Criminal Minds Review: The Devil In The Details

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On a creepiness scale of 1 to 10, this week's episode was a solid 15. Or should I say 11, which is apparently the devil's number. Hey, you learn something new every day.

After viewers complaining for months about the unnecessary "filler" storylines that Criminal Minds writers have been dwelling on, this week they turned the tables. We got exactly no ancillary plot action whatsoever. So to those vocal opponents of personal story lines I ask you: was it better? Hopefully so. One thing's for certain, though: I'll probably have some scary dreams tonight. 

Robert Englund on Criminal Minds

This weeks' "Heathridge Manor" episode - directed by none other than Matthew Gray Gubler, incidentally - was one heck of an eery ride. It had a strong Silence of the Lambs feel to it, and it  made me never want to see a Shakespeare play again. Maybe that's harsh, but it's true.

From a profiling standpoint, we saw a lot of action. It took the team quite a bit of time to nail down that the UnSub wasn't worshiping the devil but rather trying to fend him off. Also, Reid's revelation about the significance of the dates was a brilliant piece of the puzzle, but it didn't excuse the fact that we knew who the UnSub was from the very beginning again. As I've said before, that doesn't particularly bother me, but it irks many of you. Just trying to play devil's advocate here (pun intended).

Garcia had some straight up zingers this week. I loved her clarification that Renaissance fairs weren't just "nerds in costumes eating turkey legs," and when she compared the head of the asylum's hatred of digital records to Reid's technophobia, I couldn't help but chuckle. Everyone on the team seemed to be fairly well utilized this week, and Hotch's head to head with the UnSub was actually pretty exciting.

As for the backdrop, it doesn't get much more unsettling than an abandoned asylum for the criminally insane (or a basement dungeon). And a conveniently electricity-free storage room stocked with old hospital records. (P.S. Prentiss must have some sort of radar for finding obscure paperwork. She just materialized that file out of nowhere, damn.)

I could've done without the weird, incestuous undertones between the UnSub and his little sister, but I suppose it all served to round out the reality-detached picture of that family. Did anyone else get an Edward Cullen vibe from our UnSub? Probably because of the hair and the pale face, but his lack of pigment and her prosthetic arm just gave me the heebie jeebies (and no, that's not a shot at people with missing limbs, calm down).

Ending the episode off with her own delusions of the devil taking shape was a great way to leave the audience feeling off balance. I'm glad this episode wasn't a two-parter because, frankly, I'd be freaked out to have them elaborate further.

Next week we leave the occult, nicotine poisoning and Renaissance-era themes behind us, and I, for one, will not complain. What did you think of Reid's directorial masterpiece? Were you into the off color themes? Even though it creeped me out, it also fully entertained me. The floor is yours, TV Fanatics, have at it.


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (142 Votes)
Renata sellitti

TO ALL THOSE CONCERNED WITH MISSING THE PREVIOUS EPISODE'S REVIEW: My apologies, TV Fanatic faithful. I was unable to cover that episode, and when I realized that there would be a conflict that Wednesday I informed my editors at TV Fanatic. They procured another writer to step in that week, and for reasons beyond their control, circumstances made that writer unable to cover it too, sadly. There is no bias, no method to which episodes (or characters) I choose to focus on, and TV Fanatic is definitely not orchestrating something deliberate here. Sometimes, as I'm sure you can all relate to, life just changes plans on you, and we're forced to roll with it. I appreciate that you were all looking for the review, however, it's a sign of your loyalty - both to this site, and to a show that you love. Just wanted to set the record straight, thanks.


WOW what a creepy but awesome episode!!!!!!
Could have done without the incest overtones though......... Still don't know that I like knowing who the unsub is right off the bat..... Prentiss finding that file that quickly was just a little dumb. No way that could have happened in real life....


HATS OFF TO MATTHEW GRAY GUBLER!!! Sir,when this show ends,you have a future as a director. Whether it's indie flicks, tv eps,big-budget blockbusters,or commercials
versatile career).


