Hotch is down for the count. Haley and the Reaper make an appearance. And a father catches his daughter's would-be rapist and fulfills every father's sincere wish, right before attempting to whisk her away from Wichita.
What more could you want from such a brilliant episode of Criminal Minds?
"Route 66" gave us the story of a father who, after spending a number of years in prison, finally got re-acquainted with his daughter, mostly via text message. Fortunately for her, he showed up in person right as her date for the evening decided that the word "no" was unacceptable. After beating the man to within an inch of his life, he and his daughter decided to skip town and head for Mexico.
Cue the Amber Alert system.
Only this wasn't a case where the daughter went unwillingly: they had been talking about doing something like this for a while. At first you kind of wonder why a missing child case would come up on the BAU's radar... until learning that the father had killed a few people along the way during a robbery.
It's hard to recall an episode where it was possible to feel any kind of empathy or sympathy for the Unsub. Granted, the man wasn't a saint, but what's a few dead people in the grand scheme of things when he has a daughter to care about, a girl he hasn't seen for so many years because of his stint in the Big House? Despite her initial bratty attitude, you could tell she had him wrapped around her little finger. Although not entirely:
Eddie: We had a deal. You wanted out of Wichita. Here we are. But you have to lose the 'tude or we're never going to make it. Angel, I swear you are going to love it down there. Ocean, breezes, sunny every day. Nowhere near Wichita. | permalink
I like how the writers gave us both sides of a coin with the similar histories between the Unsub and JJ: time spent with his father's dead body after he committed suicide clearly unhinged the Unsub to the point where he chose a life of crime. Yet JJ - in the same circumstance, having seen her sister's dead body in the bathtub after she slashed her wrists, instead turned to a life of crime-fighting. The takeaway? You can allow your circumstances to shape you, or you can use your circumstances to create your own path.
As Haley put it: happiness is a choice. So choose.
Meanwhile, Hotch developed some internal bleeding because of an old injury suffered during an attack years ago. You may recall that back then, The Reaper stabbed him multiple times, all in non-lethal locations on his body, before dropping him off at a hospital.
This time Hotch is again taken to the hospital - with Garcia by his side - where doctors operate on him feverishly to repair the damage. During the operation Hotch dreams of being in a movie theater with Haley where they watch a silent movie about Jack, Beth and Hotch spending time together. Later, The Reaper (George Foyet) joins them.
This foray into Hotch's psyche was trippy. At times it was easy to forget that the words of advice from Haley (you should talk about me more. You should talk more, period) came from his own subconscious. As did that marvelous car that took him to the imaginary movie theatre. If you recall, it's the same car Rossi was showing Reid at the start of the episode. In fact, in Hotch's mind, Rossi was the chauffeur.
I think the entire multi-episode story concerning The Reaper formed some of the most interesting Criminal Minds arcs, so it was a bit of a surreal pleasure to see him back again:
Foyet: I hope I didn't miss anything.
Hotch: What's he doing here?
Haley: It's okay. I invited him.
Foyet: Wowza. She is hot.
Haley: Isn't she?
Foyet: I would tear that up. Hey, I'll bet she's a real tiger in the sack, huh? Popcorn?
Foyet: Would you like some?
Haley: Ooh. Yes. Thank you. | permalink
What did you think of the episode? Do you think that, despite the continual pain of Haley's loss, even years later, that Hotch is now ready to carry on?
Douglas Wolfe is a staff writer for TV Fanatic Follow him on Twitter.