Tuesday, February 11, 2014

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 9 - 914. 200 - Review

I drew the lot of getting to review the landmark 200th episode of CRIMINAL MINDS. I've been watching this show since the first season, and I've been a massive JJ fan since the beginning so I was delighted that the focus was on our media liaison turned crack profiler.

The basic story was that what we thought was just bureaucratic idiocy by Strauss and the State Department turned out to actually be a classified mission that involved JJ being tasked with interrogating female captives. While doing this, she discovered a traitor (but not both of them), lost a baby (we learned that she and Will had been trying), made a loyal friend in Matt Cruz, and found a way to return to Washington long enough to be there for Prentiss when she needed it the most.

Skipping ahead to the present time, all of these things came together when JJ and Cruz get kidnapped and submitted to electrocution, water boarding, beatings and in JJ's case, an extremely disturbing and suggestive almost rape. The team - stonewalled by politicians - calls in Emily to help out, and then they pull every lever and throw down every card they can to find JJ and Cruz.

Some Things I Especially Liked:

- The entirety of the Emily/JJ relationship. This friendship - so unusual in today's television landscape which is heavy with stories of female competition and cattiness - was strengthened, and that's saying something considering that it was already tremendous. I really loved two scenes in particular: when Emily saved JJ, JJ commented that she knew that they would call in Emily and then moments later, we had our two women on the roof going after an amazed and overwhelmed Michael Hastings.

- Hotch pretty much blowing off the diplomat who suggested that saving his people wasn't his business. No sooner had he left the room then he was on the phone with Emily. I love protective Hotch.

- Garcia and Reid, JJ's two best friends aside from Emily really being key in saving her.

- The misdirects. We kept trying to figure out if Cruz was a bad guy, and when he talked JJ into putting in her code, we figured that yeah, of course he was. But then we realized that it'd been a tactical move to save her from further torture (it backfired because Hastings then moved to attempted rape). Ultimately, it seems clear that Cruz has an unrequited crush on JJ, and he would have laid down his life to protect her. Nice turn.

- I always love seeing Tahmoh Penikett play a bad guy. Of special amusement? His line about needing a helo evac. Yeah, Dunkle, I see what you did there. Of course I did.

-The re-occurrences of Anderson, Garcia and Kevin.

What I Didn't Like As Much:

- How long it took Emily to get there. Honestly, this ep screamed to be a two-parter because by the time Emily was with the team, there was only 15 minutes more, and I just wanted to see more with her and everyone. I think we could have cut some of the wind-up and information gathering and gotten deeper into the team action. Normally, the argument is that we want less action and not more on this typically very cerebral show, but there's something about watching this group go badass for one of their own that I wanted more of.

- JJ being out with the team at the end of the ep; while I always love and adore the team moments we get more and more of as of late, this particular one undermined the intensity of what she'd just gone through to have her out and about after being water boarded, electrocuted and nearly raped. She'd need at least one night in the hospital, and then several days of just rest time. I'm glad we got to see Emily hanging with everyone (and the scene with Blake was a nice touch) but I wonder if there was a way to do both things.


