Friday, June 4, 2010

Criminal Minds 05x02 "Haunted" or "I Really Had To Scrape To Find Funny Shit About This Episode"

Any time an episode starts with a sepia toned, soft-filter flashback, I know I'm in for a freaking ride.

Then this Sean Patrick Flannery look-alike is like, hey, give me my meds. Look at me twitching. The lady behind the counter refuses him. This is her first dumbshit move. I mean come on. This guy clearly looks agitated.

I'd call that pretty pissed, yeah. And then he goes ape and shanks three people in the pharmacy line.

The Apprentice: This is how I feel getting medicine from CVS.

I mean seriously, sometimes they just move so slow.

Back at the ranch, Brows shows up for some real talk with Papa Rossi. To which I want to be like, dude, going to Rossi to express your concerns about a fellow teammate's well being is like going to Ray Liotta to talk career choices. After a certain point, he just doesn't really care anymore.

I mean, are you watching the same show I am? It's been three-ish seasons and you haven't realized yet that Rossi's answer to every problem is to just power through? If this dude got shot in the leg, he'd walk it off.

See? He's an arrogant bastard. Look at that smug face.

And then Morgan's like, shouldn't we be concerned that Hotch is going to be distracted by this whole, Reaper going after his family thing? And Rossi's like, nah. Nah. He'll be motivated.

You're gonna eat your words, sucker.

Criminal Minds sometimes likes to beat into the audience that the characters are facing difficult times. Not only do we get a Rossi/Morgan scene detailing Hotch's predicament, but we get a far superior and far more interesting scene with Garcia and Reid about almost the exact same thing. I think this is one of my favorite scenes in season five, and we're only two episodes in.

And it's not because Reid is sucking on a lollipop the entire time, but that helps.

But mostly it's because in this scene we get a good character-view of Hotch from the perspective of his foil. If you've been watching Criminal Minds for five seasons and haven't figured out that Hotch and Reid are supposed to be foils, there's no help for you. Sometimes I think that maybe Morgan and Reid are set up the same way, like they're expressly meant to be compared and contrasted by the viewer, but I think that Hotch and Reid do a better job of it. They're both pretty serious about their work, they both lack personal lives, they both dress pretty business while everyone else on the team kind of goes semi-casual. And yet Reid makes the distinction between them. Hotch never blinks. Hotch stares down the enemy every time. And Reid's a blinker.

We also learn that the unsub's name is Darrin. Darrin. I dare you to name anyone cool named Darrin.

Explain to me why Prentiss is picking up Hotch? I feel like the writers started the seeds of an abandoned 'ship and then thought better of it. See: Season One, Reid and JJ.

The Apprentice and I for some reason found this the appropriate time to discuss Hotch's dependence on the BAU and his job. It's the one thing he's sacrificed everything else for, marriage, social life, moving up in the FBI world.

Me: Totally, if you take Hotch's job away, what does he have left?
The Apprentice: That scowl.


Hotch goes to interview the pharmacist lady like, what the fuck happened here? And she's like, I didn't give him his meds because he was out of refills! And then Hotch is like ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND, THIS GUY IS IN A PSYCHOTIC BREAK and you didn't give him his meds!?

He's all "This bitch..."

And then he calls Garcia, and he's like, "WHAT ELSE DID YOU MISS, STUPID?" and Garcia doesn't like getting yelled at so she makes this face a lot:

Criminal Minds can really put me on edge sometimes. Even the way Garcia hesitates when talking to Hotch makes me uncomfortable, and on the plane, when Hotch asked Reid how long he was going to be on crutches and looked pissed when he didn't know, it wasn't the usual ribbing and teasing that goes on on the jet. It was different and made me uneasy.

So then the unsub dude goes to his psychiatrist and has this Lady Macbeth freakout about how dirty his shirt is and starts yelling like the guy from Sling Blade. It's this kind of guttural grunt-barking, and I don't like it.


Also, crazy unsub is crazy, but adorable flashback unsub baby is adorable. This is a paradox, Criminal Minds. Are you trying to make me like this guy? You probably are. Giving him an adorable child actor to portray his younger self is sneaky and WORKING.

At this point in the episode, The Apprentice and I realized how freaking uncomfortable we were. I think at one point, one of us said, "there is nothing lulzy about this episode, man" and continued along in awkward silence. Sometimes the subject matter on Criminal Minds is heavy, and sometimes it is not (see, upcoming episode about the unsub who really just needs an eharmony profile) but this episode is pretty heavy. Unsub who was used as bait as a child for his crazy serial killer father? And now has repressed memories and guilt? Yeah, pair that with the fact that Hotch just got back from his leave after being stabbed repeatedly by Ponyboy and you've got yourself a recipe for an episode that makes me pull my collar uneasily.

For some reason, the camera-movement in this next shot at the precinct makes me seasick. It's like they switched to handheld for no reason and everyone's standing on a boat.

Here's a gratuitous shot of Reid from that scene.

