Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Criminal Minds review: CARBON COPY (8x16)

Written by @VirgilWilliams, CARBON COPY just proves why I continue to like each of his successive outings (ex: The Apprenticeship, 8x06) as CM writer more and more. Good team action (ex: subtle touches like crime scene personnel all staring at Hotch as he approaches a victim with his head-shot pinned on her chest; and of course Blake could take Strauss: Strauss couldn't even handle accidentally touching a corpse!) And the director, Rob Hardy, has also helmed some of my favorite CM eps as well (The Big Wheel, Coda).  The combination made for a double thumbs up review, from the standpoint of a well-executed, regular BAU case.

So just what step of AA is Strauss up to now?

The audience finally (sorta kinda) gets to "meet" The Replicator (whose unfortunate name will forever remind me of the magical food dohickey, thingamabob on START TREK: TNG). Retracing his steps, we're reminded of the tasty details from this season's cases:

  • The Silencer - gives "keep your lips zipped" a whole new meaning
  • God Complex - again with the unwelcome stitching of unwilling victims
  • The Lesson - keepin' it loose... jointed
  • Magnum Opus - exsanguination & eyelids 
One obnoxiously hostile LEO coming up, courtesy of The (CM) Replicator

With Donnie Bidwell, the audience once again sees more than the BAU, so we know he's submissive to another undisclosed conspirator. Also, to this viewer, he's not nearly as impressive as the Zugzwang-obsessed Replicator would presumably be... especially after his surprise when confronted with the other copycat murders.

Why did every member of the BAU ignore the misgivings which arose about Bidwell's culpability for the non-nurse murders? Even AFTER he was in custody? Isn't that what probably earned the guy his Richard Jewel-like history to begin with? And then everyone -- the BAU and the LEOs -- leave him alone with his meds during his call to his "lawyer"? (which was likely his call to his partner/puppermaster who probably summed up Bidwell's patsy situation with "Sucker!") Wouldn't that be against procedure since he'd already taken his dose?

It's not just the fangirls who've been keeping their eyes glued to Hotch.

Echoing cheery music in a gloomy cavernous area a la Lucky (3x08, a much creepier episode all around), you just know the team is going to find nothing good at the end of the trail. And indeed, the latest victim is found suffocated and bludgeoned to death.

I acknowledge his meticulous prep, but so far, am feeling singularly unthreatened by The Replicator. He stalks them. So what? Doyle did that (more ominously, I might add) as did The Fisher King. He sends JJ flowers. I repeat: so what? I could send flowers to Quantico if I wanted. He kills victims a la their previous cases. Hello? The BAU chases murderous UnSubs all day, everyday. SO WHAT?

Rereading my review, I guess that I could compare my feelings about CARBON COPY to those for a bag of my favorite potato chip: extremely enjoyable during consumption, but leaves me hungry for something more satisfying a while later.

Perhaps it's unsurprising after 7-1/2 seasons that there should be some unavoidable echoes of previous cases, but so far I am unimpressed by the Season 8 game plan. The Replicator had better try something truly unique and spectacular, besides blowing up the team (season 2 finale: Lo-Fi), trying to kill Hotch (Season 5 megavillain, The Reaper), abducting family members (Will, Henry, Jack, Haley, Cindy), stabbing a team member (Elle), shooting one (Garcia), setting them puzzles/riddles (Season 1 finale: The Fisher King, Part 1), or having someone so traumatized they quit (Gideon).

Impress me, CM writers. I love being so thrilled that I'm shrieking in my living like a maniac at the television. (My neighbors, maybe not so much.)

~~ Chaucer


  1. Have to correct:Lo-Fi was season 3 finale and Elle got shot not stabbed. ;)

  2. Kristi E, I was going to say the same thing. Emily was stabbed with a wooden stake.

    The food replicators on Star Trek.. Ahh, memories.

    Actually, the "Replicator" thing made me think of the little mechanical spider like things that ate metal and reproduced and became very dangerous villains on Stargate: SG1.

    This episode was pretty good but there were some serious plot holes. I felt the writer did a good job of trying to balance the time and contribution of each member.

    It was a bit like old times when Reid and Hotch were searching the home and talking to one another. Reid had nice new shoes. I admit I didn't like that Reid defended idea of that guy being their stalker by saying he was a single male and therefor his home could be messy. I sort of suspect that deep down the team just wanted this guy to be the one so it would be over and they could feel safe.

    The pill bottle thing was unforgivable. They never said which medication he was taking, but I know that Dilantin is used by some people who have seizures. One of the possible side effects is suicidal thoughts and depression. I don't believe it would actually cause someone to have a seizure, but I didn't really research what happens when someone overdoses.

    The proper procedure would have been to take the pill bottle and check to confirm that the medicine actually looked right, count the number of pills (this would be done to confirm that none went missing if the guy later claimed it was stolen or something), possibly call his pharmacist to confirm he had this prescription and what his dosage was (which I have seen them do on COPS), and then had someone who was authorized actually give him the proper dosage and then put the bottle back in with his other belongings that would have been held while he was in custody.

    Leaving the bottle out even before he took the meds was irresponsible. Leaving it out AFTER he took his meds was just incompetent negligence.

    I agree that the Replicator (other than killing people) doesn't seem like that much of a threat to the team. I wonder if it ever concerned Reid that he might be stalked going to a BCC meeting. The people going to the meetings could be photographed and that could be some possible blackmail material there. I wonder if he still goes to those meetings and if he went and warned other members that he was being stalked.

    Now, if there was a photo of Reid from inside the BCC meeting that would *really* creep him out.

    I really did laugh when Strauss was listing the stalking stuff and said "flowers sent". I was like "Oh noes! Not the flowers! That evil bastard!!"

    And why were they just random seasonal flowers? For a guy this thorough you'd think he would have sent flowers with some sort of meaning. Like lilies or something more personal to JJ.

    While I liked the song at the end and thought it timed very nicely with their arrival, I still couldn't help but feel something was off and that they knowingly were heading in to what could have been a trap. They should have sent the bomb squad in first. And honestly, it seemed so anti-climactic. I'm sure it would be creepy to see that someone had been stalking them and all, but I wanted to see a scare. Like a bomb that they narrowly escaped or that Morgan diffused OR a dud bomb where they thought they were going to die and it just popped something out like a jack-in-the-box with some laughter and a card that said "ZUGZWANG". At least giving them a scare would have made the guy more sinister seeming.

    But then, I was fond of the Joker in comic books so I sort of expect more flare from the nemesis villains. This guy is unrealistic and campy already so might as well go big.

  3. Lilies are a stereotypical funeral flower (or they are here) and I'm sure there's this old tale about lillies blooming on graves of people who were executed of crimes they did not commit... Maybe it links in wi Bidwell or why the replicator is stalking the team...

    Maybe that's reading too much into it, but it's a thought.

    Also I would have liked it if the flowers were personal to JJ, maybe her sister's name could have been Lily or lilies were her fav flowers etc.


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