All in all, I enjoyed the episode, and I continue to appreciate the way the show respects the strength of the character JJ has become.

~~~~Sir Gareth

17 comments:

  1. Criminal Minds in one word..... Fabulous!!!! Geeze really in one word? It's way beyond Fabulous it's a show that keeps you involved from beginning to end. I've done my share of crying like when we all thought Prentiss died and Penelope got shot and Hotch in a car-bombing losing some of his hearing and his wife being murdered. When Jason left the show I actually thought his shoes could never be filled, I Love Rossi he fits the part to a T. I could go on and on JJ love her, Derek I truly love his character" What a Man " and last but not least Spence what a beautiful mind this man has. Well season 10 WOW Joe Mantegna awesome job directing.
    One more thing, I can't handle the thought of losing anybody on my show. It's the best show that's out there and if it starts losing The Main Characters......Ummm it will fail.

    Always and Forever A Criminal Minds Fan♡♥♡♥♡♥
    Antoinette Gonzalez ;-)

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  2. Ok... Many know my take on 200. But for the record... I didn't like it overall. First it screamed of implausibility. The scenario presented by the writers as to why JJ and Strauss and Cruz were in the middle east to begin with just wasn't plausible. Emily was unnecessary to the storyline anything she brought to the search for JJ could have been done from the confines of her overly cushy London office. Super Mary Sue JJ was the most implausible of the whole episode. The 'cannon' twists that were mentioned weren't twists but more like knots designed with no end. First and most glaring was how did JJ wind up in Afghanistan, get wounded, and manage to be back to help squirrel Emily in Paris all the while Reid was supposedly coming to her house every night for 10 weeks crying to her? Did I miss the development of the transporter from Star Trek? Then we already know from It Takes a Village that Hotch was on temporary assignment to the region to do basically what Super JJ was supposed to be doing? So why was a virtually untrained mediator/interrogator/profiler/media liaison better suited for this assignment that either Hotch (who wrote the book supposedly) on interrogation techniques, or Rossi who had admittedly 'trained' all the negotiators (Minimal Loss) like Hotch said in that episode "Why go to the students, when he had the teacher?" I will only 'touch' on the whole pregnancy/miscarriage thing as I felt it was completely uncalled for, horror filler at best. As for the team...while yes they were involved it was nothing that any other people could have been doing. As the BAU they weren't the focus. Nor was there any in depth profiling. Any other group of six agents could have accomplished what they did. As far as the rescue and bar party. The fact that after being tortured for god knows how long, drugged, beat, waterboarded/toweled, electrocuted, beaten again, mentally and nearly physically raped JJ was 'strong' enough to run after the bad guy, climb ladders, shot straight, and finally get into a hand to hand fight where she sends the 'unsub' over a building. I don't know about anyone else but common sense say that she probably should have been in a fair amount of pain. Yet even with the 'touching' scene at the ambulance with Cruz, JJ doesn't go to a hospital to be checked. No, what we get is happy healthy JJ (minus big cut on check seen throughout the episode) at a bar with the team laughing it up. It's said that TPTB thought this revamped overworked super spy super bad ass story arc would be interesting.
    As for the acting.... I will say it was supreme. Every single one in the episode hit their marks and cues and did a fantastic job. It's not after all their fault that the story didn't live up to their talents.
    Larry Tang did a very good job directing this subpar episode. The old saying is "You can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear." And that played out true for this episode.

    I myself hope Erica Messer was being honest when she said all this is behind the team/actors/show and we can move forward with the riveting hunts for the worst humanity has to offer. After all that is what drew many of us long time (From Season 1 Episode 1) viewers to the show to begin with.

    Thanks for reading.....

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  3. @Barbara Reilly

    Slow clap. Nicely put. And I absolutely agree.

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  4. Nice review Sir Galeth. I too enjoyed the episode and also like the strength JJ has developed. And being a Hotch fan, loved him in the episode..thought he was terrific. Nice moments all around from everyone. Loved seeing prentiss again.

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  5. I thought it was a well done episode. EXCELLENT acting by A.J. Cook. She really deserved a JJ episode like this after being fired and coming back and she nailed it. It explained a lot about her character and I can't wait to see what else they have in store for her and all the other characters. Loved seeing Hotch be so protective...kinda wish they had a better moment to be happy they found JJ but I get they only have 42 mins hehehe Loved seeing Prentiss and love how concerned Garcia was. Love these gal friends and the friendship they have on the show.
    And honestly all you "critics" saying this is a unrealistic and implausible episode, I hope you know profilers do not leave the FBI office and shoot the bad guys. This is a TV show, you do not know how qualified JJ characters is, you don't know how government assignments work etc. I am not saying you have to love every episode but come on people calm the heck down.
    @Sir Galeth, I agree with your likes and dislikes of the episode. Can't wait for new episodes.