Criminal Minds is also totally fucking with my childhood perception of orphanages being huge, angry brick buildings filled with kids in shabby clothes with dirty faces. I mean, is this really what orphanages look like now?

So at this point, unsub snatches up a kid from the orphanage and takes him on the road. I forget what the hell the Cop of the Week did to piss Hotch off, but he's angry. And Hotch is the one who's always like, quit being a dick to the cops, you guys, it's not our fault none of them have graduate degrees. This is a testament to Hotch's state of mind. Instead of trying to work with the cops, he's like, SHUT UP. I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING. I'M IN A FUCKING SUIT.

I don't know if you know this, but television has a long-standing love affair with the father/son trope. It is everywhere. It's also everywhere in film and literature too, but we're talking television right now, so let's stick to that. Criminal Minds particularly loves this trope too. I can't think of anyone on that show who has a functional father figure, except maybe JJ or Rossi and that's because we don't know anything about them, but I'm willing to even doubt Rossi. Reid's father split when he was a kid (I might even go back and recap those episodes from season four because they're some of my favorites) Hotch's dad apparently beat the holy hell out of him as a kid, Prentiss' dad is out of the picture, Morgan's dad was shot in front of him, Garcia's dad is dead. And a lot of this show's way of dealing with that is showing the way that the cast deals with what's been passed down to them from parents. This unsub gets locked into that trope. The episode is undoubtedly about coping with what we inherit from our parents, for better or worse, and how it sometimes short circuits people.

Hotch goes with the unsub to the unsub's father's house, the old serial killer who no one ever caught. Hotch knows, above all else that there's only one resolution to the situation, as he had a shit dad himself and obviously this unsub can't cope with his daddy issues by joining the BAU, as Hotch has done. The Cop of the Week wants to go in guns blazing, as they always freaking do, and Emily is like NO ONE IS GOING TO DIE HERE, DUDE.

Hotch also goes into the house without a vest on, which is a big FBI no no. The rest of the BAU figuratively shits themselves over this and Rossi, as wise and old and bearded as he is, is like WE HAVE TO TRUST HOTCH TO DO THIS.

Morgan's eyebrow does not agree.

The cops want to take out the guy with a sniper shot, but IN TRUE BAU FASHION, Hotch is blocking the shot. Who does he think he is, Reid? That's Reid's job. Also, inside, he's trying to reason with the unsub. REASON WITH THE UNSUB. AGAIN. WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS, REID? Hasn't he learned over the past however many years that you can't argue with an unsub? Especially not a psychotic one?

Batman is displeased at your insolence.

So then the unsub shoots his dad and Hotch comes out and is like, "I couldn't stop him." Bullshit, dude. You just wanted to let him have his moment of catharsis. I know how this freaking show works.

Back at the ranch, Morgan and his eyebrows are really upset about Hotch going into the house alone, without a vest. Rossi's like, it's cool. We've got to trust him. He's Our Fearless Leader. Why didn't we have this conversation, say, in season three, when Reid stepped in front of the kid with the sawed-off shotgun with his hands up and NO GUN AND NO VEST? Why is it suddenly a big deal when Hotch does it? At least Reid gets results.

Sidebar, quit trying to make Hotch/Prentiss happen, writers. You've established Hotch as the lone, loveless wolfpack leader, and now you need to stick with it.

Thaaaaat's better.

This show, man.


  1. you totally need to do more of these! (like Reid-centric ones, not that i'm biased) giggled my head off:D

  2. I love your recaps, like seriously. I got all excited when I saw this one. You do Bones, too, don't you?

    Thanks for making my day with your gratuitous Reid and Morgan's eyebrow and general, all-around awesome snark/sarcasm.

  3. I might recap Revelations and some of the episodes after it if I get sick of season five. Which is possible. Also, I want to do all of the Jane Lynch episodes. Thanks for reading!!

  4. I love that you've made Morgan's eyebrows a separate and scary entity.

  5. So i ship Hotch/Prentiss, but the awesomeness of the H/P scenes in this episode are different: the other lone wolf of this pack (Emily's a bit of a foil for Hotch too - all business suits, getting the job done right and not trough politics and yet she has this wild mysterious side to her) is silently leeting the Fearless Leader know the pack's got his back.

    Awesome recap!

  6. Loved the recap. Don't think the show was suggesting anything shippy with Hotch and Prentiss. Friends with no romantic intentions do sometimes do caring things for each other, especially when one of them has been through something horrific. And, through the whole season, they showed the different ways the team supported and cared for Hotch. Prentiss making sure Hotch got safely to and from work was just her purely platonic but deeply caring way of doing that. IMO.

  7. Okay - Morgan's eyebrow(s)? Totally awesome. Please never ever stop.

    And there is no such thing as gratuitous Reid. Blasphemy!

    Finally - yes and yes to why the scene between Garcia and Reid works so well in describing Hotch - and how he and Reid complement each other. I miss their scenes together, which seem to be few and far between these days.

  8. You are my new favorite person on the planet