Monday, February 1, 2016

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 11 - 1113. The Bond - Review

Last time I reviewed a Kim Harrison penned episode I told you that I went about watching them with very low expectations. This time, after the disastrous "profiling" she offered us in Awake, not only my expectations were below zero, but I was dreading to have to watch it.

Before I delve into my thoughts on The Bond script, want to talk about the director. Hanelle Culpepper did a great job, and earned to have her job highlighted. From the transitions between scenes, the sound effects (more remarkably, the echo of the voices of Rossi and JJ while talking inside the big, empty public restroom), her camera angles, and what she selected to show of the crimes, and more important even, what she selected NOT to show (barely any gore, barely any violence; only subtle hints and flashes of what was going down). An all around excellent work, congratulations!

Want to highlight too the two aspects that I wasn't expecting to be disappointed with, and that effectively were as good as ever:
  • The Guest Actors were perfect for their roles, and every one of them delivered from start to finish.
  • The Idea, the story told, was really good, and was very well thought out, and something we hadn't seen yet on the show.

The problem this episode has is the tired, overused, over-complained about...

WE knew too much,
too soon,
from the wrong source, the damn Unsub! the work of the team looks like - again - as an afterthought.

I don't feel like beating my head on a concrete-covered brick wall, so I'm going to try a different approach to explain this... again!

Let's use our imaginations.

Let's imagine this episode without certain moments/certain too revealing scenes until after the moment the team had dug out all the information they could, by profiling the crime scenes and by profiling the victims, until the point when they got the correct answer, the Unsub's name.

In doing so, every interaction with Mother and Son would give us, at first, the idea that they were important to the plot, and sympathetic enough, but obviously unconnected to trucks, trucks stops or anything related to either. I can imagine myself thinking:
          - Are they the final intended victims?
          - Are they the Unsub's stressors?
          - Is the Unsub the mysterious, missing-from-the-family-picture biological father?

Revealing how controlling the Mother was would have been truly shocking.

Seeing the Son's aborted strangulation of his fiance would have been mind-blowing.

Discovering that the Mother had been behind bars all that time... I was surprised on first viewing, can't even begin to imagine my reaction if I would have seen that when I still cared...


Because we would have been as clueless about what they were as the team had been until that point, the intrigue would have been preserved, and our interest would have kept climbing.


Cut the parts of the dialogue/the scenes that reveal he was the killer. Make us think that his medication is to cover a different illness (a depression, for instance, would have fit with his general air of sadness and his sleeping on the couch in the middle of the day).

Expand the profiling, the work the team is doing. Because this time the work of the team was good, the profile was constructed well, starting with general ideas that were discarded or accepted as they uncovered the details of the different murders, and following with an in-deep study of the victims, which made them go from random people to all-are-connected-to-a-pattern-and-history people, that ultimately lead them to a single suspect and his name.

The Result?

Each and every reveal would have moved us to sit more and more toward the edges of our seats, would have left our jaws hanging more and more, and certainly our eyes wouldn't have moved from the screen for a single second in fear of missing what was coming next.

Have to say that I liked the symmetry of the final scenes with both, Mother and Son, in their respective confinements, seeing how very much alike they ended being. Only thing I felt was unnecessary was the image of the cut ear, the image of the damage the Son had inflicted on himself with the blood running down his neck was more than enough. Still, this would have been a detail I could have happily overlooked if the episode as a whole would have matched my imagination, instead of how it actually played on.

Something that I don't want to overlook in any case, and this comment is directed to all writers, is the use of the team, or more to the point, the use of Tara Lewis. She is a recurring character, and even if everybody has something meaningful to contribute, overusing her is a surefire way to anger the fans. She is being overused episode after episode, and she is slowly but surely on her way from a well liked character to a irritating, want-her-out-of-my-screen one.

In short, what should have been a 7-8/10 stand-alone episode in any fan's book, was destroyed by its creator when she robbed us of any intrigue whatsoever, killed our interest to the point that the out-of-the-blue reveals barely registered, and took out the chance of following the work of the team in detail, the later from lack of time because she had wasted too much showing what she shouldn't from the wrong point of view.

Disclaimer: while I may be able to put my thoughts in a mildly comprehensive text, I'm one of those people that can't write fiction to save their lives.

