Monday, March 17, 2014

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 9 - 918. Rabid - Review

I sat down to watch this episode and was really hoping after last week's episode I was going to be wowed. And the truth is the opening seen with the single woman struggling with her grocery bags getting on the bus provided sufficient creepy to get me excited.

Watching the other riders as she walked to her seat had me trying to guess 'which' one was the unsub. When she sat down and we see the geeky young man staring at her I was so sure that “Ahhh HA” he's the unsub! We saw how each of other riders fade out as they got off at their stops and yet Mr. Geeky was still on the bus. I just knew he was the unsub. Boy was I wrong.

Next we see the young woman walking, apparently to her home, spooky nighttime setting and Bus Dude following her. I was thinking this is it, the unsub going to snatch her. Wrong again, we find out that guy from bus (Russell) was only trying to do something nice for her and return a bag she dropped. Chivalry isn't dead after all.

As my heart and head begin to calm down I must admit I thought 'whoa, I missed something.' Now we have geeky guy calling his mother. Ok, Mama's Boy I get it. Issues from that, ok sounds like typical makings of an unsub, as we had seen the team explain back in 'Profiling 101'.

But then, another misdirection, dog barking dark creepy alleyway, hooded creepy guy and “Mr. Nice Guy stopping.” This is it I think, unsub… And Yes, I'm right… Mr. Nice Guy is snatched.

We are then greeted by our not so athletically active Tech Analyst and our Pretty Boy (OHH the horror of the 80s running shorts) running their fannies off on a track. Huffing and puffing their way into a closer shot.

I have to admit, it was a cute scene. Garcia was dead on with her description of how enthusiastic Morgan is about training, and with her goofy 'training' get up, and Reid apparently in desperate need of an oxygen tank, with his retro shop 80s shorts. You can tell these two do NOT want to be doing this, and I admit I felt bad for them. Dang FBI regulations.

But wait, saved by the ringtone. Garcia's phone goes off and she lights up when she sees the text message from Hotch (ohh, he's still the boss, insert sarcasm) telling her she needs to come for a case.

Garcia's happy, and Reid, awe well hell his line. “I'm just going to have a heart attack really quick” was priceless.

Cut to BAU, poor Garcia and the shoes, you know she's hurting. Yet here comes her nemesis aka: Derek Morgan, all sympathetic yet, sly. He's up to something? And to prove that we then have Derek… Sniffing Garcia for Ben Gay!

The round-table room was really interesting and the input from everyone was good. Not too over the top by any one team member.

We next see Russell, who I'm kind of rooting for to make it through this mess, being hosed down in a cage while a dog barks incessantly in the background… I liked how we saw most of what was happening through the lens of the camera the unsub placed on a stool to record what's happening.

Being caged like an animal is rather unpleasant, but happy to see unsub is 'hidden' from our view. Poor Russell to be caged and alone like that… treated like a dog…

Reid gets the beginning quote and we see the team on the plane. Garcia is on her video link telling team about what she found out about 3 previous victims. The discussion ensues and it's not bad. Seems the whole team is putting in their input. Hotch, rightfully, gives the orders of where each team member is supposed to go when they land.

So we have Morgan and JJ at the crime scene… again.

Rossi and Reid at ME's… again.

Hotch and Blake to the police department… again.

While I wished it was anyone other than JJ/Morgan at the crime scene (dump site) again, their interaction was good and spot on for profiling deductions regarding what they were seeing at the scene.

