Tuesday, February 5, 2013

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 8 - 813. Magnum Opus - Review

MAGNUM OPUS had a dual focus on a hemophiliac UnSub who exsanguinates his victims, and on how the BAU reacts as Reid tries to come to terms with the murder of Dr. Maeve Donovan.

The case itself left me underwhelmed, but Jason Bernero's delicate treatment of the team's dynamic during Reid's grief was excellent.

Courtesy of Criminal Minds Wikia

Bryan Hughes is a custodian at a San Francisco art museum who dreams of becoming a famous artist. His painting medium of choice is not oil or watercolor, but human blood.  Despite the shock value of his work, he has not been able to sell almost any of his pieces, mainly because his work is not very good. (If you google "paintings with blood" there are more technically skillful examples out there.)

Hughes, of course, is unable to grasp this, and continues accumulating victims in his quest for more "paint supplies" and eventually progresses to removing their eyelids in order to help them "see" better, similar to the Tommy Killer in the season one episode, Plain Sight.

Jamie Luner (Melrose Place) plays gallery owner Riley Madison who does him no favors with her diplomatic critiques of his paintings, finally leading to the following unwittingly humorous exchange (apologies to Mr. Bernero if I misquote the dialogue):

Hughes presents a large splotchy blood canvas.
Madison responds with silence.
Hughes: [helpfully] It's abstract.
Madison: I understand the concept. Throwing paint on the wall doesn't make it art.

The UnSub irritated me immensely.  I'm not sure if that was due to a lack on the actor's part or because the character just did not seem very bright, since dense UnSubs irk me to no end (example: the bankrupt fisherman / kidnapper in Coda, played by the versatile Lew Turner, DROVE ME CRAZY).  Either that, or I just can't identify with their delusions sufficiently.  In any case, it was with a sense of relief that I watched him commit suicide-by-Hotch.

My Question? Exactly what kind of club has a Spanking Room?
(Maybe I just need to get out more...)


Speaking of Hotch, it was a pleasure to watch him gently coax Blake's deductions out once she started having her unfocused-gaze / light bulb moment about the UnSub's motivations.  The rest of the team's subsequent (if you'll pardon the term) insanely on-target profiling left me bemused, since it was either highly improbable, or merely a sign of the BAU's extreme skill, depending upon your point of view.

Then again, they've certainly all had  plenty of unfortunate first hand experience, since it's apparently lethal to become involved with the BAU: Gideon, Hotch, Rossi, and now Reid, have all lost loved ones due to unnatural causes.

On the bright side, there were lovely examples of more positive interactions: JJ and Garcia's visit to Reid's apartment ("Knock twice if you're conscious...", magnesium a la Reid) and Morgan's gentleness with Reid's withdrawal.  And I really enjoyed watching Blake and Rossi together (in a non-shipper way!) when they went to investigate the unnamed and highly dubious club with the Spanking Room.  Hopefully we'll see more of their humorous exchanges in future episodes.  

Rossi's reaction upon being told he'd have to visit the Spanking Room.
My Opinion? Rossi's eyebrows should get guest star billing

This was Jason Bernero's first outing as a CM writer.  His years working on the show have helped him flesh out the nuances of the team's relationships, especially during such a difficult period.  I'm looking forward to his future efforts.

Glenn Kershaw has directed some of my favorite episodes (Profiler, Profiled; Limelight; Lo-Fi; and Into The Woods) and this episode may well join that group in the future.

Once again, Erica Messer's strategy of pairing a new CM writer with an experienced CM director has clearly paid off.

~~~~ Chaucer


  1. "In any case, it was with a sense of relief that I watched him commit suicide-by-Hotch.." ROTFL!

    Agree about the case, my problem with the episode was mostly the unsub and I think it was mostly with the actor who I thought was weak.

  2. You are probably right, Bri. It must be the actor, since Lew Turner's unemployed fisherman was not the brightest bulb in the box, but his character was utterly convincing, so I could at least identify with him somewhat (even if I still wanted to occasionally slap him on the head).

  3. I too think the fault was on the actor part. Unusual for CM, but I can understand than getting a great actor for every single part must be impossible... and this time they didn't get it right.

    About the case itself, I liked it; thought it was a good twist to this kind of delusional disorder, nothing too new to us, but along with the brilliant team-as-a-family-worried-for-grieving-Reid, would have made for a very well rounded episode, so it was a real pity the actor playing the unsub wasn't up to par.

    If I could vote, I would give Jason a permanent spot in the writers room next year, so he could write the usual 3 epis they get per season!


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