Criminal Minds Review: Killing Cousin

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Criminal Minds has featured many different types of victims throughout each season. 

Probably the hardest installmnts to watch are those that center on a child, such as the one at the heart of Criminal Minds Season 9 Episode 16.

You can marginally empathize with helpless men and women, but it's hard not to let your blood pressure rise when there's a child at stake.

Despite the fact that I hated this particular story - because a kid was involved - I have to admit that the writing and the acting were all well done.

This episode gave us the story of a mother who'd won a week long holiday, her smiling but vindictive cousin (sort of an adopted sister) who agreed to watch her, a boyfriend, an estranged father who wanted his daughter back and a four-year-old little girl named Gabby.

When the mother - Kate Hoffer - went off on her holiday, her cousin Sue Walsh hatched a plan to have Gabby abducted, then given away to strangers she met online.

Her plan involved driving to a store, then leaving the car open and unlocked while she went inside for groceries. Her boyfriend abducted the girl, then gave her to a couple who were collecting girls through an internet "re-homing" scheme.

Frankly, I'm not sure why we needed the estranged father to be part of the story - except as a vehicle to show the viciousness of Walsh when she killed him.

As cases go, this was one of the better ones.  It was not outlandish or unbelievable - in fact, it was quite plausible.  Sue hated her cousin Kate because of a childhood trauma she'd suffered from her adoptive father and because Kate never suffered with her. This informed her deep desire for revenge.

Once the confessions were out, the BAU (and the viewers) got a peek at the sordid underside of what can go on with some people on the internet. I've never heard of parents wanting to get rid of their problem children, but can imagine that if they did there are all sorts of creeps out there who would be willing to help them.

I've also never heard of libraries arbitrarily wiping their computer systems and servers each night to prevent authorities from gathering evidence on their patrons. It doesn't seem likely, particularly as they're usually run by municipalities. 

Private companies might do so - but government entities? Not so much.

Final thoughts:

  • Kudos to the writers for ensuring that Gabby's temporary fate didn't involve any of the scummiest types of behavior that could have happened. And for ensuring she got home safe. I know it's only a story, but it's tough to watch.
  • The direction on this episode was noteworthy. No surprise, as it was directed by Thomas Gibson.  This was his second time at the helm of Criminal Minds.
  • The boyfriend - Ian Little - suffered second and third degree burns to his head. Rossi thought he might even have suffered infection. He seemed remarkably calm for someone who had to have been in horrific pain. Unless he's a masochist, it doesn't make sense that he wouldn't have sought medical help and had been in the hospital.

Did you find the story believable?


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (23 Votes)

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



It's based on a series of Reuters Investigates Articles "The Child Exchange" published in September 2013.
you can find it on the web and it's horrifying.


It's based on a series of Reuters Investigates Articles "The Child Exchange" published in September 2013.


It's based on a series of Articles by Reuters Investigate published back in September 2013 called "The Child Exchange"


I liked most of the episode. It was good to have some suspense and I was glad that for once all team members were doing something useful. Still, I didn't like the ending. Just too cheesy, I hate all this 'emotional' moments in charge of JJ, Morgan and Garcia. Not only these moments are annoying, but also those actors lack of the sparkle that make them remotely believable. This season we already had far too many of those 'cute' moments involving those three, and according to the press release of rabid we will still have to put up with even more of Garcia and Morgan outside work... I am hoping for more episodes like Gabby, but at the same time I am also in fear of what Messer may be planning for the season finale, since it will involve Cruz...


Libraries don't "wipe their servers" every night, no, but they do erase the web cache and history off public computers, and usually delete any files saved to the computer during the day (meaning documents users might have created). This is in the interest of preserving users' privacy. So that, to use an example from an earlier era, government officials would not be able to look up everyone who visited sites supporting Communism. If you search for libraries, privacy, and computer use, that would probably give you more information.

@ Deb

Yeah, that's the other thing that was bugging me. I wasn't aware of libraries using thin clients or something and keeping all cached items on servers - which is what they would need to do, in order for Garcia to "hack" her way into them.


I thought this was one of their better episodes!! Hotch seemed to be more involved than he's been as of late.
I still can't believe we haven't heard of any follow up for JJ (no PTSD?), and they seem to drop the ball with a lot of follow up stories , ie: Reid & his headaches, Morgan & his family (& the girl from CA who was kidnapped by the ?Night Stalker?), Blakes husband living elsewhere?
And off topic, the more Hotch / Thomas Gibson ages, the sexier he gets!!

Sue ann

That is kind of a slanted poll. There is no possible choice to indicate that it was believable. I worked in various aspects of the child welfare system, off and on, in two states, from 1976--2009. There is absolutely nothing that is beyond the bounds of what persons will do to a child. Giving them away -- oh, yes. That is mild, compared to the possibilities. And the realities. I lived in Washington State between 1979 and 1985. The details now escape me, but I believe that it was the Spokane library system which instituted a new method of checking out books, so that the past user history of any book was impossible to retrieve. This was in the changeover period from sign-out cards to bar codes and computer systems, and it was a reaction against religious fanatics who wanted to publicly excoriate readers of sexually-explicit books. Anyway, that was when I read the Spokane paper, and that was where I read about it. So yes, public librarians take an intense interest in the welfare of their patrons. In Boise, a decade or so ago, there was a huge foofahrah between religious fanatics and library boards, about banning books. The local cities got involved.

@ Sue Ann

I agree. I don't have any option in that poll, so, sorry, but I can't vote...


This was a good episode - profiling, teamwork and suspense. We have had some really bad episodes lately - notably the simply awful "200" - so it was such a relief to get back to real Criminal Minds. Thomas Gibson did a great job with a good story. Thank heavens there were no overly cheesy moments and, although still far too much JJ , she was tolerably toned down and not as arrogant as usual.

@ MaryH

So true... My only complain is that annoying ending involving (again) Morgan, Garcia and JJ. Other than that, pretty good episode.

@ MaryH

I always love the episodes and the acting and was really creeped-out about the child abduction/internet scheme. I am never surprised anymore about some of the topics CM explores because I think most are believable! Though, I didn't care too much about JJ's acting this time around actually. She seemed really distant and callous sometimes in regards to the other characters. I am interested to know what they have planned for the season finale as well.

@ MaryH

Agree escape for the JJ part didn't notice her till the end


I found it very plausible that libraries wipe their servers each night.........nothing really surprises me anymore..........I also have to wonder how much of this type thing REALLY ACTUALLY goes on and why it isn't being looked into............ As for what direction the show may be headed, I think there will still be some aftermath of the revelation about JJ and Cruz........I don't get that we haven't seen a whole lot of Cruz since a huge deal was made about the casting..........I'm hoping for some kind of arc that will take us up to the season finale............


Great episode; good direction.

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Criminal Minds Season 9 Episode 16 Quotes

Gabby: Why are you sad?
Kate Hoffer: I'm not sad.
Gabby: So those are happy tears?

A mother's arms are made of tenderness, and children sleep soundly in them - Victor Hugo.