Saturday, April 18, 2015

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 10 - 1020. A Place at the Table - Review

When I know it's my week to do the Criminal Minds Round Table episode review, I don't comment on the episode in the after episode venue. (Did any of your profilers pick up on that? :D ) However, I still read all of the comments that were left after the episode. They're always great and I pick up on something I've originally missed and need to re-watch. But Crime Fan 12 summarized my review, in a nutshell, without knowing it.

Yet making the big bucks us reviewers do here at Criminal Minds Round Table *laughing hysterically while looking over my shoulder for an admin coming at me*, short, sweet and succinct doesn't pay the bills. hehehehehehehehehe


WHAT I LIKED

There's so much. But it starts with the awesome team episode that we Criminal Minds fans got to enjoy. All of the characters were, well, very much the characters that I and the rest of us Criminal Minds fans have come to know.

Morgan was the tactician, reviewing the case details and working the profile like the senior profiler he now is. Kate, no longer a newbie, chipped in as well while obviously now being on the "mom-to-be BAU bench". May I add that's very realistic and I like it.

JJ was the ever growing JJ character that I really like. Yes, I know I'm in the vast minority with that opinion. I respect those that don't share that point of view; I just ask the same back. Anyway, it was a kick in pants moment for me to see JJ do an interview solo with her mentor Rossi watching at the window. The master watched as she did a great solo interview; with a little Rossi sass for good measure. And for once, JJ and Morgan's tag team was great in the second interview of Dylan. I'll agree with many of you on those two taking down the Unsubs all the time.




This episode's duo du jour was Reid and Garcia. I totally loved their scene together about the croissant; with Reid then morphing into being… well… Reid. That was a great touch. And I highly expected Mhattew Gray Gubler, with his directing stint coming up next, to be a no show. So it was a plus to see more screen time of him.





And then there's Reid and Rossi's take-down of Cora Gilliam that was wonderful as well. The two most non-athletic field BAU members got it done; and in FBI textbook style I might add. That was a total win in my book.



My kudos go most to how Bruce wrote Rossi. He brought out the true David Rossi; his gut not working like with three ex-wives; to tossing his black notebook down on the table to start his interview with Ezra. The Rossi total bad-ass snark machine was in high gear. I loved it! That's my Rossi! Atta boy Bruce.



The second thing I really liked was Bruce Zimmerman finally got the memo. The Unsub does not have to be in the opening scenes of a Criminal Minds episode. The team slowly worked through the clues, using the "old school" BAU tactics of profiling and interviewing to narrow down a suspect. Add in that Garcia was in total character during the episode, doing her job; but it was using what the team had developed from their profile instead of her coming up with the great answer on her own. Hotch gave her the final clue, surmising that May 3 was the birth-date of the illegitimate child. Hotch also figured out the no sex angle with Mark being a half-brother. Gideon is smiling from his afterlife.


WHAT I REALLY, REALLY LIKED

It all starts with the super hyped guest star in the presence of one Ed Asner. I remember Ed long before his breakout role as "Lou Grant" on the MTM comedy and then his dramatic turn with the same character. "Rich Man, Poor Man" was a huge mini-series my senior year in high school and I loved it. His success after that is no surprise to me.




So in my mind, it was only Ed Asner that could bring the outwardly curmudgeon Roy Brooks to life. The deities bless Bruce for giving Ed the opening salvo at the end of Act 1 to Hotch that was Roy's first scripted line. "Shuddup." I almost pee'd my pants laughing so hard. It was total Ed. He was the only person that could get away with telling Aaron Hotchner that. Period. And yet Bruce wrote the same Roy that lamented to Aaron, looking at Haley's picture later: "I won't know who she is," reflecting on his life soon to come. My heart broke with that line.





All of us Criminal Minds fans complain, loudly, about the lack of love the TV Academy gives to our beloved show. Yet, I’m willing to bet, much like Ed's guest role on "CSI:NY" a few years back, this one might possibly garner him a nomination for best guest appearance. It will be well deserved. Too bad the TV Academy voters, so set against crime procedurals won't see the light and won't give Ed the love again. (Ed got robbed on his role in that "CSI:NY" episode)






And then there's Molly Baker, the wonderful portrayer of Jessica Brooks. Bruce Z. gets kudos amundos for finally giving this wonderful actress a chance to shine instead of her usual 30 seconds of screen time and out. And Molly didn't miss the pitch. She nailed a homerun. The opening scene with her and Thomas and then showing a crack in her armor? Just thinking back on that again: d*mn where's my tissue box again.






