Criminal Minds Review: Dislocation Boogie

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Tonight's Criminal Minds loped right past disturbing and dove straight into the dark pond of torture porn. To say that it's difficult to ignore the image of the girl getting her arm sockets deliberately dislocated by the sadistic UnSub - while processing the rest of the episode - is an understatement.

We're used to seeing the writers of Criminal Minds allude to cruel treatment of victims without overtly displaying much of it. We would see the axe begin to fall before the scene abruptly changed, and that would be enough. The writers left it up to our imagination to fill in the blanks. This scene was a departure from the norm, and was tough to watch.

That aside, the idea of the human marionette dance - a performance obliqued referred to as "a lullaby dance" by Matthew Gray Gubler in our recent interview with him - was haunting and bizarre. The music would have been almost enjoyable, had it not been for the knowledge of all of those limbs that had to be dislocated in order to pull it off (no pun intended).

Hunting a Ritualistic Killer

The story of "The Lesson" itself was an interesting one: man comes back from a coma and wants to change the history of his father's death by re-enacting it with marionettes who jump in to save him. From the beginning it seemed obvious that his companion was a construct of his imagination - as was his audience. I always find these scenes fascinating in that these phantom companions give us some good clues into the psyche of the murderer, much like we see in Dexter when he converses with his dear departed dad.

It was good to see the story of Reid and his mystery love interest get ramped up a bit, even if it only teased us.  If it wasn't for Reid's understandable paranoia about her stalker, they would have met up in the restaurant. At least we know that they truly seem to be playing in the same romantic ballpark, with their mutual love of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's books, and their coincidental gifts to each other of the same title "The Narrative of John Smith." Reid's concern about the possibility of his appearance was sweet, and it gave us a chance to see more of Blake's kindness and concern - even to the point of the encouraging text message she sent to him just before the date. 

(Check out this week's Criminal Minds quotes for some touching dialogue surrounding Reid's romantic activities.)

I think Gubler did an excellent job playing Reid and directing this episode at the same time.  Kudos too to Brad Dourif, who did some intense work in playing this week's disturbing UnSub.  You may also have recognized Sean Whalen who played the store owner who left his shop to warn the UnSub about the FBI investigation. 

What did you think of the episode overall? Do you think Reid's paranoia about the stalker fed conveniently into his anxiety about meeting his love interest or was that just a happy coincidence for him? Are you warming to Blake, or are you withholding judgement for now? Let us know in the comments!


Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (133 Votes)

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



Let me start off by saying this is my absolute favorite show ever, of all time, and probably forever. The dislocation scene makes me nauseous but I can't not watch! Now how did they get it to look so real? I'm curious if the actress chosen for the scene can dislocate her shoulders naturally? That can't be digital effects! Does anyone know???


Now I remember why I stopped watching this show. It is far too mean-spirited for me. Cruelty/Sadism/Torture, whether simulated or otherwise, is NOT entertainment to me.


I love Criminal Minds. It's my favourite show. But I think this episode went a little too far. When the unsub started to dislocate the woman, I had to run to the bathroom gagging. I think they could have effectively alluded to what the man was doing without having to actually show it.


Guest: I find the CM storylines not nearly as disturbing or soul-wrenching as those on L&O:SVU. I stopped watching that in the first season. I couldn't imagine watching a rapist or child molester week after week after week. At least CM varies the crime. And doesn't get too complicated with the geek-speak like Numb3rs did.


I don't understand why the unsub made such a big deal out of the way he attached the marionette strings to his victims through most of the episode and then, with the thrift shop owner, he was okay with just tying the ropes to him. If tying the ropes was good enough for the last guy, then why go through all that impaling and dislocating? It kind of seems odd that all the men didn't survive what the unsub did but the girl did. Maybe that's why he didn't bother with the inmpalement at the end. Sick, twisted, truly disturbing.


Overlooking these hate coments, I just think "WOW! The funs of Hotch and may be that muscle character hissed! Hilariously rediculos lol", that's all.
The first season of this show was actually more creepy and full of violence.
And some girl said Hotch and Morgan should leave the show for their sakes, yeah, I myself don't care.


Tired of hearing about what a piece of art the dance scene was while overlooking the torture of the female victim. The dance doesn't justify the torture! I noticed too that the male victims were hardly noticeable while there was excrutiating focus on the young woman being tortured. Mandy said that CM was destructive to his soul. I thought he was being overly dramatic especially since the show is a lot worse now than when he was on it but if the cast can't even bother to speak out against this and even seems okay with it then I think Mandy was right. Their souls have been destroyed.


I don't know what your peoples problems! The show is trying to keep up with the real world! morbid and is getting more and more dangerous!
And did everyone mess where do every taking pictures of them the tea is also killing people! My opinion reed reeds girlfriend is is going to end up being a victim and reeds going to find out that it's his fault that she is dead!! As for hatchner he has a life to move on with and he has been focusing on his son and his new girl.
As i see it JJ has always been a profiler she is just more vocal now. Hatchner recognized it early on in the episode about the three soccer girls who go missing in the football town.
As for Black she is a refreshing motherly Figueroa that is much needed to ground the team.
For all you people who want the show to go back to earlier seasons....a show that doses not evolve with the times gets cancelled.


I think there is a real difference between explicit violence and artistic representation. In previous episodes we have had to watch people burned alive or beaten to death with someone's bare hands. I agree the dislocation scene was difficult to watch but it added to the experience. The dance scene was a piece of art that is seldom seen on network television. This job deals with the worst of crimes and to whitewash it seems to me to be a copout. I tend to watch an episode for the overall experience rather than the parts that make up the whole and I consider this to be one of the best they have ever done. It was both disturbing and mesmerizing. Congratulations to Mr. Gubler and the wonderful actors who brought this disturbing story to life.


This episode marks the end of my viewing of CM. I said this in season 7 after "Proof" but I mean it this time. What's different is that "The Lesson" was so misogynist that I wonder about the whole CM team including the cast not just the writers. Are they so insulated from everyday life that they are completely tone deaf to what's appropriate? Have they lost their sense of what's right and what's wrong? And sending MGG out to do interviews with him referring to their cheap but still evil torture porn as beautiful just tops it all off. The cast was the only reason I continued to watch but no more.

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Criminal Minds Season 8 Episode 10 Quotes

Thomas Merton once wrote "Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone. We find it with another."


JJ: Well I think after this long hard week we just had we should all head over to Rossi's and pop open some old expensive wine.
Rossi: That's a plan.
Garcia: Could we maybe play some games too?
Morgan: What kind of games?
Garcia: You tell me, sweet cheeks.