Friday, April 10, 2009

Criminal Minds - Recap & Review - Conflicted

Criminal Minds

Original Air Date: Apr 8, 2009

JD - Associate Staff Writer

This week, it's time for spring break! Bikinis and beach, along with asphyxiation and molestation. Party time!

Rick Dunkle wrote this one. It's his first episode with the show as a writer, and it's a pretty good first episode. Oh yeah, and Professor Rothschild from this season's Masterpiece was directing... I mean George Costanza... er... Jason Alexander. You know what I mean.

Continue reading...

[photo: cbs]


  1. This week, it's time for spring break! Bikinis and beach, along with asphyxiation and molestation. Party time!

    Rick Dunkle wrote this one. It's his first episode with the show as a writer, and it's a pretty good first episode. Oh yeah, and Professor Rothschild from this season's Masterpiece was directing... I mean George Costanza... er... Jason Alexander. You know what I mean.

    We start out this episode in a therapist's office with the moodiest lighting I've ever seen. A woman, looking all mysterious in shadow and smoking a cigarette is talking to her therapist. The therapist wants to talk about someone named Adam, who is missing, but Woman of Mystery doesn't want to. The therapist asks what she's hiding; Woman of Mystery thinks the better question is what Dr. Reid is looking for. "Reid?" you ask. "He's not even in this scene!" Why yes, actually, he is.

    Reid emerges from shadows (oooh, moody shadows again!), and says he's looking for Adam. He says that helping them find Adam is doing the right thing. Woman of Mystery says she has already done the right thing. Moody shadows and vague, obscure references to a missing boy/man/person!? Tell me more!

    But before you do that, give me the first gratuitous spring break T&A shot. You get a lot of them in this episode. It's sort of like a Girls Gone Wild commercial without the blatant smut and poorly-hidden-by-graphics nudity. But at least we get some backstory here. Seven days earlier at the Hudson Street Hotel, while said spring breakers are shaking their stuff, Skeevy Guy Number One's girlfriend is getting in to town late, and he intends to play while she's away. He meets a girl in the elevator, shakes her hand, and they go straight to room 319. Fast operators, those two. What appears to be a fun night of bondage kink turns into murder, and Skeevy Guy Number One gets suffocated by a plastic bag.

    Cut to Adam. Oh, hi, missing man days before he's missing! He's the maintenance guy at the hotel, and it seems room 319 has checked out early. He's the lucky guy who gets to clean it. I'll give you all three guesses what he finds when he does? If you say Skeevy Guy Number One, dead and curled up in a fetal position in the closet... then you've either watched the episode, or you're psychic.

    Turns out the guy in the closet is actually the second victim to be murdered at that hotel in the past three nights during spring break, and both were sexually assaulted before death. The team needs to act fast--if the unsub is a spring breaker, he'll be gone once spring break is over, and if the unsub is local, he may stop killing once the victim pool dries up.

    On the jet, Garcia says there is no connection whatsoever that she can find between the victims. She also says the lab has recovered over 100 different DNA samples from the hotel, with no way to know when each sample... er, well, found itself on the sheets (to put it delicately). Um, the next time I sleep in a hotel bed, I'm bringing my own linens and rubber sheets to go under them. Ugh.

    Rossi, Reid and Morgan head to the Hotel and meet Julie, the manager that sent Adam to clean the room the second victim was found in. They head up to the room, where Reid finds scratch marks on the foot board of the bed where the victim struggled against his ties. They start talking through whether or not the sexual aspect of the crime was consensual or coerced. The victims weren't drugged and they were in good physical condition, and they could have overpowered the unsub when he tried to tie them up, so they decide the unsub must have a partner.

    Reid and Morgan then head out to talk to Adam, who is visibly shaken. He says he never saw the either victim before cleaning that room, but now he can't get it out of his head. I sort of wanted to snuggle him a little. Then he asks Reid how long it takes before he will be able to close his eyes and not see what he found. Reid says he doesn't know the answer to that... and now I want to snuggle them both.

