The problem is, unlike Patricia Cornwell, these guys have actually read more criminology texts than I have. I can tell you where to find the backstory on the cup rings from "Blood Hungry," though, or Adrian Bale's bomb design.
Why yes, I have no life.
However, what I have got is another heap of CM meta, just-in-time delivery. Just-in-time, because the next ep, "Doubt," got Earshotted, as it concerns a series of killings on a college campus, and I don't blame CBS for pulling it, for the time being. But it does mean we will wait a while to see same. (I suspect it will air eventually.)
Anyway. I have been meaning to talk about a couple of things with regard to the show. One is leitmotifs, and the other is parent-child relationships.
So, without further ado:
One of the primary leitmotifs in Criminal Minds is the game. That game appears in the first episode, which involves a game of Go, the famous game of strategy and controlling territory (it is, in fact, reflected in the title of the first episode, "Extreme Aggressor," which is a made-up term for a particular style of play.) That motif (apparently, Reid plays Go, though we have never seen him do so) is picked up throughout the show, and used over and over again. We see our heroes playing or discussing a variety of games*, both against each other, against themselves, against bystanders, and against the bad guys.
Specifically, we often see the heroes playing games against each other (chess, gin, poker) in the safety of the jet that truepenny, IIRC, has correctly (IMNSHO) identified as their home base, their safe space. We also see them playing games against not only each other, but against other FBI agents (per "The Big Game") and in that latter situation they win. J.J. kicks ass at darts. Reid slaughters the competition in trivia games.
And when they play each other, they cheat. (Psychodrama.) It's part of the game. It's also how they interact with each other--many of the relevant conversations, throughout, take place over games.
They also cheat when they play the enemy, but we're not always shown that, exactly. The most pronounced example of this is in "Riding The Lightning," in which J.J. helps Hotch win a hand of poker. To follow that, of course, we need to know that Reid is one hell of a card player (good enough to beat everybody else on the team at poker (ep reference eludes me, just now) and alleged to be a card-counter, per "Broken Mirror**," and accused of cheating, per "Psychodrama") and we also need to know that J.J. can beat Reid at cards (Also "Psychodrama"). Some of that information, of course, is not available until the season following "Riding the Lightning."
It's a program designed to reward rewatching, in other words. They go back and pick up things they laid down before. I suspect, given my own knowledge of how I handle series work, that sometimes they lay those things down without knowing how they will use them.
It's part of the patter.
Another, related leitmotif is magic. Or, more precisely, sleight of hand. Misdirection.
Sometimes it's patent: Reid's sleight of hand in "Derailed" and "Profiler, Profiled." Frank's comments on magic tricks in "No Way Out," and of course, his crowing proclamation, "Magic time!" as every cellphone in Golconda*** starts to ring simultaneously.
Sometimes it's a little more concealed--the time tricks in the caper plot run by Gideon in "Lessons Learned," J.J.'s card tricks in "Riding the Lightning." Sometimes, we're not even told they're going on.
And sometimes, it's buried deep, as in "LDSK," when Hotch and Reid play out a game--a magic trick--under the nose of the villain, or in "Revelation," when Reid plays the same magic trick all over again. The line of patter is different, sure, but the outcome is the same.
And then there's the daddy issues.
The daddy issues, that is, and the mommy issues.
I'm thinking of this right now because the last episode, "Honor Among Thieves," while flawed, is all about the mommy and daddy issues. Specifically, there are parallels and parallels and parallels.
Of course, from the top, nobody in this show has an intact family. We don't know about Gideon's parents, but he is an absentee dad, and stands in loco paternalis to his team. Hotch lost his father at a young age, and there are suggestions that he is a child abuse survivor--and Hotch himself struggles with his role as a parent, while also being "Mom" to his team. Garcia, we know, has a stepdad. We've never heard boo about J.J.'s parents--just her aunt. But we know there was no money to send her to college. Elle's dad was a cop, killed in the line of duty. Prentiss has a strained relationship with her mom, and her dad has never been spoken off. Reid was abandoned by his father, and wound up parenting his own mother when she was made incompetent by mental illness. Morgan's father "died a hero," further deponent sayeth not very much.
They're all orphans, in other words. In one way or another, abandoned, and trying to make it right.
And we see the parenting issue raised again and again. We see parents who cover for their children, and who destroy them. ("Blood Hungry," "Charm and Harm.") We see parents who do whatever they can to protect their children--and often fail. And we see our team respond to those issues, and say some painfully revealing things. (When Hotch, in "Blood Hungry," tells the killer's mother that he would not wipe the blood of the victims off the floor, he speaks truth. And we know it, because he would not cover for Elle, or for Gideon.)
And in "Honor Among Thieves," we get that layered and layered again. Not only is there the (as rightly pointed out by other correspondents) parallel between the gang boss and his son and Gideon and Reid (And Gideon and Reid are together throughout that episode, and no, I do not think it's an accident that Reid is the same age as Gideon's abandoned son), but there are other layers too. Natalia and her father and Prentiss and her mother also serve as parallels, and I think (though there's a narrative break in the ep that impedes the interpretation) we're meant to draw a parallel between Prentiss reaching out to her mother and Natalia attacking her father.
The problem is, of course, that the key that would unlock that is missing from the ep. Which is why it is narratively broken. I suspect, sadly, it would have taken only a few scenes--and a little more intensity in the existing scenes--to salvage this episode.
Reid is itching again. The arm in his unbuttoned sleeve, more precisely.
"I thought that was where you wanted to be." I bet Ambassador Prentiss did have something to do with Little Emily's rise to BAU, and I bet Em doesn't know a thing about it.
More puns: Prentiss = "apprentice" and Prentiss also = "princess."
Gideon: "No family of their own."
Reid: "Family makes you vulnerable."
Ahem. Write your own meta, please.
"Didn't you forsake all your relatives?"
" I didn't forsake her recipes."
("Lyov. You know what it means? The lion." Again with the names and their meanings.
In other news, David Carradine Yellowbook commercial in the Keith Carradine CM episode. *dies and dead of meta love*
*a nonexhaustive survey offers: go, chess, poker, gin, darts, tetris, WoW (yes, really), a Star Trek trivia drinking game, and I am sure I have missed a few.
**the source here is questionable
***And let us talk about the town names, shall we? Golconda, Nevada. North Mammon, Pennsylvania. I am half-suspecting Sodom, Connecticut can't be far out of possibility.