Review: Criminal Minds Season 9 Episode 14 Landmark Episode - 200 #CM200
Criminal Minds hits the milestone telecast with its 200th episode yesterday :') This episode was a special one for fans and the Criminal Minds family. The previous episode ended in a cliffhanger, JJ got kidnapped! I certainly did not expect that.
I think the show writers wanted to bring out and back what fans love in the show - the characters that made the show so lovely to watch. Strauss died in Season 8 and Prentiss left in Season 7 but they made their way back in this episode. But truth to be told, Strauss' reappearance through flashback was not even significant. I love watching Prentiss' scenes with JJ, it showed a lot of depth to their on-screen friendship, so it was good.
I also love the fact that the team was willing to put their career at risk just to find JJ. Reid and Garcia trespassing, and Hotch went all the way to Undersecretary. Wish those scenes were longer though because we only saw a glimpse of their loving relationships.
On the other hand, while there is no doubt that JJ is a very strong woman but the fact that she almost lose her life and was tortured hours ago didn't seem to leave an impact on her. I'd think a person would suffer much trauma and even PTSD but the ending of the episode didn't show that. Remember when Reid was abducted in Season 2 by Tobias Hankel? It left a season-long effect on him psychologically besides the fact that he started drug abuse of course. I guess the writers wanted the episode to end on a positive note.
Oh yes, turns out the landmark episode only lasted for one episode. I was hoping that it will be a 2-episode thing like Reid's case. That way, there can be more developments to the case and ya know, more thinking for us. The case itself was kind of weak cause it seems that it was kinda easy to crack down on the Unsub and figure things out although it was a top secret. What?
We're halfway through the season and now there's no more mystery :( I liked it during season 6 where little by little the mystery of Prentiss and Ian Doyle was revealed. Eventually the on-going case lasted the whole season and even made it to the first episode of season 7. That sequencing was great. Oh well.
Overall it was an OK episode. As a long-time Criminal Minds fan, I guess I will overlook and accept the loopholes and flaws in this episode because I know the writers just want to please the fans. It's also very meaningful for long-time fans who has been following Criminal Minds because Paget Brewster (who plays Prentiss) and A.J. Cook (who plays JJ) were forced to leave the show during Season 6 thus writing off JJ's character for the season; this episode followed that story and filled in the blanks of what happened when JJ was missing from the show.
The highlight for me in this episode is definitely Prentiss' one-episode comeback and JJ's story.. but hopefully, the season finale will be much better than this.
P.S: This fan's comment I saw on TVguide is rather interesting. Super long, but worth the read.
If this story was on “Alias”, a spy show that revealed in unreality (and a show I liked), I would be more willing to go along with this episode. But since this episode is found on a show about the psychological makeup of serial killers, and considering the back stories of the characters, I don’t forgive the utter ridiculousness of this story. Three of the show’s writers used to write for “Alias” (Erica, Breen, and Rick) and they seem to want to resurrect that show on “Criminal Minds” with their overuse of spy stories. They were forced to make some story changes based on the fact that AJ and Paget were both fired and rehired within a year. But they made a conscious choice to do it in the most ludicrous way possible, and they seem to think that what was a forced storytelling device to get rid of JJ and then bring her back, is really an organic basis for spy stories on a criminal thriller show.
The basic ideas behind this episode are not even remotely grounded in reality. Let’s start with the fact that this entire operation was ostensibly run by the State Department. Uh, no, that is not what the State Department’s mission is. Their mission is one of diplomacy and building international relations. They run embassies, interface with the local governments and represent US interests overseas. What they do NOT do isinterrogate suspects or run paramilitary operations. That is the job of the CIA and military special operations. State Department would have nothing to do with that. So that is unreality number one, but it is a big one. The second bit of unreality, and frankly one that is even bigger in this episode, is that JJ would be pulled from the BAU for this mission in the first place. Just what in her background indicated she was in any way trained to be an interrogator? Strauss said she was a skilled mediator, but that is not the same thing. Interrogation is a highly trained skill. It’s not something someone does for a whirl. Pretty much remember what Hotch said to Emily about profiling, and the same applies to interrogation. Essentially JJ was the Ashley Seaver of interrogating, because she was put on a job she had no business doing, and in reality, would never have done that job. There is NO way any department would INSIST that JJ be a part of a secret mission with herbackground. If the FBI was to be involved (because yes, the FBI does have interrogators), they would send someone professionally trained in the task, and not a rank amateur. Are we to believe that the FBI has NO female interrogators? Hell, Jordan Todd would have been a better fit for this job, just because she spent years in counterterrorism. And just what the hell was Strauss doing in Afghanistan? She is a section chief that oversees the BAU, and probably other things. She has no field experience whatsoever. She doesn’t run field operations; she flies a freaking desk. Is this supposed to be a State Department op or an FBI op, because it certainly sounded like Strauss was partially running things? Her appearance struck me as a blatant bit of fanservice and no way grounded in reality.
