On Criminal Minds Season 8, the writers seem to be taking a different approach to their stories.
Rather than rely solely on deeper examples of depravity and horror, there's a focus on truly interesting mindsets and curious behaviors.
In "Magnificent Light," we are introduced to an UnSub who suffers from synesthesia, a condition in which two or more senses are triggered simultaneously. In this instance, the UnSub sees the words people are speaking, and he sees them in different colors, each of which has meaning. White means good, orange means deception or lies and red means evil.
When the hour began, and all we could see was a flickering flame, I was sure we were hearing the voice of the photographer who's been stalking the BAU:
Flynn: Your life is about to end. You will all die. In your remaining time on earth, how do you want to live? As a bright and shiny star? Or as a lost soul, passing time? Do you want to live in darkness, or reveal your magnificent light? | permalink
Turns out it was just the opening salvo in a motivational speech. I think the casting people did a great job in hiring Patrick Fabian to play the speaker. His voice fit the part perfectly, with just the right amount of booming sincerity and charisma. His use of that charisma in a failed attempt to charm his captor made the scene believable and compelling.
Another term that was new to me (Dr. Reid is a font of knowledge about this stuff!) is erotomania, a condition in which someone believes that a famous person has a love relationship with him or her. Anyway, our UnSub - Carl Fisher, played by Raphael Sbarge (who also stars as Jiminy Cricket in Once Upon a Time) - had it and wanted to drag his love interest around to his kills to prove that his special power was real. Sort of a Superman complex.
Meanwhile - and, frankly, I think this is what draws viewers back to the show each week - we got to see some more BAU team back story stuff, this time involving Derek Morgan.
We knew his father died when he was young, but we didn't until now all of the effects of that. His rejection of an invitation to speak at a British Embassy dinner honoring his dad's police department partner made Garcia curious:
Garcia: We love the British, remember?
Morgan: Can we just drop this?
Garcia: I can go with you.
Morgan: Nobody is going.
Garcia: I'll wear my contacts.
Morgan: What did I just say?
Garcia: Who do I wear my contacts for? | permalink
How interesting to see Garcia touch a nerve in Morgan later in the episode when she just wouldn't let it go, which we understood at the point where he stopped using his pet names for her, referring to her merely as "Garcia," right before hanging up on her. Subtle, effective writing.
Garcia of course won out - as we knew she would - and got to attend the dinner with him. Just when all seemed even and cool, along came The Photographer, a person who's been stalking the BAU since the first episode of the season. And we learned that he's been copying some of the gruesome acts of earlier episodes: the guy who sewed his victims' mouths shut ("The Silencer") and the guy who cut the legs off his victims ("God Complex"). Can't wait to see what happens next.
Be sure to check out our Criminal Minds quotes page for this episode. Note that it includes at least one of the famous flirty exchanges between Morgan and Garcia.
So what did you think? Have they given us any clues at all as to who the mysterious stalker might be?
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.