Saturday, May 16, 2015

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 10 - 1023. The Hunt - Review

NOTE: The reviews for 1022. Protection and 1023. The Hunt were done by the same reviewer because we thought both plots would be more linked than they are, and were written at once. To allow for easier loading of the blog, especially in small devices, they are being posted individually, but to keep them as linked as was the original idea, the article with the review for 1022. Protection has its comment area closed and we invite all of our readers to express their opinions in the comments area in this review for 1023. The Hunt.

First, please bear with me as I get a small rant out of the way. Across Social Media all, year there have been people posting hate against Jennifer Love Hewitt. Mind you, not the character of Kate Callahan, but of Jennifer Love Hewitt herself, so now she's leaving. Is that bullying responsible for her leaving? Yes, I think so in part. At least it made her decision to leave to be with her children a lot easier to make. Those people who spewed such hateful comments about her should be ashamed of themselves, what they've done is nothing but out and out bullying. People did it to Jeanne Tripplehorn, now they've done it to Jennifer Love Hewitt. I don't think any of those people "get it"; sure critique, complain, bitch, rant and rave about the CHARACTER, but for God's sake!, leave the actor/actress alone. There is "zero" place in any fandom for such hateful attitudes. Yes, I dislike how the character of JJ has become but I would NEVER, ever, spew hate or dislike towards AJ Cook. Clue here people, there are real people, with real feelings and emotions, behind these characters and their Social Media handles.
/:Rant Over:/

Now, as for the episode. While I was expecting a poor episode, especially after the previous week's submission into "worst Criminal Minds episode of the season" category with "Protection", I will say that I was pleasantly surprised that this episode did so well. Was it the best season finale for Criminal Minds? No, it wasn't, but it certainly was better than Season 6, Supply and Demand, or Season 8, The Replicator. I liked the catch up scenes in the beginning. Both, the writers and the director, brought us viewers back up to date with the storyline quickly and efficiently. Seeing Meg's evolution from boy-crazy teen to Profiler's daughter in that van was smooth and seemed to fit.
Hailey Sole did a wonderful job of playing Meg in this episode. KUDOS to the writers for making her into a not so obnoxious teen anymore; I actually felt for those girls watching the scene play out in the van. As they cut back to the BAU and the continuation of "pizza party" from last week, the interplay between Morgan/JJ and Reid was well done; Reid blabbering about black holes was just priceless, and I loved Kate's addition to the universe discussion with her "My universe is expanding with nausea and vertigo"... Geez that brought memories of long forgotten pregnancy aliments back! But the happiness is short lived as we see often, and all too soon this "family" is on "The Hunt" for one of their own. I liked how they conferenced Markayla's mother to find out if indeed the girls were in trouble. I was glad to see that Hotch informed of the potential situation immediately by Reid, Although as a mother, I would think JJ could have been the first to get up and go to him, but that a small blip on this finale's overall consistency.

Once Hotch is aware and starts the process of calling the CARD (Child Abduction Rapid Deployment) Team and from there it's "let's go, time for the BAU". I want to add here, I appreciate that they brought back Molly Culver as Agent Tanning from episode Gabby for consistency, but sadly I didn't buy her portrayal of the CARD Leader. If wishes were horses I would have liked to have seen them bring back Nigel Gibbs as CARD Leader Agent James Franklin from the episode Seven Seconds; he was a spot on character... Anyway back to the episode.

