it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

Criminal Minds 2x18, JONES: (or) Narrative Ambiguity--it's not just for breakfast anymore


First, let it be said that the Bear is Pleased.

Second, let it be said that the Bear is Smug.

Oh, yes. They are totally doing what I think they are doing. I love knowing how narrative works. And I am feeling secure, all of a sudden.

Is it just me, or is it Autumn in BAU-Land? That looked like an orange-leafed tree. (It certainly isn't Mardi Gras in New Orleans.)

Yes, time in BAU land is not like time on Earth.

CHARGE OF THE BAD SWEATER BRIGADE! Reid's favorite boutique is obviously Le Goodwill. (He's spending all his money on psychiatric care, of course.)

And Gideon as usual is not far behind. But he can't compete with the lime green collar. (Don't get me wrong: I love the bad sweaters. And the bad shirts. I just also find them really amusing.)

Hee. Yes. Twist in that ambiguity on the drug issue. Nobody can admit to suspecting that Reid has been using scrip narcotics, because if they do, his career is over. And so, we don't tell the audience, either. Live with it.

Beautiful. I love it that they will let the viewer draw his own conclusion. Also, again with the Reid/Gideon parallels. (Body mirroring at the end?) Reid's determination there is nice. Sometime during Revelation, he stopped being a child and became a man, and that was a man's decision at the end there. Not to follow the path because your feet are on it (because Gideon set his feet on it, and has been raising him up a weapon), but to choose to follow the path because the path is worth following.

He is so Parsifal. Tempted, tempered, and tried.

Re: the narrative ambiguity on the Dilaudid question. I bet the fans are going to hate that, and the open-ended resolution. I love that these guys are like, closure is for sissies. There are problems, and then they grow up to have baby problems, and the baby problems grow up and fall in love and have baby problems....

I think Reid will never put that damage down. But I think he can carry it. (Which, after all, is the ur-theme of the show. The world keeps piling, and you keep walking. And try to help where you can. The strong are more burdened, because they can carry more.)

And that trauma will always be back there, like Gideon's post-traumatic stress and Reid's mom and whatever it is that haunts Prentiss.

Not that I write books that way. *whistles.*

You notice these guys *lie like rugs* to the press? [Only JJ lies more.] Spencer's archrival, indeed. Yanno, they left it pretty carefully ambiguous as to whether Ethan was talking about drugs or booze. His own problem being alcohol (and I note: he was still drinking when we saw him.) and Spencer having a glass of brandy or scotch in his hand at the time. And yet then with the Coltrane reference. "He was a genius too." and the heroin mention.

So, so, so careful.

And then the whole thing where Reid learns, oh, yes, Ethan cracked under the strain. Just that simple. And Reid... bent.

(If Gideon is Lancelot, of course, that means that in the end, the war is against him. I dunno if they will push it that far. But if anyone breaks.... I think it will be Jason, and not Spencer. Because they are working way too hard to make up look at Spencer. And they work by parallels here.)

JJ is looking... less sleek. And her PTSD moment in the bar was quite well handled, I thought. A visual representation/internalization of the Reid panic attack last ep.

Her perfect facade is in tatters. She's a mess.

In a weird sort of way, we see these people as they see each other. *At work.* We have the same relationship with them that they have with each other.

And it's a close relationship. But it's also a relationship that revolves around the Image everybody puts on in the morning and carries around until it's time to go home.

It's like Reid's filthy hair and stubble. And I mean, okay, Reid is goofy and quirky in his personal appearance? But his hygiene has always been *impeccable.* And now he's untucked unironed shirts and greasy tangled hair and rumpled trousers.

We see the damage the same way their coworkers see it. In fragments. And we have to do the work and profile them.

JJ and Garcia are smoother, though, and so are Garcia and Morgan.

And just Garcia. Sooo much better than she has been.

And it's the RETURN OF SPENCERCAM. I missed Spencercam. Okay, it wasn't really good Spencercam, but it sufficed after a long long cold time with no Spencercam.

Prentiss gets the greenscreen! Go, Emily!

Yes. I am Bear, and I live for the cheesy visual effects.

I have a Theory about Prentiss, and why she was so mad at the cop who covered up the rape. My Theory is that her mom covered up whatever happened to Prentiss, for political reasons. Because the only other time we've ever seen Emily THAT MAD was when she lit into Hotch regarding politics AND HOW THEY DESTROY PEOPLE. (We've seen her that disgusted, when the 16 year old prostitute was murdered and she found out how old the girl was.)

