Ahh, yes. The classic CM cold open: horror intruding into a scene of utter banal mundanity.
"You. Focus." says dad.
Watch for that again later. Or in 3x02: "I need your mind here."
Oh, the mood shifts on the dominant unsub are beautiful. That is one nice acting job. Brr.
This episode is the land of the real-world shoutout. Jon-Benet indeed.
Prentiss is totally part of the team now. Not an apprentice anymore.
Prentiss gets the quote. And they did the fade backwards! Scene to photo, not the other way around.
Reid on the Cleavers, "Rife with violent implication." What does go on behind lace curtains, Spencer? Hotch? You two wanna field that one? No? ("You'll do anything to be the perfect child.")
And the little meta statement about TV writers and suburbia.
And am I projecting, or is Reid looking uncomfortable during the exposition about injections, pentobarbitol, anxiety, executions, and epilepsy? Totally not making eye contact with anybody, and doing his flinchy selfconscious thing.
Little fantasy sequence here...
"With this kind of overkill, there is usually a history."
Another unfinished sentence. History of... violence, yeah, Hotch. Shh.
And they're on to the team like whoa.
Reid's pre-Raphaelite hair keeps distracting me.
Mmm. Gorgeous lighting in the cell-phone-jamming expo scene. On everybody.
"Are there any happy families?"
And the recurring image of the family photos.
Barbituate!Cam. Really nicely done and unsettling.
"They killed us." Oh, god. What a great line.
Prentiss in blue jeans talking about muderers is kind of disturbingly hot.
"There's been another one and they're sending an ambulance."
So the women always get to go interview the victims now?
"She's lucky to be alive." ("Don't tell her she got lucky." The Ghost Of Elle speaks. What's that upcoming episode title again?)
And Em and JJ (All women on this show are named for letters of the alphabet, yes) do not buy it for a millisecond that it was a mistake. Break in pattern, big fat clue. Just as important as the initial trigger.
"You answer your door and the next thing you know everyone you care about is gone."
"If it were me I'd want to be gone too."
Oh, this victim is awesome. Tough girl, bending JJ and Prentiss to her will.
"Avoiding eye contact?"
Oh, you mean like Reid in Act 1?
"On of them got the thing from the fireplace." Another great line of dialogue. Nouns are way too concrete.
Hotch notices the cats, and Prentiss is right there on it. And Reid comes close....
"She did?" Oh, the little eye flicker is love. Liar liar pants on fire.
The brothers thing reminds me of "Open Season."
"Can't this girl catch a break?"
Prentiss' reaction to "It was daddy." is interesting.
Oh, "From the house." Wow. Okay, Mr. Dworkin, Mr. Beatty? Total props for seriously excellent understated heartbreaking dialogue. Oh yes.
Flowers! And Em cracks the case!
"Evil has no boundaries."
And Reid cracks the case! "It turns out she'd been to the emergency room three times in less than two years."
The CotW exists to be exposited to.
Another white male. Man, they are on a roll with the honkeys...
Reaction shots to the unexpected bodies, ow.
Do all families on Criminal Minds have two children?
"This is close?"
"Your parents would be really proud of you."
"It's too late to be a good daughter now."
"Why do they do it?"
"You'll drive yourself crazy trying to figure out the reason." Yeah, Em. Like you are doing?
"Are there any happy families?" ooo. See below to unpack!
Tasteless Doctor Kevorkian joke. "Real quiet.
"He had behavior problems, but nothing we couldn't handle." Ahem. Bad Mommy! Two weeks ago it was Bad Daddy. Also, see below.
"Siblings get separated all the time."
Tackle psych-out. Drink.
"You don't have to do this if you don't want to."
"What is she trying to prove here?"
"That she can be a good daughter." Thematic statement!
Okay, the connection between JJ and Em, and between Em and Carrie, is a lovely thing.
And this scene, with the UnSub and the victim...
"That's what they do with all the strays. They send them away."
...and she gets a glimpse of what a really unhappy family is like. And it changes her.
"Let's call DSS and see if we can get them out of there."