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    1. I know real profilers don't go around waving their guns widely, and that's exactly why I am not happy with the show devolving as it is right now. In earlier seasons all characters seem more inteligent and less 'action-heroes'. In fact, they used to go around always with the local police, and sometimes right after the SWAT team. Nowadays apparently they can handle everything, and that is, indeed, too unrealistic for me. Of course, it is a TV show, and some liberties may be expected, but the one thing that set apart CM from the other procedure shows was that they analysed how a criminal behave and why, and now they only connect dots of actual facts and they are pilling a lot of dead criminals since now they shoot first, and they just don't ask questions anymore. In that way, Messer ended up transforming this show in one more of the crowded bunch of crime dramas. As I see it, the only reason some people continue loving it is because they fell in love with some character and seeing them for a glimpse make them happy enough, no matter how dumb the scene, such as, for instance, a Reid's home run, a silly Morgan unprofessional prank or Garcia trying hard to look like Abby Sciutto.
      So, no, I didn't like this episode. And I think at least I have the right to get my own opinion.

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  6. I thought it was very wrong for such a milestone episode. The team featured for only a very few minutes of the episode.The story was so incredibly implausible that I found it hard to engage at all - it seemed to me to be just elements of the very worst of fanfiction. The profiling was barely there. The "family" ending was unrealistic and has been done to death. This episode was rushed, superficially flashy and to me appeared to be dumbed down in an attempt to appeal to the widest range of people. I love this show for the intelligent stories and team profiling and there was none of this. I cannot understand how fans of the show can think this was the right way to celebrate 200 episodes - it was like a different show entirely (shades of Alias!), No not for me sorry.

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  7. Even though I appreciate your review, I have to disagree,
    I didn't like the episode. Not one little tiny bit, and there are several reasons that have been sufficiently developed both here and in the comment thread. Also, I would like to add that I don't appreciate the path this episode has established both with the Prentiss/Doyle situation, and now with this JJ/Cruz situation, regarding the total lack of respect of the law, the chain of command and the vows they did when they became an FBI agent. The Hotch we used to know from early seasons would never dismiss direct orders and allow himself and his subordinates to go rogue just to be involved in a situation another department should have been solving. The last time they were at least being chided by a commission, but I guess that since they now did the "greatest service to the nation by Savin JJ" they will get away with yet another clear act of disobedience. Hotch didn't say a thing to his relatives in "lesson learned" and none of the agents went rogue during "amplification" either, even though at that time JJ was really upset. Some may argue that after loosing Hayley Hotch values more the people he has around, but I think that if you cannot longer handle the pressure you just don't belong there anymore. You either overcome your loss and keep your head cool or get some treatment for your PTSD and you stay there until you get your head straight,
    So, in short, I don't appreciate having people that is supposed to be the arm of the law biting the very same law they are supposed to protect.
    And of course, after this episode, JJ is now my 'favourite character'! Well, not really, quite the opposite. I could just barely stand her up to here, but now, I just will press Fwd anytime I see her on Criminal minds. She used to be a normal Mary Sue, but now she is the Supreme Mary Sue, and I won't put up with any more stuff coming from here.
    And of course, if you liked this episode, good for you.

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  8. You bring out a very good point Ms. Fabiana.... at the end of It Takes a village, Strauss stresses to the team that the 'committee' wouldn't tolerate a "Rogue team".... Yet once again that is exactly what the 'team' did..... went rogue...In real life there would be repercussions for that type of behavior. But I'm sure nothing will be done to tie up all these loose ends. This episode supposedly conceived and designed to 'tie up' the loose ends has in actuality created so many more questions. Yet there is no hope to ever fix the cannon holes, continuity issues, and character personality mistakes that this one episode alone created.
    One thing it has done for me is make me wonder 'when' the next implausibility is going to happen. I hope the next few episodes take that feeling away. Maybe then 200 can be behind us once and for all.

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  9. I am a day one fan and this is calm. I will say that AJ was fantastic and her dedication to the episode was obvious. But 200 was a major disappointment. Where I don't use terms like Mary Sue, I found it unbelievable that JJ could be tortured, drugged, beaten and electrocuted and still run after the unsub, climbing ladders, and doing hand to hand combat with a few roundhouse kicks for show. And not end up in the hospital for observation but in a bar with no apparent injuries. I always liked JJ and had no problem with her having this episode. What I have a problem with is that Prentiss and the spy spoofing were thrown in to over shadow the team. And the thought that someone felt they had to make it up to AJ and Paget for what happened way back in season 5, is ludicrous. It happens. Actors get fired, contracts not renewed. AJ and Paget were back in season 7 so what’s there to make up for? I really don’t care that JJ and Prentiss are BFFs. What does that have to do with the BAU, profiling and catching the depraved and psychotic? The reason why Criminal Minds has been so successful is because of the combined talents of Thomas, Matthew, Kirsten, AJ and Shemar. The ones who started with the series and stuck it out through the really good days and the not so good. They were joined by Joe, Paget and Jeanne who brought their own talent and personalities to the show. But then the 200th episode wasn’t about the whole team’s struggle to deal with their emotions while searching for one of their own, JJ. It was about JJ and Prentiss. The team were dumbed down, out of character and thrown in as backup players. It’s over, can’t be redone. You only get this kind of milestone once in a career and it was such a waste. Let’s hope that should Thomas, Matthew, Kirsten, AJ and Shemar (as well as Joe and Jeanne) be around for the 250th, it isn’t wasted like this one was.