She's such a nerd. I could not love her more. You all can hate her: She's mine and I'm keeping her. And I love her for trying to talk to Gideon about Reid, and for that great big sigh of relief when she realizes that Gideon is not going to think she's making trouble. She's scared of Gideon, and she still tried to do something for Spencer.

Because of course everybody knows something's up with Reid.

And of course everybody is trying to give him space to sort it himself. Just in case it *is* the sort of thing that would get him fired if they had to officially know about it.

AND MORGAN CRACKS THE CASE. So much much more than just a pretty face.

Heh. Emily may not know Reid? But she knows him a hell of a lot better than Morgan knows Emily. Did you see her look when Morgan intimated she'd never been prey?

Man, she is thinking, I have you so bullshitted you will need a shovel to find the stall door. Although. Did you notice he made himself vulnerable to her there? Because he's talking about being prey. And *his* damage. As a survivor of sexual exploitation.

When Prentiss goes they will see the splody from orbit.

JJ and Junior, up in a tree..... KISS THE SEXIST COP, JJ.

AIEEE! THE TEAM IN CLUB CLOTHES. And... Reid in dork clothes.

Oh, and sending the women in to interrogate the rapist was a nice touch.

If Morgan had been any more in Reid's face it would have been, "Look, Reid, are you just on the sauce, or are you lying to me about shooting up, too?"

La, the terrible regional accents proceed apace. They grow more terrible weekly.

Dear Cheap Bar Hookup: Never Let A Strangely Affectless Yet Hot Total Stranger Tie You Up On A First Date. Love, the FBI.

Oh my sweet Hotch, where have you gone? In this episode, the role of Hotch will be played by JJ. The role of JJ will be played by Hotch. Bet he'll be back with a vengeance by season end, though, now that the Reid PTSD plotline is winding down.

This is a great JJ ep, and a really good Prentiss ep, and I am happy to see Reid clawing his way out of the slough of despond. And it's like, wow, having Old Gideon back, just briefly.

(I'm amused by some fan comment I see on TWOP and elsewhere that indicates that not everybody caught what seemed obvious to me, that Hotch and Gideon and Morgan and the rest are all watching both Reid and JJ very closely. While trying not to smother them. Because really, when they're both all OMG I CAN'T DO MY JOB the best thing to do would be to try to handle them with kid gloves.)

Also, I am pleased by the parallel between the cop and his father and Reid and Gideon. One man following his father's footsteps and finding out it doesn't help, the other wondering if maybe he doesn't want to emulate his surrogate father, but finding the work worthy to his hand. (netcurmudgeon pointed that out in email...)

Okay. That one? Left me really happy.

Yes! AND THE HOME TEAM WINS. (No, you gotta understand. That's never a given with this show. Ever.) God, that poor woman.

What amazes me about this show is how often they make you look at the perpetrator, and wince. It's as Hotch says: Who do you blame? Them? The parents? The system? Society?


Nobody on this show, victims or bystanders or perpetrators or heroes, ever gets fixed. They just get patched up and sent out to fight again.

"You'd better hurry, or you'll miss that plane." Total Casablanca parallel. Like Rick, Reid is going back to war.

Yanno, oblique things make my narrative brain SO FREAKING HAPPY.

And Mandy got to act. Did I mention Mandy got to act? He didn't get to chew scenery. But he got to act. And the quiet was good. (Anyway, after 2x15 (Revelation) I am reasonably certain that there is not an unchewed square of carpet within a hundred miles of the CM stages.)

"You're not that hard to profile." = "Kid, look, you've been through hell, and we all know it, and we forgive you, but you are fucking up in ways that will be hard to justify if you keep doing them."

So much subtext in the that conversation in the end. Gorgeous. Reid is Gideon. Gideon is Reid. And no stupid tidy epiphany ending all better now. That's not all fixed.

That's, I'll hump my load.

But because I say so, not because you drafted me. I have decided to fight.

And that's all Gideon can ask of him.

I'm struggling
Of course you're struggling.
I'm struggling.

Life is pain, Princess.

(also, there's a bunch of new stuff in the above, if you read it last night. I swear, I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas.)

And all screencaps are from slash_girl's site, Oracle of Quantico.


Welcome to Criminal Minds, where we like our punny titles.

Reid looks less awful this morning. JJ looks a bit worn around the edges, though.

"Until he kills again." And Hotch uses his Magic Hotch Powers to cue the unsub to degin decompensating. I swear, that man can get a murder just by asking for one.

Only use you powers for good, SSA Hotchner.

Morgan babysits Reid. And Reid is so talking about himself when he piles into Emily with that comment about the not judging people who crack under the strain.

The cop of the week is white! AND male! Did I just wander into an episode of NCIS by accident? (And apparently he gets his shirts from Reid's closet. Ow, my EYES.)