Rossi and Reid at the ME's office has Rossi asking questions about the condition of the bodies, while Reid speed reads through the ME's reports. Apparently the ME has never seen someone read 20,000 words per minute because his line about “Boy, you read fast” and Reid's reaction to that is cute. Reid has some ideas about what the bite marks are about and he's doing well conveying his thoughts to Rossi, and finally agrees with Rossi that based on what they know there is probably already another victim. *I like Rossi and Reid together*

Cut to Russell hearing a woman call out “hello” and for help. He can't help her but asks her a question about how long she's been there. The silence lasts for a few pregnant pauses of time as we see Russell trapped in his cage, we then hear a deranged sounding voice screaming about how she's going to eat him and eat his face off. We also see the unsub going to another cage and dragging someone (apparently the woman) from the cage. Russell's fear is quite evident, and by this time my heart is begging that the writers save him from whatever nasty is waiting him. The creepy unsub bringing poor Russell food like a dog and telling him he'll need his strength does nothing to allay my fear for Russell's future.

I will say, I was happy to see that the unsub while 'present' was hidden from our view by the creepy hockey mask. Kept us guessing, yet added to the 'creep' factor.

Meeting back at police station poor Reid is stretching his non genius muscles and Morgan is showing concern for him. Reid trying to hide his 'discomfort' with the comment “I'm just stretching because it helps me keep my brain limber” was so 'kitsch' it was funny. The profiling between Hotch, Reid, Morgan, and JJ, with Reid explaining his geographical profile was good, they went back and forth and Reid was 'fast' talking his theories like Reid of old.

Russell pleading for his mom as he's being dragged by his bindings is sad. Having the woman coming at him with her mouth foaming is creepy, and so sad…

That the unsub is videotaping everything also lends to the 'horror' of what's happening.

Garcia's computer skills tracking dot to dot, to find the unsub, and the reason for why he did this was predictable but yet classic Garcia… And we now see Rossi, Reid and Morgan listening to her dissertation about the previous victims. Reid's look of clarity when Garcia mentions that one victim worked in animal control is telling about where his thinking is going, and I liked it. Morgan having to slow down Reid's rambling as he explains what he's thinking is a good addition, as that has happened before with all the team members. Reid just talks too dang fast for most people.

Rossi's comment about Rabies is funny. I know, I know, Rabies is nothing to laugh about but hey, it's Rossi, and Joe delivers the lines just so 'Rossi like'. And Reid's face when he says “Yikes!” is cute.

As is common the whole team is present presenting some aspects of their profile. And in truth, so far so good on the team dynamics.

The director did a nice job overlaying scenes of the tied down rabid woman which only heightens the severity of what is happening and what the team is describing. The actress played the part well and I give her kudos for that. Seeing the 'normal' picture of the woman now so tortured by the Rabies disease and seeing she's a wife and mother is sad. Russell again begging for his mom, just too even talk to her, is heartbreaking.

The team working together trying to deduce what is going on is good, Reid is spot on in his explanations and everyone in the room gives some input. Reid's description of a rabies death has me again worrying for poor Russell, and seeing the woman terrified of the water only made me realize that she probably wasn't going to make it out of this alive.

The progression video on the unsub's computer is actually a heartbreaking way to show the viewers what Reid just explained.

Garcia from her 'lair' is classic Garcia and the information that she dug up was helping Reid, Morgan and JJ hone in on who the unsub was. It felt like cases of old.

Watching the unsub video tape Russell and seeing him tied up sick pulled at my heart strings. Russell begging to talk to his mom because she's just had heart surgery only added to that.

The woman being held captive with Russell is still managing to maintain her humanity but yet her escape is scary as well… not just because she couldn't get Russell out with her but because as infected as she is, she's now a danger to the outside world.

The darkness of the setting used at David Cunningham's (Unsub) house made me feel like the team was too late, in their search for him. I would have liked it better if it wasn't Morgan and JJ with Reid doing the search. But the interactions between the three agents was done well.

Up until this point we've seen little to no Alex Blake and I had to wonder where she was. Is that a product of writers not knowing how to write for her character? My guess is yes.

As the search of the unsub's house continues in the daylight, I did like the use of Reid, finding more proof that they have the right guy. When JJ brings the tape recording of David Cunningham's little brother battling the rabies virus, and then seeing JJ's reaction to hearing it was very good. AJ Cook's facial expressions are spot on to a mother hearing a child in distress. And very 'old school' JJ. Reid's comment about euthanasia all of sudden makes sense as to why there was no death certificate for Hunter Cunningham.