While we see the Unsubs early on, I was happy to see that they weren't the ones telling the story. Their scenes were filling in the blanks and adding confirmation to what the BAU was finding out as they went through the case. It was very well designed to bring this case back around to what happened in X, it made sense. Although I didn't quite buy the whole "targeting Meg to get back at Kate" angle, going back to the Torso Killer and the events of X worked well. I did enjoy the group dynamics as they gathered in the BAU room. Hotch was in charge, Garcia was using her knowledge in the most accurate capacity; I liked how the team guided Garcia in her technical searches. Jennifer Love Hewitt did a great job of portraying the panicked mother. And I liked the balance in the team. Morgan and Reid were great in interviewing the girls' friend Sam and ultimately getting the picture that led Kate to know who took the girls. This was connected the Unsubs' dots to perfection. Great job to Janine and Jim for a harmonious storyline. Hotch does well as the in-control team leader, and he was definitely that in this episode. The interwoven scenes with the girls helped us understand their mentality through all this, and that then fueled our understanding of where the team was going in their search. At times, when I would see the team's thought process, and then see that thought process played out via the girls I was like "yes, the bread crumb trail is leading somewhere". That fact alone is what kept me glued to watching, I wanted to follow the bread crumbs right alongside the BAU. Meg actually surprised me with her quick thinking in remembering all that her Aunt taught her about unsubs and predators.

Again, how the writers wove those events from X into this episode was very well done. I had a flashback to that final scene between Hotch and Kate about how she didn't feel this was over, and was glad to see that Hotch too must have been following up on various informations that came to him or he found throughout the year.

Alas, I'm not going to go through the episode scene by scene because quite frankly, I find I only do that when there are a lot of inconsistencies to point out. This episode didn't have that, "The Hunt" managed to weave a spell binding story with exceptional team work and believable events. Were there a few glitches? Yes, there were, with my biggest gripe being Hotch saying "Let's go!" when they discovered the first Unsubs' location and then not being anywhere in sight when they went after them. And we were treated to "JJ/Morgan" leading the charge. Will add here too, that "we", fans, already know AJ Cook is pregnant, we already know from "leaks" by Erica that JJ is telling Reid that very fact in this episode, so... can someone PLEASE tell me WHY then she allowed herself to be in the field, on the take downs no less? Wouldn't she be overly cautious seeing as last time she was pregnant injury caused her to lose the baby? That just didn't sit well with me. That rant over, I will continue. I was also hoping for a bit angrier Hotch in Alex Zorgan's interrogation once they caught him, especially after he had told every cop in that BAU bullpen "As you know Meg is part of this family. We do not rest until she is home safely."

The whole case unraveled via excellent profiling by the team, using all of their knowledge and resources. We knew that Criminal Minds rarely kills off important cast or anyone that is a part of their "family", so there was a confidence that Meg would be found and found OK. Which is exactly what happened. Cut to the BAU room after the case and JJ reaching for the saltines, which Reid catches. JJ and Reid felt "right" in that scene Reid seeing his friend doing something that is different, quickly extrapolating what that could mean, and talking to her about it. I did like that JJ wasn't super committal about being pregnant. I at least, got the feeling that she suspected but wasn't 100% sure yet, which could be why she remained in the field, not that I liked her being in the field even if she wasn't sure.

Now for Jennifer Love Hewitt's departure. I liked how these writers harkened back to how Kate joined the team and the final scene in X with just Hotch and Kate. This was right, to have Kate go to Hotch in person; no cryptic text messages, no evasive "I can't do this, I don't feel comfortable anymore" plot line. Just pure parental concern. Kate left the BAU to be there for Meg and her new baby, end of story. I like how they left it open that Kate could come back after a year if she wanted. And I loved how changed Hotch is today, that he is comfortable enough to hug Kate and wish her all the luck in the world. That was a very nice "family" moment to end the season.

Now, my fellow fans, we sit and wait for Season 11, and we still have to wait to see if Jennifer Love Hewitt is replaced or if (my preference) they leave this team at 6 and use guest cast to fill any voids that may pop up. In my mind Criminal Minds can go on for several more years if the writers and TPTB realize that when you focus on the "team" and not the "unsubs" or just one member of the team, you very often get a great episode. I like the personal details about the team being shown, BUT I prefer to have it creatively interwoven into the case of the week. I do not need the bookend "feel good" scenes to make me understand this family's dynamics.

Mordred's final thoughts: I give this episode a solid B+. There were a few issues I had with some inconsistencies, but overall it worked and worked well. My hats off to the writers and director, and to the whole cast and crew of Criminal Minds, who without a doubt, work very hard to try and keep this picky fan happy. Happy Hiatus! See you all in July!


