The episode opened up with "Christmas music and atmosphere at a mall", my first reaction was "what the heck, it's not even Thanksgiving yet!". But then I remembered cringing in my local mall seeing Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations all displayed together in September. So the fact is that this happens on TV too more often than not isn't surprising. Kudo's to Rick for inserting that little piece of seasonal creepiness.
We cut to the hospital where Derek's girlfriend Savannah is working. I can't put my finger on it, but sadly these two on screen together just don't seem to fit. Rochelle Aytes isn't a bad actress but I don't feel she really has much chemistry with Shemar. That said, seeing the anxiety surrounding the couple due to an upcoming planned vacation was somewhat heart breaking. Both have very demanding jobs yet Savannah seems to key in more on Derek's job being to blame if they didn't get to go on the vacation. I was talking to my TV by this point saying “Come on Savannah, like you wouldn't be all 'gotta go' if an ER emergency came up and you were called. Takes to tango darling.”
Moving onto Tara in her bedroom, again so clichéd but so perfectly spot on. I liked how even though we see the Unsub we don't know who he or she is as the figure is covered. Tara's death seemed to scream "vanity gets you nowhere".
Criminal Minds is a TV show, it is based on a very really group of men and women who have dedicated their careers to stopping killers like these.
I'm going to insert here, and this comment encompasses all of the episodes so far: Kate Callahan is a good character, I like her. What I don't like is the constant snide sarcastic comments that are written for her. At times they're used when it feels inappropriate.
When Garcia notifies Hotch that the media has gotten a hold of the story, giving the killer a kitschy name and everything, Hotch says that they need to contain the media. I know JJ was made a profiler but "media" is, or was her specialty, so why not use her where her best talents lie? To me this was a missed opportunity to pay homage to the career that brought her to the FBI and the BAU to begin with. This fact becomes glaringly obvious towards the end of the episode.
I loved Hotch interrogating Charles Lorne, he just seems to know how to get witnesses and/or potential criminals to open up, and is fun to watch. Also, his blank expression, no matter what the revelation is funny; I was cracking up over the "Trixie, my Chihuahua" comment and Hotch didn't even blink. Great acting by Thomas.
Seeing JJ back in a skirt talking to Tara's BFF Riley made me appreciate her a little more. It was shades of JJ past and I loved it. Riley seemed genuinely upset and concerned over his friend. Playing as if he wasn't just like Tara until Garcia busted him was touchingly cute. Garcia was great in this scene.
I was a bit confused as to how the whole Mirror Man story came to be and how it applied to Tara's death in the first place. Nor did I understand why the buffed out gorgeous dude was killed. Was is simply because he had some connection to Tara? There were a few areas where I did get confused. But I thought it was brilliant working the title of the episode into the killing of the beefcake with the nail gun "hashtag" symbol. At this point the show is going a little slow for my tastes but overall story was very interesting and I did enjoy the mix of team members at the crime scenes. The team giving the profile was well done and employed a good amount of all the team. And their explanation regarding the whole Mirror Man symbolism and meaning lit more than a few light bulbs off in my head.
One bulb that went off was when I realized the kid taunting the so called Mirror Man in his video was also one of the three guys who were talking about beefcake before he was killed. His death was particularly gruesome and the actor did a wonderful job of showing that fear as his life was about to end. Good casting can certainly make or break an episode, and this time it makes the episode for me.
Criminal Minds past. Great job in the writing here.
I really liked that they used Reid at crime scenes. Was very nice seeing Reid formulate and hypothesize what happened again. Hotch realizing that the unsub was a teenager was good. And Garcia finding out about Connor Holt was very well done. I liked JJ and Kate going to Connor's house and the profiling that JJ did in his room. Loved how Derek worked Connor to determine that Connor was innocent of the murders and his friend was actually responsible. Great misdirection regarding unsubs throughout the episode and I enjoyed those twists and turns.
Finally we had the Derek and Savannah scene. I'm torn about this. In one way it is nice to see Derek maturing, accepting that maybe there is more to life than being a player, and I loved how it showed that even with the best of intentions both their jobs were very important to them. The problem I have with Derek and Savannah is that, on screen, I just can't see or feel a chemistry between the characters or the actors.
Over all the episode was well written, thoughtfully directed and had an intriguing case. While the episode did have some road bumps I liked it, and give is a solid 8 out of 10. Well Done!