When I received my notification of the review schedule for the Season 9 episodes I was giddy with excitement. The wonderful group of the Criminal Minds Round Table asked if I would join in doing reviews a couple of weeks before the season started and I was humbled by the request. Then, as the schedule was updated following the press releases, I noticed that my debut review for this forum was a Bruce Zimmerman written episode. My first thought was “Oh boy; you're in trouble.” Bruce always writes very cerebral and subtle episodes and a lot of the time I seem to miss half of what he is trying to accomplish. After my “live” watch of In the Blood, I thought to myself I was in something deeper than trouble. My first take was that it was just an average Criminal Minds episode.
However, a promise is a promise, so I forged on watching again, taking my notes to try and put a review together and things with this episode began to fall in place a bit more for me. After my third watch, I was quite impressed by a lot of the episode.
I loved the scene between Garcia and Reid. Reid channeling his inner Clint Eastwood was hilarious. And Garcia was saved by the bell so to speak when they get notification of a case. Bruce wrote a great line for Reid, asking about the eyeballs needing to be refrigerated. Only at a Garcia's party.
Our first look at the team is as they enter the Round Table Room with Rossi and Morgan welcoming Hotch back. We also see JJ rub his shoulder which I enjoyed. I've always believed that next to Rossi, Hotch is probably the closest to her.
Through the team briefing, we learn the team is going to Provo, Utah. And so far the unsub has claimed only one victim, Hotch tells Rossi that he convinced the Bureau brass that this case needed the attention of the BAU. The Boss is back in the saddle.
The opening quote was brilliant as it foreshadowed what was to come with the episode. And the partner pairings finally got changed up with Rossi and Blake, Morgan and Reid and Hotch and JJ. I wonder if it's intentional with the writers to always have Rossi and Blake starting out at the ME’s office. However, they both work well together in that venue. Of course, we got a Rossi line about his exes, which is always fun in my book. And it was great to see Morgan and Reid working together. Bruce forgot the “Pretty Boy” nickname, but that's probably just Bruce. I digress.
I really liked the way Bruce wrote the lead LEO, Sergeant Joe Mahaffey, wonderfully portrayed by Tom Lewis. When Reid made his first observation at the crime scene about the rocks that didn't fit the area, we got to see the astonished look on Mahaffey's face, getting his first taste of the FBI's resident genius. Yet, his appreciation of Reid grew and I loved his line later in the episode. “I learned to stop asking questions about this guy.”
It was pretty much telegraphed that the creepy stalker, Parker Mills, was a red herring as far as being the unsub. Yet, my first watch, I never connected the guy working in the library as the unsub. That's how sneaky Bruce can be for my brain. Once again, though, we got to see the unsub early. Yet, after my third watch, it made a bit of sense to me. The rest of the episode was filled with his delusions from his psychosis which allowed me to understand where he was coming from. And all those delusions were brilliantly filmed by Lange.
I was not really enamored with James Immikas as Leland Duncan the unsub. He seemed a bit off or not quite right to me. However, that may have been Lange's direction, letting his delusions speak more for the unsub than the unsub himself. Sarah Jane Morris, as the mother Yvonne Carpenter, on the other hand was excellent. It was great twist on Bruce's part for her to come up with pointing out the “angel's mark” to try and save her child. After three watches, the unsub part of the episode grew on me a bit more but it wasn't the strongest part.
The Day of the Dead party at Garcia's was wonderful touch at the end. I know there are some fans of Criminal Minds that don't like that aspect and I respect that. However, I thought it brought together the idea of the family tree and rounded it out. I loved Garcia's side comment to Hotch about his birthday while I still really can't see Garcia keeping a secret like that. Yet, as we saw last week, Garcia is very protective of Hotch and they do share a unique relationship. The pictures were all poignant along with the stories. And it was certainly the right touch, as many have pointed out in the comments section for Reid and Hotch to place the pictures of the women they loved without words. They weren't needed. I also enjoyed the significance of Hotch taking Haley's picture from his wallet. That was a nice touch by Bruce.
However, that get together had two errors: Hotch showed up unexpectedly, yet Garcia had his glass of wine already poured? And the most glaring one was what all of us, fans, continually complain to and about our writers: continuity, continuity, continuity; Rossi admitted in Identity (S3) that he was then 52 years old. Do the math out and he'd be about 57 or 58 now. I know the USMC is always looking for a few good men and women, which they didn't have to during the Vietnam Era thanks to the draft, but the Tet Offensive happened in January of 1968 (which I watched unfold as a kid every night on our TV through the CBS Evening News with Uncle Walter and Dan Rather's reporting), and I really don't believe the Marines were taking 12 or 13 year old boys, even back then. And you can even take it another step. In The Forgotten (S7), it was showed that Rossi was a new recruit, experiencing his first taste of the Vietnam jungle. That scene was dated at being 1969. I wish this was a battle us fans could win with the writers; but I'm afraid it's just not going to happen... *Le sigh*
Yet, there is one thing I must point out to all of the fans around here. My final watch, due to the late hour, was done on my laptop via CBS.com with my headphones plugged in, and that made the episode more amazing to me. The music, once again provided by the award winning team of Steffan and Marc Fantini and Scott Gordon was outstanding. When Leland was pronouncing the sentence to Yvonne, the background music perfectly fit the scene. Unless you have a surround sound home theater, I highly suggest all of you watch this episode using that method. The music just added so much intensity to the episode.
Bottom line: while I dinged our writers, again, on their continuity issues, so far in Season 9 in my world, they seem to be hitting on all cylinders and have given us six really, really quality episodes.
Rockie's final grade for In the Blood: A-
~~~~rockhotch31 (Guest reviewer)