Criminal Minds - Season 8 Recap!

What a year, huh? You wouldn't think that the Criminal Minds producers would be able to make a worse season of television than Season 7, but somehow they pulled it off!

Well, I say 'somehow', obviously we know how they did it - with a tireless dedication to only using the most contrived storytelling devices and most idiotic plot twists imaginable. Also, sometimes the team didn't actually solve the case. Not only were there two zeros this year, but they were just two episodes apart!

On the bright side, the episode featured two different Matthew Gray Gubler-directed episodes, and even though one of them was pretty mediocre (cough Alchemy cough), the Brad Dourif episode, while terribly scripted, made me once again long for the day he'll be free from this show and able to direct television and movies full-time, since that's where both his true talent and obvious passion lies.

What a season for terrible episodes, though. Because my reviews were written over so many years, I lost track of just how bizarrely dire this season was. Is it really possible that the worst possible version of 'Strangers on a Train' existed in the same season as a teenage girl came up with the worst multiple-murder plot in the history of fiction? That the absurd idea of people making a terrible video game real happened the same year as the serial killer who they let go on murdering nannies because they couldn't be bothered to do follow-up interviews with a traumatized victim?

This is the season that saw the return of Greg's brother Hotch, which was nice, but then the episode ended with him being carted off to jail for no reason that I can think of. Meanwhile, two different times this year team members killed people, either by putting out a hit on them the way Derek did, or by straight-up murdering them the way Joe did. This is the kind of behaviour that got Elle kicked off the team, but no one has a problem with it because the other team members actually like Joe and Derek?

I mean, hell, I like Joe and Derek too, but I'm not giving them a pass for murdering people.

So, let's take a look at the numbers!

Season 8 of Criminal Minds had 24 episodes, leading to a possible score of 240. Their total profiling score was 47/240, or 19%.

So, from the raw data, this was technically a slightly better showing for psychology than the previous year, but from a writing standpoint, this is the series' low point! I don't know that I mentioned this enough when it was happening, but can we all just take a moment and reflect that this season had two different multi-episode arcs about people stalking the team. They did two stalker storylines the same year. That's just crazy.

And... one last time - it took them literally the entire season to notice that the Copycat only started copycatting their crimes the week after Jeanne joined the team, meaning that he was focused on her. How are they this bad at their jobs?

See you back here next week for Season 9 - episode one! Will it be an improvement over the season ender of Season 8? It would be kind of difficult not to, don't you think?


Criminal Minds 824: The Replicator

 The episode picks up just where the last one left off, offering us the fate of Erin! It's dumb! Instead of one of the more visually interesting crimes from earlier in the season, Mark just gave her an overdose of MDMA, or possibly the super-poisonous PMMA, although I'm not sure where he would have gotten that.

While she wanders down the street in a daze, Mark walks along with her, talking about how disappointing her life has been. God, Mark Hamill's a wonderful screen presence, isn't he? So glad to see him taunting people murderously - it's the role he was born to play!

Then we cut over to Derek and JJ - like a genius, she's calling Josh to warn him about Mark Hamill coming after them more directly (although they don't know about Erin yet - Joe called to check on her, but Mark didn't answer) - when Garcia calls to apologize for screwing up and getting people killed. Which she absolutely did.

Funny story - as Xander works on the computers, he points out that the kind of access Mark has can't be gained remotely. You have to be on a hardline - a physical cable leading into the FBI mainframe. And since they're assuming that he's not an FBI agent - which they absolutely should not be, but whatever - there's only one other place he could have gotten access: Penelope's apartment!

Yes, that's right, a random apartment outside of DC has a direct access terminal into the FBI mainframe, because sometimes Garcia likes to work from home. Your terrible security practices just got people killed, Penelope. You should feel so much worse than Greg's brother Hotch did last week. Seriously, retire and let Xander take over your job. He's obviously more reliable.

Wouldn't it be neat if the guy Xander was jealous of had been paid by Mark to get access to the computer? That's probably not it, but it would have been a nice multi-stage reveal, with different episodes setting up that she could work from home and that she was still comfortable inviting strange men without security clearance into her apartment.

