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Criminal Minds Review: Suffer the Nannies

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After a bit of a hiatus, Criminal Minds returned to the unsettling torture stories which appear so often in this series.

In "Nanny Dearest", the team investigated a series of yearly abductions and murders where the only common element was that the victims were all nannies... and that they were left to be found on the same date each year: May 13.  Also, in each case (except for the last), the children they were with were left at churches or hospitals, unharmed.

Nanny Alert 

One of the earlier victims - Tara Rios - managed to escape from the Unsub and, because of the trauma she suffered, also managed to blank out the details of her abduction. 

Though the BAU interviewed her a number of times over the years, she was unable to recall anything: her PTSD protected her memory from being burned with cigarettes.  It was therefore understandable when she at first refused to assist JJ and Morgan in recalling her capture. 

It wasn't until she saw the pleas from the parents of the latest kidnapped baby that she decided to do what she could to help. Eventually she was able to bring back certain details about another woman had been captured with her - and that the Unsub had a huge dog. The BAU was able to figure out that there was one park in particular where the Unsub walked his dog and, after locating a couple who recalled the Unsub's first name and the name of his canine, they were finally able to track down his home address through veterinary records. 

During his ritualistic cigarette torture of his latest victim, the squad was able to interrupt him and eventually JJ shot him dead.

The case was of particular importance to JJ this time, as it involved a scenario with which she was entirely familiar: she and her husband often had to leave her boy Henry with a nanny because of their jobs. I have to admit that I kind of shuddered just a bit when she was bathing Henry and this happened:

Henry: Why do you always go to work Mommy?
JJ: Well, because there are people out there that need my help, but I will be back soon.
Henry: How many days?
JJ: I don't know, buddy. But I promise I'll be back as soon as I can. And we always keep our promises, right? | permalink

That "keep our promises" line was filled with tension. Sometimes people can't keep their promises - and so there was a worry that maybe this time, she wouldn't be able to come back to her son and husband.

Speaking of promises, JJ's emotions over the case were so strong and she wanted so badly to find the perp that she said something she shouldn't have said:

Tara, we are going to be with you the whole time. And you're going to help us catch this guy. I promise you. | permalink

She knew as soon as she said it that she had stepped across a line, as she looked at Morgan. But, as the strong person she is, she didn't vacillate or hold back: in fact she referenced that promise again during the episode.

It's interesting how so many episodes give the viewers a glance at the motivations of the various Unsubs. In this case, his motivation was a nanny who had, in her hurry to get him to bed as a child, left his sister in the bathtub where she drowned. While I'm always a believer in the need to understand the motivations of anti-social behavior, there are some cases where that understanding does not in any way mitigate the guilt or horror of what they've done. That was certainly the case here. 

Many children grow up in abusive households and manage to come through as kind, patient and successful members of society. I failed to see the motivation for his turning into such a loathsome sociopath, a man who took his time and stalked his victims so carefully before capturing them and brutalizing them. Only two words come to mind:  disgusting and abhorrent.  I was glad to see JJ shoot him down in the street.

Any parent will identify, too, with her need to go home and hug Henry as soon as she could, too. She needed that catharsis.

Another interesting exchange happened between Hotch and the distraught mother of the kidnapped baby. They were on the elevator together:

Melody Payton: How can you be searching for her from in here?
Hotch: I understand what you're going through.
Melody Payton: You don't understand anything.
Hotch: No, I actually do. | permalink

We know the truth of his assertion,  given the violent death of Jack's mother Haley.  He knows all about family and tragedy.

Which reminds me: we haven't seen Hotch's girlfriend Beth in a while - since Criminal Minds season 7 actually. Wonder what's up with them?

What are your thoughts on the episode? Did we get to see enough of Henry and Will, especially given that this was pretty much JJ's episode?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (66 Votes)

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

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Marissa

Loved this episode. The case was interesting because they knew they had a case before the person even got taken only because there unsub sticks to a pattern and they knew he would be taking someone again. When JJ made her promise to catch the guy I just thought you shouldn't of done that cops aren't supposed to do that because they can't be sure to keep that kind of promise. Tara didn't want to help the team until she saw the parents asking for help. I think the team got luck in finding out the guy had a dog then finding the rigt dog park and finding people who actually knew him then finding the guy through veterinary records that's not the way they usually find there unsub so I think part of it was luck because if Tara hadn't remembered the dog then I don't think they would of found they guy. I can't wait till the next episode.

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Didn't Beth and Hotch break up when she moved to NY for her job?

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As much as I hate to see children in danger (that scene where the Unsub was holding the baby over the scalding hot water just killed me)I really liked this episode. It was JJ-centric and she always adds a human touch to any episode. I'm thrilled that Beth has no been shown or mentioned. I love Bellamy Young and think she is beyond fabulous as Mellie on Scandal; but she's a wet washcloth on CM. She has no chemistry with Thomas Gibson. If the writers insist on boring us with a love interest for Hotch, at least bring in someone who plays well off of Thomas Gibson. Unfortunately, I understand that Beth will be back for the finale on May 22. Maybe the Replicator will do us all a favor and take her out. It will be hard on our beloved Hotch, but maybe he can finally find someone worthy of him.

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Great episode! I really hope JJ and Garcia renews their contracts and the show comes back for season 9. Season 8 has been so much better than season 6 and 7. CBS needs to pay AJ Cook and K.Vangsness the same as their male stars. They are so worth it!

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Loved this ep. So happy to see Henry and Will back...and that last scene between them? Wow haha ;)Im a little scared about what you said about the whole 'What if JJ doesnt make it back this time?' That freaked me out and now im a little worried. Shes my fave on the show. Aas for beth, at least we'll see her in the finale as well as Jacka and Hotch's brother :) Hotch needs some love

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As always, a most worthwhile show. I never like to see dogs being used as an evil weapon as the Rottweiler was, but as his owner was evil that was inevitable. Should have put the dog down too. The nanny was far more evil than in a hurry, she hated those kids, ignored them, physically abused them and didn't anyone notice the steam coming from the bath water? Way too hot, another form of torture. Which the unsub also used to torture. I would love to have Beth (or another interesting, kind, funny woman who can make Hotch smile) back on the show. Often mentioned there should be more of Will and now Henry, missed Jack lately, too. The horrors of the show need to be a bit more balanced with the personal relationships. Those are what keep everyone sane after dealing with often ghastly nature of their job.

Tiva

good episode

Lakersfan

beth is mellie on scandal now

Criminal Minds Season 8 Episode 21 Quotes

JJ: We got him. He's dead. And we saved Phoebe and Gina too. You did it. It's over.
Tara: I want to see his body.

Alone, all alone. Nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone - Maya Angelou

JJ
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