This was yet another well-written Criminal Minds episode, which portrayed the frustration of the BAU as it was forced to put aside its pursuit of their stalker (nicknamed "The Replicator") in order to hunt down an Unsub who's been stabbing women and cutting out their tongues.
The only connection is that they've all posted personal information online. In "The Gathering" we met two Unsubs: the first was the leader of a creative writing group, who wanted his students to detail their dark murderous fantasies. His students didn't realize his purpose; he wanted to re-enact those fantasies, down to the last detail.
The second unsub was one of his students, who discovered his teacher's intent, murdered him and then went on to try and recreate his own fantasy.
Is it any wonder the BAU struggled so hard to figure this all out?
The twists and turns to this story were engrossing and fascinating.
We got to see the second Unsub (during the phase when he was only fantasizing about murder) when he was at work, interrupted by his boss during an online chat session, as she wondered if he would be attending a staff pot-luck the next day. The portrayal of him stabbing her in the hand seemed fairly real and jarring, until we realized it was just a dark fantasy.
It wasn't until much later in the episode that we realized his fantasies weren't actually ending in murder, but were instead feeding his teacher's behavior, as the later Unsub (Mark) re-enacted those thoughts down to the last detail. Except - as Peter pointed out - for the tongue removal part:
Unsub: You should be honored that I chose your stories. I did everything that you described, down to the smallest detail.
Peter: Uh huh. I see. That's where you're wrong.
Unsub: What are you talking about?
Peter: There's one detail you got wrong. I never cared bout the tongue. That was you. | permalink
The visual touches to this episode involving blood stood out exceptionally well: the bloody handprints during one of the Unsub's murder scenes involving a woman and her brother and the bloody footprints left by Unsub number-two (Peter) after he murdered his teacher.
We learned too that Reid was still dealing with the death of Maeve: he attempted to talk Peter down by intentionally deviating from the normal script they use when a suspect is about to kill himself and instead offered him the truth. His rationale was logical: the last time he used the tried-and-true method, Maeve was killed.
So he hoped that by going the opposite direction this time, the Unsub would appreciate what he had to say and stand down. Unfortunately, the unsub did appreciate what he had to say, and this informed his behavior, which was to kill himself.
In the review afterward, Hotch ripped Reid's emotional scab wide open when he called it exactly ("to me, this is all about Maeve"), after which Reid shut down and left the room. Apparently Reid still has to learn that there are just some things and behaviors that are beyond control - and beyond his expertise. He has yet to learn that all of his good intentions could not have saved Maeve, a hard lesson that I'm sure many others would have found just as daunting.
The other sub-plot for this episode involved Garcia and Kevin, who at this point are trying hard to be "just friends." Yet both revealed a small amount of residual jealousy: Kevin's being the most obvious. He was incredulous, and a little passive-aggressive:
Kevin: I'm just saying he's going to have moobs.
Garcia: What are moobs?
Kevin: Man boobs. | permalink
(We have some more interesting additions on our Criminal Minds quotes page.)
I laughed when Garcia rhymed off every one of Kevin's love interests too.
Some final notes:
- When Peter shoved Tammy into the pool (near the episode end) did anyone else hold their breath until Morgan saved her? Or was that just me?
- Where do you think this thing with Kevin and Garcia is heading?
- Do you have any thoughts on who The Replicator might be?
- Did you notice that when Garcia sang and played "Old MacDonald had a farm" on her ukulele, that the final note involved an orchestra? How cool was that?
- You may have recognized the guy who played Mark (Unsub number-one) as Andrew Bowen, famous for his stint on MadTV.
Over to you. What are your thoughts on this episode?
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.