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Criminal Minds Review: Witchy Women

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Deaths on Criminal Minds are almost always innovative and interesting - and rarely predictable. 

So far we've had victims whose legs were sawn off; eyes plucked out, and limbs dislocated. 

This week's installment gave us a woman who was pressed to death, and the threat of a woman and her child being burnt at the stake.  Nothing the least bit "normal" about any of them. Although in fairness, we did have one episode this season involving death by gunshot... so not all murders are as wildly inventive as the ones here.

Perhaps "inventive" isn't the right word, though, as all of these methods have been used before, albeit in a different age. 

Day of the Dead

Criminal Minds Season 9 Episode 6  brought us the case of a man who thought he was living in that earlier age, and that he was hunting and executing witches. 

His interrogation techniques were a little drastic, however, as he chose to lacerate his victims' arms down to the bone, press a hot brand on them and otherwise mutilate them until they confessed. Don't know about you, but at the first sign of anything the least bit pointy or burny, I'd be frantically spilling my guts in a fake confession.  

Which, of course, is what his last victim did. She copped to being a witch as soon as that branding iron got near her. This provokes the question: 

Why wouldn't the other victims have done the same? I mean, the Unsub was good enough to read out the charges first, so they had a good idea of what he was up to. Never mind. Better just to let it go so that we can enjoy the rest of the story.

It's much more challenging to write about a victim who's intelligent and strong enough to at least make the attempt to mess up an Unsub's plans - and that's what happened here with our last victim. 

Her quick-witted character made the scene more interesting, as she enacted a plan to save her daughter, knowing she probably couldn't save herself. Too bad our Unsub had a one-track mind in his focus on killing them both. It really looked as though he was convinced that the little girl had "the mark of the angel."

While the girl may have been an angel on the outside, she apparently had witch's blood on the inside. Did she weigh as much as a duck though? That's the real question.

The writing on Criminal Minds isn't predictable, which means it was by no means certain that the team would get to the final victims in time to save them. There was such relief when we saw them parting the imaginary village mob to point their guns at the Unsub. 

Next up was something truly unique in Criminal Minds: Garcia's celebration of the Day of the Dead. The whole pre-party exchange between her and Reid made me laugh out loud:

Reid's Dirty Harry impression was so ominous and scary.  Makes you wonder how many takes they had to do to get through that scene.  (You can read part of that exchange in this episode's Criminal Minds quotes.)

It was touching to see the team honor the important departed people in their lives: JJ's sister Rosaline, Rossi's friend Private Darryl Jensen, Blake's crossword-loving mother, Spencer's lost love Maeve (plus Nikola Tesla - what a great choice, Reid!), Morgan's cigar-loving dad, and Garcia's cat Simba.  

The banter among them as they spoke of their loved ones was believable and captivating. As was Hotch's silence when he put up the picture of his deceased wife Haley. Powerful.

Final thoughts:

  • I don't think I've ever seen such a convincing creepy stalker as the guy in the library. For a brief time I was sure he was the Unsub and was disappointed when he turned out to be another victim. They could have easily built a great story around him.
  • Ditto the leader of the Utopian cult, Herbert Sykes. It's always gratifying to see bullies get read the riot act, as Hotch so effectively did with him. The cool thing is: they can bring him back now if they want to. Here's hoping they do.
  • The execution of witches by burning at the stake - purely European? Those guys are so exotic.

What did you think of this episode? Did you think the creepy stalker guy, played so effectively by John Lee Ames, was the Unsub? 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.6 / 5.0 (56 Votes)

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

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I was kinda disappointed in Rossi's choice for the alter.. what about his ex wife, or Strauss??? Both had a plot line in the show but they decided to pick someone we hadnt heard of before

Terrie

This episode was creepy in typical Criminal Minds fashion......and why it remains one of my favorite shows.......

Marissa

This was an interesting episode. I thought the unsub was the strange guy at the library and was suprized to find out it was actually the guy who volunteered there. I agree the last victim was smart she admitted she was a witch and to save her daughter she said she was a witch daughter and she had the mark of the angel. Why couldn't the other victims be smart enough to agree they were witches it might not have saved their lives but they wouldn't of suffered as much. My favorite was the ending where they all put pictures of the people and animals they lost up for the day of the dead. Can't wait till the next episode.

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This episode was just okay for me. I did really think that the creepy stalker was going to turn out to be the UNSUB, and I actually rather wish that he had been. I did enjoy the beginning and the ending of this episode the best.

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"The execution of witches by burning at the stake - purely European? Those guys are so exotic. " And accurate! I was gripping during the episode when the perp was going to burn her since I was already aware that the practice of burning witches was NOT an actual practice in the Salem Witch Trials. I was happy to see them correct this popular misconception.

Wolfshades
@ BobR

Of all the ways to go - I'd have to think that death by pressing would be preferable. Certainly less screaming involved anyway - if only because you can't scream when you can't breathe. Anyway - this info was new to me. Nice to see them get it right. ALSO: I was glad to see Hotch explain why they took the case in the first place, even though it was initially only one victim. That was a nice touch.

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Loved the episode. However the last victim wore an aweful wig and drew my attention away from the story.

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Douglas Wolfe articles are really funny sometimes. At the end Hotch silence when he put a picture of Haley. Powerful - LOL On what level was that powerful ?

Terrie
@ Jade

You must not be a long time fan of the show and know what happened with Hotch and Haley...........That WAS a powerful moment and he didn't need to say anything.

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@ Terrie

How was it powerful? she been dead for 4/5 years, he never talks about her with his son jack. He has a new relationship with Beth and now all of a sudden he handing pictures of her randomly. Explain the sentiment behind it? I don't think Beth going to appreciate it that Hotch has started to have this out of the blue weird relationship with haley ghost, just because she came to him in a dream.

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The only thing I like was the ending everything beside that was boring

Criminal Minds Season 9 Episode 6 Quotes

JJ: So I looked it up. No witches were ever burned at the stake in Salem.
Rossi: Really.
JJ: Death by fire was strictly a European thing.
Rossi: Moral of the story: be selective where you practice your witchcraft.

Mitch Albom said "death ends a life, not a relationship"

Garcia
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