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.
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.
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? :-)