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Criminal Minds Review: Semper Fi

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Tonight's Criminal Minds served as a brilliant and heartfelt backdrop to a story that serves as a grateful nod to military veterans. 

It had it all: personal sacrifice, honor, "no one left behind" and, most importantly, appreciation for the personal sacrifice of our nations' military.

Rossi Investigates a Homeless Man's Murder

The UnSub in "The Fallen" became unhinged after being ironically kicked off his firefighter job because he had contracted TB after saving two infected homeless people from a fire. The twig in his mind evidently snapped to the extent where he felt an OCD compulsion to "cleanse" the homeless population through the liberal use of fire and bleach. 

In this case, the more compelling story - that of the history of Rossi and Sergeant Harrison Scott - became entangled with the UnSub's when Scott grew determined to help his fellow homeless friends not become victims of Mr. Clean. How cool to see that first 1969 flashback - to the tune of "Born on the Bayou" - when we saw Rossi at age 19, reporting to Sergeant Clark.

Particularly revealing is the motivation for Rossi, a man who - as recalled by this week's revealing interview with Joe Mantegna - is independently wealthy and still feels the need to work in the BAU:

Rossi: Do you know why I joined the FBI?
Sergeant Scott: If you say...
Rossi: Because of you. You can say the Corps changed me, or the war. But it was you who made me honest. | permalink

This compelling second second story also painted a picture as to why this particular veteran - Sergeant Scott - ended up turning to the bottle.  There are so many veterans who end up this way, each with their own unique story. This served, I think, as just one possibility.  

Rossi: Why don't you come back with me? I can get you a room.
Sergeant Scott: This is my home David.
Rossi: This is no way for a war hero to live.
Sergeant Scott: Do you know how many veterans are on the street?
Rossi: Too many.
Sergeant Scott: More every day. | permalink

Sergeant Scott had lived with a secret for too many years: that, in a time where the nation sneered at Vietnam vets, he had been ordered to take credit for the actions of a third Marine (Private 1st Class Anthony Hernandez) who had thrown himself on a bomb in order to save Rossi and Scott. He seemed to be punishing himself by drinking and living among the homeless: typical and just one of the countless stories of veterans who live on the streets today.

Rossi: Hernandez? But why?
Sergeant Scott: Why did he do it? Or why did I take credit?
Rossi: Both.
Sergeant Scott: The short answer is: I was ordered to. We were fighting a PR war back home. The government needed a face - a living face - to parade around to solicit support for an unpopular war. I was chosen.
Rossi: And Hernandez?
Sergeant Scott: He was paying a debt. He was being a Marine. He died so that we could live.
Rossi: And you couldn't tell anyone. | permalink

So moving to see the final scene, where Hernandez is finally honored, and to see his grandson accept the posthumous award on his behalf. I know it's just a story but sometimes you can't help being affected, especially when watching Rossi and Scott hugging at the end.

Rossi: Welcome home Marine. Semper Fi.
Sergeant Scott: Oorah. | permalink

I applaud the writers of this episode for telling a story of pride and honor, during a week in which grateful nations remembers their warriors, both living and fallen.

Final thoughts: 

  • In case you're wondering why Sergeant Scott looks so familiar: Meshach Taylor (Sergeant Scott) played as Anthony Bouvier on Designing Women.  (Not that I ever watched the show.  *cough*)
  • Correction:  Michelle Trachtenberg has been cast as a stalker, not Reid's love interest, in an episode which will feature Reid's mysterious love interest.  The episode airs early next year.
  • Visit our updated section of Criminal Minds quotes now.

So what did you think of tonight's episode, and in particular, its revelation around Rossi's passion for the BAU?

Review

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

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (108 Votes)

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

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LOVED LOVED LOVED THIS EPISODE! Joe Mantegna has done so much for veterans and I'm so glad that this episode kind of highlighted it.
But I'm pretty sure Michelle Trachtenburg hasn't been cast as Reid's girlfriend. I think it's Beth Reisgraf. Michelle Trachtenburg has been cast as a stalker and i don't think Reid's mystery lady is a stalker, since she's like in her house all the time.

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Loved this episode. Love Rossi. You could tell at the get go with the dedication what he was going to do in the end - rightfully so. I agree about Hotch - he was hardly in this episode, but maybe because it was more directed to Rossi. Sometimes, an episode does concentrate on one character more than another, but Hotch is still usually in the forefront.

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He may have been the homeless guy/soldier/hero but to me he'll always be Anthony from Designing Women, I love him in that and was always sorry to hear about his "unfortunate incarceration". Nice nod to our Vets! As for Reid getting a love interest, why can't it just be that??? why can't he just be happy???

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@Liz - Stalker? Love Interest? aren't they the same thing?!?!

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It says on the link that Michelle Trachtenberg has been cast as a stalker - not a love interest for Reid!

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It was good not the best but it was better then what we got from NCIS

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Awesome Show! Awesome, Well done episode!!
Is it just me or is Hotch not getting much screentime?! Something is off with all of them and I can't put my finger on it .....something changed!!

Blu

Fantastic episode! It was the best one of the season so far Imho. Well timed. Many shows covered veterans and soldiers this week. Great acknowledgement.

Wolfshades

@Amanda: the girl who played victim #3 (a.k.a. Lindsay Leeman) is Brooke Adams. She sang Avril Lavigne's song "Keep Holding On" at the start of the episode. And I agree: her voice is amazing. You can check out her other music vids here: https://www.youtube.com/user/b... @Tania: thanks for the info!

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Who was the girl (who played the part of "victim # 3"? She had a beautiful voice!
Thank you!