    As I snuggle the TV screen, Hotch, JJ, and Prentiss are off talking to the families of the victims. Neither of the victims were gay, which rules out consensual sex. One of the victims was a high school and college athlete, while the other's girlfriend described him as overtly sexual and aggressive towards women. In short, they were both alpha male personalities. Rossi has a theory that maybe the crime was both consensual and not: one partner is female, and lured the men up to the room to tie them up consensually (because an alpha male wouldn't follow another alpha male to a hotel room), then a male partner comes in to rape and murder them.

    Of course, by the time they come to this conclusion, day has turned to night, and the unsubs are on the prowl again, this time in a whole new hunting ground. Reid, Rossi and Morgan all head out to the new hotel the next day to scope out the crime scene and determine why the unsub switched locations, while back at Quantico, Garcia is being technical goddess extraordinaire. But when is she not?

    She's found the team a lovely little piece of the puzzle. Remember when Adam said he'd never seen either of the victims before? Oh yeah, it was a total lie. In fact, he not only saw them, but he had a fight with one of them before he was murdered. Poor little Adam is in big big trouble now, and the team has to figure out the rest of the puzzle.

    I have to admit, I wasn't sure that I liked this episode the first time I watched it. There are a lot of moments that can be outright funny about it, if watched in the right frame of mind. Not to mention, I (like a lot of people I talked to) figured out the twist to the story in the first scene. It's a shame, because it would have been a great one if it would have been done differently. I know what changes I would have made in that regard if I could have, but what about you guys? Did you guess it right away, and if so, how and what would you have changed?

    Upon re-watching it, though, I really enjoyed it a lot. It certainly isn't going into my favorites, but it was solid. Jackson Rathbone did a great job with Adam, who was really an awesome character for an actor to play with. He took it and ran with it, and pulled it off wonderfully in the end.

    I think Dunkle shows a lot of promise as a writer for the show, and I'd like to see more from him. He definitely has a good grasp of at least Reid's history with the show, and understands a lot of Reid's issues. I'm being vague here, of course, as not to spoil anyone, but I'd love to hear what you guys think about that, as well as the episode in general...

    Loved it? Hated it? Give me your two cents!

  2. What would I have done different?

    First off, I'd have made sure the guide descriptions didn't mention multiple personalities. LOL.
    Other than that...not sure. At least with that scene.

    The biggest thing that seemed clunky to me that I'd want to change was when they're in the briefing room, talking to each other like they're NOT all profilers.

  3. Triggerhappy,

    I don't actually read spoilers ahead of time, if I can help it. They said that in the synopsis? LOL Yeah, that would have made it even more obvious!

    Which part are you referring to? I didn't catch that, but I'll have to re-watch the scene because now I'm curious!

  4. I think the MPD/DID spoiler came from Jackson Rathbone's comments in an interview and not from an official spoiler source. I could be wrong. But since we've been "led astray" by these type comments before, I think we were afraid to put too much hope in them.

    I agree with Rick Dunkle's promise as a writer, and especially his feel for Reid and his issues. I'm hearing that he will be a staff writer for next season, so that's a good thing (if there can be a good thing with the CM writers debacle).

    The only aspect that disturbed me was at the end of the Morgan/Reid scene on the roof. I thought that Morgan 'dismissed' Reid too abruptly when he walked away after telling him to accept the fact that they couldn't save everyone. In fact, the entire team seemed to not 'get' the way an MPD/DID would effect Reid. WE, as fans, knew it would, and we're not profilers (in reality).

    It was a solid episode, and the more I watch it, the more I like it. However, it is hard for me to determine if I liked it so much because it was about my favorite character or if it was just a good episode in general. Call me shallow!