Which, of course, leads me to my man; the man of the episode. While there was so much team goodness, and all the right buttons with the Unsub, let's be real: Bruce Zimmerman wrote Thomas Gibson an episode to run with; which my boy Thomas did.

Someone said the eyes are the key to the soul; or something like that. Thomas Gibson has perfected the art of acting through this eyes. The near tears at Roy not letting Aaron off the hook for Haley's death was so amazing and riveting. I could see the old demons that Aaron has tried to put behind him rearing their ugly head once again at the tears he refused to let fall.

And sorry my fellow Criminal Minds fans; if Thomas didn't get nominated for "100", don't even think about it happening for this one. I know; that totally sucks.

So this all brings me to Bruce Zimmerman. Like my friend severeCMaddict, I believe this is the best script Bruce has ever penned. First off, to work in the B plotline through the episode was fantastic as many have pointed out. No bookends here; it worked throughout and blended in well. He also gave some of the cast a chance to shine; yes Thomas being the most. And his no Unsub until the episode was three-fourths finished now gets Bruce into my Virgil Williams' Big Dog Club. It was wonderful from start to finish.

Plus there's Laura Belsey. For her second time directing a Criminal Minds episode, she obviously did her homework. And it shined in the little, little touches. The picture of the Viking ship, obviously colored by Jack over the sink as Hotch came out of the kitchen with Roy's sandwich. Plus the picture of Aaron, Haley, baby Jack, Roy and Mrs. Brooks that Hotch focused on was just a little two second piece of film that I immediately noticed. I asked Harry Bring about it on Twitter. He tweeted back that it was done specifically for the episode. So Meredith Monroe was around as well. That's sorta neat in my world. Laura did a fantastic job with this episode. But h*ll: Bruce gave her plenty to work with.


NO COMPLAINTS?

Guess again: y'all know me better than that. But it's only one.

In the opening scene, Hotch said Jack was in 5th grade. That does not compute in the Rockie continuity book. Jack was born in season 1; so he's now 9 years old; that means 4th grade. I immediately picked up on that live chatting with some friends on Twitter. One said, "maybe they're catching up on how much Cade had grown?" Another said, "Jack is smart enough to move up a grade."

As many of you know, continuity is a huge complaint of mine when it comes to Criminal Minds. And I blistered Bruce's butt over his major continuity gaff in my review of his episode in season 9 with the "Day of the Dead" party at Garcia's and the "Tet Offensive" in Vietnam.

That said, I can almost look past this goof. Because yes, Cade Owens (Jack) has grown up way too much before our eyes. And that alone is why I may let this slide.

In addition, I have to give major kudos to the Criminal Minds PTB for keeping this wonderful young man around for seven seasons. And I will not pile on the bus, criticizing Cade's line delivery or acting abilities. This is where I draw a big-time-line-in-the-sand: he's a damn kid. Back down. And I really don't care if that upsets anyone. I've got a nephew his age. I say again; he's a kid. And for the naysayers about Cade; in my world the kid was outstanding with the great Ed Asner. He's got game in my world. And then some. Sit down and leave the kid alone.

Bruce may have missed that continuity point; but the Criminal Minds bigwigs have not missed the bigger continuity picture keeping Cade around all these years. I’m a happy family Hotchner camper.



SUMMARY

Gee, it's not rocket science. It started with a great script from Bruce Zimmerman. The much unheralded behind the scenes crew of Criminal Minds was at its best again with all the little stuff that Laura Belsey just nailed. And Laura guided them and let her cast bring their "A" game.

