Tuesday, May 20, 2014

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 9 - 924. Demons - Review

This Season 9 finale was all about a small town, in Bristol County, Texas, the corruption of some of its law and enforcement officers, and who among the town's people were involved in this ring of corruption, and why they were involved. Not everyone was in it for the money as we will find out.

Previously on Criminal Minds...

The team is called to a small town as a serial killer is targeting the town's male and female prostitutes. The first part, 'Angels' ended with a thrilling shootout between the town cops, the FBI and the Preacher who was set up at the restaurant by the main unsub, deputy Owen McGregor. Both Morgan and Reid got shot and the episode ended there with viewers not knowing the agents fate... (unless you had the misfortune to look at the CBS moronic promo that gave everything away!)


'Demons' picks up where 'Angels' left off with the aftermath of the shootout. Nice sequence in the restaurant where we see the victims, glass falling down in slow motion, while outside we see Reid who, again in slow motion, sees McGregor walk away from the scene. This is important as it explains later why McGregor will go after Reid.

I wish throughout the season the writers had given Jeanne Tripplehorn more to do, she is an excellent actress and proved it in her last episode on Criminal Minds. She brought Blake's worries for Reid and blurred it well with her fear of losing him as she did her 9 year old son Ethan, whose name she kept calling Reid by while she was trying to make him hang on until the medics got to them.

The whole story with the corrupted cops was well written and believable. I love how the team found themselves involved in a "us versus them" case. They could trust no one within that town, but themselves. With the Sheriff dead and not knowing who was or was not corrupted, the team closed ranks and worked to protect each other while at that same time finding out who was involved and who the ring leader was.

Nice that they did a different setting for the profiling, in Morgan's hospital room courtesy of Hotch!

Finally JJ sounded like herself and not the super-agent JJ. Not once did I have the feeling that she was the super-agent, we even found out that while she is good at shooting, she is not good at shooting at a moving truck! It took her I think 6 shots to get the driver of the truck trying to get away from the junkyard. She was much more believable in this episode than some this past season.

Gotta love Rossi's snarkiness, the man is a master at it! The look he and Hotch exchanged as they were talking with one of the deputies when the man told them "I'm sure you guys have a word for that behavior." to which Rossi replied with a knowing look, "Devious"... was priceless.

Love how Garcia 'raced' McGregor to Reid's room as the man was on his way to take care of the only witness who could place him at the shooting scene while he was not on shift, and not supposed to be there. Pulling the fire alarm to force the evacuation of the hospital, and then wheeling the injured Spencer away right under McGregor's nose was brilliant on Garcia's part. This was one of the two times where she did save Spencer.

The scene with Rossi and Blake in the SUV as they are going to secure Dinah's son, while being very good because of the setup for the confrontation with the two deputies that are after them, left me dissatisfied when it came to the shared secret on Rossi's part. This was pretty much a rehash of when Hotch came back home and found that Haley had left (Season 3). If the writer wanted that type of secret shared why not have Blake and Hotch in that SUV? Would have worked better if Rossi had said that the worst day of his life was when his son died, and still it would be something he would have had in common with Alex.

We didn't get a 'Hotchalanche' BUT we got the Hotch glare aimed at the deputy who tried interfere, but who could not compete with Hotch and had to back down. No one can glare like SSA Hotchner!

My favorite scene was the take down of McGregor and some of his cronies. Yes, sue me, I like action scenes! I Love when Hotch gets physical, and he sure got physical with McGregor! Love how first he took down one of the cronies by shooting him in the leg, while they were both on each side of a truck, and when the man made a move to shot at Hotch, the BAU Unit Chief took him out permanently. After that Hotch went after McGregor, they both shot at each other, missed, so then fought hand to hand. Finally, just as McGregor was picking up his lost gun, Hotch took him out using his backup weapon, as like McGregor his primary weapon had been knocked away. Great scene, all very exciting!

Another favorite scene was the one at the hospital where Penelope saved Reid for the second time. Yes, Penelope shot the guy but she did it to save Reid's life. This is the only type of situation, 'saving one of her babies', that I could see her use a gun on someone. Garcia's reaction afterward was spot on, she was totally freaked out! I am sure she watched lots of kitten videos once back home ;) Oh, and the hug between Reid and Penelope at the end of that scene brought tears to my eyes.

The last scene between Blake and Reid was pretty sad. Again someone that Reid loved left him. Alex leaving her credentials with Spencer left no doubt in my mind that she will not be coming back.

Pretty good scenes too were those of JJ with Dinah. We got back the JJ that I loved, the one that was caring for the victim; yes, Dinah was managing the prostitutes, but she too was a victim of the Preacher, who had no trouble beating her into doing his bidding, and she too had a secret, her son was in danger from the corrupted cops. JJ was able to make her trust the FBI by showing her proof that the FBI had her son and would protect him.