  5. Resolucidity,

    I didn't read the interview, but on rare occasions I read them ahead of time, I'm almost never actually right about what's going to happen! LOL

    I'm hearing that he will be a staff writer for next season, so that's a good thing

    Aw... That's not bad news at all, but it would be sad if they let some of the oldest and best writers go, then hired in new ones. Dunkle was good, but Andrew Wilder in particular was just awesome.

    I thought that Morgan 'dismissed' Reid too abruptly when he walked away after telling him to accept the fact that they couldn't save everyone.

    Really? I thought the opposite really. We have a pretty strong history on the show of Morgan seeking Reid out when Reid is hurting, and Reid usually opens up totally. This time, Reid opened up a little, then turned his back on Morgan, effectively shutting him out. To me it looks like Reid ended the conversation. Though, that was probably more a director choice than and actor/writer choice. Morgan basically tells Reid to get over it in The Instincts too (basically), but it's a much more connected scene because neither of them shuts the other out. I'm still not sure how I feel about the last roof scene, though. All I know for sure was that the music in the scene was terrible. LOL

    the more I watch it, the more I like it

    Oh, same with me. Definitely.

  6. I don't understand firing exceptional writers (esp. Andrew Wilder) only to hire more. It just makes no sense, even financially. Assuming Dunkle was hired for significantly less money than Wilder, it still doesn't make sense because Wilder consistently brought the ratings, thus making ad space more lucrative. I'm totally scratching my head on that one.

    I see your point on the Reid/Morgan roof scene. I'm just so totally biased to toward Reid that I fail to see the obvious sometimes. LOL!

    Yes, the music was horrific. It would have been much better with no music at all.

  7. CM will be very different next season, Andrew Wilder, Debra Fisher, Holly Harold, Jay Beattie and Dan Dvorkin are all out. And there is talk that an actor will be out as well.

    As for conflicted, I didn't like it. The spring break thing didn't work for me. How can guys who are suppose to be straight, alpha male go for a 'woman' like Amanda? I mean it was obvious it was a guy dress as a woman. All those spring break scenes reminded more of a CSI:Miami episode than CM.

    I don't know about Dunkle, I wasn't impress. This guy isn't in the same league as Wilder and Fisher.


  8. Resolucidity,

    I am definitely a Reid girl too, but the first time I watched it, I was too distracted by the Reid angst and bad/too loud music to really pay attention. LOL I didn't catch the body language there until a second watch.

    it still doesn't make sense because Wilder consistently brought the ratings, thus making ad space more lucrative

    Exactly. I suppose they are hopping the new writers will build a following as well, but considering Fisher and Wilder have been there since day one, four seasons, I just don't see that happening so fast, promising or not.

  9. Anon,

    I'm crossing my fingers that it will stay as good as it has been, even if it's different. I wasn't impressed much by Harold, but the rest were awesome, so I agree that it's sad, and I'm nervous, but trying to be optimistic. The talk of the cast member being cut is, as far as I know, a rumor so far (and one I dread coming true--THAT would be way harder for me to remain optimistic about), but there was a petition against it at Criminal Minds Fanatic Blog, if you're interested in signing it.

    How can guys who are suppose to be straight, alpha male go for a 'woman' like Amanda?

    Amanda wasn't very attractive, necessarily, but I think part of it was a power "yeah, I can have anyone I want" thing. Plus, there is LOTS of alcohol involved in spring break. LOL "She" looked good, body-wise, too... though I have no doubt those shots not showing "her" face weren't really Jackson Rathbone in that dress.

    I agree that Dunkle isn't on par with the writers that got sacked right now, but I think he has promise of become a pretty good addition to the writing staff.

  10. Thanks for such a thorough review :-) I too am looking forward to seeing more from Rick Dunkle, as I think he has a real knack for writing Reid, and his writing in general seems to be quite strong. While I loved almost all the Reid-related scenes, I did think Dunkle had varying success with some of the other characters... I've said it elsewhere, but I thought he particularly struggled with Rossi, and a lot of the the lines for the character seemed a bit generic and clunky. That's just nit-picking though, because I think on the whole it was an enjoyable ep, especially for a first-time CM writer. And the directing was great; I especially loved the use of mirrors.

