Indulge me as first I want to tackle the case. Then I will tackle the bookend scenes.
Criminal Minds factor, would have been served better if we hadn't seen the Unsub less than a minute into the episode. But I did like how it was written and how Tawnia McKiernan directed the scene. Nothing ever good comes from people with tasers, of that, I am convinced. Having the victim facing that guillotine blade right before they are turned into a twisted version of Marie Antoinette, definitely was psychopathic and yes, it did fit into something a sick serial killer would do. I, myself, am not partial to the shock value of such things and prefer not to see the blood and gore, but hearing that victim beg for her life did feel very much like one would imagine such a victim doing when faced with deranged killer.
I’m going to say at this point that, while I like the character of Garcia, lately she’s being written a little too over the top with her campy sayings and actions. That said, I did enjoy that throughout the episode Garcia got her search parameters from team members and not by her magic computer. I also did enjoy seeing Reid actually working through some of the aspects of the murders and deducing that the Unsub was using a guillotine. Reid is always at his best when he knows the obscure facts that actually ties various pieces of a profile together. The rest of the characters however, were written somewhat generic, I got the impression that anyone could have walked on and delivered some of the lines they were given. That is something only time and a gained experience in writing these well-established characters can overcome.
I also want to point out that the back and forth between the team members over what type of women these were, preferences of Unsub, and even the meaning behind the dump sites, while not riveting television, were all well written and well showcased by the director.
Karen did write beautifully the scene with the victim’s father and Rossi. While watching that scene, I felt every ounce of pain, loss and even fear of being alone that this father must have been going through. The casting of Joseph Callari for this role was wonderful.
After watching the episode again, I did realize that there was a fair amount of profiling throughout. The scenes with Lewis, Hotch and Reid, with Garcia on the phone, discussing the women's cell phones and working back how the killer took the women was well done. This is the first time we see the team work out that this killer struck ride-share users. It threw me when the Unsub took the man as up to this point it had only been women, but it quickly appears that this guy had a bad case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. “Not his lucky Day”.
Slowly I was piecing together that each of the victims hadn’t had the sterling backgrounds that on paper they should have. All victims having shown to be engaged in something unethical. Again I will say Reid was written very nicely, and very in character, which I was happy to see. Sadly for this viewer the rest of the team, well frankly there was no feel that these were elite profilers. I got the sense that any good well-rounded detective could have come up with the same conclusions. I do hope that an understanding of the characters' personalities and abilities comes with experience in writing them, and that can only come from having the opportunity to write for them.
After watching the table discussion about ride-sharing, I can only say that I will never participate in that enterprise, ever! I did like that the whole team was involved with that discussion, and yes, they seemed to posit more information about the why, and how this Unsub was targeting his victims. And that Zimmer executive, could he be any more slap worthy? Karen nailed it with his attitude about non-responsibility, so kudos for that.
Slowly we are brought up to speed about the Unsub, his abuse at the hands of his teacher and the reasoning behind his actions. It’s a very simple reason actually, this psycho went through all this trouble to punish his victims for their perceived sins because he himself had been violently punished and humiliated as a child. What I was never quite sure of though was how his mental break occurred. Yes, it was explained what triggered his mental break (death of the abusive teacher), but we never got any type of build up to the ‘why’? Why this victim of the teacher snapped? What caused his abuse at this man’s hands to cause him to snap? Another thing that has bothered me is the fact that this Unsub attacked all women up to the last victim, who was a victim of happenstance from what I could tell. Why? Why did he target women when clearly his anger was addressed at one man (the teacher) and to the males disciplined at the school who the teacher felt were sinners, liars etc.? I would have liked to see more reasoning as to his victim choices. We did get a good explanation about the transgressions these victims committed and how the Unsub came to find out about them via the Hotch, Rossi, and Reid scene. PSA moment: 'don’t talk about your wrong doings in any type of public setting, you never know who is listening in on your conversations' is sage advice. I have to say that I do love how these three work so well together.
While the horror of a guillotine being used I’m sure had many viewers oohing and ahhing, my tastes run to wanting to see the intellectual side of the show ramping up the emotional excitement levels instead of the graphic horror. The way I understand it, good actors can ramp up the excitement, anticipation levels in a show just by the way they present their lines, but this wasn’t done in this episode. Most of the time the cast seemed rather subdued which led to the somewhat boring presentation. I don’t think that’s the fault of the writer per say or the actors either, but maybe it’s a preference of the director? Or at worst, a combination of all three? Line delivery is so very important to a show trying to capture the imaginations and the desire to watch of its viewers...
In conclusion, I will say that the episode was a very good concept. There were aspects that didn’t gel, it was slow at times as well as predictable in places, but overall it was a thought out episode. I’m happy that Karen has come aboard the Criminal Minds writing team and I do hope and yes, expect, that as she gets deeper into these characters she will find an even louder, more thrilling voice.
So Mordred’s rating for this episode: artistically I give it an A, execution wise (pun intended) I gave it a C-, overall rating I put at a B-, with a numerical score of 7 out of 10.
Thank you for reading!