Morgan's caught Reid's dorky-wave-in-lieu-of-handshake. Who knew they were contagious?

Morgan really, really is sorry for COTW's loss. Gideon engages when people lose children or spouses. Morgan, when they lose parents. Coincidence? I think not.

And Reid, still wincy about dead bodies.

But he is doing his job.

Prentiss apparently keeps her gun in a space warp. Or possibly... no, not going there. (Actually, it's on her hip. But that is a tight sweater. Maybe she borrowed it from JJ.)

"You don't forget victims like this." Yeah, man, they make that t-shirt in my size too....

Oh, Reid's and Prentiss' reaction to the coroner's comment "All the bodies I've been through in the last year and a half, it's a wonder I still have room." INTERESTING. Reid is flinching and shying, and can't meet Prentiss' eyes. I bet he's seeing those bodies. And Prentiss is staring at Reid and the lip-quiver.

She's seeing *Reid* seeing the bodies. (And maybe a few of her own?)

Wanted: Actors. Must excel at looking shocked, worried, or horrified. Apply within.

And Reid is the current leader in the Reid/Gideon ugly sweater competition. Man, this week's specimen is particularly heinous.

Morgan: That's nice, son, can we catch the serial killer now?
Cop: Angst, in an unconvincing accent.

Ooo, JJ half in shadow. Yanno, I need to stop reading TWOP. Because if one more person says "They're not doing anything with JJ's trauma!" I shall die. But first I shall go on a killing spree. You mean, evidence of her trauma besides the flashback, and the panic attack, and the changes in her appearance and demeanor, and *pulling her gun on a team-mate* (twice?)?

I think they just want More Emo, or something. Personally, I am glad for the lack of Emo. Because if there was too much Emo? I would be Outta Here.

Well, okay, there's Mandy. He's worth surviving a little Emo. Up to, oh, Dead Like Me levels, say.

Or maybe they want their hurt/comfort made manifest.

"He was asking for it."



Hah! And at 10:32? Morgan IS ALREADY ON THE TRAIL. "Could he have met up with a girl?"

Oh, beautiful shot of Prentiss framed in between Gideon and Hotch, and way in the background.

Love Prentiss stalking jack while Jack is stalking the girl. "Organized, calculating."

So. We have all caught on that who gets the quote, and the placement of the quote, is thematically important. (Remember the one in A Real Rain where Hotch shoots the unsub, and maybe it's a righteous shoot, and maybe it isn't? And the duelling quotes at the end where Gideon justifies what was done, and Hotch says, no, not right at all?)

Good, we've got that. Have we all caught on that who gets the greenscreen, and how they get it, and what they say during, is important, too?

And Gideon over the body with the knife. And Gideon gets the hunting comment in.
We're so not subtle thanks.

JUMP CUT! Heh. Spencer is the Unsub! (Well, if you listen to MGG... someday, maybe.) So, Spencer, are you letting your hair get gross so you can be more like your old pal?

Yanno, I love the fact that Spencer's Annual Haircut is kind of a plot point. In that, it gets mentioned. And then the only indicator, really, that Much Time Has Passed in the show is the inexorable growth of MGG's hair and fingernails.

"Whatever helps you sleep at night."

"Let's get a drink." Heh. Ethan is not a reformed alcoholic. Whatever he's telling Reid.

POP QUIZ! OO, Oo, Garcia, pick me, pick me! I know, I know!


Garcia! Cleavage! Noodles! Love!

Yes, Penelope, and he claimed to have eaten part of that kidney. How's your chow mein now?

"They both weigh on your soul eventually."
"I'm sorry."
Yep. Reid is watching Ethan drink, all right. And I am not entirely certain Ethan is meant to be entirely sober. "The batphone!"
Oh, and Ethan *is* pointing at the glass of brandy. "It might make you forget, but it won't make it go away." He thinks Reid is on the sauce. (I think Reid is on the sauce. It makes more sense than scrip narcs.)
Ethan and Reid are *not* mirroring. Reid leans forward, Ethan leans back.
And Ethan drinks.
Takes one to know one.

And Prentiss defers to Morgan. And Morgan puts the job above his friend.
Because that's what they do. "Wheels up."
And Emily? Is not happy about it.

Ahh, the bad accent, it BURNS.

hee. And the parallel between COTW drinking on the clock, and Reid blowing off the clock to drink? Bwaahahahahahaha. SIGNIFICANT CLOSEUP OF THE LIQUOR AND JJ's PEN?

Shoot him down baby. I love her. Oh, PTSD JJ of the frizzy hair.

