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Criminal Minds Review: "Corazon"

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Despite all the behind-the-scenes casting controversy, the always-chilling Criminal Minds has produced some of the better episodes in recent memory during its sixth season.

Did "Corazon," the first episode of 2011, live up to the show's standards? Mostly. At times, the show gets almost too graphic, relying on razor-sharp writing to compensate.

When the writing and filming don't feel quite right, you're left with an episode you feel could have been better - even if a sub-par Criminal Minds is still better than most TV.

BAU Members

This week the team traveled to Miami in search of an UnSub who practices a mystical (and eerie) Afro-Caribbean religion and has been killing (and dismembering) his victims.

The writers deserve much credit for even attempting some of these settings and plot lines and the terrific cast is always worth watching, but this one didn't quite hit the mark.

Something about "Santeria," as I believe the religion is named, did not come across as believable and the filming style felt like the show was trying a bit too hard to be gritty.

That said, the case involved a number of unexpected twists in the hunt for this disturbing UnSub, while a subplot involving Reid’s undiagnosed illness bookended the episode.

Jimmy Mercado, a local who knew the victim, first tells the BAU about Santeria. They also meet Julio Ruiz, who runs the local soup kitchen, and his teenage assistant Elian. 

The team meets with a professor writing the only book on the topic when they learn Jimmy Mercado is dead. The UnSub is now targeting people who talk with the BAU.

Julio is dragged to the station for questioning, but despite his criminal past, he seems genuinely remorseful and is ruled out as a suspect. Elian, however, not so much.

When the kid turns up MIA, he begins to look guiltier by the minute, but the BAU later begins to suspect Elian was framed, thanks to various inconsistencies in the case.

Parts of the crimes fit in with Palo Mayombe, but others did not. No prints were left at the scene, but a bloody footprint conveniently matched a shoe found in Elian’s room.

It all seemed a bit obvious then. Prentiss and Morgan figure it out that it’s professor Walker, trying to get press for his book, who committed the crimes and framed Elian.

Reid stumbles upon the killer and a tied-up Julio, and after some clever outmaneuvering, the rest of the team show up to arrest the UnSub and free Julio and Elian.

All the while, Dr. Reid and the MRI of his brain are the episode's backdrop. The guy has been suffering from very bad headaches and even some mild hallucinations.

In the end, the scans of his brain are surprisingly normal. The doctors suggest he might be suffering psychosomatic symptoms due to stress. This is likely not over yet.

Reid's migraine appears to be caused by past emotional/psychological trauma, so we can't imagine we've seen the last of this. It will be interesting to see where it goes.

Overall, it was solid, just not Criminal Minds at its best. A little predictable and gory for the sake of being gory, but again, the show is almost a victim of its own success.

It's hard to expect a home run every time out, especially after five-plus seasons, and even attempting some of these borderline out-there stories counts for a lot.

What did you think of last night's Criminal Minds? Comment below!

Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (96 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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    28 Comments New Comment Subscribe

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    but didn't they clearly say that the unsub wasn't killing for religion? he was hiding his own psychosis within a religion? and i thought that most of these religions are amoral, as in, how the religion works depends on the practioner's intent, not the actually religion. i don't really understand why people are so upset, considering that i didn't see anything that made the religions look bad. but i guess i don't know too much about it

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    I'm annoyed at the regular character stuff actually. It would be nice to focus on someone who isn't Reid and it would be nice if we saw more Prentis, and no Seaver, who looks to be used as a token female rather than a decent character.

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    everyone needs to get over this religious thing. no one forced you to watch.
    and if we're all so focused on the reality of the show, let's look at some facts.
    1. the BAU rarely goes into the field, let alone as the key force
    2. they are used more as a reference point than as fact, something to narrow down the list of suspects. the profile is used more as a guide, and it would never hold up in real life as evidence of the perpetrator
    3. women are rarely violent offenders, as they are often portrayed on the show. maybe you should argue more about that
    4. seaver is NOT educated and would NEVER be able to serve in a special unit within the FBI. it is an extremely elite and competitive group and they don't pick people because of who their father is

    there are lots of inaccuracies in the show. it is completely dramatized in order to make the show exciting and watchable.
    GET OVER IT.
    there was that exorcism episode before too.

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    I was bitterly disappointed. I thought it was a bad, lazily written episode. Criminal Minds used to be really good. I adore the actors (apart from Nichols), the writing used to be superb (Fisher King, The Big Game, Revelations, 100...), the chemistry between the cast and everything. This season is full of forgettable episodes. The Seaver character is badly written and poorly played. It was a grave mistake by the network to shake up the cast. A.J. Cook is sorely missed and once they axe Prentiss I'll stop watching. What's the point of getting rid of great actresses and replace them with mediocre ones? Ludicrous!

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    Honestly people, they weren't saying anything bad about the religion, the unsub twisted the religion to his murderess tendencies, and that was clearly stated.

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    It's looking like most commentators here didn't even watch the episode they're complaining about. The show clearly stated it was the unsub perverting the religion - and later, just plain adding his own horrors and pretending they were part of the religion (with the show clearly stating it was the unsub's signature and NOT the religion). There was no disrespect to any religion I saw, other than an obvious storyline of an unsub messing it up on purpose in order to get attention for his upcoming book.

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    I am offended but not surprised that they would insult this beautiful religion and twist it in to something so consummately obscene that it begs to wonder if the writers are ignorant or just plain religious bigots. Yet what can you expect from people who do the same thing to Catholicism in their shows and movies. A different angle should have been approached to this topic, that would have required a little research; you know the task that a typical 8th grader knows how to do. The writers of this show owe an apology not for the insensitivity, because God knows I hate how "PC" we've become, but for their lack of vision in their factual research to angle the topic that shows the beauty of this religion...Shame on you. As a teacher, I give you an "F".

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    I was very upset that once again TV/Hollywood has gotten it wrong again. Not only didn't they do there homework. They once again sterotyped us in the Orisha Commuity in the darkest light. It's easy to say GET OVER IT OR CHILL OUT, when you are not in the way of life. It's a TV show that is watched by over 1 Million viewers. So why not have another person do the killing and have the santero/palero help to find the killer the correct way. Not just some sayings and wearing just any beads. At the end of the day the episode can go kick rocks.

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    Really people....its a show. I am sure they meant no disrespect to the religion or the people who believe in it. Get over it.

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    With films and television striving to have more realistic pieces of work, why was sensationalism dominant over accuracy? This episode gives the public an impression that these horrific practices are acceptable and common in the Lukumi/Santeria and Palo Mayombe. Not so! How much more would it have cost to hire a priest as a consultant? There have been many crimes performed in more recognized religions, and there a very few pieces that give such a gory representation. Rape and murder were the calling cards of the Crusades.while they held the cross. Weren't babies buried in the walls of convents and monasteries? Was the blood and horrific crimes accentuated? The persistent maligning of African based religions needs to stop, and the practitioners need to unite and act. The viewers might soak this up, but Santeria is recognized as a New Religion in college text books. Inaccuracy and false representation is unacceptable. The writers,directors and producers owe the spiritual community and religion an apology.

    Kathryn Forestal
    olorisha of Yemoja




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