Friday, March 11, 2016

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 11 - 1116. Derek - Review

We open up this episode where A Badge and A Gun left off. The imagery that Thomas Gibson used to ramp up the tension right from the beginning was excellent. That box, which looks so much like a coffin turns out to be the packing crate for what we discover is a rather evil looking mutation of a BDSM’s St. Michael’s Cross. Nothing soft and cuddly ever comes from using a St. Michael’s Cross, trust me.

I have to give Shemar Moore kudos for maintaining that look of disassociation while filming that opening scene, that couldn’t have been easy.

I so enjoyed the easy transitions Thomas Gibson gave us from reality to Derek’s mind sequences. Throughout the whole episode it just seemed to flow naturally.

I’ve read around the internet that some folks didn’t quite believe Derek’s reactions to his own kids when meeting them in that first dream sequence. I myself thought it was spot on. Real Derek has no idea what his mind is going to conjure up to protect itself in advance, therefore we got the timid, hesitant and confused Derek as he enters his home. I really enjoyed the "Twilight Zone" look Derek had through those sequences in his house. I think if I had been having those hallucinations, especially of Hotch telling me to do the right thing regarding my job or my family, I would have thought I was in the "Twilight Zone" myself.

What I especially loved in this episode was the fact that we 'knew' what was happening to Derek... We sort of saw it, but yet there was no real in your face blood and guts gore. The scene with the phosphorous burning his chest started on Derek's bare chest but I loved how Thomas cut to Derek and his father in that field and all we saw was the glowing hot line through Derek's shirt. Just as the scene where Derek goes ‘fishing’ for that SAT phone chip. I knew what he was doing. Thankfully I didn’t have to ‘see’ what he was doing. The bloody hands holding that chip was enough for my mind to imagine what he had just done. As a viewer I understood that reality Derek was suffering agonizingly and was forced to do things that normally would never happen, but yet I wasn't forced to be a voyeuristic witness to it. Again kudos to Thomas for directing it that way.

One aspect that I went 'hmmm' was in the scene where drugged, tortured and in massive pain Morgan was able to gain the upper hand get a gun and virtually kill all his attackers himself. While exciting to watch and well done, the concept of this just made me raise an eyebrow.

There were some continuity issues that gave me pause. I did very much like that Derek was able to ‘remember’ things Reid and even the others had said to him in ‘real time’ that helped him survive. I got a chuckle out of Dream Derek’s version of Garcia walking into that field. It was just the right amount of levity to lighten the darkness of the episode. I also, liked how again Penelope was able to instill in Derek that “The Team” was working with him in a sense. That his mind was extended into her realm (computers), so use it.

And I'm sorry Breen, love your work this season but man, oh man!, continuity is 'not' your forte. Longtime fans know that Derek's Dad was killed by a robber while they were in a convenience store in Chicago. Not on the street with Dad trying to stop a street mugging, while heading to a convenience store. I am 'hoping' that Hank Morgan's comments in that field to Derek about "Go back to the beginning" regarding Derek's victimology is a glimpse of something still to come.

While personally I would have preferred more of the rest of the team I am very content with their roles as each member was written correct to their characterization. I know lots of people loved the fact that Reid ‘made the kill shot’ to save Derek, reaffirming the so called Derek/Spencer bromance, however for me it felt a bit off for Reid. I’m not a big fan of Reid using a gun, period. I always held to what Gideon told him about “You don’t have to use a gun to kill someone” when I think of Spencer in those situations. I would have much rather have seen Hotch storm through the door to Derek and maybe have a line from Hotch about “trusting Hotch with his life” in reference to the Derek/Hotch conversation at the end of Mayhem. But that is a personal preference and takes nothing away from the overall excellence of this episode.

The ending was fairly predictable based on Hank's conversation with Derek in the field about Savannah, but what struck me was Hank's admission to Derek about "his son" that Savannah is pregnant with. Boy, is Derek gonna have some 'splainin' to do to her about how he knows that one! LOL!

Overall the episode was wonderful. Well written, superbly directed, marvelous performances from the entire main and guest cast. Everything came together in this episode so much so that I can overlook the niggling mistakes and enjoy the overall episode.

While I’m sure there are a lot of fans/viewers wanting explanations about why Derek? Why do these people want to do this? What’s the cause, the reason for all this? I’m positive that the reason we didn’t get answers is because this episode wasn’t the end of the situation by a long stretch. I’m looking forward to Criminal Minds 250th episode that should provide us with more answers as to the remaining unanswered questions from this episode. I’m also looking forward to Episode 18 which seems like it will be the wrap up for this whole arc.

Mordred’s overall gradeA+ (9.625-10)
  • ScriptA- (8.5-10)
  • Directing - A+ (9.5-10)
  • CastingA+ (10-10)
  • ActingA+ (9.5-10)
  • Production (set-design, make-up, special effects, etc.) – A (9-10)

Thank you!



  1. One aspect that I went 'hmmm' was in the scene where drugged, tortured and in massive pain Morgan was able to gain the upper hand get a gun and virtually kill all his attackers himself. While exciting to watch and well done, the concept of this just made me raise an eyebrow.

    While I agree wholeheartedly with everything else you comment and opine about the episode, and even more with the grades you give, have to say that I found the above scene exceedingly believable.

    Why? Because the human body is a m a z i n g ! and more capable than even the best trained give it credit for... when in pure survival mode.

    Of course, if right after having visual confirmation that the direct threat to his life had been neutralized, Morgan hadn't collapsed, then my opinion about the full sequence would be vastly different. But he did collapse. Realistic from start to finish.

  2. very good review, loved pretty much everything about this episode, among my fav for this season.

