Thursday, January 7, 2016

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 11 - 1109. Internal Affairs - Review

INTERNAL AFFAIRS was another solid offering from writer Sharon Lee Watson. The episode had two stories, one where the team was after a serial killer who had abducted and killed two DEA agents and had a third in his evil clutches. Meanwhile Hotch was off on his own repay a debt to NSA agent Axelrod who had helped Hotch in the hunt of Peter Lewis better known as ‘Mr. Scratch’.

This episode was pretty much about the many ways the team members can profile differently according to different situations.

For the team, Rossi, JJ, Morgan and Lewis (by the way, feels weird NOT having in that sentence the name of Spencer Reid who was again MIA), the profiling came from doing what we know they do routinely: meet with cops to get the facts of the case, talk with the ME about what was done to the victims, interrogate suspects/witness/family members, then come up with a profile

When it came to Hotch and his hunting down a mole, it was all about noticing things and coming up with his conclusion as to whom was really the culprit. I could not stop comparing how Rossi and JJ work to get information out of the soccer mom, via questioning her and going about it from how she reacted to their questions. Hotch on the other hand was all about observation. I liked that more because as a viewer it got me more involved, had to pay close attention to what was going on because without a team to work the case with Hotch, he could not voice most of his observation. The viewer was clued in by how he reacted to what was happening around him and what he saw. With the team it was easier for this viewer, all I had to do was just sit back and watch Rossi and JJ interview the suspect, Morgan and Lewis work the scenes.

Our first clue that the case Hotch would be working would not be coming to him the usual way, the official way via the Bureau, was when he was accosted by a man out of a black car and handing Hotch a card and telling him Mr. Axelrod wish to talk to him. Second clue was that this meeting took place in a hotel/high-end club and not in an official settings. Detail, when Hotch gets into the room we see men talking, reading in a settings that looks expensive, it had the feeling of a private club ala the Hellfire Club of Old British Aristocracy. Another detail, the man Axelrod was talking too and who left when Hotch’s shows up was Axelrod’s boss, Director Cochrane, who we will learn later was really the mole, the one at the head of cartel!

So why ask Hotch? Because since Hotch’s team are already involved in the dark net investigation thanks to the Montolo case Axelrod thought that the man he thinks is the mole, Assistant DEA Director in Charge of Operations Bernard Graff, would be best caught using the skills and knowledge that Hotch and the BAU had. So Hotch is off on his own, although not before talking about it with Rossi, chasing down a mole while the team are working hard to save missing DEA agents.

Of the two stories, the one about the mole was the most interesting because it was different and required a bit more involvement from the viewer. When watching Criminal Minds, I love to ‘work the case’ with the team, come up with theories, suspects etc… The first case concealed who the Unsub was until the end and that was great; the fact that the team did the work and not the writer choosing to have the Unsub show/tell us was even better. But having a good old conspiracy to work through is great because, as I said, it ratcheted up the involvement from the viewers into the story that is being told.

The case in El Paso we learn that is about a drug cartel run by a mysterious George Washington. The team will learn that the number 2 is another mysterious figure named Ben Franklin, but the team will learn who this Ben Franklin was, the very ordinary soccer mom.

The Unsub was a total psychopath who happened to love to take off the face of his victims, and wears them to see what they see! Did I mentioned he was a total nut?! This part reminded me a bit of the Silence of The Lamb, still didn’t lessen up me enjoyment of the episode, saw it more as a kind of homage to the movie.

WHO WAS THE MOLE? The writer did a good job at throwing at us possible suspects, Graft was a likely candidate but maybe a bit too obvious. Then his assistant, finally Axelrod himself who after all was the one who got Hotch involved and also had access to the case information too.

