Criminal Minds Review: A Question of Sanity

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As outings go, Criminal Minds Season 9 Episode 19 was a boring exception to the usual edge-of-the-seat fare we're used to seeing.

The show began with a flashback to the scene of a woman escaping someone, only to run out to the road and get hit by a truck. 

Flash forward to present day and Morgan is visiting the woman in a mental institution, ostensibly to prepare her for the trial of the Unsub from whom she was running.  

As the hour progressed, we learned that she was not actually a full victim but an accomplice. Further, she was still in the grip of Stockholm Syndrome and would do more crimes if her Unsub "boyfriend" asked it of her.

There is such a thing as foreshadowing to let the audience know that all is not as it seems and something unexpected is on its way.  

Then there is outright telegraphing of intent - which is what we saw here.

Viewers were first fed an important clue, almost from the get-go: that the murders were relatively neat and clean. The ice pick holes in the bodies were evenly spaced. This helped the team to determine that the Unsub was likely obsessive-compulsive.

As soon as we saw Daria wiping the condensation from the table beneath her water glass, we knew she likely wasn't the victim we thought she was. Frankly, her obsessive behavior gave it away right there. All we needed to do was go along for the ride while trying to figure out why she had ligature marks on her wrists.  

That early glimpse of her OCD behavior was really just spoiler material.

There was misdirection, to be sure, as we learned that some of the scenes portrayed weren't factual recollections but a combination of recollection and Daria's manufactured memories.

The lack of tension was the result of knowing that this was a case long-since solved: there wasn't anyone in danger. It was a pure Q&A whodunnit episode, with some of the important puzzle pieces already obvious and in place.

Did Morgan actually need Daria's testimony, and was he really trying to prep her for the trial? I don't think he was. This interview with Daria was a Hail Mary for her: he wanted to see if she was truly sane and not culpable in the multiple ice pick murders.  

So the most most important questions for her occurred at the end of their interview, when he was able to pull aside her self-imposed mental veil and remind her that she had participated in the criminal deeds. And that there was no third party accomplice: she was the only partner to the Unsub.

Turns out she's still as damaged as she was when she escaped him. As Morgan told her sister, the hospital was the best place for her, likely until the end of her life.

Final notes:

  • In order to keep everything wrapped up tightly, we learned that, sure enough, the Unsub was himself abused as a little boy. And that he saw Daria as a substitute for his abuser: his alcoholic nurse aunt.
  • The next episode of Criminal Minds will air in two weeks, on April 2.

What's your reaction to this episode?

The Edge of Winter Review

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Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (38 Votes)

Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter


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Criminal Minds Season 9 Episode 19 Quotes

Daria: I loved him. That's why I did those things. After a while he didn't even have to ask me to do it, I just did it.
Morgan: Wait a minute. Did you torture people on your own?
Daria: That's what he wanted. He loved me. He kept me for a whole year. The other ones he just had for a few weeks.
Morgan: Daria would you hurt someone again, if Joe asked you?
Daria: If he wanted. He's my boyfriend. I loved him. I still love him

There are times when the mind is dealt such a blow that it hides itself in insanity. There are times when reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain the mind must leave reality behind. - Patrick Rothfuss