  3. Interesting to read your take on the episode although for the most part I totally disagree with it. I personally found it way over the top and melodramatic with indifferent acting and a soap opera end scene. I know all about the effect of adrenaline on the human body in extreme situations but it was totally unbelievable the way the tortured Morgan took out 4 highly trained assassins.
    I had no problem with Reid being the first one in and shooting the unsub - that did seem right given the Morgan/Reid relationship.
    Some of the visual shots were outstanding and that was well done by TG. The continuity errors jarred - you would think they would have realised by now that the CM fandom is very clued into the backstories and get it right. It would have taken seconds to look it up and the actual canon backstory for Morgan's dad could easily have worked. I'm not sure why Breen had to change it - surely he could have made the small effort to check it?
    Sadly a disappointing episode on most fronts. But interesting to read your review - it does highlight the huge dichotomy in the response to this episode across the fandom.

  4. I think what I try to remember with any show I watch or any review I do is that this is entertainment. Reality has very little to do with entertainment industry, unless of course you're making a 'reality show' and even then there are portions that are staged. The minute you introduce camera's into any situation you're fundamentally changing the idea of reality to entertainment.

    I'm sure that many people liked or didn't like this episode based simply on who the episode was focused on. If a person is a Derek fan I'm sure many loved the episode. Just as I am sure that if one is a JJ or Reid fan the episode was disliked because of the lack of their presence.

    I guess if a person is looking for a one hour fictional show with fictional character's to stay 100% to reality they are not going to be entertained.

    Thank you for reading though.

    1. I agree with you 100%. if this show was based on the reality of the BAU we would be watching the team sitting in the office all day with paperwork. There has to be an element of unreality for most entertainment. However, there is a line where credulity gets stretched too far and when this happens one cannot suspend belief to enjoy the story. It has to be in touching distance of reality. For me, this one passed that believability line and all the unrealism and lack of continuity took away from the story. I watch CM expecting believable suspense and excitement but still rooted enough in reality for me to lose myself in it. This one failed.

    2. I'm sorry you feel that way.

      I believe most viewers of Criminal Minds are several things.

      1. Not die hard fans that know and remember every little nuance of each of the characters like probably some of us know.
      2. Are more recent fans. Coming to the show in this age of instant gratification and action movie hero's. Therefore a scene like Morgan winning out over these assassins not only served the purpose to eliminate the assassins to move the plot onto the next phase but also titillated those who like are fans of action sequences.

      I do believe that Criminal Minds over the last 11 yrs has begun to lean toward being a true 'drama' television show in the same realm of NCIS and Law and Order. I myself have accepted that A. Sex sells and B. Action comes in a close second to sex.

    3. Dumbing down then. Such a shame.

  5. First off, my deepest apologies to you Modred for being late "to the party". Life, get it. ;)

    I agreed with all of your review. I too would have had Hotch (or Rossi) take the kill shot rather than Reid. And for the exact reasons that you pointed out. Gideon's chat with Reid about not needing a gun and the Hotch/Morgan scene at the end of "Mayhem".

    And you nailed it: TG directed one helluva an episode. Shemar Moore did a great job and Breen Frazier continues to suck at continuity. Which, with him basically being the show runner now that EM is running CM: BB, should be spot on. It takes away from his credibility in the "big" chair. And he admits to it! (See his interview/chat after the HUGE one he blew in S7 with "Painless").

    And I totally agree with your points on wishing there had been more team but understanding why there wasn't. And the end with Morgan and Savannah.

    However, I still contend the best ending would have been Reid, sitting by Morgan's bed eating Jell-O. Reid would have moved ahead of Morgan in the prank game. Paybacks are a b*tch. *insert evil grin*

    Great review Modred!!

  6. Although I think it suffers from grade inflation, this is a fair review. For me, the best part about the episode was TG’s direction. I thought he made good choices throughout, and I appreciated that he toned down what might have been a torture-fest in someone else’s hands. I don’t agree re: the scene where Morgan encounters his children for the first time. Regardless of whether that was supposed to be straight up or an affectation of a dream, it was just a mess, because neither interpretation came across.

    Regarding the take-down of the unsub: it had to be either Hotch (for the reasons mentioned in the review and the comments) or Reid (for the years of friendship and as follow-up to Entropy). But I think it came down to practicality. TG wanted that scene of the shot coming straight at the camera---which was quite effective---and it required too much precision for him to get it with Hotch taking the shot. (An aside, re: Gideon’s advice to Reid in LDSK---it didn’t make sense in that episode, and it doesn’t make sense now. You think your protégé is upset at having killed someone, so you remind him there are more ways to do so? Would have made a lot more sense if he’d encouraged Reid that an unsub could be subdued in other ways, besides killing.)

    Finally, a comment to a comment. I can only speak for myself, but I suspect there are others who feel the same way. We have our favorites, but we also love the team. For this episode, I didn’t even pull out the Reid-meter, because it was for Derek, and I’m happy to give Derek his due. The discontent only comes out when we have a purported ‘team’ episode (even if one person gets the bookends), where the writer seems to have forgotten who is on the team. I think they’ve actually done a much better job of being inclusive this year. That may or may not have to do with the rotations, in and out, of various team members----absent JJ, absent Reid, absent Tara. But, if it does, it points to the ideal size of the team (and the cast).

  7. I just want to comment that this will go down as one of the best episodes of Criminal Minds. Thomas Gibson was great as director and Shemar Moore was very believable. In watching a tv show or movie of this type, there has to be a certain amount of fiction. Shows that are totally reality are not enjoyable. The show had a perfect balance. I loved it..


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