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Criminal Minds Review: A Question of Sanity

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As outings go, Criminal Minds Season 9 Episode 19 was a boring exception to the usual edge-of-the-seat fare we're used to seeing.

The show began with a flashback to the scene of a woman escaping someone, only to run out to the road and get hit by a truck. 

Flash forward to present day and Morgan is visiting the woman in a mental institution, ostensibly to prepare her for the trial of the Unsub from whom she was running.  

As the hour progressed, we learned that she was not actually a full victim but an accomplice. Further, she was still in the grip of Stockholm Syndrome and would do more crimes if her Unsub "boyfriend" asked it of her.

There is such a thing as foreshadowing to let the audience know that all is not as it seems and something unexpected is on its way.  

Then there is outright telegraphing of intent - which is what we saw here.

Viewers were first fed an important clue, almost from the get-go: that the murders were relatively neat and clean. The ice pick holes in the bodies were evenly spaced. This helped the team to determine that the Unsub was likely obsessive-compulsive.

As soon as we saw Daria wiping the condensation from the table beneath her water glass, we knew she likely wasn't the victim we thought she was. Frankly, her obsessive behavior gave it away right there. All we needed to do was go along for the ride while trying to figure out why she had ligature marks on her wrists.  

That early glimpse of her OCD behavior was really just spoiler material.

There was misdirection, to be sure, as we learned that some of the scenes portrayed weren't factual recollections but a combination of recollection and Daria's manufactured memories.

The lack of tension was the result of knowing that this was a case long-since solved: there wasn't anyone in danger. It was a pure Q&A whodunnit episode, with some of the important puzzle pieces already obvious and in place.

Did Morgan actually need Daria's testimony, and was he really trying to prep her for the trial? I don't think he was. This interview with Daria was a Hail Mary for her: he wanted to see if she was truly sane and not culpable in the multiple ice pick murders.  

So the most most important questions for her occurred at the end of their interview, when he was able to pull aside her self-imposed mental veil and remind her that she had participated in the criminal deeds. And that there was no third party accomplice: she was the only partner to the Unsub.

Turns out she's still as damaged as she was when she escaped him. As Morgan told her sister, the hospital was the best place for her, likely until the end of her life.

Final notes:

  • In order to keep everything wrapped up tightly, we learned that, sure enough, the Unsub was himself abused as a little boy. And that he saw Daria as a substitute for his abuser: his alcoholic nurse aunt.
  • The next episode of Criminal Minds will air in two weeks, on April 2.

What's your reaction to this episode?

 

Review

Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
  • 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (37 Votes)

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

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This episode was good, not Great! Throughout the whole episode I found myself wondering; if this case was a year ago "was JJ Married?" (she had a ring on in the flashback) "Reid's hair was short back then" (now it was longer) ....I realize these are petty things, but it's the way my mind works!
Not enough Hotch this episode - and I truly believe they are missing out on not having a relationship with Hotch & JJ (I know, I know but I'm a Jotch Shipper!)
Just remembered something else I thought odd - if Colby was NOT the accomplice or OCD - why was his place SO neat & tidy? Was Daria going over there to clean?

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@ Leesa

JJ got married 2 years ago in the season finale.

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Love criminal minds but we're way behind you's guys over here in bonnie Scotland can't wait to see more episodes we're only at ep10/s9 keep up the good work guys and jj is a pure wee hottie ! 👍👍 mwa xx

Terrie

I'm a huge fan of this show but this episode was a bore.............I'd much rather have an arc and something to keep me tuning in each week........and this unsub of the week or revisiting of a case just doesn't do that...........

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@ Terrie

I totally agree that my issue too

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I enjoyed this episode. It did start out slow and kind of boring but after a while I wanted to know more. I didn't pick up on Daria's OCD until Morgan ajustet her sheet. It wasn't my favourite episode but it was good. I have to admit I still struggle with JJ's character. I really liked her in seasons 1-5 but het tough-act profiler is just so strange. AJ Cook is not a bad actress but she doesn't cut it as a profiler. She was much better as a communications liason, AJ Cook playing a tough agent kicking ass isn't credible. I say this with a heavy heart because I have been a huge fan of Criminal Minds from the beginning. For me JJ is kind of ruining a bit for me....

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@ hege

The problem is that when JJ walked away by season six she never came back. Instead, the writers and the show runner designed a new character, played by the same actress, and having the same nick name. That was it. I used to tolerate her, but now I can't stand her. She ruins every scene she is on, for me, no matter who is she with. Along this three last seasons she becomes more and more annoying as the perfect Mary Sue.

Wolfshades
@ hege

Looks like we're three for three on this one, hege. I like this new direction of JJ's. When I interviewed her last year, AJ Cook mentioned this was the direction they were going. She wasn't going to be just the pretty blonde doing communications. Now she's kicking ass and taking names. I like it! (You are of course entitled to your opinion though - don't get me wrong). P.S. I don't recall weather AJ used the word "pretty" - that may have been just my imagination. : )

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@ Douglas Wolfe

The fact that any character of this show may be, as you said, 'kicking asses' is the very main thing that bothers me about this JJ version. The way they write the character nowadays is suitable for a cop drama, but the one thing that set this show apart from the other ones is that they were thinkers, not just regular agents wildly shooting and kicking doors and people's asses. And, as a woman, I don't like the idea that the only way a woman can be strong is to be able to do stuff men can. It is insulting.

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@ hege

it is credible for someone to change to want to grow

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@ Michael

Change, ok...
Transmutation.... Really?
She is just an entirely different character.

Terrie
@ hege

You couldn't be more wrong about JJ...................

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@ Terrie

So true...