Tuesday, May 6, 2014

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 9 - 922. Fatal - Review

First of all, can I just say: I am so happy with this episode! Instead of "Season 9: The JJ & Morgan Show", FATAL had a nice balance of team member exposure, references to past episodes, and lighthearted father-son Hotchner interaction. I couldn't have asked for more. Kudos to writer Bruce Zimmerman and returning director Larry Teng!


On the professional front, the BAU heads off to Long Beach, CA to track down a killer poisoning people, seemingly at random. On the personal front, Hotch ponders whether accepting Jack's request to show his third-grade class (third grade! already?! time flies indeed!) what the BAU does for career day will be too upsetting for the youngster. After all, his job is to catch the type of person who killed his mother, Haley.

Due to my own childhood fascination with Greek mythology (without the attendant murderous tendencies of our atypically male poisoner, William Harding) I figured out the Atropos connection before Reid's helpful explanation regarding the string found at each crime scene. Otherwise the logic behind the victimology was nicely mystifying without being ridiculously far-fetched. The gradual unveiling of Harding's motivations offset his early reveal.

Reid and his eidetic memory also came through with a reference to About Face (or as I think of Max Pool, the photocopier killer) from Season 3. He also unveils a new "speed-watching" ability which hopefully won't land him with future scut work, as his speed-reading did in ...A Thousand Words.

Meanwhile, Rossi has an intense conversation with one of the victims on the phone... as she's being murdered! Ouch. Blake also makes some key observations, while JJ and Morgan add their own contributions without overshadowing the rest of the team (as has happened lately).


Brian Baumgartner as the UnSub brought a nice dash of inarticulate rage to his portrayal of William Harding, the type of awkward, brooding coworker who while intelligent, probably made his colleagues uncomfortable. His less than cheery home (a studio apartment without a bathroom??) is also probably a sign of his somewhat lacking social skills.

Terry Serpico as his boss, the bluff, overly hearty Wick Griffith, was the type of person who would normally make me gravitate to the opposite side of the room. (It's a good thing I didn't work with Wick and William!) He fleshed out the character well enough that you truly believed he thought he should be thanked for his unilateral decision to make Harding miss his flight to Greece 20 years ago, and not, say, poisoned with arsenic instead.

Always beware the words "it was for your own good"! If you look at it from Harding's point of view, he would've died happy in the knowledge that he was emigrating to Greece, instead of miserably stuck at home for the next 20 years. Really, I was rooting for Wick to croak. (Sidenote: I was continually distracted by Terry Serpico's resemblance to Anthony Michael Hall, but that's probably just me.)

Speaking of cast members, the revelation of the fate of Harding's original airport shuttle irresistibly reminded me of the Final Destination movies: did you know A.J. Cook was in Final Destination 2?


Despite Garcia's magical abilities to bypass all HIPAA laws (which have foiled her in the past -- unless the Patriot Act has changed things a whoooooole lot) I accept the fact that in many cases, her superhuman powers are a necessary plot device to complete the team's cross referencing within 42 minutes.

I was really pleased with the balance of this episode in all aspects: plotting, team time, personal time. Reid contributed a lot, but it was done in such a way that he wasn't a one man band.

The career day segment enabled Hotch -- and Jack's precocious classmate -- to demonstrate the lighter side of profiling. After all, we all know how irritating it is when someone steals your stapler! And how often have we pounced on a friend for their undeclared attraction to someone? Jack even managed to surprise Hotch with his decision to have both, a hamburger and a hot dog. Silly dad, don't you profile your own son? :-)



  1. Hi Chaucer,

    Great review.... You nailed everything I thought about the episode... I loved how Bruce managed to work in mentions both subtle and not so subtle from past episodes and even like the 'Final Destination similarity" the cast... I didn't mind that it was a AJC reference either simply because yep, she did get whacked in FD2... and none of the other actors have done movies like that...

    Over all I loved the episode... Team was great, Storyline was good, and not overly Mythology Cheesy (which could have happened) and the side plot with Jack, his class, Hotch and even Garcia and Rossi were both heartwarming and funny....

    I'd give the episode a 10 out of 10, for simply hitting all the things that have lacked in previous episodes and doing it without being overt about it... This was just a Great Criminal Minds Episode!

    1. Ah, but AJ's character survived in FD2! :-)

    2. I am a dyed in the wool CHICKEN when it comes to horror movies.... Soo never watched it! LOL..... I just assumed EVERYONE died... LOL

  2. Great review Chaucer! Agreed with pretty much everything you said, was nice to have a team episode and get a break from the 'JJ and Morgan' episodes.

    "without the attendant murderous tendencies of our atypically male poisoner, William Harding"
    Good point men not often use poison to kill.

    Hope we will get more episodes like this one next season!

  3. I loved your review, and I agree in every single aspect. I also hope there will be more episodes like this next season, but I wish all of them will be as balanced as this one. Centring the season around two or three characters doesn't lead this show to anything good.

  4. A great review of a well balanced episode. It was all about the team and the profiling and the Hotch/Jack story was done well unlike most of the "family" moments in the last few seasons And thank goodness we had a break from the omnipresent JJ at last! I hope we get more episodes like this next season.

  5. OMG I can't believe CBS can be this stupid but according to Zap2it Criminal Minds is being moved to Sunday next season. WTF are they thinking moving the drama that frequently wins the night for them.
    This is another clear sign to me that the network never fully appreciated what they had with this show.
    This is for sure going to drive down CM's ratings,but than maybe that is what CBS wants.


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