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CRIMINAL MINDS Season 10 - 1022. Protection - Review

NOTE: The reviews for 1022. Protection and 1023. The Hunt were done by the same reviewer because we thought both plots would be more linked than they are, and were written at once. To allow for easier loading of the blog, especially in small devices, they are being posted individually, but to keep them linked as was the original idea, this article with the review for 1022. Protection has its comments area closed and we invite all of our readers to express their opinions in the comments area in the review for 1023. The Hunt.

The episode opens up with a man running from police car but managing to evade them and make his way home, where he's greeted by a girl on crutches and her mother with no explanation as to who they are. Now seeing as we've all watched Criminal Minds long enough to understand how the show works we "know" that this is our Unsub already. What we don't know is what has he done and who those women are.

Immediately we get cut to Morgan and JJ running through woods. Um... hello they're in DC. What woods are there, is one question I have and two, why the heck is this scene even there? Obviously (to me at least) this was gratuitous tits and ass, and not even on Morgan's part as he's all decked out in black with a hoodie, not unlike a lot of the images I've seen of rioters on my TV of late. This was about JJ and JJ's body and how "fine" she obviously looks and how toned and athletic she is. (Nice slap in the face to the billions of average women on this planet. Idealize a Barbie version of womanhood). This scene alone turned me off of the episode because it has "no place" in Criminal Minds and was unnecessary to the storyline. Criminal Minds isn't a soap opera, please stop trying to turn it into one. Then, to make matters worse Hansel and Gretel find out about the case via telephone while on their run through the woods. Magical Garcia calls and we get the ever inappropriate dialog from her. Please people, the FBI if nothing else is all about professionalism, can we at least "try" to have some happening with Garcia? Because when you do, she's wonderful. I get quirky, I get eclectic, that would all be fine, but the down and out sexually suggestive crap is too much. And please someone tell me why would Mama JJ would decide to spend her Saturday afternoon running in the woods with Derek Morgan instead of being home with her husband and son? Isn't JJ supposed to be afraid of the woods too? And what about Savannah, wouldn't she care that her "man" is going running with another woman? Can I just say CONTINUITY PEOPLE!!! Remember it sometime please. Anyway I digressed, back to the case we go. While on the phone Garcia is going over the case with them as they're running. The case seems simple enough Johns and prostitutes being murdered, why is this a BAU case?

Cut back to Unsub covered in blood, crutch girl not registering that fact, and the Unsub appears to be in some psychotic/alcohol delusion. It's at this point that I had turned to my husband and said: "Betcha this is like the episodes Normal or With Friends Like These, where girl and Mom are dead already." Brian, my ever loving Criminal Minds-neophyte hubby looked at me and said: "For once I know what you're talking about and yep I think you're right."

With this knowledge I continued to watch the episode mentally comparing it with Normal and With Friends Like These. Painfully I will say "Protection" fell short. The scenes in the house are too dark visually and it's hard to understand what the characters are feeling when you can't see them clearly. The ensuing scenes has Danny covered in blood and the girl is comforting him about both his headache and validating what he's doing. That screams to me that she is a product of his mind, and not reality. Because in reality I would like to hope that people would be aghast that their "landlord" is covered in blood. As teenagers like to say these days "Sense makes not".

When we come back from commercial we get the scenes on the Jet. And quite frankly, hindsight being 20/20, this was the most "profiling" I saw all episode. I must admit I did like how Virgil worked the shout outs to his home town and Joe's too into the character of Sweetness. But then the character portrayal wasn't very good at all and all Sweetness had going for him was his misguided association to the legendary Bears player. So after Sweetness we are unfortunately treated with interrogations out in the open and in NONE of those do we see Hotch actually doing any work? Was he affected by his run in with Mr. Scratch last week and not 100%? This is never explained in the episode. But wait, Virgil did remember that hookers like to hit on Reid, so at least that’s a bit of continuity. After that brief scene we are greeted with JJ and Katei's interrogation of Mama Mia's, the hooker who's a mother. At first JJ comes off as heavy handed but then we get her being again all soft and motherly. Can someone please tell me "why" JJ decided to leave the station and go find that hooker to drive her home? What was her reasoning? Was there some sort of profiling that we weren't privy too? There's absolutely no correlation as to why the team is doing what they're doing. We see zero profiling from the "team". Instead we get JJ doing everything AGAIN! She's taking control, making decisions and there's no explanation for those decisions. From all this we do find out that this hooker was the one who survived one of the killings. But the over acting was just too much, really way too much.