While Reid and Greg head over to grab Jeanne from her hotel, Joe rushes to Erin's place - why were they not all staying in the same hotel? Does the Bureau not get a bulk rate somewhere when agents have to stay in town? He finds that her room has been tossed, and sees suspicious mini liquor bottles lying all over the floor! Greg runs into the room, and asks if she could have wandered off, drunk. Which is the last thing you'd think when a serial killer just sent you a text message saying he was back. But whatever, Joe needs to explain that she's doing well, I guess.

Okay, Mark Hamill just became my favorite guest star ever. Why? Because when he calls Greg from Erin's phone, his first question is whether people get confused by one character being named Erin, and another being named Aaron. Yes, Mark, it absolutely does, and the writers should be ashamed of themselves for giving two different characters the same-sounding name. He then explains that he's calling because Erin's almost dead, and points out that this is just like that whole Reaper situation, where he failed to save his wife's life. The big difference being that Erin's dying because she didn't put a security chain or bolt on her door, and Greg's wife died because, upon hearing the Reaper was coming for her, obeyed an insane instruction to go to her home, rather than just driving to the nearest police station or federal building.

Up on the roof, Joe and Derek find no evidence, and wonder why Mark left the window open, unless he wanted them to find something. It turns out that the something he wanted them to find was Erin, who's by the bench just a block down the street. I'm not sure why they had to come up to the roof to find her. Just sending people running down the street in both directions would have gotten the job done in a fraction of the time.

Hilariously, this immediately proves true, since by the time Joe takes out his phone to report on Erin's whereabouts, Greg is already calling him to announce that he's found Erin. Also to ask him to call an ambulance. Great idea, but maybe you could have just called the ambulance yourself, and informed Joe later?

Erin has some news to report! Mark threatened her family, said he'd be 'racing them home', and forced her to get super-drunk at gunpoint. What about the PMMA? Did he spike one of the mini-bar bottles? Then Greg hugs her and she dies, without any of the blood from the eyes, and just a tiny bit coming out of her nose. Not a great copycatting, there, Mark.



Criminal Minds 823: Brothers Hotchner

We're finally there! It's the two-part season finale, where they'll once again look into the whole copycat situation! Although they may not solve it, due to the show's occasional fondness for end-of-season cliffhangers. I guess we'll see!

Not this time though, since this is just part one.

The story starts in a classy New York bar, where Greg's younger brother is tending bar! Wait, wasn't he a chef? Am I remembering that episode from seven years ago incorrectly? A waitress needs a manager's card, but Hotch doesn't have it, and directs her to another staff member, who's busy in the bathroom with a woman!

In the bathroom stall the couple is furiously necking, but then the woman complains about being hot and thirsty - has she taken an overdoes of MDMA? Hotch comes in for the supervisor's card, and in the twenty seconds the guy is distracted, his lady starts bleeding from the eyes and nose! So it was tainted MDMA?

Hotch rushes back in to help, but the woman has already stopped breathing - and the supervisor is too shocked to do anything! Probably worried about having given her tainted MDMA.

Meanwhile in another part of New York, Greg is in bed with his girlfriend, who he and his son are visiting! I'd forgotten she moved to New York. For some reason I'd remembered it as being further away.

Hotch calls Greg's cell phone, asking him to come down to the crime scene. Greg, being a solid G, obviously heads right out. In doing so, he reveals that he was - in an amazing coincidence - already in New York, which is definitely going to cause some friction, because Hotch clearly did not know that.

Hotch fills in Greg on the news. His restaurant didn't work out, so he's a bartender now! The cops think the woman OD'd on MDMA, which is a strange reaction, considering the blood pouring out of her face. Hotch also tells him about a woman who died in a similar circumstance a week earlier. That woman? His girlfriend, who he worked with, and was definitely not on MDMA when she died! I don't want to tell Hotch how to run his life, but your brother is a nationally famous cop, when the local guys didn't believe you about your dead girlfriend and wrote it off as a preposterous OD, maybe give him a call then rather than waiting for another victim?

