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.
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!