First of all, I must admit to an odd circumstance in viewing this episode: normally, I watch from 9:00 PM ET onward. Due to my schedule, I was only able to start watching (the first time) about midway through the episode, when Morgan Looks Pensive. (Okay, it wasn't the scene below, but you get my meaning.)
So when I watched the entire 10x08 episode through for the first time, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. (Plus, WHY oh WHY is the BAU investigating the abduction of single defense attorney? Not a federal prosecutor or a child, but a private individual -- an adult, whose spouse had not received any ransom demands. Thanks for not explaining that in a deftly inserted comment, @iKimHarrison.)
Veteran actor Jeffrey Nordling as prosecutor-turned-defense-attorney Jack Westbrook was excellent as the manipulative pedophile (yeah, manipulative is a redundant adjective, I know, but really, really deserved here). Possibly because he is the "victim" here -- and so his character is given much more screen time -- or possibly just because he is just that much better an actor, I found Westbrook to be much more engrossing than any of the three younger victims-turned-UnSubs. (It's not a good sign that I care more about their childhood photo than their adult selves.) This verges dangerously close to violating Classic Hotch's mantra about glorifying the perpetrator over his victims, but perhaps Kim Harrison was trying to show how the lines become impossibly blurred when victims of abuse turn to violence.
Finally, my turn to weigh in on the addition of Jennifer Love Hewitt.
I've given up trying to fathom the workings of EP Erica Messer's mind, but I am glad to see that the writers are at least trying to flesh out Kate Callahan. Her character entertained me in the season premiere (and I look forward to more Garcia-Callahan bonding). I've also been impressed by JLH's ability to change genres. However, I am just not sure this is the right fit for either the actor or the show. (See: Showrunner Erica Messer Bewilders Me, above.) And her awkward "I love you" while on the phone to her niece Meg at the end of this episode -- what was up with THAT? It had all the conviction of a soon-to-be ex-boyfriend who hasn't summoned up the courage to break up with his partner yet!
Sidenote: To me, adding a teenager to a long-running series is never a good thing. Never. You might as well have Evil Knievel show up and tell The Fonz it's time to jump that shark. Remember Dawn on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER? Well, I try not to. (Trivia note: Michelle Trachtenberg also played a pivotal role in the heartrending 8x12 ZUGZWANG and acquitted herself admirably. I would NOT mess with Diane Turner!)
What the heck is up with the eternally dim lighting on the show? I get that bad things happen at night and in abandoned warehouses, but evil can also occur in broad daylight! Or at least light the damn sets better: I do not have a private, windowless screening room (or blackout shades in my living room) to enable me to see what's going on, so I just throw my hands up in the air in aggravation.
Lifestyles are changing: people watch shows when they can (hello? L+3? L+7?) and not only as it airs in primetime. If even the antiquated Nielsen ratings system can reflect that, then perhaps the people behind Criminal Minds need to take it into account as well.
|Note from CMRT Caps-Catcher: this 4 images are unedited beyond the addition of the frame and watermark|
Criminal Minds is no longer appointment viewing for me. In fact, I am seriously starting to dread watching the show. With wildly inconsistent quality this early in SeasonX, (10x03 A THOUSAND SUNS was truly amazing! I developed a whole new level of respect for Sharon Lee Watson and magic man/production manager Harry Bring, a\k\a @LLPOS. 10x04 THE ITCH was just a gross out, without the depth I'd come to expect from Breen Frazier.) I can't even begin to imagine what things will be like by 10x18 or so, when the writers have been at it for months on end.
Sadly, I must conclude that Criminal Minds is showing its age. Procedurals -- which I love, and watch whenever I can -- are tough to keep fresh, especially after more than 200 episodes, but no amount of Febreze is going to help SeasonX, I fear. Please, Criminal Minds, prove me wrong.