Saturday, January 24, 2009

Criminal Minds - Recap & Review - Bloodline

Criminal Minds

Original Air Date: Jan 21, 2009

JD - TwoCents Reviewer

If you've been reading my reviews over this past season, I think you might notice a bit of a pattern: in my opinion, this season's episodes have been hit or miss. My reviews have been reading a bit like 'Pass. Fail. Rockin'! Pass. Fail. Pass. Rockin'!'... which is a shame because I've not seen a season of this show yet that I've felt so ambivalent about as this one, in spite of much preferring Rossi episodes to Gideon ones. However, I am very happy to report this week that I believe I have a new favorite episode of the season! This one actually comes from a brand new writer to the show, too, Mark Linehan Bruner. I think they need to keep this guy around. Something's been lacking this season, and Bruner brought it.

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  1. This episode starts off in Harvest, Alabama, where the Creeps of the Episode are sitting in a car in the dark. Now these Creeps of the Episode might look like your normal family--mom, dad, young boy--but if they were, of course, we'd have no show, and right away it's very clear that something isn't right with them. Mom and Dad are telling their son that he's becoming a man, they are about to do something they've been talking about since he was a boy, meeting someone for the first time... in the middle of the night, outside of a darkened house. This does not bode well for the residents inside, I realize, even if at this point, I am utterly stumped as to what is actually going on.

    Mom, Dad, and Son promptly break into the house, scattering colored glass outside the door as they do, and we cut right to Jordan brushing past Prentiss and Rossi in the bullpen, straight to Hotch's office. This episode did a fantastic job of establishing tension right off the bat; we see the beginnings of a crime, the urgency Jordan has, and then we get the facts of the case, rapid fire: Creepy Family Unit has killed Sleeping Family Unit's parents, and abducted a young girl from the home. Most abducted children don't live past the first 24 hours, and the girl has been missing for about 8 hours already. The team is off to Alabama in a flash, and once Jordan has delivered the case to Hotch, she falters on getting in gear.

    This seems to be a theme with Jordan Todd, in this episode and her time with the team in general: she either falters, or she has a big emotional reaction to things and winds up freaking out (or both!). Often at Hotch, no less, but I digress.

    Back to Harvest, Alabama. As it turns out, Creepy Family Unit is actually looking after Cate (Adair Tishler, Heroes) our missing girl, quite well. No need to worry after all. She's got her own tiny, dark room, with a wonderful view of her kidnappers through slatted blinds. They provide her cool refreshing beverages, and even the ropes on her wrists don't look that tight! Oh, and Creepy Son even gives her a cool new name! Score! Elaina is way better than Cate any day!

    I was pretty sure I knew what they wanted Cate for right off the bat, but that was really the only predictable part of the episode for me. What about you guys?

    On the jet, Jordan briefs the team more on the crime: both Parents had their throats cut, no evidence of abuse, an Amber Alert is already in effect, and the parents' bodies were discovered by Cate's biological father, who isn't considered a suspect. Hotch tells her they want to talk to the dad anyway, and quickly enough, the team is in Alabama.

    Once there, Morgan and Rossi go to crime scene, while Hotch and Reid go over the geological profile. Cate's dad, who is understandably not doing so hot (which... is an understatement), shows up to provide nearly nothing of use to the team except that Cate is epileptic. Uh-oh. Good money would say the Unsubs don't know that.

    And, lo and behold, they don't. Cate is no good to them anymore, and the family dumps her off the side of the road, wrapped in a blanket. Of course, what turns out to be a good resolution for Cate, only means that Creepy Family Unit is on the hunt for another girl again.

    This episode was everything I want from a good Criminal Minds episode, and the it's only episode this season that I've bothered to re-watch multiple times already. It was unpredictable without being so much so that it threw me out of the story or became over the top. There was great usage of the camera tricks that I love so much. And the team members who were more heavily involved in the case all had their strengths put to good use, Prentiss in particular.

    I'm not always so sure her interviews go as well as they should with adults and teenagers, but I think she does a great job with kids and this episode is no exception. It's always a wonderful call back to the fact that she wants to be a mother, and that JJ thinks she would make a good one. Her interview with Cate in this episode literally gave (and still gives) me chills, which I think can be equally attributed to Paget Brewster and Adair Tishler's acting in the scene, the wonderful use of camera tricks, and the writing (one of my favorite lines of the episode is the one in which Prentiss asks Cate if the unsub is 'old like me?' because it just shows how wonderfully Prentiss does understand the way children think.)

