Monday, January 27, 2014

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 9 - 913. The Road Home - Review

Beware the fury of a patient man. John Dryden

Oh goody; I got another Bruce Zimmerman penned episode to review. My patience gets tested. I'm going to have a long chat with management around here about that. I'm kidding; really.

Since there were two storylines going on in this episode, along with Joe Mantegna's directorial debut for Criminal Minds, I'm going to break down my review to address each aspect of that.

Storyline “A” – The Case

The episode opens with a scene of man that looks to be getting ready to commit suicide. He writes a note; “Forgive me sweetheart, I tried to make it right” and puts the note in the visor with his hand still wearing his wedding ring next to picture that obviously is his wife. I'm thinking “this is too easy and it's the beginning of the show”. Sure enough he notices three gang members entering the park in his vehicle mirror and then the spree begins.

Our team enters into the picture with Hotch profiling that Cleveland may have a spree killer as he quickly enters the bullpen. As Hotch and Garcia lay out the details, without a Round Table briefing, it's off to Cleveland they go. Don't get me wrong; I love the Round Table scenes. But having something a bit different, like in "Final Shot" and a few others, gives us viewers a sense of the urgency that some of the cases the BAU must handle. I really liked that.

And the scene with the unsub (brilliantly and unemotionally played by Jon Gries) buying multiple boxes of bullets was chilling. We now know that this suicidal man has morphed into a killing machine.

When the unsub kills the abusive ex-husband, like the ex-wife, I felt myself silently pulling for this unsub, yet not condoning how he is doing this. He then moves on to killing the drug dealers and devolves from there.

As we watch the unsub spiral into his spree more, we get to see how the team works the case. While it wasn't all the team starting to put the pieces together, the profiling by each tandem of partners slowly added to the whole. There was Morgan and JJ in the park at the first crime scene, with Morgan talking with the street sweepers. It was Blake and Reid interviewing the ex-wife; Hotch and Blake at the drug dealers killing; Morgan and Reid profiling the unsub's vehicle. And I loved that Bruce let Reid vocalize putting the math together rather than just filming him working it in his head. That was another Zimmerman subtlety that I enjoyed. And it was obvious, though unseen, that the information was being shared among the team. That was a nice touch by Bruce as well.

And then the team started putting the clues altogether, going back to what had happened to the family of Clifford Walsh, whom Garcia had identified through Hotch's clue to look for his two tone truck on video cameras around the drug dealers apartment building; a clue that Morgan got from the city crew. That was a wonderful tie in of putting the clues together. The profiling in this episode was great; it was like watching them put a puzzle together, especially finally figuring out that Walsh's son was the accomplice in the initial crime that drove Walsh to his rampage.

I really liked the strong, assertive Reid in the end scene with Walsh. It was a great follow-up to Reid training himself more on the FBI gun range. He is obviously more confident in that capacity and I enjoyed seeing that. And by Hotch letting Reid immediately take the lead, I feel he is as well. But in my online live chat with friends, we all asked the same thing: where were Morgan and JJ in that scene?

Storyline “B” – Rossi and Harrison Scott

I did not know until the articles came out about Joe directing that he asked Bruce to include this “B” line into the episode. However, I for one was ecstatic to see Harrison Scott again. I totally loved "The Fallen" so my bias may show here. I loved that Joe wanted to go back to this story.

As a die-hard, - and I mean die-hard - Hotch and Rossi fan, every scene I can get with the two of them together is pure gold in my little world. I feel each scene represents the true friendship that Joe and Thomas obviously have off camera. I could kiss Bruce for this scene. And it was a great vehicle for Joe to put himself in the episode and still have the time to concentrate on the “A” storyline.

When Rossi knocked on the motel room door and Scott opened it, I knew immediately that Rossi was going to read Scott like a book. Harrison even mentions that: “If I knew you could sniff me out, I should have recommended you to Marine re-con”. To me, those scenes with Rossi in the motel room with Scott just shined. The one I loved most was the emotion in Meshach Taylor's voice talking about having a grandson that he had never knew about and in his world, would never have contact with. And a grandfather, whether in touch with his grandson or not, is still a grandfather. It's another generation that makes a grandfather want to be a part of. It was touching to see Scott finally reveal his true mission.

The backstory of how Thomas Scott felt about his father was equally touching. Without going into detail, I know exactly that conversation and that feeling. And I loved that it was centered on a baseball game; I'm a huge fan; and I remember Mickey Hatcher.

And the storyline was filled with ups and downs. Harrison wasn't drinking but was still rejected by his son because of it. Rossi's end words were touching to Tom and then see him walk out of the house to see his car empty. And yet he knew to look around; all of it portrayed the friendship the two men have.

The end scene with Scott meeting his grandson was just lovely. Bruce forgot to tell of us to have a box of tissues ready. I know I needed one.

Forgiveness does not change the past but it does enlarge the future. Paul Bowsa

Joe Mantegna's Directing Style

Wowsers is how I can sum it best. Putting each box of bullets on top of the other with no dialogue, just the music was superb. And I must give a large shout out again to the Criminal Minds music crew. Steffan, Marc and Scott are just amazing.

I made multiple notes about all of it but I'll narrow it down to couple of them. I loved the overhead shots of LA and the surrounding area, setting the scene for what Rossi was doing in tracking down Scott. And I know that was “canned” (i.e.: stuff that they didn't actually film; just incorporated into the episode from different sources) but that was Joe's call and it was wonderful and made the transition between the two storylines understandable.

However, what struck me the most were all the scenes with Walsh killing his victims. The gang bangers, with the two of them falling to the ground in slow motion was a great touch; and the shot of the unsub framed in the dust coming from the drywall from the shotgun blast to the ceiling was equally as good.

But it was the one tiny, touch that I noticed. Joe never showed any of the blood on the victims until the last scene when Walsh dropped the picture of his wife on the floor and his blood dripped on the picture. That was, IMHO, sheer brilliance.

Overall Review

"The Road Home" was on par for Season Nine which I feel has been outstanding for the most part. Yet, there have been some minor clinkers as the season has moved forward and this was one of them.

Both story lines were predictable. We all knew how Walsh would end things once Reid and Blake confronted him about killing an innocent victim. And while there might have been some doubt for a second about Harrison and his family, I knew that Joe would go for a happy ending. Having Rossi watch that play out, looking through his windshield without hearing any words was another great touch by Joe.

However, the only parts I'll watch again on my Season Nine DVD’s this fall when they arrive are the scenes with Rossi and Scott.

And the ending? Bring on "200"!

Rockie's final grade: this one gets a B.

~~~~rockhotch31 (Guest reviewer)


  1. I totally agree with your review. At first I was not sure about the episode. I liked some of it but overall I was a bit unimpressed, until I rewatched it, I enjoyed more on second viewing. And now reading your review makes me want to rewatch it again. I definately give this one a 8 out of a 10 :)

  2. I Always enjoy reading your reviews, even when I don't agree with them. They are very interesting and most of the time they point towards things I missed, which improves my experience as a viewer. Thank you!

    1. You're welcome. *blushes*

      Thank you so much for the kind words. I appreciate them!


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