"The Pact" featured Mackenzie Phillips as Ellen Russell and Kim Wayans as Darlene Beckett, a pair of mothers whose children were victims of killers.
Ellen's child was hit by a drunk driver and Kim's little girl was murdered by a sex fiend... actually a group of them. The mothers were out for blood and agreed to swap vengeance in the manner of Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train or the more recent Throw Momma from the Train, directed by Danny Devito. Only one of them happened to enjoy the process a little too much, while the other could barely keep from blowing chunks after each episode of their vigilante justice.
This partnership, or pact, formed the theme for the episode, summed up with the BAU's profile of them when it was stated they felt the "justice system has gone wrong and it's up to them to set it right."
Overly lenient court sentences were at the core of this story and served as catalyst for the vigilante moms. At one point, Darlene tearfully shouted "my baby's life is worth more than 10 years!" It seems many parents have often said the same in real life. This, of course, set us up: their outrageous vengeance - which we saw when a few of their targets were taken out for a drag - was at least marginally understandable, though we could never fully sympathize.
As the BAU sat to discuss the case, we again got to see Reid being Reid - although, frankly, I would have enjoyed seeing just a bit more of him. Still, his joyful yet gruesome description of historical acts of vigilantism was a treat to watch.
It's so hard to fathom a guy who gets so caught up in the details of those acts that he forgets entirely about his audience. A while later, you just had to grin at Blake and J.J.'s reaction to him as he quickly computed the distance and time it would take for two of the murders to take place, hundreds of miles away from each other, and finally concluding that yes, it could be done. Genii are like that. ("Genii" by the way is three syllables. Reid would be the first to agree.)
As this is my first published review of Criminal Minds, let me just state one thing at the outset, never to be mentioned again. I love Garcia but am absolutely aghast at her computer skills. Tippitty-tap and presto - multiple windows come up with photos and texts pulled from multiple databases and everything. That stretches credulity to the breaking point. Nevertheless, in the interest of proper story flow within the hour limit, we have to let it go don't we? If the time she took was as realistic as it is in real life, most of us would change the channel out of boredom. So, never mind.
The sweet relationship she has with Derek, who calls her "Baby Girl" all the time is endearing and compelling. I find that I always wait for that phrase in each episode. (We sure heard it last episode, when Derek objected to her abrupt manner on the phone: "Let's try this again. Ring. Ring. Looking for my baby girl.")
Tonight's episode didn't hit any of the two major story arcs introduced to us from the premiere. We didn't find out more about the mysterious photographer who seems to have taken an unhealthy interest in the BAU team. We don't know anything more about the origins of Alex Blake's career, or why it went into a temporary dive as a result of Strauss. We don't know why it took those extra years to build up enough cred to allow her into the BAU and we don't know exactly how Strauss betrayed her.
But that's okay. We have those unanswered questions to anchor us a bit.
A few final notes:
- Mackenzie Phillips is best known for her role as Julie Cooper Horvath on One Day at a Time (her TV sister Barbara was played by Valerie Bertinelli). She is also the daughter of John Phillips who was one of the singers in the 1960's group The Mamas and the Papas.
- Kim Wayans is the sister of Keenan Ivory Wayans and Damon Wayans.
- Tonight's new term: "blitz attack."
So what did you think of tonight's episode? Will the police or the BAU ever catch up with Darlene? Would there be reason to? Do you think Ellen is a psychopath? And how cool was it that Rossi decided to give up most of his vacation days to BAU staff who have spouses that are in the military?
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.