Now for the big question: Could there be a serial killer poisoning drugs in Manhattan nightclubs?

Probably, or the episode wouldn't have opened this way.

Greg loops Erin, Joe, and Garcia in on the crime - apparently there have been five deaths! The cops think it was bad MDMA, but the cause was actually such a high dose of the stuff that it caused their bodies to boil over! I'm not a scientist, so I won't offer a comment as to whether that's remotely possible.

They compare it to the 'Tylenol Poisoning' of 1986, and suggest that this could be another case where someone is targeting a specific person, but poisoned a huge number of people to cover it up. Kind of unfair to assume that, though, since absolutely no one knows the motive of the Tylenol poisoning, since no one was ever caught for it. Recent theorizing suggests that it might have been the Unabomber!

Erin announces that she's going along on the case - is she going to get murdered? Will the copycat up his war on Jeanne by murdering the woman who ruined her career? Or will Jeanne do it, because she's working with the copycat?

That's right, I haven't let my dumbest theory ever go!

Then we cut to a rave, where a bunch of people are dying from a mass poisoning! Who could be responsible?

Let's find out after the credits!


Criminal Minds 822: #6

In 'Downtown Detroit' two kids are looking to break into a suspiciously nice car that wound up parked one a narrow street. There's probably a body in the trunk or something, but before we get to that, what's with the 'Downtown' part of the title?

 Is that the kind of tag they've ever put on a location before? There's a huge amount of towns that make up the greater Los Angeles Area, but I've never seen specificity when the head to LA. So what's with this 'Downtown' nonsense? Did the tourism department of Detroit threaten to stop advertising on CBS stations if they didn't remove a reference to Detroit being a lawless hellhole where street crime is ever present? But the episode couldn't be re-shot, so they negotiated a additional word to suggest that only a small section of Detroit is a crime-ridden hell hole?

Anyway, the car is unlocked when the kids go to break in, but are stymied when the car turns out to be keyless. They say that the 'clicker thing' must be somewhere in the car, but I don't think that's the case. After all, if the clicker was in the car, wouldn't the start button work? Isn't that the whole point of keyless systems, that you just sit down with the thing in your pocket and you can star the car right away?

Turns out I was right, the kids finally just try pushing the start button, and the engine turns over! They start to drive the car away from the curb, but hear a thump from the trunk. Could the corpse have finally arrived?

Yes, and it turns out there's two of them? The kids prove to be quite stupid, deciding the convenience of finding the key on one of the bodies is worth the risk of being implicated in a murder, so they decide to dump the bodies and steal the car. The woman with the keys turns out to be alive, however, and begs them for help! The kids are too scared to do anything but run away.

Which, you know, bad luck for her.

Over at Jeanne's house, she gets a phone call from her husband, who is a MSF doctor! He pretends to be in a foreign country so that he can surprise her by showing up at the door! Do you think she's told him that they're being targeted by a serial killer?

Jeanne's happy to see her husband, but worried that he's suddenly back from abroad! Penelope texts with a job, but she wants to prioritize the relationship. In the end, she goes to work, in order to fail even harder than the other characters at justifying her paycheck.

Time for the case rundown! Married couples are being abducted, tortured with dozens of small knife wounds, then killed and dumped in their cars! That's depressing, but in the 'good news' column, it turns out the kids immediately ran for help and called the police! But the ambulance was there too late to save the woman.

They're psyched to find and stop the guy before he kidnaps another couple! Of course, they're too late for that, as we immediately cut to the next victims. Who he grabbed overnight? So he dumped the car yesterday, and he's already got two more locked up somewhere! The first thing we see is the woman with blood all over her white shirt - does the killer give them those clothes, so the blood will 'pop' more, or does he only grab people wearing white shirts?

Then the husband leans into the frame in a light blue shirt with no blood on it, and my theory is blown all to hell. I will make an obvious prediction, however - the killer makes the couple stab each other! The wife has a knife buried in her stomach, and she tells the husband to take it out, killing her, because 'it's time'. He does, she dies, and I guess we'll find out what all this is about after the credits!