Thursday, September 19, 2013

Criminal Minds: Review of Episode 8.24 'The Replicator'

As a season finale, "The Replicator" had a lot going for it: a villain that the writers took time throughout the season to build, Strauss being the main victim, the team being targeted in a twisted need for revenge over her and newest team member Alex Blake...

What it really needed, to be an awesome episode, was two hours. As an hour episode it felt a bit too packed, too much was going on for just one hour of television. What was well done was how they did tie all the little pieces they had scattered along previous episodes; nothing was left out, and all made sense.

There were many great scenes: Rossi losing it after he was drugged and was convinced Morgan was 'The Replicator', stood out. The tension in that scene was palpable, and Joe, Shemar and Thomas were very good in it.

Best moment was, without a doubt, Strauss dying in Hotch's arms. Totally sad, but such a powerful moment, especially when she told Hotch she did love all her children, and he told her he had been wrong (see the episode 'In Name and Blood' from season 3). Excellent work by Jayne Atkinson and Thomas Gibson; those two always played well against each other's. Will miss Erin Strauss.

The most uncomfortable scene was when we saw Strauss at the M.E. office, death, having lost her usual formidable presence.

Criminal Minds has had lots of very good stunt scenes in its run; my all time favorite was the flipping car on the highway in 'Normal', but loved the helicopter crashing. And on a purely aesthetic level, lovely shots of those helicopters on flight!

The ending was left open ended: is 'The Replicator' really dead? Could he have escaped his own trap?

As much as I wish the final had been a two hours event, what I really wish was that Mark Hamill had played Curtis without the 'mad, doctor' flavor. Unlike Frank Breitkopf (played by David Carradine), who was creepy and scary, or George Foyet (played by C. Thomas Howell), who was dangerous and crazy, Curtis just seemed... tame? I never felt he was scary; yes he could hit the team, but Hamill's performance needed a bit more for his character to be as good as Frank, Foyet, or even Hankel.

The ending was OK; loved that Rossi used Strauss one-year medallion to jam the door. Zugzwang indeed!

The family theme was even more present at the end with the team toasting Erin Strauss's life. Loved that they did the toast and the remembrance of things that happened with Strauss, this is what a family does when one of them is lost.

As a season finale, "The Replicator" delivered; may not have been as good as my all-time favorite "Lo-FI", but it was well written and entertaining. It ended a good season for Criminal Minds. Let's hope season 9, which starts in less than one week, will be even better!


~~~~Merlin

NOTE: All the images can be seen full size clicking over them.

5 comments:

  1. Nice review. I agree with a lot of this.

    The episode was alright, it could have been awesome and Curtis should have been so much more of a team nemesis than he was. It felt as though the team couldn't care less about the replicator for the majority of the season and then we get a weak replicator in a season of some pretty deranged unsubs, the danger to the team part and the performance of the UNSUB was just a little flat.

    The team moments again were alright, but cheesy and seen before. If that was the last moment of the series, I would have been very disappointed.

    It wasn't the worst finale, it had elements to make it good, but it wasn't what it should have been after taking its time to build up in the five minutes before the episode and then packing it all in, in 40 minutes.

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  2. I agree with both, the reviewer and the comment above, in general. Specially agree with the critic to Hamill's performance; lowered the quality of the episode by a mile, in my opinion.

    It was a real pity the final showdown of this well built and thought of arc had to be so rushed, due to CBS fears about so many contracts being up and the renewal of the show being in turn up in the air too. The writers initial idea of leaving us with a cliffhanger and finishing this plot in the S9 premiere would have given us the 2 hours it needed to be well told. Talk about bad timing!

    I didn't thought the final scenes on Rossi's yard were cheesy (OK, only a bit), but they were a good homage to the S7 finale, with all the team gathered in celebration of life in the same place, both times losing someone close to them, only under very, very different circumstances.

    Last but not least, there's something I wanted to highlight about this episode: great continuity related to the conclusions drawn up by the Senate hearing in "It Takes A Village". Seamlessly way to remember us that the team is still under close scrutiny, intelligent way to include that very fact on the plot, and I for one, am very thankful for them to have used Senator Cramer to do so; liked the character a lot during that episode, and like Mark Moses (the actor who plays him) even more!

    Now, off again to count the days left until the S9 premiere! :D

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  3. Totally agree with Maria's point about the continuity highlighted in the episode. It was something I'd noticed and then forgotten. But for all of the times we can be, rightfully, critical of continuity lapses, I think it's important to point out when they get it right. I would love to see more fallout from continued scrutiny by the Senate committee!

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  4. I've been kind of hoping JJ's time away/return could some how tie into the senate committee or perhaps Cruz is working with them. Seeing that little bit of continuity was probably my favourite part of the episode.

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  5. The finale from my viewpoint had some great scenes, and I thought Hotch and Strauss excellent in their roles, the scene with David Rossi, and Morgan was memorable as well, and the helicopter scene was good as well. What was disappointing was the lackluster ending or rather near ending with Hamill, rushed, disjointed and somehow anticlimactic to what was a replicator that got lost somewhere along the way. The family scene at the end helped a little, but a let down over-all.

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