Tuesday, March 4, 2014

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 9 - 916. Gabby - Review

First we learned your child only needs 7 seconds to walk away from you on their own volition, to get out of your sight.

Now we've learned your child only needs to be alone 4 minutes, in what may look like a controlled situation, to be taken from you.

And it doesn't matter if you live in an affluent, urban setting, or a rural, slightly rundown one. Oh, joy...!

The initial atmosphere of the episode couldn't be calmer, more relaxed, nearly sleepy, and appropriately the reunion between kid, mom and aunt is full of giddiness and warm feelings. Because the aunt, Sue, is obviously young, discovering that she had made sure to acquire a new toy for the niece, Gabby, she was to babysit for the duration of the mom's vacation trip, but hadn't bought several essentials like milk or juice, didn't come as a real surprise. Other than that, she was careful and mindful of the child in her charge, wasn't she?

Have to say that for a fleeting second it rubbed me wrong seeing where she had parked her car; promptly forgot all about it thanks to the creepy guy, the fearful look on Sue's face, and the resulting rushed shopping she engaged in. Was so distracted that I thought Gabby would still be in the car thanks to her speediness.

The feeling of utter despair I was served with so soon after that won't be forgotten, ever. Because we've been told countless times the first 24 hours of a kidnapping are crucial, my stomach did an Olympics-worthy somersault when I saw the hooded man throwing a covered body over the bridge rail. Learning the area was full of sexual offenders sent my stomach to my feet in a free fall.

Add to my anxiousness was finding out that dad is a drug-addict, he is in the area but nobody knows where he has been for at least 72 hours... One of the two options is misdirection, and I only care because I want the monster who "killed" Gabby caught, badly!

Sue's despair was fake, and again I missed the clue in first viewing: she cries a lot and she does so without shedding a single tear.

Frantic is the adjective I apply to this case, and the one I'm sure will forever come to my mind when thinking of "Gabby".
  • Frantic were Sue's actions at the mini market.
  • Frantic were Garcia's pleadings for more parameters to fine-tune her searches.
  • Frantic were JJ and Morgan while restraining themselves when talking with Sue for the first time.
  • Frantic were Reid and Blake and Rossi while studying the tiny bits of new information that were being discovered.
  • Frantic were Hotch's interrogations of the badly burnt suspect.
  • Frantic were the moves of all involved in the search of Gabby.
And the body is found...
                                     SSA Canning: Who the hell is that?
                                     SSA Morgan: It's our main suspect...
                                     Me: What the WHAT???
And the blanket is found...
                                         Hotch's fury is unleashed, even if still controlled.
And the mini market security footage is available...
                                                                               Sue wasn't in such a hurry after all.
And Garcia unearths Sue and burnt guy's relationship...
                                                                                        Hotch's shows THE look. Uh... oh...!

Hotch gets too the punch and the pun; provoking Sue was intended, being punched for his troubles was not. Rossi's smartass remark was unavoidable, even if very welcomed by this viewer.

The rest, as they say, is history.

About the Script

Impeccable. If it has faults, after several viewings I've yet to find them.

"Gabby" is the epitome of a classic Criminal Minds episode, contains everything needed to achieve one: misdirections, profiling, a cameo by the writer, profiling, complex characters, profiling, balanced team dynamics, profiling, false leads, profiling, each agent tapping on their expertises, profiling, and an incomplete happy ending...

                           SSA Rossi: Yeah, but how many more kids like them there are out there?
                           SSA Hotchner: It's a good question...

About the Acting

Standing ovation. Have to highlight, though, several characters' details, and actors:
  • Julia Butters as Gabby Hoffer. This child is a gem, moreso being as young as she obviously is, and lacking any experience whatsoever. Gabby was truly alive, lively and sweet thanks to Julia.
  • Sianoa Smit-McPhee as Sue Walsh. Sianoa basically played two characters during the episode: the deceivingly caring aunt, and Sue's true self, psychopathic and violent. Most actors in this situation, fail to give credibility to one of the parts, Sianoa succeeded.
  • Ashley Jones as Kate Hoffer. Can't be easy to portray how cold, abject terror is gripping your insides while you still try to function and help. Ashley did it.
  • Kirsten Vangsness as Penelope Garcia. Seeing the usual exuberant Penelope so tense, crying without hysterics, using short, clipped phrases, begging to be given more work to be able to help more... Kirsten gave us the real Penelope, and made me feel for her deeply.
  • Jim Clemente: Those clothes and that wig... Speechless.
  • Jennifer Jareau: JJ has been overused and misused since we got her back in season seven. In this episode she wasn't either, but I needed until the 3rd re-watch to notice that. Telling.
About the Directing

Got the impression this director knows Criminal Minds, its spirit and its main characters really, really well, would go so far as to say inside and out...

Jokes aside, Thomas Gibson, once again, showed to the world that, on top of being a fantastic actor, he is an equally fantastic director. Not a single scene was superfluous; not a single close up was for show, but all were very much needed; the rhythm of the episode was on point with the nature of the case; the night scenes were easily visible (dark show, as Criminal Minds is described, doesn't equate impossible-to-see-anything scenes); and last, but not least, scenes so rich in detail, that re-watching this episode is a joy, and will continue to be so probably forever.

~~~~Sir Elyan the White


  1. Great Review.... and Hotch's face.... The sense of "Hell hath no fury like Hotch scorned comes to mind...
    From start to finish the episode had twists and turns and sent viewers minds careening is directions like a demolition derby. TG did an amazing job with the direction and editing of the episode...
    The acting by all cast memebers was spot on and fit each character to a T... Including JC's 'cameo' appearance... God he made a very convincing 'unsub'..... :)

    Bravo on your read of the episode...!

  2. Great review Sir Elyan! You touched all the bases about this wonderful episode.

  3. Thomas Gibson is 6'2"of talent. I actually believe he is a better director than he is actor. It is a pity he does not have the time to do it more often. You were spot on with the assessment of the acting in the show, and Jim Clemente, HA!. He made a fabulous unsub.

  4. I’m one show behind but couldn’t let Sir Elyan The White’s review go unacknowledged – it was as good as the episode. Thank you for resurrecting the blog.


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