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    1. Agree with every single words you've written! Well said!

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  10. Someone actually did a breakdown on the screen time for this milestone episode.

    JJ flashbacks: 11 minutes and 10 seconds
    JJ & Cruz: 10 minutes and 28 seconds.
    JJ & Prentiss scenes: 4 minutes and 49 seconds.
    Other JJ screen time: 35 seconds.

    Team plus Prentiss: 2 minutes and 11 seconds.
    Team minus Hotch: 1 minute and 23 seconds.
    Team alone: 27 seconds.
    Shooting scene: 30 seconds.

    Hotch: 5 minutes and 34 seconds.
    Garcia 2 minutes and 46 seconds.
    Rossi & Blake: 1 minute and 50 something seconds each.
    Morgan & Reid: less than 1 minute of screen time.

    As far as I'm concerned the amount of screen time AJ/JJ was given in this episode was a blatant slap in the face to the characters/cast members who were just as responsible,and in some cases even more so( Reid,Hotch), as she was in helping the show reach this milestone episode of "200"

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    1. I'm so glad you reposted this, Debra. As others have said, this was not Criminal Minds, it was a makeover into something that is already all over TV, and we don't need CM to become just like anything else. I agree AJ Cook did a good job with what they gave her, and Larry Teng did a good job, as usual. But (and I'm only speaking for myself) I don't want Criminal Minds to turn into Alias or NCIS. I can watch them if I want. Or maybe I'll be forced to try Those Who Kill for my profiling fix. Oy.

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    2. Thanks for re-posting this Debra. I thought when I saw it how it underlines what a travesty this episode was - it was supposed to celebrate 200 episodes of the team and team profiling and was actually just the Super Mary Sue Ninja JJ show. I've said it many times - this episode was juvenile and self indulgent on Erica Messer's part. I acknowledge that AJ threw herself into it as best she could but the end result was insulting to the show and only surely appeals to adolescents and soap opera fans.

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  11. While I usually like her, I fear this episode, and a misguided attempt to rewrite history, has inadvertently damaged the character of JJ.

    Having witnessed what she did in Afghanistan, and having suffered her own physical trauma, including a miscarriage, would have been expected to have some fallout. But said fallout should have happened three years ago. Three years ago! The same kinds of traumas have, and do, cause severe emotional distress in our real-life service men and women. Not so JJ. Mostly we saw some sarcasm, snarkiness, and the occasional rude eyeroll. To retroactively insert this kind of history, while knowing that the emotional consequences weren't portrayed, was a disservice to the character, and to those who suffer in real life.

    One argument is that the writers didn't know she was supposed to have been traumatized as they were writing episodes for the past three years. But just a few weeks ago, she helped Reid deliver a baby, and was all smiles afterward. Odd behavior for someone who'd been trying to get pregnant, did, miscarried through her own bad judgment, and hasn't gotten pregnant again since. Surely they knew about her supposed back story when that episode was written. Where was the bittersweet anguish?

    Even if she has some emotional response to the recent torture, it's too late for it to ring true. I really think we'd all---and especially JJ--be better off if we just pretended '200' never happened. For me, it's just an unfortunate blip that occurred seven episodes after '193'. (Gatekeeper/ Reid delivers baby/ karaoke /bar scene that didn't take place hours after a team member was tortured).

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  12. You make a very good point. Here is a woman who supposedly lossed a much wanted child she was carrying due to very poor judgement on her part.Well you sure could of fooled me.Of course now 3 years ago I'm sure the writers had no idea they'd be going that angle in a desperate attempt to garner sympathy for this character,but as you said why didn't we see something from JJ in the episode where Reid delivered a baby.

    And like someone else said instead of this episode answering question, like EM claimed it would, it's just left many of us scratching our heads and asking "What the hell".I swear these writers just can't help themselves.Part of me actually feels sorry for JJ despite the fact I can't stand her and even more so after viewing this ludicrous episode.

    I've got to admit though this episode did succeed in getting many fans like myself to change their opinion of JJ because we now see her as an even bigger Mary Sue than we did before. Somehow I highly doubt that is what EM and these writers were aiming for.

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  13. I don’t like criticizing a show and characters I like so much, but… I’m OK with this episode not being about profiling. It appears to be a one of a kind and this blog could hasten that. I was hoping the focus would be a lot more on Paget/Prentiss. I like AJ but I don’t like JJ. I am woman, hear me roar – that’s old, decades old. Details bother me – JJ was being tortured but her hair looked great. She needed spray sweat, or whatever they use, her hair should have been totally disheveled with grease/sweat/blood in it, and her face not quite so fresh. When JJ was hanging and on the verge of being raped and kept saying, “I’m fine, I’m fine,” to Cruz – I mean – how about, “Don’t give up the codes, Matt!” The last thing I would say is “I’m fine.” Watching AJ on the talk shows saying she was numb from doing the scenes made me squirm much more than the actual episode. I appreciated the pace of the show, but maybe there was too much action and not enough psychological and team drama.

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Respectful opinions, and constructive disagreement is welcomed, but insulting/foul-mouthed, malicious, or just plain disrespectful comments towards anyone are not, and will be removed.