I liked Russell standing up to David in the next scene, gave me hope that he might live. But also brought back the point that the woman had gotten away and was outside infected with Rabies.

And just as I had that thought we cut from unsub to sick woman in crowded coffee shop highlighting the effect that she's sick and people are in danger.

The vendor giving Rossi his coffee with extra foam right before we have Rossi and Hotch finding out about the woman in the coffee shop foaming at the mouth, makes Rossi's facial expression looking at his drink after that revelation priceless. Hotch sending Morgan, JJ and Reid after the woman because they're closer again highlights the severity of the situation.

Seeing this sick woman, who was an innocent victim, desperately seeking “where she is?” in her delusional state is poignant. By this time there is the sense that she is too far gone in the disease and will not survive. 

I cannot imagine how Morgan, or even Reid and JJ watching Morgan try to stop this poor woman from coming closer to them, felt. Having to 'shoot' her to protect himself and his teammates must have been a very hard thing to do, even though he's trained to disable someone with a gunshot. The look of horror on Reid's face, and the pained look of sympathy on JJ's face was more than words could ever do. Very good directing in this scene.

Slowly fading into Morgan and Reid around the ambulance and the team (all six of them, Blake's returned) giving Garcia information to help in her deducing where the unsub's hideout was, was a good use of the team. I liked that it was Hotch who called Garcia, and then Garcia using her computers to find out that there is an abandoned city animal shelter near where they are. What will get me by the end is that this building does not look very big in size. Yet Hotch, Rossi and Blake got lost apparently once inside.

What I didn't like was partnering Hotch, Rossi, and Blake, the older agents, and then Morgan, Reid and JJ the younger agents. Age was never an issue in Criminal Minds but apparently now it is.

We see Russell again begging to go the bathroom and the unsub compiling by giving him a bucket to use. Throughout the episode it is incredibly creepy that the unsub video tapes every facet of what's happening to his victims.

The team arrives at the abandoned animal shelter and with SWAT still a bit a ways, Hotch makes the decision to send the team in in groups. Again Morgan, Reid and JJ together while Hotch, Rossi and Blake stay together.

At first I think that it might be Hotch, Rossi and Blake who would find the unsub, but no, its Morgan, Reid and JJ again. Although seeing Russell get tased right before the team gets there, hurts, because I'm rooting for him to survive.

David using the taser on Morgan, and Morgan struggling to fight him off, is actually kind of refreshing; he's not Superman after all. Seeing Reid however with gun in hand only to have him put it away and get punched down by unsub, making it necessary to have Morgan hit the unsub with an old telephone from the desk was just silly. The unsub was armed, endangering another agent, so in my mind you just shoot him. This is not Spencer 'Eastwood' we're talking about folks. He doesn't do step on bad guys, as a brutish FBI agent, very well at all.

The scene at the hospital with Rossi and the woman's family, and then Reid explaining to Morgan and JJ, that the victim has slipped into a coma and her death shouldn't be too much longer is sad. But Russell thanking them for saving him was sweet and I just wanted to cheer for Russell making it out alive.

Now my biggest problem with the episode comes at the end. I didn't like the whole, black man with a hoodie connotation at all. Reid wearing those bad 80s running shorts again and the workout that Morgan puts them through even though he could have gotten them waived from the fitness test was unnecessary 'cuteness', but I understand where the writers are coming from, they want to appeal to the younger campier viewers too. I have to admit, Garcia and Reid conspiring to kill Morgan because they didn't have to go through all that as he admitted to getting them waived from the test already was pretty funny. Reid's line “If I could raise my arms I'd hold him down for you” was hysterical combined with the 'if looks could kill' faces on him and Garcia.