    There were other great team moments too, like Hotch's confession to Cate's father that made my heart ache, and Rossi's interactions with Jordan. I don't care for Jordan, and I felt that Rossi's conversation at the end of Normal felt forced. This time, those interactions were handled with just the right touch.

    Oh, and good cop/bad cop? I'm already out of space in this review, but I have to say that it was utterly brilliant. Prentiss and Hotch played more perfectly against one another than I think I've ever seen them do before, and I am such a sucker for watching Hotch play the bad guy, watching him tap into that darker part of himself and how perfectly Thomas Gibson plays it. That, right there, is the reason L.D.S.K. is still one of my very favorite episodes.

    I think the Powers That Be over at Criminal Minds should chain Mark Linehan Bruner to a desk and make him write more as soon as possible. Or, you know, at least get him to write us a few more to be sure this utterly fantastic episode wasn't a fluke, and then chain him to a desk if it wasn't. What do you guys think? Give me your two cents!

  2. Oh, I LOVED this episode. The way Emily was with Cate was fantastic, and you bring up a good point, that she DOES understand children well. Someone else I know commented that maybe she relates to them, considering what a lonely/alienated child she might have been as her ambassador mother dragged her around the world.

    Thomas Gibson was WONDERFUL in the bad-cop role. I hadn't made the connection to "L.D.S.K." but now I'm going to have to go back and watch that again, too. I wonder how much of that he learned from his father, if the apparent implication from "Natural Born Killer" is true that he was abused as a child.

  3. Uhh. I can't believe you think this is the only good episode of the season? Or am I mistaken? You seriously need to rewatch the episodes because all of them have been awesome. While I agree with you the writer and episode was good, I disagree that this season has lacked. The writing has been top-notch and the people involved deserve kudos.

  4. Oh, that's a fantastic point, understanding what kids want because she knew what she didn't have and wanted so badly when she was a child. And that's probably what would make her such a good mother, too, knowing what not to do.

    And if Hotch is channeling his childhood abuse (which I believe happened), that makes two of them channeling their childhood in different ways in this episode, doesn't it? L.D.S.K. is the first one that comes to mind, but we've seen Hotch bring out the mean on other occasions too. It's always such a shock, given Hotch's normal temperament, but played so well, I never doubt for a second it could be very real if Hotch ever let it.

  5. Leah,

    I didn't say this was the only good episode. I've liked several (Normal [which I don't yet have a R&R up for], Masterpiece, 52 Pickup), I've been unsure about a couple (The Instincts, Memoriam), and several of the others I thought were subpar (Minimal Loss, especially, but some others could have been so much better than they were.) What I said was that consistency has been lacking this season, not that they were all bad. If I thought that, I certainly wouldn't still be watching it and writing these things! :)

    I agree that a lot of hard work goes into the show, and the actors/producers all deserve their due, and I will even admit that to me, a "bad" episode of CM is still better than most shows, but that doesn't mean I like everything they do, or that I shouldn't be critical when I feel they could do better, when I've seen them do better in the past. :)

  6. I think you must be nuts if you did not like The Instincts or Memoriam.

    And I still disagree with you.

    I think this is the best season for the show, regardling that you've "seen them do better in the past."

    But I digress

  7. Leah,

    Again, you're misreading me. I didn't say I disliked The Instincts or Memoriam. I said I was unsure about them. There were parts I liked and parts that I didn't. For instance, I am a huge--no, make that HUGE, in all caps--fan of Diana Reid (and Jane Lynch, for that matter). If you read those reviews, you would see that I utterly GUSHED about her, and would welcome more episodes like those if just to see more of her.

    The longer I have to digest those episodes, the more I do like them. They're just taking me a while because I am, quite honestly, a little tired of the gratuitous torment they inflict upon Reid in the show. I understand it from a writer/show stand-point; Matthew Gray Gubler is a fantastic, expressive actor to write for, and Reid is a character any writer would die just to play with. But one man can only take so much and survive it the way he has. The more and more trauma they heap onto his life, the less and less believable it becomes that so much has happened to one person, in my opinion. Those episodes, on a stand-alone basis, were very good, but from an overall story arc point of view, they're just piling on to the ever-growing heap of angst on Reid's shoulders, and it's getting to be a little much, a little hard to digest. And this is coming from someone who LOVED The Big Game/Revelations, so my reaction to this is not just because I happen to be a little protective of Reid. ;)

    And I still disagree with you.

    And that's the beauty of fandom. We can completely disagree with each other, and BOTH still be right in whatever we believe. :)

    Maybe I have high standards for my favorite show on TV, but if that makes me "nuts", then I'll gladly accept the title. :)

  8. Does anyone know where I can find a video of Emily's interview of Cate?


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