Is it significant that most of this episode takes place in bars?

...Prentiss' voice breaks when she says "on the night he was killed."
Um, wow, Em, nice cleavage. She is borrowing JJ's sweaters.
Oh god, woman, what is that accent supposed to be?

And now, Derek Morgan Explains It All.

And Prentiss twigs pretty fast. She's not as smart as Elle (who was right behind Reid, although she didn't have his freaky cognitive gifts--but you notice it was always her correcting him, and he took it from her.) but she's not stupid.


Hee. I love her. She likes him, but the job comes first.

Morgan Stares Significantly At Reid.

Hee. Okay, the thing with the red shirts is gorgeous. We know all about this woman (we the viewers know more than the team, even: we know what color she's wearing and what her hair looks like.) and we still can't pick her out of a crowd. That's as loffly as the greenscreen from Gideoncam a while back where *everybody* is the unsub. Including the guy who turns around and looks right at him.

Does anybody else think it's ENTIRELY AN ACCIDENT how much the unsub resembles both Prentiss and Greenaway?

Yeah, no, me neither.

[Still holding out for vigilante!Elle. (and brain-injury!Spencer, but I don't think we're going to get that, even though it would be full of narrative balls.)]

I have started obsessively checking the cast's wardrobes for patterns, since I noticed Spencer's Cursed Shirt.

"Testosterone follow a woman to Thailand, barefoot." Or....DC, sexy sexist COTW?

Oh, look, character development.

Morgan takes no shit. Reid changes the subject. Look! A Serial Killer!

She sounds like Elle, too.

Reid's inevitable nitrile gloves are a tasteful powder-blue, this episode. he so has a sense of humor about his clothing.
And JJ borrowed his spare pair.

"Gimme those hemostats." "I have no idea."

And Reid is Psycholinguistics Boy!

....Smith and Jones? Oh noes.

Cheap excuse to touch JJ!
And COTW says exactly what his dad did when he twigs to the bar stamps. "I'll be damned."
Honey, we all will.

Oh, I love me some JJ & Garcia action.

And now Prentiss is raiding Reid's wardrobe. She didn't bring her own clothes?

And Prentiss gets the greenscreen again. And her little triggery breath-heave when Bad Cop says "She knew he was there." Heh.
I like Emily Prentiss. And I like her and JJ closing ranks, side by side.

JJ combed her hair to talk to the rapist. Oh, the nose pinch. Please don't make me talk to you any longer than I must, filthy slime.

Look! Hotch is back! Maybe TG had a golf tournament this week.

Ahh, the simple joys of maidenhood. One of which is Aaron Hotchner in body armor, brandishing a gun.

Garcia is love.

Hey, we let Reid go on the commando raid. *snif* He's growing up so fast.

"She can't move on." Thank you, Captain Obvious America. Oh, Hotch, I missed you. Never leave me like that again. (it was nice getting more JJ, though. Can't we just have a two-hour show?)

I want Action Hotch, with the Dick Tracy Wrist Phone, collapsible baton, exploding shaped charge in his shoe, and awkward hugging action.

"Men." Man, they could really use Elle right now. But William LaMontagne Jr. to the rescue! Sensitive sexist cop.

Gee, JJ. "That was bold."

Spencer socks! Also, with the love for Gideon's filthy filthy tennies.

Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinteresting. Spencer? Does not have a drink in this last scene. He's already decided, when Gideon gets there.

There is no answer. There is no closure. There is just soldiering.

And I've noticed, they have absolutely no problem, on this show, with having the male characters weep in frustration and anger and grief and pain. (The one that gets me most is Hotch quietly losing it in the background in "Riding the Lightning," but Gideon fighting back tears in this episode is powerful, too, as is Morgan in Profiler, Profiled and Reid on the airplane at the end of Fear and Loathing, knuckling his eyes in frustration and pain.)

The mirroring thing at the end here is beautiful. This is *nice* directing, and nice play of contrasts. There's Matthew, sitting there looking serene as an angel--and they've made him *very* beautiful for the shot, and his affect is very soft, underplayed.

And Mandy, crumpled up and worn and weary and lined... And Jason is crying for Spencer, because Spencer can't cry for himself right now.

Because (thematically speaking) they're the same guy. Just thirty years apart.

It's so softly played. And so wonderfully ambiguous.

because Reid does not tell Gideon he's going to quit drinking. He tells him that he's not going to let it affect his work. This is not the face of a man who just heard what he wanted to hear.

(and now that I think back, I would not be surprised to find out that Gideon's been through something not so different from what Reid just endured.)

And in conclusion, totally a magic trick.

Watch their other hand.
Tags: geeks with guns

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