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Criminal Minds Review: Another One Rides the Bus

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As TV thrillers go, this was one of the more tense Criminal Minds episodes. As usual, I found myself conflicted between the great writing and the horrific subject matter, especially as the latter involved children.

The Missing School Bus
Tonight's UnSubs in "The Wheels on the Bus" were a pair of brothers who, after being kicked off of a gaming site, decided to create their own version of the online video game entitled "Gods of Conflict" by playing it out in real life, using high school students as their game pieces, and real guns as their weaponry.

The gameplay around the first confrontation seemed uneven: one player merely had to open a box with a key, take out a gun and shoot the other player, whereas the other had to assemble a gun before he could even get in the game. I couldn't buy the fact that the girl remained functional after killing her classmate, despite the pressure to do so. You'd have to imagine that most people would fall to pieces after being forced to kill someone. PTSD anyone?

The other annoying aspect of the story involved the psychology of it.  Usually the UnSub suffers a trauma early in life, or there's a trigger point somewhere at which time the sanity train falls off the rails and crashes into a mental abyss. 

This time, the disease was slow. It began with two brothers, separated as a result of their parents' divorce, who kept connected by playing an online game.   Well-meaning (but entirely out to lunch) moral crusaders have often complained about the evils of TV shows and console games, and note that kids can't seem to separate reality from them sometimes. If that were the case there should be all kinds of people with their heads blown off as a result of all of those violent Bugs Bunny cartoons. ("It's duck season! Shoot!") This hinted at a replication of that argument.

On the lighter side, we were treated to a team-up of Garcia with her former love interest, Kevin Lynch. It seemed at the start of the show that he wanted to let her down easy:

Garcia: Kevin. I need you.
Lynch: Yeah I got your text. I've been meaning to call you back about dinner the other night. Look. I had a really great time...
Garcia: What are you talk---. No. Have you seen the news?
Lynch: No. Why? What's going on?
Garcia: We need all hands on deck. | permalink

But then crime got in the way and we only learned at the end - after she kissed him in a "eureka!" moment - that he had a dinner date with someone else. Sounds like we won't be seeing too much more of him. She can do better anyway, right?

In addition to being a war veteran, and having three ex-wives, we now know something else about Rossi:

Morgan: These guys are replicating a video game?
Rossi: In the game you take over a form of public transportation. Train, bus...that's how you get your players.
Blake: Wait a minute. You've played this game before?
Rossi: Well I may have played it once or twice. | permalink

Now I'm wondering what other games he plays.  Assassin's Creed maybe?

Final notes:

  • The BAU members have each others' backs and not just when on the job.  How cool that Rossi helped Garcia unwind and disconnect from the net by inviting her back to his place for some scotch - after first obtaining all of her gadgets.
  • Garcia has a plethora of gadgets, including three cellphones and a tablet.  The girl is connected.
  • The Criminal Minds tumblr lit up with teens swooning over the inclusion of Devon Werkheiser's appearance (he played Billy, one of the victim players).  He played in the "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide" series.
  • The UnSubs were played by David Gallagher (Matthew Moore), who is known for his work on 7th Heaven. Andrew James Allen played his brother Joshua and is known for his work on the movie "The Lovely Bones."
  • Check out our Criminal Minds quotes for this week for more.


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
  • 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (49 Votes)

Douglas Wolfe is a staff writer for TV Fanatic Follow him on Twitter


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This was a bad episode! A good plot, no doubt. but the screenwriting was awful. How stupid could the teen victims be? First of all, nobody tried to remove the collars which would have prevented the electrocutions. Next, nobody tried to destroy those CCTV cameras so the psychos could no longer monitor them! The worst of all, they were too much willing to do whatever the kidnappers wanted when in fact they were given at least 2 guns!!! Why not just use the guns to protect themselves, remove the collars and destroy the CCTV's and try to find a way out. they would at least have a fighting chance. Nobody seems to have had a survival instinct! Stupid episode. Didnt even bother to watch the ending.


Who was the bad guy. I recognize him as a child star from I think the 90 s but I can't remember his name


I don't think the show blamed the video game as the reviewer suggested. Morgan specifically stated that the brothers had a pre-existing affinity for violence. Also, the divorce explained why they were separated and logging on in different places yet sharing the same IP address not saying divorce was the cause. The ep also made clear that there were 6 million players of the game and ultimately the team went looking for those kicked out of the game. I do agree that the writing/performances were uneven especially the scenes with Addison and Trent and Addison shooting him dead.


Gracie? Do you mean GARCIA?????


I wonder if the Unsub got a hold of Kevin and told him to break it off with Gracie


WHY no more on the mysterious photographer!?!!?!?!? ARGH they are killing me.........hmmmmmm...maybe it's KEVIN............


Does anyone think they are writting Kevin to be killed off


There are many kinds of inputs to PTSD: it isn't limited to just wartime activity. However, I do concede my lack of overall knowledge about it. I just found it hard to imagine anyone functioning near normal after an event like that. I found the hacking a bit iffy too. If I hadn't recently learned about ELF (extremely low frequency) which Garcia mentioned, it would have been hard to suspend disbelief.


Indeed, the reviewer is confused about what wartime PTSD is. To put it simply it is when the brain is unable to get out of "combat mode". The whole episode was patently rediculous to the point where I was laughing half way through. Profiling was funny, they didn't bother to dig much into the background of the unsubs but they divided the second set of students into casts, which was nigh-pointless... LOL. Sounds like these officers have a video game addiction worse than the perps. The "hacking" was the cherry on the cake - how exactly do you hack underground computers (underground, no less...) that more than likely aren't even connected to the internet? Even if they were you'd need an open port AND a server on that port willing to execute scripts, and supposedly these unsubs were more than a bit computer-savvy. All that said, it was quite entertaining as long as suspend all disbelief.


I loved Garcia and Kevin! Please get them back together.