Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"Alchemy" recap/review

Written by Sharon Lee Watson
Directed by Matthew Gray Gubler

I cannot begin to explain to you what a struggle I have had watching the current season of Criminal Minds. I was therefore, pleasantly surprised this past week when I not only enjoyed “Alchemy”, but have now watched it several times. Considering most of this season’s eps have been deleted off of my DVR without a second viewing or a second thought, this is saying a lot!

Even though I didn’t quite understand the opening scene, it had that classic MGG “creepy” factor to it and was enough to draw me in, and was gross and disgusting enough to remind me why I don’t eat meat very often. (Kudos to anyone who had anything to do with that scene.) I could tell it was going to be a good ep.

Reid discovers what he believes to be a connection between two murder victims found in different jurisdictions. One was found on an Indian Reservation near Rapid City, SD and the other in Rapid City. He shares his belief that these are victims of a serial killer with Rossi and Rossi agrees with him, so they take it to the team.  Joseph Purl, who we see in that opening scene, turns out to be the second victim and was given herbs that cause hallucinations before he was murdered and hacked into pieces.  

The team travels to SD to help local authorities. At first, I thought maybe they were going to drive to SD since we didn’t hear the usual “wheels up in 30” from Hotch, but it turns out that they did fly. One thing for certain in this ep, there is a lot of profiling and discussion of theories going on. The team bounces ideas off of each other from animal activists, who might be angry with the logging industry to someone from the local tribe.

While the team is busy profiling, we see Tess, the manager of a local Lodge picking up Chad, a visitor to the area, by pretending that she’s afraid to walk out to her car alone because a an abusive ex-boyfriend. She offers Chad a room at the Inn she manages and then offers him so much more. There’s a hole in the wall of Chad’s room and someone, we don’t know who at this point, is watching everything that goes on.

The staff at the Lodge is told that Chad is a VIP guest. Amber, one of the staff, is let down when she learns that Chad is not famous and is just a “friend” of Tess. She tells a co-worker, Raoul,  that she thought Tess was married to an invalid, and Raoul states that she is. Amber then speculates as to whether or not Chad is more than just a friend. During this scene, we see an EXTREMELY creepy looking character telling Chad not to go hiking in The Badlands that day because it’s supposed to rain. At this point, I am totally thinking this guy is the UNSUB. Raoul keeps telling Amber to keep her head down and not to worry about things going on around the Lodge as long as she’s getting paid.

The team decides that since the victims have similar descriptions, that they may be a surrogate for a male figure for woman who lost a child and is possibly trying to get pregnant again. In the mean time, Tess is having sex with and drugging Chad and Amber is getting curious about weird things and sounds occurring around the Lodge. And you know what they say…..curiosity killed the Amber!

Rossi realizes that Reid is having a very difficult time dealing with the loss of Maeve. He tries to talk with Reid by telling him a story about his Uncle Sal. The entire scene is sad and touching and actually made me cry.

The team finally decides that the UNSUB is actually a team and they begin looking for a woman who owns a hotel in the area – having decided that she must be offering these men more than just sex. At the same time, they are searching for someone who is a naturopath, due to marks they have discovered on the victims’ bodies caused by “cupping”. Garcia and her machines once again save the day by coming up with, not only Tess’s name, but also Raoul’s name.

After discovering that Raoul has murdered Amber, Tess finally comes to the realization that Raoul has been manipulating her and decides she wants out. The team arrives just in time to save Chad from being cut into pieces. Tess flees the Lodge and actually returns to the lake her son was drowned in and drowns herself.

Rossi talks with Reid again on the plane and basically tells Reid to not be afraid to dream about Maeve. The final scene is beautiful with Reid having a dream in which he and Maeve are dancing.

I did enjoy this episode – probably more so than any other ep this season. I loved the camerawork throughout the episode, but especially in the final scene. I really liked the humour that Rossi’s character added throughout the ep. What I don’t enjoy is Blake’s character. I’m sorry, even though I’m a fan of Jeanne Tripplehorn, I am just having a terribly difficult time liking the character. 


  1. I don't really dislike Blake, but I came to the realization about what exactly it is about her that bugs me: It's the way she talks.

