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