I'm not going to pick apart all the scenes with the Unsub because quite frankly, there were too many and those were disjointed and not very well filmed. Not to mention my ulcer needs a break from the stupidity of so much Unsub yet again. However, from the clothing changes between the Unsub's memories and what the police finds on scene, not to mention what little the BAU has inputted into the investigation, by this point I am sure this Unsub is on some psychotic break.

While the profile was done well, there is nothing we've seen so far to explain how the team came to this level of knowledge about the Unsub. If they would have cut out some of the Unsub's scenes "maybe" all this could have been explained much better. The writers need to keep in mind that we fans are "not" privy to the workings of their minds as they write. What might have made perfect sense to Virgil is lost to the average viewer when there's no scenes to explain how things got to where they were. This show is supposed to be about an elite team of FBI profilers who examine and review the evidence regarding a killer and delve into said killer's mind to figure out why they do what they do. It is "not" about the Unsub telling the story about how he/she got caught, which all too often these Unsub heavy episodes digress too, the Unsub telling the story rather than the team.

It would have been refreshing seeing JJ actually doing a press conference again if she hadn't dominated the episode so far. I get that AJ Cook fans and JJ fans like JJ 2.0 but please, she is part of a team, make her as such.

I have to say at this point in the episode the continued killings and detailed scenes of the killings for me it just gratuitous violence on the writer's part and completely took away precious time from the team's profiling. That was pandering to the blood and guts crowd of Criminal Minds viewers, but quite frankly turned me off. Criminal Minds is NOT a B-Horror movie and never should be written, directed or acted as one. Point to make here, is that CBS wants "younger skewing viewers" however, if you make it too bloody and too gory you risk losing viewers overall. It's all about balance, and this episode lacked balance.

Again JJ and Kate interrogate a witness. By this point watching this episode is painful and I'm forcing myself to relive this pain to do this review... Jeez, I must have some sado-masochistic tendencies myself! There is no need to relieve the scenes and see the victims POV while having the "team" off camera. We get that the Unsub is hallucinating his version of the events, we don't have to see it too. This is another waste of screen time that could and should have been used for the team to have their back and forth about what is driving the Unsub. Sure I get that writers want their creations (unsubs/guest cast) to shine, but you work for Criminal Minds people, you have to write for the STARS of the show! This is a huge fail in my mind of the showrunner and the writers, to not understand that fans don't really care about the minutia detail of unsub or victims, fans care about seeing the team do their thing, and do it well. This week, the BAU could have stayed home and would have saved the FBI some money on fuel costs for the jet with the level of input they gave to this case.

I'’ll get to the end of the case. Please tell me again why the BAU was even called in here? Was there some veiled reference to LA police being so inept that they couldn't figure out the trail of evidence that was left behind? They're not capable of interview witnesses and finding out the information about the victims that didn't fit? Writers, PLEASE, when coming up with a concept ask yourself first: "Would this be a case that the real FBI BAU would handle?". And hell, if you aren't sure go ask your resident specialist Jim Clemente, that's what he's there for supposedly. And why, oh why, wasn't SWAT used when they went to the Unsub's house? Didn't Morgan himself say that this guy wasn't afraid to use his gun? Weren't we already treated to the Unsub unloading whole clips into his victims? There are long established "How to deal with Local Law Enforcement" protocols that were simply thrown out the window in this episode to highlight Morgan and JJ running the show again. Hotch wasn't the leader in this episode, he was just "there". And I get that he had two Hotch heavy episodes recently, I do, but to write him so out of character, to have him sidelined, is just inexcusable in my mind. It's not that hard to write these characters the way they were envisioned. What is horrible is that, from one episode to another, the writers don't see how each of them write the characters so differently, and it's not pointed out in their supposed writers' meetings. There have been a lot of really good episodes this season with the team portrayed spot on. Why is it easier for some writers and nearly impossible for others? Shouldn't "all" the writers help each other to keep with continuity? Or are some of the writers so shallow that they don't want constructive criticism? I have to say I loved Boxed In and Lockdown! Virgil's mind for those two episodes was just amazing. This episode however, I don't know where his head was or why he wrote the way he did. Quite frankly I have to wonder if Virgil actually "did" think up and write this episode, or if there were others telling him what they wanted to see and made him write this? This episode is just so different from him and how he normally writes the team spot on...