Now, knowing the above, would you have liked my version of this episode better or worse than what we got?

~~~~Sir Elyan the White


  1. Well said Sir Elyan! I agree with you - there was a good story in there somewhere but the writer managed to take all the suspense, mystery and interest out of it from the very start. I also agree with you about the overuse of Tara Lewis - I liked her to begin with, now she seems to dominate every episode and my irritation level with her is going through the roof. I hope someone from the show reads your review and takes note.

  2. I don't often agree with you, Sir Elyan, but this time I do. I totally agree this could have been a gripping story full of interesting profiling and teamwork propped by good direction and great guest stars. But you are correct in pointing out why it was so very disappointing. Storytelling is an art, and I'm afraid KH is not an artist, at least not of the caliber this show requires. Some have suggested that she should write for another show, but, even if this script was on a different show with a different cast, etc., it still would have no suspense, no reason for LEOs or the BAU.

  3. The day Kim Harrison writes a spectacular episode is the day the Future Perfect review comes out. Anywho, I agree completely, awesome review!

  4. Now if Kim read this it would be perfect. Lately I don't remember an episode of her that I liked very much. I get so bored with this episode, knowing how things were going that I began to count the minutes to know the team and the unsub's time.

    And after watching that the unsub has had a total of 21 minutes in the episode, more time that the team, is to think that something is wrong. I watch Criminal minds for the team, not the unsub. Sorry but is the truth, I like the story but If only it were written as you have said, would be a completely different episode.

    I agree with you about Tara. I watch again all the episodes (S11) this weekend to count the minutes and I watched her and her peronal thing in every moment (Season premiere, about her weeding, about her (ex)fiance, interview in prison, her "opinion" to make the town in Pariahville, she and JJ on episode Awake, or she in this episode, etc, etc etc). We know more thing about her that the others in this season 11. Where is Jack? Henry, Michael, etc. I hate when JJ was a ninja/MarySue and now JJ is out but he wave Tara? Come on! I like her but she is having too much importance to be recurrent.

    PS: Sorry my english

  5. I agree with a lot of your review, though in my personal opinion, I can't see how there would have been any good way to tell the same basic story, because I had a problem with the premise as it was written. I just didn't buy the son being SO malleable that he would start killing just because of mommy's influence. I didn't buy the choice of victim or the staging or anything. That MIGHT have worked if he was targeting truckers as revenge for what his mother experienced, but people in the court system (and I can't remember if she lost custody before she went to jail, or because she went to jail). I honestly think this would have been an interesting story if they were tracking the mother (assuming she was killing in present day), because her targets would have made psychological sense. But I personally didn't the story as it was presented.

    And as much as it pains me, I have to agree about Tara. I still do like the character, but it doesn't make that much sense to make a new, supposedly recurring, character to get so much screen time. They need to throttle it back.

  6. Excellent review Sir Elyan, agree 90%, disagree about Lewis but I like the character a lot so I don't mind if we see much of her.

  7. Sir Elyan I wish you had written this episode. I loved your idea of how the episode SHOULD have played out. It was perfection.

    I too must disagree about Tara Lewis. We don't know the availability of the other actors for this episode. So I'll take Tara's snark and swagger.

    Great review Sir Elyan!

  8. You nailed it, Sir Elyan! If only CM would take notice. I can't believe Kim is still there. She is an abysmal writer.

  9. bonjour; j'aime vos critique! Mais bon j’attends la versions française, et je me sert traducteur, pour lire vos critiques. moi j'aime criminal minds,il n’ont pas la saveur d'avant, ça sent la fin!

    1. Je suis d'accord! Il a perdu beaucoup de son attrait unique sur les dernières saisons.
      Il est agréable de voir une autre européenne commentait parce que Criminal Minds est si populaire au Royaume-Uni et en Europe.

  10. Bonjour Gallia,

    Merci pour les bon mots!

    Nous aussi ont aiment CM mais bon je doit dire que les saisons 1-5 étaient meilleurs puisque l'équipe était plus souvent qu'autrement le focus, maintenant le focus est sur les unsubs et franchement ce n'est pas la raison pour laquelle plusieurs d'entre nous regardons l'émission. 'The Bond' est un excellent exemple d'un épisode ou pour l'écrivain l'équipe n'est pas important, l'histoire du unsub et sa mère à toute l'attention. Franchement, cet épisode est ennuyeux.

    j'espère que l'épisode suivant sera meilleur.

  11. I dont know what episode you guys watched, but until the 30 min. mark, i didn't kniw that Flora had anything to do with it.


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