So Rockie's grade is easy: A+


~~~~rockhotch31 (Guest reviewer)

8 comments:

  1. Why thank you. I didn't know I was psychic. :D I'm not a very good in-depth reviewer so I stick to the basics.

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  2. I love the positivity of this review. I read the reviews and comments on this site and usually I leave seething and don't comment because while there's loads I can nitpick on CM, I can't keep reading the same negative comments over and over again and if I'm honest, I am usually negative myself and I did have low expectations for this episode as soon as I saw Bruce Zimmerman wrote it. I know that sounds bad, but just think that some writers stopped focussing on what makes the show different - the team and profiling, but season 9 & 10 has begun to prove me wrong. The writers were growing in strength since the beginning of season 9 and I think season 10 has had some great episodes that would have fit in with some of the earlier seasons.

    I'm tired of being wholly negative about episodes or characters, and I'll do my best to have better expectations for episodes, so I get invested in the show again and while there are things I could nitpick on I'm going to be positive.

    I loved that Hotch got to be front and centre and I loved the rest of the team too. Hotch is the leader of this team, I love that he's become their boss again and hasn't faded back into the shadows like he has done in certain episodes. Other people will disagree but for me, once romantic relationships are removed from characters arcs and we get to see them either invested in a case, dealing with their pasts or seeing a part of their lives we rarely get to see - is when we see each character shine. For me the balance this season has been great and I feel like we've learned more about Hotch just from this episode from any of the episodes with Beth or his getting back into the dating ring. I love Hotch. I want to see him in the field more and taking charge, but these vulnerable moments are just as awesome. I hope we get to see more of Hotch's extended family and the conflicts he has faced. He's been through so much but I feel like we're just beginning to scratch the surface.

    I love that this review pointed out JJ in a positive light. I hate that a loud section of online CM fans are so vocal about not liking the new JJ. I get that she's evolved and that the changes weren't handled well. I can get into the whole argument with just myself of the pros and cons of how the writers dealt with JJ's changes even though I don't see the changes as being competently drastic as some people seem to - but I do think what the changes have highlighted, is that so much of JJ's character used to happen off screen and now she has the screen time of a profiler, they haven't been 100% of sure who she is now. I think season 10 has been great for figuring out how JJ fits in as a profiler, I just wished they figured it out in season 7 who she is as a profiler. I hope that we will get some actual development and follow through as to who JJ is in season 11 as an agent which integrates JJ's skills as a liaison, communications, interrogator and as a profiler and we get to see her character grow into a stronger agent rather than falling back into the pattern of telling us who she is instead of showing us. I don't want to start the hate on JJ comments because she is a favourite character of mine and I accept that there's been faults but also that they've begun to address those faults. I just wish people would quit hating on JJ for hating sake and focus on the what they do like.

    Overall, I don't think this was a outstandingly perfect episode but definitely an A grade episode. There were little things that I wish we saw, nothing major, but IMO the more time spent on Hotch the better. I don't think there is such thing as a perfect episode anymore unless they're going to have a completely team orientated episode, because everyone watches this show for something different - their favourite character, the case, to nitpick...

    I did enjoy the episode however, and I'm glad the show seems to be getting back to its core cast and understanding its characters once more.

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    Replies
    1. Really nice comment of yours, I like what you pointed out!

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  3. You're welcome Crime Fan 12.

    Thank you for the kind words Beth.

    And a huge thank you once again to Sir Elyan for the amazing, awesome screen caps that add so much to the review.

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  4. Thank You for taking the time to write your review. I enjoyed your thoughtful comments about the episode.
    I did miss the continuity issues with Jack's age & grade in school. My question is this though: was there any mention about Haley's Mom and what happened to her. I wondered if I missed something. She was in the one picture and if I recall correctly, in the season 5 episode "Reckoner", it was mentioned that Haley had contacted her Mom while in protective custody. So where is she now? It just would have been nice having at least one line summing up why she isn't in the picture.
    All in all, I loved the episode. Kudos to Bruce for writing about an issue that affects a lot of families everyday, especially as our parents age.

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    1. Hey J! I'm glad you enjoyed the review. Thank you for your kind words as well.

      You are very correct about Mrs. Brooks going back to the "Reckoner" episode in S5. Nice catch! Sam, the US Marshall assigned to Haley and Jack's case mention to Hotch they were having to relocate them due to Haley calling her mother.

      Sometimes I think the writers and directors, with the special touches like the picture of the five of them together, expect us viewers to read between the lines. Between the pic and Jessica's reaction to her father's diagnosis, we're maybe to assume something happened to Mrs. Brooks.

      However, I agree with you: just give us fans one sentence to explain it.

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  5. Rockie!!! That was a spot-on review, my friend! I agree 100% with Beth about both, the increasing strength of the writers (most noticeably Sharon Lee Watson, Virgil "Big-Dog" Williams, and the most recent, Bruce Zimmerman) and your refreshing positivity. You are very positive and optimistic about this amazing show, and I believe that is what sets you apart from the crowd (IMO), not only as a reviewer, but as a fellow Criminal Minds fan. Thank you for this amazing review, and thank you for the mention, Rockie! I was quite flattered. A+ for both, this episode and this review.
    LONG LIVE CM

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