It was fitting that Blake would text Hotch what I believe was her resignation. The woman was never flashy just efficient, and it made sense she would quit without fanfare.

More things that I liked...
  • There was team focus, and more balance.
  • Cruz was there as a support for the team. I like Cruz, and was happy to have him back, and not as the boss that takes over, but as one that is there to help the team with whatever they need.
  • I have mentioned that I love the action scenes; yes, I know Criminal Minds is about profiling, and those who work at the BAU, but this is TV, and once in a while an action packed episode is welcomed!
  • Cute that Reid's love for Dr. Who was worked into the episode in the form of the figurines from the show.
The not so good... (because you know nothing is perfect)
  • Why, oh why, do the writers feel this need to write JJ, and to a lesser extent together with Morgan, in almost every action scene? (Yeah, I know she got to the junkyard with Hotch...) Also, I know it was said that this season was a JJ season, but it became ridiculous from '200' and onward (except for 'Angels' and 'Demons') with how good, great, and badass JJ is now. Glad it was all toned down for the season finale. I dearly hope that next season we see less of her and Morgan, and more of Hotch, Rossi, Reid and Garcia.
  • I don't know if not showing the confrontation between Rossi, Blake and the two deputies was an editor/director choice, or the writer never wrote than scene, but it was a really bad choice. The tension was all built up, and instead of coming to an end with us seeing how Rossi and Blake got out of it, once we came back from commercials we got cheated out of it. I know they needed to show us how McGregor dealt with failure, he killed those two deputies (probably was also planning on not leaving any of his cohorts alive), but by cutting out the VERY long scene at the start were we see JJ and Morgan run after the Preacher by maybe one minutes or more, we could have had that scene with Rossi and Blake. Less JJ and Morgan would not have hurt the episode as we had plenty of them in later scenes.
The questions...
  • Is Morgan so tough that he can take three bullets (two in his vest from a machine gun), and still get up and run after the Preacher?
  • Not only is Morgan a very tough guy with amazing recuperating abilities but apparently he can teleport himself out of a room too...? No, have no idea how Morgan could be in the file room one second and the next outside while the deputy got in, all that without being seen ;)
  • Lots, of questions I have about Morgan; why didn't he use the light under his gun while chasing the Preacher, or in the junkyard? (I know details, details...!)
  • Why only Morgan could see that the bullet fired at the Sheriff was not from the Preacher's gun but from a deputy's gun? Hotch of all people should have seen that from the crime scene pictures, after all he is in Blackwolf words (from ‘The Tribe’) "the gun man"?
  • Why were all the scenes outside so dark? It was hard to see at times what was going on.
Some very random observations to (almost) close this review...
  • Oh, I so didn't want to see that bullet hole in Reid's neck!
  • Funny line (not that there was many in this episode): Garcia to Blake and JJ at the hospital when she shows up with Cruz in tow "Turns out we are not the only one whose connected. He knows someone with a plane".

This was a pretty good episode, that started about the team going to investigate the murder of male and female prostitutes, and ended with corruption, dead cops, FBI agents shot and injured, and a BAU agent leaving the bureau.

The episode had, like 'Angels', lots of details that demanded of the viewers to pay close attention, which I admit was not what I did on first viewing, was just too interested by the action. All the explanations were in the details; I had many questions after the first viewing, but on second, and third viewing almost all of my them were answered: why was the Preacher set up? He was no longer needed and made for a great fall guy considering his past. Why was Dinah managing those girls? She used to be a prostitute, and she was trying to protect her son. Why was McGregor going after Reid? He was a witness that needed to be silenced.

The writer, Erica Messer, was able to give everyone something exciting to do, except Cruz and Rossi. Erica could have given more to Rossi if she had cut some of JJ and Morgan's scenes.

It is sad that Jeanne Tripplehorn is leaving after only two seasons. Feels like the writers barely wrote for her. As an exit, this was a much better one than killing her character off. Killing Blake off would not have had the same impact as killing one of the other six (Hotch, Rossi, Reid, Morgan, JJ or Garcia) simply because we never had enough time with her, time enough to really be worried about her. This is a failing of the writers with this character. Farewell to Jeanne, wishing her all the best in any new projects she will have in the future.

Want to applaud the acting in the episode. Everyone was great, especially Michael Trucco, who played Owen McGregor. His unsub was chillingly scary in his efficiency at running his business, and killing colleagues!

Lastly, yes this was a well written episode, even if it had its fails (nothing major, as mentioned somewhere in this LONG review!) but all in all, this was a much better season final than last year's, which suffered from Hamill's subpar performance. I enjoyed this season finale despite losing a team member.

The action, suspense, acting and writing deserve an 8.5/10!

Bring on season 10!