Criminal Minds Review: Bizarrotown, USA

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Reid and Morgan are both down - and we have to wait until the Criminal Minds finale next week to find out what happens next. 

On Criminal Minds Season 9 Episode 23, the BAU encounters a clever psychopath who is killing prostitutes in order to frame the town preacher because of a deal gone bad.

At least, that's what we think the motive is. We won't know for sure until the Criminal Minds Season 9 finale next Wednesday.

Among the compelling stars for this episode, you have to include the town itself. It was about as twisted and as backward a place as you can imagine:

  • The police don't know how to manage a crime scene. 
  • The coroner is an elected official, and not a doctor at all. 
  • The police turn a blind eye to crime.

Not only that, the prostitutes are managed by the town preacher. And he sub-delegates his oversight to the owner of the one bar in town.

I think we all knew there was something fishy about the preacher. From the time he first opened his mouth, his aggression was on full display as he hypocritically and piously intoned his rage against sin.

His character probably wouldn't sit well with religious viewers who might be tired of the demonization of the clergy. Certainly there are enough bad real life examples out there without adding a fictitious preacher who's a pimp and who very likely deals drugs on the side.

Still, though, the well-written violent character of Preacher Mills was superbly acted by Brett Cullen. He was therefore believable. It helped that pretty much everyone was afraid of him.

The only clue we have as to the deal gone wrong was this advice from the unsub:

Next time you tell your whores to keep their mouths shut.


There's a question, though: if he set up the preacher to confront the police and BAU with all of those guns, what "next time" is he talking about? Wouldn't he have expected the preacher to die in a hail of bullets?

Speaking of setups: the framing of Mills was masterfully done. Luring the preacher to the diner full of dead bodies and guns was one thing. But ensuring that the police would confront him there was another.

It seems likely that the unsub was also at the diner, probably just outside, and that he fired the first shot that set everything off.

It also seems likely that the unsub is a member of the police force as well.  But how did he manipulate everyone so that the BAU and police would know where he was? There was only the highly enthusiastic woman deputy there to call it in.

My guess: she's the unsub's partner.

Final thoughts:

  • That was a nice bit of misdirection on the part of the school principal, Mack the Knife. The BAU should out him, just as an afterthought, if only to protect the kids in the school from his rage.
  • Garcia's comment about Canadians who go "Darth Vader bad" got me laughing.
  • It was fun watching her straining for the clicker too when Cruz was struggling with it.
  • There were at least three deputies, the Sheriff and two members of the BAU who were shot.  While horrifying, this seems fairly realistic, given the gun power the preacher had available to him. Although, it seems odd that no one threw a flash-bang or two into the place. If Morgan was able to make it into the diner, certainly some defensive ordinance could have been used on the preacher.

Do you think that shootout scene believable?

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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 23 Quotes

Rossi: The name written on her forehead was a mystery. Babylon the Great, the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth - Revelation 17:5

Rossi: What kind of knife did he use?
Coroner: A sharp one.
Blake: We ruled out rape, but you still needed to run a rape kit on her. Why didn't you?
Coroner: She was a hooker. This was easy math.
Rossi: Well how about this. If this were torture, the victim would be flailing about. You'd see a jagged cutting pattern as a result.
Coroner: So?
Blake: The marks on Abigail Jones are clean. How do you account for that?
Coroner: Drugs.
Rossi: Well did you find drugs in the autopsy or tox screen?
Coroner: Oh I didn't order any of that.
Rossi: Why not?
Coroner: COD was a gunshot wound to the head. Hello!
Blake: Doctor, where did you go to medical school?
Coroner: Oh I ain't a doctor. I was elected to this position.
Rossi: Ahhh. Democracy in action.