It is part of the inevitable cycle of Criminal Minds that the strongest episodes of every season fall in the middle two-thirds of that season.
It's nice to know the tradition is being upheld.
Criminal Minds episode 4x06, "The Instincts," written by Chris Mundy, directed by Rob Spera.
It's a Chris Mundy episode. Of course it's good. Ahem. [This message brought to you by ebear's partisan support for all things Chris Mundy.)
My fandom only sleeps on planes.
OMG it's a dream sequence! Aeeee!
...I don't mind it. Something's terribly wrong. I have a sneaky suspicion this Spera character may be good at his job.
Alas, dear CM. Houses in Las Vegas in general do not have basements. That rather small issue aside, I think this was the best episode of the new season so far.
It's really evident that this is a dream., even before the baby appears and Morgan's voice breaks in. The tonalities, the ridiculously long hallways and forced perspective shots, the stark lighting.
Also, I note that we are observing the Law Of Unity Of Spencer's Socks: we have seen Spencer's Socks, which indicates to me that this is an episode in which Reid will get emotionally curbstomped.
And okay, I was kind of hoping that Reid's nightmare in this episode would be linked back to his recurring nightmare as described in Season 1 (the baby in the circle, the one he can't always get to fast enough to save.) But I wasn't expecting a direct visual reference to that image, or how it might have evolved over the intervening three years. Good job, guys.
I like that there's a sort of dream logic, too, in the fact that it's very important to him which boy the body behind the dryer is. Never mind that no matter which dead boy that is, it's still a real live dead boy.
That's kind of nice.
Also nice that he places responsibility for the baby being there on JJ, a direct parallel to the UNSUB later on. "JJ can't let her baby be at a crime scene." Which I suspect is not something Reid would ever say in waking life, not in those terms.
So Reid's nodding off on the plane. From this, do we infer that he's still not sleeping so great at home? (You ever notice, we see Reid sleeping a lot--occasionally on the plane, but also in chairs and on couches in other people's offices and so forth?)
It is pretty obvious from the amusement on the plane that the team thinks he's having a JJ sex dream. Poor Spencer. But Spencer Reid v.2.0 just comes right out and tells them what he was dreaming, even if it's embarrassing. Spencer Reid v.2.0 is in some ways even more egoless than v.1.0, which is saying something.
"Simple dream analysis. If there's a baby in your dream, that baby is probably you."
"I don't believe in dream analysis."
"I dunno. Makes sense."
Scene with the UNSUB and the kid and the pillows and the closet? OMG creepy, with the door echoing the door in Reid's dream.
JJ is moving well, for being as big as a house.
I like the COTW. And the medical examiner (Greg Watanabe FTW. Also, yum.). We have quiet competence in the cops this week.
Ooo, Emily Prentiss with the CSI:Vegas *snap*. Win!
Nevada looks like California, drink.
"He thinks I blame him. He's right." Gosh, she's awesome. So self-aware. (The actress is Kari Matchett. She does not suck.)
Oh, and JJ junior is a boy. I wonder if they flipped a coin or copied AJ. *g*
Mom is really a trouper. And I like JJ and Hotch recognizing that and using it. And JJ managing the family, and JJ understanding the situation instantly, assessing it, and making the right decision--and Hotch trusting her and getting the hell out of her way.
He is a good leader. And she is a good judge of people.
Cadaverous sleeping Reid. Oh man, is there anything worse than dreams that start with waking up.
And Rossi and Morgan mysteriously appear, and there's the body again, and Rossi and Morgan talking in code not about this case, but about the other case. Of course there was no sign of forced entry.
Ew. Leeches. Okay, that's eeeeeeeeeeee for a thousand.
Oh, Michael's Mom. Even in the midst of your own horror, you find a minute or two to caretake somebody who is supposed to be there caretaking you. Michael's Mom, you rock.
And Reid is having a major spasm of learned helplessness. Wow. psychologically appropriate, though.
I would not want to go to that funeral either.
Dad is projective, too. I love how he's got to be instructed to reach out to his wife, even when he's saying that she's shut down and is not facing facts.
And Hotch is just a steamroller. Sometimes, he's a very polite steamroller. But he's a steamroller.
Again, the focus on the victim's family. Always a nice touch.
Never tell me the odds, Reid.
Aww. No dinosaur toys for Spencer. That sucks.
"Some things never go away."
"...songs by Bob Dylan."
"I thought you didn't believe in dream analysis."
"Freud's been discredited, but Jung still has his merits."
...I just love this whole exchange. The prickly and complex Reid-and-Morgan friendship just gets more and more prickly and complex with the passage of time. Spiny, arm's-length, tentative, self-reliant abuse-survivor friendship. They try so hard to be there for each other, and it's hard, because everything about each of them is all about keeping your distance and being on guard.
It's like watching two porcupines play poker.
I do think it's odd that people are pushing Reid to take time off in the middle of a case, though. (ETA: although it's character development for Derek "Your Load, You Hump It" Morgan, though, innit?)