Continuing on. It annoys me every time Garcia throws some stupid, ridiculous, over the top line when talking to the team or anyone else. Please people, have her be at least "somewhat" professional. I hate that the writers are all too often relying on Garcia's magic computer to find out who their suspect. And the way they wove in the how and why regarding the Mother and her daughter, and how Danny was questioned about their disappearance just seemed too little too late. And I'm sorry, the biggest mistake of this episode was dumbing Reid down so much that he actually misdirects the search for the bodies outside by the flowers, so that JJ can find the flowers and the bodies, is just wrong. There was absolutely no need for JJ to be in that scene period. Reid could have found the flowers, found the bodies and gotten the rest of the team outside to take note of such. Again, dumbing Reid down I believe was just so one more scene with JJ could be crammed into the episode. Heads up folks, JJ is not the resident genius cookie, in the BAU box, please stop dumbing down the rest of the team to make it look like she is; it's an absolute slap in the face to fans of the other characters to make them into stupid zombie's to foist "the precious" on us!

Case over (Thank God!) and we move on to the "To Be Continued" part of the episode. Throughout the year from episode 1 we were introduced to the human trafficking angle of this storyline. We were also introduced to the stupidest teenager on the planet, Kate's niece Meg. I've dreaded this plot coming to fruition since they left the whole concept open back in the middle of the season. I mean, come on!, Meg's Aunt worked sex crimes, she's now a BAU profiler, and she didn't have an in depth sit down about the dangers of online predators? At least have the kid show some intelligence and warn her friend about all this? Do something, anything, to show that Meg actually listened to what her Aunt should have more than once warned her about, and got caught up in this because of her idiotic friend and not because she herself was a stupid brat? This whole concept just seems too stupid. And to just say "Meg is a teenager, they don't listen" is a cop out. So now we're seeing this all come to a head. And wonder of wonders, after the friend drags her along on this little meet and greet, Meg finally seems to have realized that "whoops!, this might be a mistake". But alas, it’s a little too late for that revelation. By then I hoped that Janine and Jim had written a thrilling and plausible finale to this whole storyline. Check back the next article for my review of "The Hunt".

In conclusion, if Mr. Scratch was the Holy Grail of all Criminal Minds episodes this season, then "Protection" is nothing more than a dragon that needed to be slain, and hopefully I've done that and Criminal Minds can move forward from this.

Mordred's rating: 1 out of 10. The 1 point is for simply having Reid do something other than hold up a wall. (Hotch got that duty tonight) and for the fact that Joe Adler actually did do a stellar job acting the Unsub.


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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 11 - CBS Fall Schedule Revealed, Premiere Date Announced!!!


                                               8:00-9:00 PM              SURVIVOR

                                               9:00-10:00 PM           CRIMINAL MINDS

                                               10:00-11:00 PM          CODE BLACK (N)

LATEST NEWS: The Criminal Minds season premiere will air on September 30, 2015

UPDATE: BEYOND BORDERS is held for midseason.

For those interested in keeping the S11 Criminal Minds logo, and thanks to Dylan Hay-Chapman, the cool guy that works on set and has created them, here are the links to download:

Monday, May 11, 2015