So to sum this all up.

The case was good. Unique and different. For the most part the team was excellent in their profiling with a special shout out to Spencer Reid and his marvelously intuitive mind. The guest actors and actresses were spot on with their portrayals also. The directing and editing proved on 2nd watching to be poignant and concise, leading the viewer to connect the dots as the team did.

What I didn't like about the episode, was again the overuse of JJ, even though she was toned down, the overuse of Morgan, and the disappearance of Blake for nearly the entire episode. While I wish there would have been more Hotch and Rossi, their scenes were correct to their characters.

While I found the 'fluffy' of the fitness training campy for me it is out of place in a Criminal Minds episode. But as I said earlier I understand the desire to appeal to viewers who like that sort of thing.

Overall I would give the episode a 5 out of 10.

Thank you


  1. I really enjoyed your review. It is, indeed, very thoughtful.
    For me, it was good because of the story, the guest stars and glimpses of team work.
    And it was bad because there was too much Morgan and JJ, and too little Hotch, Blake and Rossi.
    I didn't like the ending, not only because it was annoying to see Morgan acting as a bully again, towards people he (allegedly) love, but most of all because of the way these writers are insisting in dumbing down Reid to the point of not only being not smart at all, but also severely misinformed of regular standard procedures in a place he's been working at for way over a decade. And for once, they did that to Garcia too. Now, I don't care about her anymore, but the whole scene is totally unwatchable for me, since it reminds me of how low this tv show can fall nowadays.
    Still hoping to get at least a good story, despite the 'cute' moments...

  2. Welcome Mordred!

    Your review was excellent summation of the episode.

  3. Ms. Fabiana,

    I agree, the story was very good and very interesting. The actors as a whole did a wonderful job. I have the same issues you do with Morgan/JJ and disappearing Hotch/Rossi/Blake.

    I watch CM for intelligence, not goofy corney funny stuff.

    My big problem was Reid putting away his gun and tackling the unsub. As a competition shooter (I use Glock 26, Glock 17 and Glock 19 as well as Sig Saur P227) it's a shot that's acceptable. Morgan wasn't too close to unsub and the unsub was 'armed' with a taser at least, so a threat of imminent physical harm or death at least existed. Maybe the TPTB just didn't want to show that Reid's matured in his shooting abilities since say LDSK where he nailed Dowd in the head in the dark?

  4. great review. I agree with most of what you said. You were right about Russell and I too liked him and was rooting for him.

    I too wish there was more Blake in this episode.

    I Wonder too why reid would not shoot the unsub, after all he does his best shooting while Under extreme stress, see LDSK for proof that when a team member,s life is in danger reid can and will raise to the occasion!

    hope to read more reviews from you Mordred in the future as I do love fair and unbias reviews!

  5. I believe Virgil did it this way because he wanted Reid to have to tackle the unsub. Thereby having Morgan compliment him about it. And then Reid thanking him and acknowledging that he'd been working out some.
    Now if that is indeed the case Virgil should have come up with a much better scenario,one in which it'd been impossible for Reid to take that shot without risking Morgan's life.

    Despite that and a few other qualms I have regarding the episode. I enjoyed it immensely. Kudos to Virgil for given us an intelligent Reid. This is the second episode in a row where he's been written that way. My Reid fan heart can't help but do a happy dance.

    Here's hoping that Hotch,Rossi and Blake fans will soon have a reason to do a happy dance.
    And here's hoping we start seeing a little less Morgan and way less JJ.


  7. Very good review!
    I thought this was a pretty sound episode except for disappearing Hotch, lack of Blake and Rossi, far too much Morgan and JJ and of course the incredibly juvenile and out of character fitness fluff bookends. I get that they want to pander to the teens and pre-teens on the social networks but for heavens sake make it believable!! There is nothing worse than enjoying an interesting episode with a grown up Reid in it only to get riled up when they revert to a childish bit of fluff at the end.


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