Halloween is not the time of year when one should egg or TP houses. But when it happens, the thing to do is lock up the miscreants in a box in the ground and then park your car over them.
Or so our unsub of the week believes.
Criminal Minds Season 10 Episode 5 gave us the darkly depressing case of a mistreated boy who became a violent adult, intent on emulating the abuse his father started.
Stories of childhood abuse are never sunshine and rainbows. Since we know them to be too often true and widespread in society, they tend to provoke a lot of sadness and anger. I would question the merit of offering such reality-based stories to the screen for entertainment purposes - except that it's not always about entertainment.
Sometimes reality has to be shown for what it is, regardless of how depressing the subject might be.
And this one is quite depressing. So.... mission accomplished.
I counted four bright spots, two of which were related.
One was the opening scene, when Hotch was giving Garcia some last minute instructions. The pure joy on her face as she cheerfully acknowledged them painted a picture of a woman who understands her value to her organization, knows she is excellent at it and quite simply loves her job and the people with whom she works.
The second was the scene with Hotch and Madame Bouvier, when he picked up his son's Halloween costume. You get the sense that Hotch knew quite well that Bouvier was hitting on him, though he was careful to be polite and grateful for her help.
The third was the banter that Hotch and JJ shared over their sons' costume choices and Henry's suggestion that the FBI should all use web-shooters. That provided a welcome moment of normalcy and shared pride in their sons, until the reality of the case intruded once more.
The fourth one was brief and it came at the end, when Hotch arrived home to find Jack conked out on the couch, still in costume.
Other than that, the mystery was all about the unsub's cobweb of fear, anger and rejection, all of which lead to him taking his frustration and fists out on his latest victim. You can hate people like this - as Kate and Hotch clearly do - but the cycle of abuse often takes its toll just the same.
JJ: What did he do? Restrain him the boy for a year while he stabbed him and beat him with a two-by-four?
Kate: Too bad we can't do the same thing to that Unsub.
Rossi: Or Unsubs.
Kate: Whatever. I'm down.
The only saving grace is that there are a great many people around who come from abusive backgrounds, who seem to be able to pull themselves out, and make a determination to stop the cycle.
I felt little pity for this guy, even while understanding that locking him up would only help society to be free of him for the duration of his prison stay. If he was ever to be released, he would need to have a lot of help with his mental health, for his own sake, and especially for the sake of other kids who might otherwise become his future victims.
The show went to great lengths, too, to depict the difference between a dysfunctional family and a few healthy families: the focus on Jack and Henry versus young John Bidwell and his sister Sandra made that obvious.
All in all, as a Halloween show, this episode provided so very little light as to make it oppressive. I disliked it even while acknowledging the truth that it brought: abusive parents often beget abusive children.
What did you think of the episode? Do you have any thoughts on Kate's vigilante statement to Rossi? Be sure to watch Criminal Minds online and then let us know your thoughts down in the comment section!
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.