Wednesday, December 12, 2012

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 8 - 810. The Lesson - Review

This review is on the verge of being late because quite honestly, THE LESSON made me cringe so mightily that I had a difficult time re-watching it once, much less twice. Between the demonstration of the rack on Connie Foster (thank you, nameless contortionist hired by CBS) and the bloody crucifixion of one male victim's hand...yuck! (The cringe quotient seems unusually high this season. Are the writers going for shock value or torture porn? We don't need to SEE everything in detail to be absorbed or frightened.)

Although the opening scene in Winslow, AZ (which caused The Eagles' song TAKE IT EASY to irresistibly float through my mind), set in a nursing home, turns out to be tangential to the main case, I found the diabolical patient Mr. James (played by Hans Howes) and his unnerving attendant fascinating. Their vicious interaction made me wonder if we were going to have an Angel of Mercy case. (Hmmm... wonder what happens to those two?)

But no, it was a masterful introduction to our UnSub, Adam Rain (played by the magnificent Brad Dourif), who shriekingly emerges from a coma with no warning, startling Mr. James, his attendant, and the audience!

A few implausibilities aside (which I'll get to in a moment) this episode was tightly woven. As written by co-executive producer Janine Sherman Barrois, and directed by Matthew Gray Gubler, Adam's erstwhile friend Mr. Conrad (Mark Povinelli) was drawn vividly, yet with enough subtle hints so that the final reveal about his true status was not a huge surprise.

Referring to the minor quibbles I mentioned above: (1) who in this day and age lets a total stranger into their home -- regardless of the apparent emergency -- instead of keeping them on the porch and offering the use of a cell phone? Ah well, Darwinism eventually triumphed in that case. Hurrah! (2) If the FBI comes to your store asking about clothes found on a victim, shouldn't you tell them the information they're seeking instead of running off to warn your friend who's "been acting kinda funny" since he came out of a coma?? Just a thought. (But yes, I get that it's more dramatically effective to have him run into Adam's lair.)

Behind the scenes photo by @JSBarrois

THE LESSON also finally reveals Reid's mystery lady, Maeve. I was happy to find out that @BethRiesgraf, who plays the thief Parker on LEVERAGE, is portraying the mysterious and brilliant Maeve. Reid deserves a unique actor to portray his love interest, and not a bland starlet (sorry Amber Heard, a\k\a Lila Archer in 1x18: SOMEBODY'S WATCHING). And Beth Riesgraf's Maeve was so different in every respect from her Parker that I completely did not recognize her, even AFTER looking her up on IMDB!

Suzanne Krull has only one set of scenes as the outspoken coroner, Dr. Glenn, but her uncensored commentary was hilarious and certainly made a vivid impression. (Also, kudos to Janine Barrois for casually slipping in an accomplished LGBT professional without fanfare.)

On the other hand, I found Hanna Hall's depiction of the weepy captive Connie Foster highly irritating, but I guess it's hard to be feisty if all of the joints in your body have been dislocated.

However, the entire episode truly rests upon the shoulders of our sociopathic Geppetto and Brad Dourif rises to the challenge. I've always found him creepy (Dr. Gediman in ALIEN: RESURRECTION), if not downright slimy (Wormtongue in LOTR: THE TWO TOWERS) but here he also has a pathos peeping through the insanity. That's truly impressive, since he repeatedly mangles his captives without compunction.

Behind the scenes photo courtesy of CBS Press Releases
Thanks to Matthew Gray Gubler's disturbing direction, I will NEVER be able to hear gentle, tinkling "childhood" music without squirming in fear (see also: MOSLEY LANE). With his fourth outing as a CM director, he's confirmed that his episodes are worth the anticipation.

The team interaction was great throughout the episode (and Reid's encyclopedic speed-talking was thankfully not so intrusive). My favorite bits were:
  • Hotch's brusque "Blue van!" which he practically snaps at Garcia when she asks him to guess about the vehicle used to abduct two new victims (THANK YOU, HOTCH! Now is NOT the time for 20 Questions, PG!)
  • Morgan and JJ's banter in the thrift shop regarding Reid's love-life 
  • Blake's perceptive glances at Reid (Whereas Prentiss was more like an older sister, Blake strikes me as an almost maternal figure with Reid. The poor guy certainly needs someone to nurture his social confidence.) 
  • The interactions during the elevator scene at the end were priceless, most especially the glance exchanged by Hotch and JJ upon learning of Reid's lady friend.
Overall, a highly effective episode with a mesmerizing turn by Brad Dourif. Hats off to @JSBarrois and @GUBLERNATION! 


~~~~Chaucer

3 comments:

  1. Aunt. If Emily was the older sister then Blake is the Aunt of the team.

    I like her as a good fit for the team in terms of expertise and experience, and I like having an Aunt around, but I do hope we learn more about her in the future. I just don't feel like we know her that well yet.

    ReplyDelete
  2. For me the episode was almost perfect,especially with the balanced out team and UnSub limelight....loved the M.E.'s "Overtime,Oh goody!" bit!Please check out my review of the same too:

    http://theconspiciouswriter.blogspot.in/2012/12/the-lessonindeed.html

    ReplyDelete
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