Criminal Minds Season 10 Episode 4 Review: The Itch

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Was anyone able to watch this episode without itching?

The story on Criminal Minds Season 10 Episode 4 would have enhanced a problem for anyone suffering from entomophobia - fear of insects - particularly as it dealt with an Unsub whose life revolved around a belief that cockroaches were scurrying around in his arm. 

The EWW factor in this episode was great, almost overwhelming.

I'll raise my hand as the lead coward when it comes to stories like this, where cockroaches take the front of the plot's stage. It played directly to a childhood fear that has never really gone away.

So kudos to the writers for dropping that one on us. It kept the story free from any whiff of boredom.

I'd like to say my skin didn't crawl at all when the Unsub dropped those pails of cockroaches onto the hapless Dr. Siri - but that would be a bald-faced lie.

On a more serious note: I think it was commendable of the show to create a story that highlighted the problem of mental illness in such a unique way. They could have opted for a comedic approach but instead chose the path of sensitivity.

Watching Hotch profile the organizer of the Morgellons Disease support group was heartwarming. He didn't judge her at all, but instead gently lead her down the path of understanding, helping her to realize that her skin condition was a physical manifestation of her helplessness in saving her prematurely born infant all of those years ago.

They didn't shy away from the harsher truths of mental illness either - as witnessed by the troubled story experienced by Jane Posner, a woman who ends up believing that the FBI truly is out to get her (and all of those like her) and that her itchy skin condition is real.

This part of the story paints a dissatisfying truth about mental illness: some people can get better, while others most assuredly will not. All are deserving of compassion, regardless of prognosis.

The other part of Hotch's profiling activity worthy of note is the fact that he's so very good at it. He pretty much read Lisa like a book - not a skill that he shows too often. The fact that it's so rare is part of what makes it so great to see.

And the questions he posed to her (like "what was her name?") provided a careful mechanism to break down her defenses, all in a respectful manner.

I truly liked that.  In fact, creepy-crawlies aside, I really liked this episode.

The best quote of the episode has to go to Dr. Reid:

Kate: I can understand being driven crazy by something you can't scratch. But killing people over it? That's what surprises me.
Reid: There was one documented case of a woman who couldn't stop scratching, even when asleep. She woke up one morning, realizing she'd scratched through her own scalp, her skull and directly into her brain tissue.

Final notes:

  • Criminal Minds tends to draw from real-life events, conditions, phobias and therapies - all of which makes their stories convincing and real.
  • One such therapy was mentioned and used by Rossi: the mirror-box. This therapy provides brain feedback and is designed to make the brain experience the opposite of what it has been believing for so long. This is why it's used to treat phantom limb syndrome.
  • The Unsub's mental condition of "delusional parasitosis" is also quite real. It's amazing to me the kinds of horrors our own minds can use against us.
  • Morgellons Disease exists too.  People suffer from these things, often in silence because it's hard for anyone to relate to them. People can often relate to a broken leg or organ failure more readily than they can mental conditions.
  • The song at the start of the episode was "Black Lemon" by the group Generationals.
  • The song at the end was "Gold on the Leaves" by Luluc.
  • If you need a memory recall or just want to review the episode again, you can do so right here when you watch Criminal Minds online.

What did you think of this episode? Were you bored by all of the insects? What part did you like best? What, if anything did you hate about it? Let us know in the comments!

The Itch Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.7 / 5.0 (19 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 10 Episode 4 Quotes

Kate: I can understand being driven crazy by something you can't scratch. But killing people over it? That's what surprises me.
Reid: There was one documented case of a woman who couldn't stop scratching, even when asleep. She woke up one morning, realizing she'd scratched through her own scalp, her skull and directly into her brain tissue.

Getting rid of a delusion makes us wiser than getting hold of the truth - Ludwig Borne

JJ