Some other things that don’t ring true. JJ was pregnant and in a combat zone. Uh, NOOOOO- pregnant females are not allowed in a combat zone. If you are pregnant, you will not be sent to a combat zone in the first place (and yes, they do pregnancy tests shortly before you deploy). If you discover you are pregnant and in a combat zone, you will promptly be sent home. Apparently JJ was more comfortable telling her boss, Cruz, that she was pregnant, rather than her own husband. But whatever. As her boss, he should have wished her well, and then promptly put her butt onto a plane home. The fact that he sent her out on a dangerous mission outside the wire is utterly ridiculous and not grounded in reality in the slightest. Or he is the world’s most ignorant boss.
I also call shenanigans on the fact that JJ still has active security codes to a HIGHLY classified database three years after she left the job. In the real world, when someone leaves a highly sensitive job, lock combinations are changed, security access codes are changed, computer passwords are changed and accounts deleted. There is NO way JJ would still have anything approaching knowledge of what the current security access codes were. What was her need to know? And is Cruz supposed to be State Department or FBI? I mean, this was ostensibly a State Department mission. So if he was State Department, what the hell is he doing working for the FBI now? And if he is FBI, why are his security codes still valid? And if he was FBI, why was HE recruited for a State Department operation? And just who arranged for his transfer to section chief, and why? I mean, it couldn’t have been about getting close to JJ, because they were already close friends, as we saw at the beginning of “Final Shot”.
In the grand scheme of things, these next few are more minor quibbles. I get that JJ and Emily had some sort of bonding moment over the fact that they both worked on secret missions. But why is JJ willing to violate Operational Security (and Emily willing to let her) to talk about her operation (even if she didn’t go into detail), but was completely unwilling to alleviate Reid’s guilt over Emily’s “death”? I mean, she clearly doesn’t value secrecy THAT much if she is talking about this operation with someone without the need to know.
Plus, I didn’t particularly like the final scene. To me, it’s like the writers sacrificed emotional realism for a cloying “family” moment. JJ was abducted and tortured and she’s just all smiles at a bar just hours afterward? Oh hell no. Do you think Reid was ready to go dancing after Tobias Hankel, or Emily was ready to knock back some shots after getting beat to hell by Cyrus?
That being said, there were some things I did like about this episode, though with some reservations. I always like the presence of Emily, though the reason for her appearance was very contrived and like Strauss, just fanservice to get Emily to appear. The person who said Emily would not be allowed to take part in any sort of tactical operation was dead on. The problem is, with the exit story given to Emily, there are very few organic ways of bringing Emily back to the show, as a guest star or otherwise. At least we had about two minutes of profiling when the team was reviewing AsKari’s history and behavior. It provided some insight into his thought process and his methods. I liked the ambiguity when it came to Cruz’s true loyalties. I mean, I liked him as a character when he was introduced, but I wouldn’t have been that dismayed to discover he was a turncoat. And as a huge fan of Battlestar Galactica’s Helo (played by Tahmoh Penikett), it was nice to see him on screen again, even if he was running the entire show as the uber baddie. No real time devoted to HIS psychological makeup and what drove him to turn traitor though. I mean, I presume he was American, and it is rather rare for an American to go that far to the dark side, so it would be have been nice to have some insight into his motivations, and just what the hell he was doing for the past three years, and why emerge now. Though the dual torture scene just highlighted the issues with cross-gender captivity. Michael didn’t have do anything but say some threatening words and put his hands on JJ, and Cruz is giving up the goods. No, I had no desire to see JJ sexually assaulted. I’m just pointing out that someone as highly trained as you think Cruz was should have been able to resistthat obvious tactic for information. I mean, national security issues are at stake here, and JJ was doing her best to hold strong. But since this episode seemed to make it clear that Cruz has a thing for JJ, I guess it would be unrealistic to think he might have held fast.
Like I said, on a different show, this episode would have been OKAY (except for the obvious breaks from reality I pointed out earlier). But as an episode of Criminal Minds? Oh HELL NO. I dearly hope the writers got their secret operations and spy yayas out of their system, and we can return to what the entire point of this show is: profiling serial criminals.