Criminal Minds Review: Hurting Others Won't Bring Him Back

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The BAU raced against to clock last night on Criminal Minds, unlocking the mysteries of the UnSub’s tragic past and learning her tragic secrets as she set out for payback.

Her target was the world at large, a cruel place where her son was taken from her. Anybody labeled as a hero - law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs - was in her crosshairs.

Specifically, she honed in on one man by the end.

The theme of grief was also prevalent among the BAU members themselves, as our favorite characters were made to undergo grief counseling after the loss of Prentiss.

Rossi and Hotch Picture

These were the most telling scenes of "Hanley Waters" and the most compelling in many respects. For the most part, it dovetailed with the hunt for the UnSub well.

The team members' responses to Emily's loss were wide-ranging:

  • Garcia would rather talk about the good times with Emily (something Don, the UnSub's target, says he does, but the UnSub, Shelley, says that she cannot).
  • Morgan runs through the stages of grief and he is angry. He later admits that he believes if he'd gotten there just a minute sooner, Emily would still be alive.
  • Reid reflects on the void left by his own father and his past counseling, and wonders why they're doing what they do if they can't even keep each other safe.

It's a fair question. By the time Rossi meets with Hotch, it's clear no one really wants to get into it. Hotch grieves privately, as Rossi says, and has been through hell.

When he says he's been "more married to the team" than to his own exes, it really hits close to home what a family this is, or what he at least aspires for it to be.

Boldly confronting the UnSub sans vest, Hotch performed a little grief counseling in the field, holding a picture of her family and reminding her of this basic point:

Hurting others won't bring him back.

It's profound in its simplicity, and as the woman can't stop blaming herself and remembering the car accident, Hotch reminds Shelley that Damien lived a happy life.

Analyzing her killing spree, it was Reid who deduced that she was purely on emotion - a sign of reacting to a personal loss - and pinpointed who she was targeting.

He also advised against calling in SWAT, which turned out to be the right call. Turns out Reid's in-depth experience with counseling and loss was put to good use.

We all react in different ways when someone or something dear to us is taken away, and in the circumstances faced by Shelley, it was all too much for her to bear.

While most of us don't go shooting people when we feel the universe wrongs us, the episode did a nice job of portraying anguish as part of the human condition.

The parallels with Emily's exit seemed obvious at times, but in the BAU's line of work, would be entirely realistic. The acting and writing were pretty much spot-on.

What did you think of last night's Criminal Minds? What stood out to you the most and what, if anything, did you dislike? Share your comments below.


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (53 Votes)

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


"Hurting Others Won't Bring Him Back" a reference to the Brewster situation? Maybe it won't, but at least Nina Tassler being expedited to the Unemployment Line would make sure she couldn't do this to anyone else ever again...


Just like you have no business being a fan


Michael, you obviously have very low standards. And I dont believe the Seaver ship has sailed just yet. There is talk of Paget And AJ coming back still, we wont know for certain until the fall. Seaver has no business on Criminal Minds!


I know the actor who play Gideon did not like the show but it would be cool if he made a specail appearnces


I could be wrong, but I think the ship has sailed on Seaver issue. CBS has decided to keep the character on the show, and from what I understand, there isn't anything we can do about it.
Also, I agree with many of you, Reid's reference to Gideon was excellent, but his question of "what are we doing if we can't protect one of our own" I think tells so much about the character and is an opening for the major problems Dan mentioned to come to light. Couple that with Reid's headaches and it could be an interesting rest of the season.
One last thing, everyone has opinions, and that is fine, but if someone doesn't agree with you, please don't make personal attacks. This is a forum for us to share our thoughts on a common topic, not attempt to demean each other.


I agree with the many viewers tha elimination of JJ from the team was unnecessary & a poor choice, as she is beloved by all! Not cool at all. To add insult to injury, now we're supposed to accept Emily's absence as just part of the dynamic series changes. NO WAY! I feel pretty upset because it's been my #1 FAVORITE tv show since it premiered. I hope they get the clear message here- BRING BACK PRENTISS & JJ!!!


I have to admit I don't normally watch the show, but I watched last night for Kelli Williams because I think she's a phenomenal actress and will pretty much watch anything she's in. As usual, she did a fantastic job!
The show was better than I expected. Might just start watching it.


Are sure your not talking about yourself jackie


If you mean Seaver is playing the probie part perfectly by being a complete fool and idiot, you're right. SHe's a moron. Her character makes no sense. I dont get why delivers profiles becuase she doesnt understand profiling at all. She's a wannabe at best and should not be part of this show. Morgon is great though, as is Hotch. And Reid mentioning Gideon, that was interesting. Good episode. Better than some of the recent ones. More Hotch needed!


I bet Kelli Williams needed a spa day after this episode, She so masterfully maintained such a high level of emotional turmoil it must have been hell for her, She proved she is truly an accomplished actress,

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