THE PROFILING: We had two types, as I said one from the team interviewing people, asking questions etc… while the other profiling was done by Hotch mostly through observation and letting people talk. This is where we had great work from both the director Diana Valentine and Thomas Gibson. Both had to show Hotch observing without much commenting, so Valentine's direction was spot on in letting the viewer see what Hotch was seeing thought the camera work. Gibson’s job was harder because he had to portray a man who was mostly observing what others were doing, which since Hotch is not a very expressive man and in this situation he could not afford tipping off his suspect as to what he was really doing, meant he had to control his reactions to what he was observing.

I loved how Hotch did build his profile, asking subtle questions, like if the man in the framed picture on the wall was Graft's father. Told him that Graft was actually proud of his father, who was also a DEA agent, and Graft told Hotch that his grandfather had also been a FBI agent. The way the man dress, not in the more official garb of a suit, spoke of a man who was not afraid of breaking rules but his comment about how maybe what they did was futile also maybe pointed to a man was no longer believing in the job they did.

Through Hotch’s observations and investigation we discovered that 1. Graff isn’t the mole, he too suspected there was an inside person running/dealing with the Libertad group. 2. The flash drive he had on his wrist wasn’t the information about the Libertad servers like Axelrod was led to believe, but rather it was the evidence of his own investigation into a possible mole. And finally 3. With Hotch’s help Graff’s assistant, who Graff gave the flash drive to just before his death, discovered that the inside man was non-other then the NSA Director Cochrane. The final scene with Hotch in that club we see that. Yes, Hotch can play in the political arena too. He’s sitting in that red leather chair with authority, much like how Axelrod was with him in the beginning, and explains to Cochrane what he knows and that now Cochrane is being arrested. Hotch explains what he did, and subtly looks to Cochrane’s pen and shows that he knows it’s the real flash drive with the Libertad server information.

In the end we see Axelrod acknowledging to Hotch that if Hotch wasn’t so suspicious of him, and wouldn’t be investigating everything Axelrod did, they could actually be friends. Hotch’s slight eye movement as they’re walking out says volumes. Hotch is too dedicated to the truth and justice to ever play those political power games.

What I did like:
  • The last scene between Hotch and Garcia! Hotch joining Garcia and cooking was priceless! Love the smile he had! Since Hotch did clean the blood off Elle’s wall we have known how great and caring he is, that scene reminded us of that fact!
  • Rossi and JJ interviewing the soccer mom. She started by playing her card of a innocent housewife, then tried to bring his big time lawyer to try to scare the FBI off. JJ and Rossi just dismantled her one piece at a time.
  • Morgan and Lewis at the Unsub place. Really people have you NOT learned anything from Reid and JJ not staying together which resulted in Reid being abducted by Tobias Hankle?! Seriously, love this scene, especially the camera work from the payphone where we see from some camera, that the Unsub is watching them. Also, I loved when Morgan went after the Unsub, after he had used a taser on Lewis, I shouted at Morgan ‘get him!’ :D
  • Best scene was when we had Hotch, in full paranoid mode (with good reason after he learned that the DEA informer had been blow up) took a few steps away from his car and started it. When it didn’t blow up, he cautiously open the door. Hotch did learn something from the events in LoFi/Mayhem :D
What I didn’t like:
  • No Reid. I have missed Spence in the last two episodes.
What I wished for:
  • Wish those two cases had actually been two episodes. I felt that both cases would have benefited from having more time spent on them.
Another great episode from Sharon Lee Watson in which Thomas Gibson was excellent in. The directing from Diana Valentine was top notch. I enjoyed this episode a lot, unlike the one prior, only wished that Reid had been in it, still it gets a 9.5/10.



  1. Great review Merlin! I agreed with your views 100%. I've watched this episode about 8 times now. In part because it was so good and I'm bored waiting for new episodes. Spot of review of a great episode!

  2. Great review, looking forward to more! Sharon Lee Watson is easily one of the best writers at the CM Writing staff in my opinion.


Respectful opinions, and constructive disagreement is welcomed, but insulting/foul-mouthed, malicious, or just plain disrespectful comments towards anyone are not, and will be removed.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.