    I don't know if I would have got the twist if I hadn't been spoiled (probably not, though I would have figured something was up). I got spoiled about six times before seeing the episode, because some people seemed to forget completely about spoiler warnings / LJ cuts in their excitement over Jackson Rathbone :-S

    It will be interesting to see what, if any, ramifications of this episode are followed up between now and the end of season.

  11. Coffeecocktails,

    Thank you, I'm glad you liked it!

    I would have to agree that Rossi was just slightly off in this episode in certain minor parts, but it wasn't a huge gaffe. I'm too much of Rossi girl to have tolerated that. ;) I do at least appreciate that the episode, while it was a "Reid episode", wasn't ALL about Reid. I love the guy, but sometimes character focused episodes have such a bad habit of just forgetting the rest of the team exists--like in Omnivore, pretty much everyone but Hotch and Rossi were Sirs-Not-Appearing-in-This-Episode. :)

    in their excitement over Jackson Rathbone :-S

    I had no idea who the guy was before, but I sure do now! No way I could have possibly missed flailing.

    You know, I'm not sure they'll follow up on the episode, really. In season two, they let the drug plot disappear until the end of season three. They haven't really followed up on The Instincts/Memoriam either. But you're right in that it would be interesting. Reid does tell Amanda that he's going to keep coming back until he finds Adam. :)

  12. I really liked this episode and I'm glad that Dunkle will be around next season. However, I'm sad that The Powers That Be fired so many other good writers. As far as getting rid of an actor goes, I can't imagine who they could cut without it affecting the quality of the show. In any case, DON'T CUT REID!!--Nocturna 1962

  13. I hated the direction. I hope that was the last time they use Alexander. Jeez, I could have directed it with more subtlety. That eye thing when Adam was leaving the police department - it was ridiculous - I mean, we got it already, move on. Could have been a good ep with someone else at the helm.

  14. I really did not enjoy it. It felt like I was watching a completely different show. The lighting, and cinematography in general was totally beserk. It didn't even really make sense. Adam was definitely not so convincing as a woman as to lure multiple staight jocks into bed... no matter how drunk they were.

    I just wasn't feeling it. at. all.

    Which saddens me. Gawd I hope the next ep is better.

  15. Nocturna 1962,

    I agree about not knowing who they could even cut. Each team member brings something to the team that can't be matched by any of the others. Hopefully, a rumor is just that, but we'll have to wait and see.

  16. Jomk,

    The eye thing was necessary, in that Reid needed a definite nudge about what was going on, but it lasted a little long. That may have been editing rather than directing, who knows. It did kinda look like Adam was more attracted to Reid than being smug, though. LOL

    There were some sort of weird direction choices, I agree--like when they looked at the crime scene at the second hotel, then walked outside just to walk back in again. Or, like I pointed out above, the last roof scene seemed disconnected with Reid physically shutting Morgan out.

    I don't think Jason Alexander was bad, but he wasn't great either. Dunkle may have looked even better without him.

  17. Borderlinetruth,

    Gawd I hope the next ep is better.

    I know that feeling! Though I still hold that no matter what I say about any given episode of CM, the worst CM episode is still better than almost anything else I'd care to watch.

    Fortunately, for me, this one was way better the second time I watched it, then better still when I watched it a third time. You might give it another shot, if you can!

    I actually think Amanda was convincing. Not the prettiest girl at the club, for sure, but she did look like a girl, to me at least, and I could imagine she'd look better with beer goggles. ;)

  18. Jazon rathborne can by a will, no problems with that. He is really cute.

    (sorry about my english)

  19. Anon -

    I'm sorry, I don't follow the first part, but I would agree Rathbone is pretty adorable in an odd sort of way. ;)


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