl’s house.  There were over 150 names on the list and he wasn’t going alphabetically.  Morgan realizes that Carl is going in reverse order.  The team splits up and go to the homes of the next two possible victims. 

The showdown.

Flynn tries to reason with Carl.  Carl sees that Flynn’s words are changing colors and asks him how he’s kept his true self hidden for so long. He fires the gun and says no one is leaving. Flynn tells Carl that he doesn’t have to do this.  He tells Carl to do the right thing and let the people go. Carl says that Flynn knows nothing about him and slices at him with the knife.

The team arrives and talks to Carl, who sees all their words as white.  He tells them he once called the police when he saw an evil man and they did nothing and that a few hours later a woman and her child were dead. Rossi tells him that the man he reported didn’t kill them and the police caught the killer. Morgan explains that the colors he sees aren’t a reflection of the other person; they’re his own feelings about what is being said. “If you kill this man, you’ll be destroying a magnificent light.” Morgan’s words are white so Carl believes him; He drops the knife and the gun.

Back at the BAU, Morgan looks at the invitation to the British Embassy as s Garcia enters behind him, carrying a gift bag. She asks him not to be angry, she did research on Jason Ryder and found out he was Morgan’s father’s partner. She asks if there was a falling out. Morgan says that Jason moved to New York after his father died and was a hero in 9/11. That’s why he’s being honored. Morgan tells her that at one time, he was supposed to speak in honor his own father and froze on the stage and felt it would be disrespectful to his father if he honored someone else. Garcia tells him to get over it and stop beating himself up; she knows he won’t.

Garcia says that what she brought him is totally pointless now then. She tells Morgan that she talked to Flynn about the issue. He sent his boxed CD set and she hands Morgan an envelope as another incentive. Inside is a car key… “You only have it for twenty-four hours.”

The next scene is totally James Bond.  Morgan drives up to the British Embassy in a super fancy sports car.  He gives his speech and talks about his dad and how Jason Ryder was the only man his father looked up to. Garcia is in the audience and dabs at the tears in her eyes while he speaks.



While Morgan gives his speech, a waiter (in gloves) approaches the table where Garcia and Morgan were seated and clears the glass Morgan had been drinking from.  The waiter leaves the room and slips the glass into a plastic bag.   At this point, we realize that it the season-long UNSUB.  He takes the glass to a room where he sees a picture which prompts a flashback of a screaming man restrained on a table.  The man is marked and dismembered with a saw. The UNSUB puts the picture up on the wall amongst pictures of dead victims interspersed with photos of the BAU team.

I loved the interactions where Garcia is totally drawn into Flynn’s motivational message.  I also liked the ending with the season-long UNSUB rearing his ugly head.  The rest, I didn’t love.  I am still trying to figure out Alex’s place on the team.  I don’t dislike her, but I can’t figure out what she adds to the team.  To me, this episode was disjointed.  There was too much jumping from the UNSUB to the team and back again.  Too much UNSUB, not enough team.

The Lady of the Lake

No comments:

Post a Comment

Respectful opinions, and constructive disagreement is welcomed, but insulting/foul-mouthed, malicious, or just plain disrespectful comments towards anyone are not, and will be removed.