Okay, Reid having visual and auditory hallucinations in the middle of a funeral and treating it as more or less business as usual? So. Not. Reassuring. Although can I be OMG SHALLOW about the team in suits (Prentiss and Morgan both in suits. Together. Sigh.) and Reid in a crumpled, vintage, velvet jacket? I swear, he has the best clothes of anybody this side of Garcia. This almost makes up for the noted absence of the green corduroy jacket and purple scarf of late.
Alternately, Flashbulb memory, drink!
YAY JANE LYNCH ELEVENTYONE!
Also, tiny!Reid is totally cute in the horrible glasses.
Scary how much an eidetic flash can resemble a psychotic break....
Prentiss is Catholic? Or at least, she can fake it. Prentiss notices the guy with the camera. Prentiss and Rossi ARE the brute squad. Love the silent communication between Rossi, Prentiss, and Hotch.
"I love kids." (I honestly thought, "It's a COOKBOOK!" yeah, I know.)
"Oh, do you like videotaping other things besides funerals?" Emily's mockingly provocative voice is a thing of beauty.
"I had an imaginary friend named Riley when I was little."
Morgan is love. Laying out the details, leaving Reid to do the math.
Mom and Dad, moving closer to each other while Hotch is on the phone. Nice physical acting.
"How many of these people are out there?"
"She knows he sleeps better with me."
Sleep. And Reid does not sleep better on his mother's couch.
"That's not the rules." And where have we heard that phrase before? Funny thing, from another institutionalized UNSUB...
And Reid cracks the case! Psycholinguistics guy to the rescue!
Oh man. And there's Garcia, at the edge of her competence.
"Dr. Reid!" The staff at his mom's care facility love him. That cracks me up.
"I don't like the idea of you working on things that are so sad."
"Don't lie to your mother, Spencer."
"At one point you said, "He's here." When was that."
"Oh, I think you're mistaken."
"I've been seeing things."
"Don't say that." Her frantic glance aside is wonderful.
Diana has totally repressed whatever happened, too. Unless she's just out and out lying to reid. Hello. Not a good sign. "We moved house." "You were in danger." "A mother knows."
"We're animals, Spencer. We feel things." You know, there's a hell of a brain locked away inside that madwoman's chassis. Which is, of course, part of the pathos of the situation.
"I went off my medication when I was pregnant with you." And Diana Reid and Doctor Norman crack the case. Interesting how much of the subtext of this ep is devoted to this idea of the subconscious mind and how it communicates things to the consciousness. And of course, Reid--the guy with so much direct access to his subconscious that he can use it as RAM--is an ideal character for exploring that theme.
"I'm pretty sure I know why the medical examiner was so confused." Mwahahahaha. As Garcia would say, "Hello, therapy!"
Oh, creepy editing effects.
Garcia feels for people.
Accelerant, never a good sign.
Reid drives! ...I think we're going to have to take that one off the drinking game. Reid v.2.0 drives all the time.
Prentiss, clear behind the door too.
Her bundle is obviously not a kid, but I understand how adrenaline could confuse the issue.
"I stayed healthy. I did good." Oh, honey.
I am really wondering about Reid and that revolver. I mean, really.
Oh, man. Moments of clarity. Burning her delusions and remorse.
And isn't it interesting how the UNSUB and the mom both have JJ hair? I bet that's about as accidental as all the skinny kids with hazel eyes in the CM universe. It's also totally accidental that JJ and the mom keep being dressed in matching clothes.
And the mom talking to JJ at the end, again extending comfort to those who need it. Victim's Mom = made of win.
Also, JJ's baby being a boy ties into the theme that runs through this episode of mothers and sons--mothers who have lost their sons, sons who have lost their mothers. Mothers and sons fighting to get each other back.
JJ wondering what she'll do, as a mother, and having it all be very real to her now.
"This is about as good a day as we're gonna get on this job."
"I really think that you believe that." Hah. Nice.
Reid, trauma hair. Hello.
Morgan is having a moment of belief in Providence. Reid is not going there with him. And yet, Morgan is the one working on him, working with him, making him do the math.
Also, I think that might be the first time anybody on the team's referred to Reid's memory as photographic, which of course it isn't, and the episode makes that point even as it uses the sloppy language. That makes me laugh.
"You think you could find something to do in Vegas for the night?"
Hotch+deadpan=OTP. Yes. My fandom does think he's pretty goddamned funny.
"If anyone tries to keep him here any longer, I'll scratch your eyes out."
Shelter From The Storm FTW.
Boy, there's a familiar scene. Alas, no prestidigitationist Reid flinging food with chopsticks this time....
Happy team, Bob Dylan, Reid asleep under his casefiles...
Neurons firing. Not just another smirk at CSI, but: It helps if they think you're crazy. Schizophrenia, still a genetic disease. "What's going on in there?" Man I really hope they're just waving that thing around to make sure I'm still impressed with it. But I have a nasty sneaking suspicion they keep putting it on the mantel for a reason.
And man. Okay, I saw that coming. But I don't care. It totally delivered.
And Reid realizes The Awful Troof!
Spencer's sperm donor, still a thing of evil. Okay, honestly, there are a lot of ways this could play out--and the most horrible one would be if Diana were the killer, and William had covered up for his wife. Not sure how that would play out with the sexual assault. But. This is CM. They could think of something.
Nice circularity of course--from dream to dream..
Okay, I'd say that one was a win.