Thursday, February 14, 2013

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 8 - 814. All That Remains - Review

I really love when Criminal Minds plays with our perceptions, leads us to think in one direction and then goes and explain why we were so deadly wrong... and does so with profile, profile, profile. Finally getting a long interrogation with Rossi and Hotch at the helm, and everybody else pitching in adding their strengths, was pure bliss. Cherry on cake? A combative, distrustful, confrontational LEO.

First surprise of the night, we don't see what's happened.
Great idea!
This case was different from the very beginning; even if sometimes the LEOs of the week have someone in their mires by the time the BAU gets on scene, Bruce Morrison had everything to be the main suspect to them too, starting with a incomprehensible late reporting of the disappearances of all the females members of his family, in the present time and a year before too, followed by a contradictory behavior while talking about them to the investigators.

When during the interrogation was discovered that Morrison may have Dissociative Identity Disorder, with "Johnny" as his arrogant, violent, alternate personality, all the pieces fell in place and the case was ready to be closed. Right? Wrong!

Somebody had known for years what mental illness ails Mr. Morrison, and had had the patience needed to plan in detail how to pin on him the murders the real unsub wanted to commit. Explained like that, sounds convoluted and unbelievable. Not so much when we learn the real unsub identity: Morrison's older daughter.

Sera Morrison, high school senior with a 4.0 GPA, psycophatic tendencies and an unchecked jealous streak directed to her little sister Katie, who, she is convinced, had stolen her mother's love.

Sera waited to strike when the odds where in her favor, and then a blackout happened; her mother was killed, disposed and any evidence that could point to her, erased, leaving her father as the main suspect of the disappearance. The second part of her plan was in motion after that. She got an alibi in Jeff Godwin, who fell for her pitiful tale of the motherless daughter of a violent, drunk father. She cut her father prescriptions for his DID, ensuing his episodes as "Johnny" became habitual and were noticed by people outside the family, but specially by Katie. Convincing her scared sister, thus making her another alibi, to call an abuse hot-line must have been ridiculously easy by then. Unsurprisingly, his father's DID flared up on the one-year anniversary of his wife disappearance, and as per usual, he got drunk, loud and violent; the bad "parenting" decision he made under those circumstances, gave Sera the perfect opportunity to kill Katie and, once again, direct all suspicions towards Bruce.

Seeing the team, our dear team of profilers, unravel this story bit by bit, uncovering the lies and mysteries following the clues left - not only the physical ones, but all of them - as the brilliant profilers they're, was a joy. A joy I want to experience as many times as possible while watching my show.

.....Dear Thomas and dear Erica, please, click over the images to reach your full size letters.

~~~~Sir Elyan the White


  1. I did enjoy this one for the first half. It kept me engaged. The acting was very good. I didn't feel like anyone was phoning it in.

    There were some nice subtle touches-- such as Sera flinching and then pretending to adjust her hair to cover for her reaction to her father kissing her on the temple. I think this was supposed to imply sexual abuse or some form of abuse.

    The actor who played the father did a good job. For the first time ever a scene with JJ and Blake actually worked. Usually both of them are rather flat and their dialog is more like line-reading. I thought the two actresses just brought out the worst in each other. I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. It was the first time we got any "real" personal interaction between Blake and JJ.

    I didn't feel any of the cast were phoning it in and I did feel like they were all working together in this one. The profiling still wasn't as good as it was in the first four seasons though.

    Compared to the last 3 seasons, this one was great. Compared to the first 4 it was decent (well, until the "twist").

    I have to say that I appreciate that Erica wanted to give us a mystery and a twist. She wanted to keep us guessing. This one worked out better than the JJ episode at least.

    Having the suspect in custody and then having interrogations is a common thing in her episodes.

    Garcia was tolerable so I was glad for that. Morgan didn't get all angry and twist someone's arm. I was pleasantly surprised by that again. Normally Erica likes to write him as being angry and violent.

    Despite the fact that I felt the actor did a good job with the other personality, I literally cringed when that came out. I was thinking "really? You've already done DID before". I felt that the guy's alcoholism and blackouts were enough to explain any erratic behavior and DID was not necessary. I was also bummed that they didn't have Reid go talk to him, given that he's the expert on that disorder. For that matter, why didn't they have Reid reading Sera's journals and why were we not told until much later on that she appeared to lack empathy in her writing? Ok, I get it was a cheat to not spoil the surprise. They did at least mention that her writing indicated being disturbed.

    I realized Sera was the unsub the moment she stepped in front of the TV in the flashback and started antagonizing her father.

    The plot actually fit very well and made sense if the father had been the killer-- I know that would have been too easy-- but it made sense.

    Unfortunately the twist with Sera being the killer made things convoluted and left too many questions.

  2. Some nitpicks: The medicine angle was not necessary to explain how the guy had remained sober for so long-- although it did leave me wondering if Reid takes methadone or something to help curb his drug cravings. So-called lifetime prescriptions do NOT automatically renew. Even online sites will require confirmation from a doctor to keep getting the meds. My mother is on some meds permanently and every few months she has to get her doctor to confirm the prescription. If the mother had been missing for a year, its likely that her prescription would have been canceled by the insurance company (if insurance covered it) or just run out and not been approved by the father. Why would a supposedly intelligent girl with 4.0 GPA use her initial when cancelling the prescription anyway? She could have used her father's first initial or even her mother's. The time it took Garcia to get that info took far too long compared to the rest of the info she can get instantly. That detail was not necessary.
    Why didn't the police search all of the boxes in the basement since they had search warrants and were going through? That was quite an oversight. Perhaps they could have taken them to the station and someone could have been going through and found the one with the mothers' stuff later on. I know that would have negated JJ's need to go into the basement though-- but really, it didn't make sense.

    Sera being the unsub just brought up more questions. Was she ill like her father? Why did she kill her mother? Was that premeditated? We know she was jealous of her sister, but why did she kill her? They never said.
    What did the alter persona do to the girls when he took them out to the woods? How did Sera get the gun? What happened? Where was the mother buried? Why did the alter persona just leave them? Was he actually violent and abusive?

    The ending part just left me wishing they had kept things simple.

    Also, while I liked JJ pretending to talk to her son on the phone, why did she hang up immediately after Reid said "stay on the line"?

    At least she didn't try to roundhouse kick the girl. I would have really been annoyed.

    I did find it interesting to see that Reid was the one who kept the gun trained-- ready to blow Sera's head off-- while Morgan talked her down and that Reid was the one who grabbed her.

    Overall I did enjoy the episode. The convoluted stuff and plot holes detracted from it and kept it from being a great episode, but overall, I still felt it was good.

    As for the directing, there were a few camera angles that didn't work for me-- not a fan of moving camera-- but I liked the transitions and felt that Thomas elicited the right emotions from the cast.


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