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Criminal Minds Review: Psycho Shell Game

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After a two-week hiatus, Criminal Minds returned with a brilliant brain teaser of an episode. "All That Remains" represented Thomas Gibson's first directing gig for this series and, given the quality of the episode, I hope he'll have many more to come.

The Anniversary Of a Disappearance

The team was called in to investigate the disappearance of two sisters, which occurred on the anniversary of the date that their mother also disappeared. The common denominator was their father, who only reported them missing a day and a half after they were gone.  

Since the same weird delay happened when their mother disappeared, the team took a hard look at him. In fact, the local police were sure he had murdered his wife and daughters, pretty much saying so straight from the start. Once the body of Katie (his daughter) was found, the case became a homicide.  

There was so much that was compelling about this story. I enjoyed the fact that we could puzzle our way through the case without the uncomfortable distraction of gore or torture. 

In fact, there really wasn't any blood to consider - and the bruises and scratches we saw were mostly self-inflicted. There was so much deflection and misdirection throughout the mystery that the hour flew by. First, after the team inadvertently caused Bruce Morrison to snap (while playing back a recording of him trying to break into his daughter's room), we finally got to see his Dissociative Identify Disorder alter ego Johnny.  That was a revelation which instantly explained the delay between his wife and daughters going missing and his calls to 911.  

The cynical sleazy bully who shone through that personality made it seem likely that indeed he had done something awful - even lethal - with his family. Certainly the team was convinced anyway.

Morrison [alter ego Johnny]: So you've got old Brucey in the cage huh? You think that's going to help? It's only going to make him hide longer. What do you what to know? I'm going to have to tell you because the baby's got his pacifier. | permalink

So clever of the team to try and bring "Johnny" back to the surface in order to get him to tell them what happened with Sarah - who I'm sure they thought was dead.  And what a performance by JJ in coaxing important clues from him.

We've seen so many episodes where the last victim is recovered before the Unsub has a chance to kill him or her - watching Sarah come out of hiding seemed like more of the same. I figured that was it:  her father was mentally ill and had killed his wife and one daughter, and this was the only one left.  The only inkling that all was not well came when JJ took her home, and Sarah seemed entirely normal. In dramas like this, almost nothing happens without a reason: why did we need to see her homecoming? What else were we supposed to learn?

When JJ told her concerns to Reid over the phone, and Sarah came to get her tea, the ominous nature of her behaviour became clear. I suppose the only way you can fight with a dangerous psychopath is to become just as devious as them: we saw this with JJ pretending to talk with her children, and at the end when Morgan pretended to go along with Sarah's narrative in this one Criminal Minds quote:

Morgan: Listen to me. I understand. It's okay Sarah - she wasn't going to hurt you. I know - you've been through enough. All right? I get it. Sarah you're safe now, okay?
Sarah: Okay. Okay. Thank you. Thank you. What are you doing?
Morgan: You're a smart girl Sarah. Figure it out. | permalink

I really enjoyed this episode - I think this is the kind of story that makes the Criminal Minds show just shine. You can never go wrong setting the bar high and assuming your audience is intelligent. Hope the writers get this:  brain teasers like this are so much more compelling than spilled brains on the floor.   

What did you think? Did you at any time guess where the story was heading? Did you know about JJ's back story - about her sister being killed when she was seventeen and JJ was eleven? And did you see any holes in the story - something that didn't make sense to you?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (124 Votes)

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

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Don't you find the team always make a fast recovery after a personnel tragedy happens to them? Hotch got over Haley in a week so did Jack. Rossi ex-wife barley had an impact, and JJ storyline was so farfetched they just covered it up with a two our wedding, so why would Reid be any different.

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Recent episodes have not been good: too much focus on Spenser`s personal life. Good to see an episode that had a good story and didn`t focus on the Team personal lives. The talented Mr Gibson! More like this episode please. Glad to see Spenser has quickly recovered as his character (due to his genius insights) is the most interesting.

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I thought Katie was the killer till they found her body - because in that video at the beginning she seemed weird. "I dont wanna be little" (or something like that) she had a weird look on her face - so i would have liked it if katie would have done it not Sarah Anyway awesome episode!!!

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Reid sure did make a fast recover didn't he

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Marie you are so right. You can't please everyone. They complain about the gore, then just one ep without the gore and somebody else is complaining. So stupid too. Anyhow while I enjoyed the ep, I'm not a fan of split personality arcs. If it starts ooh with it I don't mind but when it's the twist, I'm no fan. Still enjoyed the ep though.

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Great episode. I'm not sure why some of you are saying there was no killing. Granted the mother was killed the year before but the little sister whose body was fished out of the river near the country property was killed during this episode even if it was offscreen. I thought that with so many people whining about the gore on this show not showing us the murder was a contrast to the usual. I guess you just can't please everyone.

Tiva

good episode at first I thought the dad killed his wife and both girls I wasn't expecting of him have a split Personality that was shocking for me. when JJ was looking at the Storage Box the mother made for girls I knew there was something there. when they found Sarah and she come out with the gun I knew she may done it, then flash backs made know he didn't do it. when JJ went home alone with Sarah I knew she killed Katie. then they showed 1999 they year Katie was born that she also killed her mother by keeping her ring.

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So their was no killing
no profiling
this felt more like law and order then criminal minds
This season Is great but we need to get back to what made it great since this might be the last season

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I loved this episode! Thomas Gibson did a great job directing! I love AJ Cook. She always does such an awesome job. The scene with JJ & Blake when they were talkng about JJ's sister was my favorite. Her sister actually wasn't murdered though, she committed suicide.

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Sorry, but Sarah was too obvious a suspect to the audience. Putting herself in her sister's homecoming video was a dead giveaway.

Criminal Minds Season 8 Episode 14 Quotes

Love never dies a natural death. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.
Lost a day and a half - Anais Nin

Hotch

Morgan: Listen to me. I understand. It's okay Sarah - she wasn't going to hurt you. I know - you've been through enough. All right? I get it. Sarah you're safe now, okay?
Sarah: Okay. Okay. Thank you. Thank you. What are you doing?
Morgan: You're a smart girl Sarah. Figure it out.

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