    She has this sort of raise in pitch as if she's asking a question and her dialog is more on-stage delivery instead of natural conversation. It reminds me a bit of David Caruso's way of speaking. It just seems so unnatural that it bugs me. I don't know why the character speaks like that or who decided it would be a good idea. It just doesn't work for me. I'm hoping they will tone that down if she stays on the show.

  2. This. I don't dislike her either she's just not important to me.

    Also, she was just accepted by the whole team in one episode, even Emily and Rossi had a few episodes to settle before they were integrated into the team, but while Blake was accepted into the team, I don't think she fits in yet :/


  3. Lovely review of Alchemy! I also really enjoyed this episode. I teared up a at a couple of scenes. I thought it was amazingly well done.

    As for Blake, I also share your sentiments. She's just "there" for me. And most times I wish she wasn't.

    zannej: What you said about her voice is right on target! She speaks like she's putting on a performance!


  4. That might be it. Blake always sounds like she's giving a lecture to me, like she's in teacher mode, which might be contributing to what I feel is a maiden auntie feel for her. That might be part of why Reid has been coming across as childish in their scenes together. The only time she hasn't is in her few interactions with Strauss, which I think have shown real promise. Too bad, the character concept has such promise.

    As an aside, character concept does matter. I recently started watching the show "Continuum" on Netflix, staring none other than Rachel Nichols aka Seaver. She was excellent, I was very impressed. So I have to believe it was never the actress in that case but the character. OTOH, Blake is a character that should fit into the BAU, an experienced agent shut out on a false accusation and coming back to prove herself, and she's just not. So I have to ask if JT is the right actress for this character or this kind of show.

    - RF

  5. Let me add that I think that Reid comes across as young with her because she's almost in teacher mode which relegates him to student, even though they should be equals and peers. I think you get less of that with less of an age difference, say with Rossi or Hotch or especially with Strauss. She is just coming off "Big Love", where she worked with other women in the same age range as the oldest of a group of peers and by all accounts she did excellent work there. Maybe she would be more comfortable in a show where "peers" didn't have so much difference in ages. I hope that makes sense.

  6. I think that the best Blake scenes on the show have been with Reid and Rossi. The Reid and Blake scenes I've enjoyed do not fall anywhere near teacher and student mode. The phone booth scene in God Complex, The Looking Glass, The Pact and Zugzwang were all good IMO. I especially loved the scene in The Pact where they were discussing Blakes's relationship with her husband and Reid used the words Epistolary novel to describe their written communication only to have Blake explain that she and her husband "Skyped." Nice one. However, Blake is not a favorite character of mine. I think she started out stronger and then started to wane. Not good for a new character.

  7. Also, maybe the reason Reid comes off as young with Blake is because he is young compared to Blake and also compared to Hotch and Rossi.

  8. I know this is the alchemy discussion thread, but I would like to say that I was pleasantly surprised in "Nanny Dearest" when Blake actually spoke conversationally and without that higher pitch. It made a big difference to me. I think there is hope for her yet, if she keeps that up.

    I admit that the Reid fan in me was irritated that Blake started showing medical knowledge instead of Reid getting to mention it (re: the "cupping"). To me it was just one more part of Reid's expertise that was taken away and given to someone else. Logically I realize she could have the knowledge because of her husband. But I still wish they had given her some other expertise that was not already taken.

    I know people were upset about Paget leaving, but why not give her some expertise that was not taken up after Prentiss left? I find it more insulting to give her the expertise of an existing character and thus taking away from that character a little bit. Now, if they were to have a debate based on her knowledge of linguistics vs his knowledge of psychology along with it, it would be interesting.

  9. I think they purposefully didn't give Blake any of Prentiss qualities to stop Prentiss fans thinking she was just a clone.

    Plus wasn't the whole purpose of Reid and Blake knowing each other beforehand because they had similar expertise backgrounds?

    I agree though, we should see them debate more or at least have better in depth discussions
    Ie they did in the first episode of season 8 when Rossi called them out for it.

    But surely there are more expertises that the BAU utilise. I think it would be good if all of them had their own specific expertise, it wouldn't have to be utilised every episode but every now and again, it would be nice to see Morgan doing his cognitive thing while JJ handled media analysis, Rossi concentrated on negotiating while Hotch handled tactics, Reid could be off doing things with maps and Blake stuck to linguistics etc...


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