If there's a silver lining to be found regarding J.J.'s departure on Criminal Minds (and you'd have to look long and hard for one) it's that the BAU seems as shaken up as we are.
We may never understand why this terrific character was written out, and it seems that neither can Hotch, who spent much of "Compromising Positions" coming to grips with it.
Beneath this subtext was another solid episode of Criminal Minds, with a twisted and disturbing attacker on the loose, but J.J.'s absence seemed to be the dominant theme.
FILLING A VOID: Hotch (Thomas Gibson) dealt with J.J.'s absence early and often.
With a string of married couples being slain in Ohio, Garcia offered to travel with the rest of the team in J.J.'s place, since their jobs were the most similar ... in theory, at least.
Predictably, she had a hard time filling the role of communications liaison, and Hotch had to bail her out personally. The pressure is palpable. These are some giant shoes to fill.
Audibly whispering “I miss you J.J.” was a tad melodramatic and unnecessary, but at the same time, we're all thinking it. You wonder if they're trying to send CBS a message.The BAU considers itself a family, and you don't pick up new members off the application pile. Replacing a vital cog will take effort from everyone, and will be an ongoing process.
Garcia is terrific, but in her own way. She can't just be the new J.J., much as she might want to. As Morgan eventually ended up telling her, “you need to go O.G. Original Garcia.”
She did, and a good thing too. The episode's UnSub, frustrated by impotence, is committing brutal crimes based around the sexual fantasies he used to enact at swingers clubs.
After six seasons, the show proved it can still stun us with some of the case-related action. When the suspect opened fire at the swingers party, that was pretty messed up stuff.
In addition to Garcia coming through with the phone call, Prentiss used herself as bait, right out in the open, in hopes of snaring the killer. We were almost as nervous as she was.
It was all hands on deck, and an admittedly strong episode, despite the pall cast over the season so far. We're still sad J.J.'s gone, but it will be interesting to see the BAU evolve.
As the night drew to a close, Hotch assured Garcia they need her, but in her usual role, and that she didn't let him down. In the future, they'll split J.J.'s duties to better handle it.
How will that go? It's hard to say, but they're winging it, so we can too.
What did you think of last night's Criminal Minds? Do you take any solace in the fact that the team itself seems shaken by losing one of its own? Discuss in the comments below.