Criminal Minds Review: Head Games

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This week's Criminal Minds episode provided a satisfying procedural story, undiluted by distractions of The Replicator, or by any overly-disturbing scenes. 

It was a full-on puzzle piece, which the BAU had to decipher and resolve without needing to dive into any of the team members' back stories.

The Time Capsule Crime

The story of "Pay It Forward" involved a man who sat in jail 25 years ago and watched while a woman's alleged rape was covered up to protect the son of the town's favored industrialist who ran a carpet business. The Unsub subsequently murdered and decapitated the alleged rapist and secretly stuffed his head into a time capsule which the town then sealed and buried, to be opened again in 2013.  

His intent, hidden for all those years, was to eventually ensure that all those who were involved in the alleged rape were provided his brand of vigilante justice.  

I suppose, given the previous episodes, that this story might strike some as a little boring. I found it a welcome and refreshing change, more along the lines of an episode of Law and Order: SVU: a straight-on criminal investigation episode, designed to tax the viewers' minds and keep us guessing until the end.

Unlike most Unsubs, this particular criminal was able to hold back on his murdering spree for 25 years. Reid's explanation was remarkable and maybe even a little bit amusing:

Sheriff Collier: How did this guy keep from killing all those years?
Reid: We call it self-initiated predation cessation. Most serial killers are unable to control their own impulses but some seem to be able to self-regulate. It's like they have an on-off switch that they themselves are able to control. | permalink

Self-initiated predation cessation. Kind of a fancy way of saying that the killer simply held back his impulse. 

One of the more ominous scenes involved the Unsub's meeting with Todd Backus, who was fishing for trout:

Unsub: They biting?
Backus: Oh nibbling. Did manage to hook a good sized trout about an hour ago.
Unsub: Yeah? Where is it?
Backus: Oh, I tossed it back. Catch and release.
Unsub: Is that the law?
Backus: More of a common courtesy. Keeps our lakes and streams full of fish for everybody.
Unsub: Thats nice. Except for the fish. Hook goes in your mouth, gets torn out, you get tossed back so somebody else can do the same thing. | permalink

By the time Backus figured out something wasn't quite right, the Unsub's gun was out, at which point he pretty much lost his head, so to speak.

At first the team worked on the idea that the Unsub was targeting people he saw as hypocrites: his first victim - Wade Burke - was seen as a clean-cut kid who did not wrong. Turned out Burke had a history involving several run-ins with the law, including a hit-and-run while intoxicated. Another victim was a bigamist, and yet another was an anti-drug crusader-journalist who happened to be growing pot in her yard.

But the real motivation for the Unsub was as the title suggested: he saw what he thought was a crime and he wanted to "pay it forward" - kind of a twist on what that phrase usually means, in terms of the usual "acts of kindness."

The woman he eventually married was, he thought, a rape victim who deserved justice. When she finally blurted out there is something about that night you don't know, after which she confessed that she had made up the rape story, he turned on her and was about to kill her when the BAU showed up to stop him. 

(See this episode's Criminal Minds quotes for more)

Interesting to see that his willingness to put his gun down and not shoot his wife was based on his belief that he would be found not guilty by reason of insanity, a presumption that Blake put to rest quickly.

Final notes:

  • You may have recognized Melissa Crider (who played the Unsub's wife, Leanne Tipton) from her work as Rita Brady in the series 24
  • The next episode, entitled "Alchemy" is scheduled to air in May .
  • The song at the end was "Tomorrow" by Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors.

What did you think of the episode? Were you bored or did you enjoy it? Now that we have three episodes left (including the final episode which is two hours long) what's your impression of Blake? Do you think she finally fits with the team? Do you have any new thoughts about The Replicator?


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (67 Votes)

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



Over the years, I have admired Jean Tripplehorn's work. She is a talented actress. However, I am not so much disappointed in Blake, as I am in how the show's writers use her character. She is relegated to a minor persona when she should be as active and out front as Prentiss was. I'm not sure why the writers are doing this...she has few lines, and once in awhile is shown only nodding her head.....what a waste of a good actress and mysterious character. By the way, if any males leave, I think Wes Studi would be a good fit. He is intense, multi-faceted, and brings a minority perspective.


This was 1 of the most BORING episodes-for once, this show really disappointed me. I'd have changed the channel to lar & Order-SVU had it been on! Usually this show holds me spell-bound. This time I found myself making excuses to leave the room cos the contents of my refrigerator were far more interesting. I hope there won't be many more episodes like this or I'll have to find something else to watch! NEVER have I felt that way about Criminal Minds! And Blake STILL adds nothing to the show-I can do without her & so can the show!


I'm afraid that Blake doesn't turn me on-she is just too nondescript. Please leave Hotch's girlfriend Beth off- I haven't forgiven him for getting his wife killed yet. I miss Prentiss but she was starting to get arrogant. Garcia should get back with her boyfriend-she is very controlling.


Personally I think criminal minds is outstanding,the cast is great together,however i do miss Prentiss but intime that will ease.they all complaint each other very well on the show Iwould like to see more of Hotch and Morgan working closley,like JJ AND Morgan or Rossi,and Reid but over allthe show is GREAT,GREAT KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK there is plenty of new material going down everyday don't change any more people but don't forget the rest of the cast that's made the show a huge success


Very good, suspenseful episode with plenty of twists and turn. Never enough of Dr. Reid but I'm getting used to being disappointed by the writers in that area. Hate waiting for May for a new one but know it will be worth it.


I agree with Leesa.
I am a long time fan of Criminal Minds - I didn't like the flipping back and forth with Prentiss it was harder to see her go that way - and while I don't really care for Blake and think she isn't quite the high standard of character this show usually provides us with - I wouldn't stop watching because of it.
As the other post mentioned - I completely see the dynamic having been tampered with, by Prentiss leaving and Blake joining the BAU. It feels oddly off balance, especially with Hotch getting minimal screen time, in recent episodes.
I loved how a few seasons or so back, the writers started adding regular scenes that gave us bits and pieces of the different characters - outside of work. That's in addition to the plot and primary storyline.
I think one of the best closing scenes ever was Rossi and Hotch coaching Jacks soccer team together. I remember thinking how cool it was to see them smiling and laughing.
Would like to see more of Beth and Jack - and find out how Reid really is dealing with things, after his broken heart....


I'd like to see more of Blake, and in a flashback her problem with Erin Strauss. I also think Hotch's scenes have been fewer, but that's expected with a big cast. Last night's show was great, I have no problem with the woman lying, as this does happen, in fact it's happening more often.


I don't like how the woman lied about being raped but I liked the rest of the episode


I liked this episode a lot. The unsub was creepy though. He only married her so he could evenge what she had been through. Nice twist at the end that she had been lying so she wouldn't get in trouble. I think Blake fits in just fine. Would like an episode where we get to know her better. For me season 8 has been really good.


I liked the episode up until we found out that the rape victim lied. I thought that was a bit problematic because it supported the idea that women lie about being raped, which is actually not a common thing at all. Other than that I liked the episode and I still love Blake, I think she's a great fit for the team.

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Criminal Minds Season 8 Episode 19 Quotes

Tory. There is something about that night you don't know.

Leanne Tipton

There is no present or future; only the past, happening over and over again now - Eugene O'Neill.