I was, like many others, very concerned about Rossi's Plot, and hopeful the Case Plot would be fairly good even if a bit shorter than usual. I, like many others, was wrong.
I like female unsubs from time to time, not too often as in real life there aren't that many female serials, but I like to see how the female brain, physically damaged or not, processes and acts upon the same urges that lead their males counterparts in that small-bit different way.
Thus, the idea of a female unsub suffering from Intermittent Explosive Disorder and Trichotillomania, two mental afflictions very few people have heard of, should have made for a great case-of-the-week. "Fate", sadly doesn't, because of its poor execution and acting.
Criminal Minds Casting Department is. Still is a real pity the fail comes with a character that was pivotal to the episode, especially with the excess of scenes she was in.
The execution was at times dreadful, and was so because of the same too-much-time-wasted-on-the-unsub complaint we have voiced time and again... and again!
Looks like the writers need to hear it again, so let's do so detailing what scenes made for a non-enjoyable case story line, and why:
- Family breakfast scene: should have been cut at the point Ellen gets home and UNSEEN shouts her greeting to her family, or at most when she is running up the stairs. At that point we didn't need, less wanted, to know who the unsub was, and would have left us guessing about the importance of that family in the long run.
- Work meeting scene: should have been filmed in a way we didn't see Ellen's face, only a long haired woman that stiffens at the appropriate time.
- Bathroom fight with her Boss scene: waste of time, as the boss retells what's happened to her boyfriend, and worse, we didn't need to learn then and there about Ellen's accident and her need of physical therapy; the latter should have been left to be discovered AND explained by the profilers.
- Unsub in car scene: should have been reduced to the call from her husband, and could still have been done without showing her face at all.
- Boss' home murders scenes: should have been cut at the point Ellen's face is seen, blurred, behind the glass door. The 911 Call should have been discovered AND explained by the profilers.
- Flashback to her rescue from car accident scene: waste of time, we learn absolutely nothing from it.
- Unsub getting home and taking her wig off scene: waste of time. Find another way to show how worried her husband was getting, maybe with a couple seconds showing his face when she hung up his original phone call.
- Morning after scene: this one was a good scene, showing how she lied and tried to cover herself in front of her family, but didn't work because she had a BIG, FAT BRUISE on her face and her husband didn't say anything??? Unbelievable.
- Confrontation between Unsub and husband scene: this one by itself was a really good scene, and the only one where I saw good acting - up to the point she gets murderous again- from Holmes. Mostly wasted because TOO MUCH about her wig and her actual looks had already been shown UNNECESSARILY.
Of course, the counterpoint is in the scenes that were enjoyable and interesting in themselves, but suffered for lack of time to make them well rounded ones:
- Missing scenes: pointed in the previous list, the 911 Call should have been discovered and explained TO us by the profilers; you have a clueless local SSA, make him ask. Same goes for us learning about Ellen's car accident and its consequences; you have Garcia there, use her to let them explain if you need an excuse. And talking about missing explanations, would have been lovely to have someone explain where this came from: "The unsub is a Caucasian woman aged between her 40s and 50s...", that is not from the left field!
Janine walked a very dangerous line while writing this part of the episode, the possibility of turning Criminal Minds into a dreadful soap opera was sky high. She avoided it brilliantly on paper, and Joe's fabulous acting skills did the rest.
Springing a "secret daughter" on a main character of a veteran procedural translates 99 out of 100 times into "cliché", "lack of fresh ideas", "soap opera" and/or "jumping the shark". 100 out of 100 times translates into terror in the hearts of the fans.
We got the 1 out of 100 times when is so well done and explained, that not only makes sense, but gives us a very deep insight into said main character younger self versus his actual one. Have to say that this plot would have benefited greatly if it had been told as events happening through several weeks, instead of everything going down in the span of a measly 24 hours.
Who would confront a possible stalker, and do so with so much tongue in cheek? Only Rossi, that's who.
At this point was interesting, and mostly funny, to watch Rossi's reactions to Garcia's joking and how Kate learned a bit about the man behind the renowned name. I learned too that Rossi has been feeling lonely...
Rossi: "This is why I don't get remarried, struck out three times. I'm better off just doing my job, writing my books,... and living alone."
... said the man who had been in a serious relationship with Erin Strauss and was devastated by her death. Need another clue? In the context of the conversation, voicing that insight into his thoughts was completely out of place; you don't associate "marriage" with a supposed "admirer", less when you're trying to discover who's stalking you.
Wait! We are "fangirls",... did Rossi call us "crazy persons"? Bad boy! Of course, then he goes and tell us, and Kate, that one of his invaded his home six times, which explains his point of view too well. I felt like I couldn't be angry at him for that after all, but be happy for having learned another piece of trivia about his past.
Next time we saw him, we learned how Rossi reacts when getting scared and rightfully indignant at once: he won't listen to you, but give you a piece of his mind, and will have you removed from his presence. And he won't shout, but be forceful enough to make you to shut up, unless you've something truly powerful to say...
Joy: "I'm your daughter!"
... that shocks him into incredulous silence.
Joy's straightforward explanation and details delivery was what put the profiler in him in motion. Rossi did know she wasn't lying, even if he was still both, incredulous and in denial.
Until then, the "stalker" had been work related, being it about his job as an agent or about his job as a writer, and that was all right to be talked in front of and with Kate. But had become personal, and he clamped down; she isn't a friend yet, he is a private and confused man, he won't share anything else with her. Kate may have needed to learn that, we already did.
And we got the end, the most powerful performance I've seen Joe deliver in the show. He hit all the right notes while doing so, and as a result, Rossi's confession of his present feelings and his younger self's were worth all the fears and all the anxiety this story line had given me, and then some. BRILLIANT.
The Case Plot is thankfully finished and can be forgotten.
Rossi's Plot is not, and we have been promised follows up through the season. This Knight will wait with bated breath for those moments, fully aware that reaching again such high point as this episode does will be complicated. This Knight will be seriously pissed of though if we are cheated out of the conversation Rossi owes to Hotch about all of this.
~~~~Sir Elyan the White