I was disappointed. Especially since I consider the writer to be the best of the new ones (and normally can stand with the older writers in quality) and this was such a drop from her previous two episodes. It's like they were more worried about having a weird episode than having a Criminal Minds episode. The lack of focus on the team profiling was a big problem. The show is supposed to be about the team who profiles the unsubs, not the unsubs themselves. But, ignoring that glaring error, it didn't even succeed on its own. Here's the thing. I HATE anything dealing with the devil. Criminal Minds has never actually scared me, but I've always been uncomfortable when they do stories like that. But, this episode? I was neither uncomfortable, and certainly wasn't scared or creeped out. Normally, that's fine, because the episodes seem to have more of a purpose than just creeping the audience out. This episode seemed to be all about making people spooked. I spook easily, and this did none of that. It was just weird. And boring at the same time. It's like they just built a story around one unusual element after another. I can't even be bothered by the incest. It just felt like someone had a hat of weird aspects to put in a story, and they just happened to pull that one. Oh, and the acting of the guest stars was abysmal. I think mainly this came off more as an episode MGG would have directed in his spare time. That's not a good thing. I don't want to watch A Matthew Gray Gubler Production when I'm watching Criminal Minds. I want to watch Criminal Minds. He's capable of directing Criminal Minds. I really enjoyed his other two outings. (Mosley Lane is still up there as one of the best ever) But, this episode felt like it was more designed to serve him, rather than him, as a director, serving the series.


Did anyone else think the sister was behind all this? When she turned 16 he started killing and she kind of egged him on by whining about leaving school I think the devil was ready for her and she helped him get rid of the bro


I can agree with some of the comments made how this writer for TV Fanatic is very selective about which episodes she writes about. It seems that when this season biggest episode was with Morgan it got completely missed out from her reviews. The only two characters she focuses on are Hotch and Reid. There seem to be a bit of bias on which characters TV fanatic seem to think are worth to write about when its Morgan that carries the show and the rates increase when it was his episode prior to the one with Hotch, which had miserable ratings.


I was thoroughly creeped out by this one, but not in a bad way. I'm honestly a fan of whatever this show throws at me for the most part. I love the personal storylines, because it shows character depth and gives the team more purpose than just the instruments through which the unsub is caught. A show always needs some personal storylines.

Frank lee meidere

Oops. I wrote "Grubner." Of course, that should be "Gubler." I don't know why -- I always think it's Grubner.


Ha! I got the Joaquin Phoenix buzz from Gladiator re power and sister struggle/desire. Very good creepy acting and aww, he brought her the prom. Yikes, I thought sister might have been Stockholm Syndrome in regards to taking part in the murders and just agreeing with the brother's visions to stay as sane as possible. Alas, she ends up as crazy as the rest of her family. The creepiest/shocking/terrible thing was the insane mom cutting off the infant daughter's arm, that was a new one on me!!! The ways to torture and kill women never ends, but the basement cistern was truly right out of Silence of the lambs.


Excellent job, Matthew!! I thought it was suspensful, but we knew of enough of the storyline to wonder if anyone would catch the unsub before he killed too many women! I enjoyed it and it was enough of a diversion from their typically bad unsub killing for the sake of killing to a deranged/disturbed unsub thinking he was doing the right thing! And the! Imagine growing up with that load of baggage..scary! Loved the casting, too, but Matthew's directing had Dr Reid written all over it! Great review, Renata!

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Criminal Minds Season 7 Episode 19 Quotes

Agent Rossi: Emily, you asked earlier if she's going to a Renaissance fair. There could be something to that.
Prentiss: Based on the dress there could be more of a connection to history than to the occult.
Reid: Renaissance fairs typically replicate 16th century England. They've surged in popularity since they began in the 1960s.
Garcia: And it's not just a bunch of nerds in costumes eating turkey legs, you guys.
Hotch: Well that different time is somehow very important to this UnSub.

Agent Morgan: Judging by all the graffiti, this place isn't exactly locked down.
Garcia: According to local PD, they said that vandals and vagrants have been breaking in.
Agent Rossi: Which means that she could've been killed elsewhere and placed here.
Dr. Reid: She had limestone underneath her fingernails, but limestone wouldn't have been used when this asylum was built. So she was obviously held somewhere else.
Agent Prentiss: The bottom line is that the UnSub transported her hundreds of miles from her hometown for a reason.
Hotch: We need to just find out what that reason is. Wheels up in 30.