The front yard full of toys, wow.
"Because of what you did to him in this house."
I have to admit, Reid's little "Trust me, you wouldn't want to make him angry" eyebrow thing while Hotch is glowering at the Bad Mommy made me crow.
No lady, REALLY.
"We might have a problem, Hotch."
Oh noes! Yeah, snipers in a CM episode, always a bad sign.
"I'm the only thing standing between you and a bullet."*
Bwahahaha. AWESOME dialogue.
(*"This morning, I decided to save your life.")
"It's too late for the boy, regardless."
Ah yeah, and we circle through the nature/nurture/personal responsibility argument one more time.
Two unsubs taken alive in one episode. That may be some kind of CM record.
Thomas Gibson's tiny, perfect little headshake before Hotch says "Thanks" to the CotW is a moment of sheer beauty.
Hotch is a bit slow on the uptake, though. I'm kind of chanting "Hotch, figure it out!" at the TV here.
But you notice he keeps telling Reid to focus, focus, pay attention?
Projecting much, mom?
Morgan saves the day with a business card and a gesture, and doesn't even know it yet. Studies show that it's the tiny kindnesses that save the world. (I'm not kidding.)
Oh, and Prentiss mortally offended by the injustice of the world, beauty. She is a verray parfait gentil knight.
Reid, buying food at the crime scene. *dies*
Reid stuffing his face, drink.
"Did you clear a gun?" Reid cracks the case!
Hotch realizes the Awful Troof!
Oh god, the gunshots and the elegaic music. What a beautiful fucking fakeout.
Morgan kicks down the door! Morgan saves the day!
"I know, mini-Morgan."
"You're not Gary. You're nothing like him." ("You don't have to be him." The victims do not have to become the monsters. But sometimes, they do anyway, even if they travel through Hero first. That chill on your neck? Again, that was the ghost of Elle passing through. Elle, who, like Carrie, spoke to her father in anger before he died.)
Fifth time in three eps our guys have had guns on an abused child. Three of those kids were adults.
Oh, thank you for not making me shoot you, kid.
"I could take her."
"I have room. Money." Yeah, we saw your place.
"This is the job and I need to know you can be objective." Projecting much, mom? ("Focus.")
"And I need to know that I can be human."
Oh, and Haley on the phone. So they're talking at least.
"Do you mind waking him up? I just want to hear his voice."
"Are you okay?" (Drink.)
Aaaand JJ and Prentiss talking about children. Not men. Children. "I can see it."
Yeah, modern girls don't need boys to take care of babies.
Oh, and Prentiss's complicated reaction to that. Hey, Paget can act. (No, I mean, I knew she could act. But she's nailing this bit.)
WE WIN! NOBODY DIED!
I feel like Nine.
Well, except three blameless nuclear families.
So. Doubt, from last season but with grafted in Daddy issues courtesy of Mandy doing a runner. "In Birth And Death," chock full of issues of abandonment and parental responsibility--and avoidance of same: the unsub, the unsub's wife, Hotch, Haley, Gideon, Reid. "Scared to Death," with the distant families, the unsub's abusive mother, and Reid's soliloquy on how his sperm donor and Gideon both screwed him over the same way. This episode, all about families, good and bad. Next week's ep, a missing child.
Building up, I am willing to bet on it, to Garcia's backstory, and (I really hope) Hotch's. And the ongoing family issues of the Reid/Emily/Morgan axis. Is JJ backstory too much to hope for?
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the season's thematic arc. Parents and children.
Or, as the survivor asks Emily this ep, and Emily cannot answer: "Are there any happy families?"
Thematic question. Drink. (Restock the minibar! Man, even the characters need a fresh drink after that one.)
We'll find out by May.
Mini-Prentiss and mini-Morgan got off easier than mini-Reid. And Prentiss herself is mini-Mom. Er. Hotch. You knew who I meant.
Also? WORST PROMO EVAR.
Okay, my favorite ep of the new season so far. Solid ep, thematically sharp, beautiful guest acting, that understated dialogue, and great cast/character/meta moments.
More please! And also keep the character development coming.