You can't pick your family, and that includes even the nasty and disgruntled ones (through marriage) who will never like you.
That was Hotch's harsh lesson when his father-in-law Roy Brooks showed up near the start of Criminal Minds Season 10 Episode 20.
You had to hand it to Hotch though - he handled Brooks with grace and understanding, which is a measure of his maturity.
Brooks on the other hand only has the ability to manage the ongoing pain of his daughter's loss by finding blame. And, since Haley's killer is dead (at Hotch's hand, no less) the only remaining target for his rage was Hotch.
I have nothing but admiration for Ed Asner and Thomas Gibson who played off each other so brilliantly in this episode. Their back-and-forth was like a dark dance that had its own music and beat.
Neither man could win: Roy could not get Hotch mad at him, and Hotch could not get Roy to forgive him. Yet amazingly, they put up with each other. You have to wonder whether they would have even tolerated each other without Jack there as the social and family glue to keep them in each other's lives.
This was the epitome of hopeless family dysfunction.
And speaking of family dysfunction - the case of the week had it in spades. It seemed like the deeper the BAU team got in their investigation of the all of the players in the Kingsman family, the weirder and uglier things got.
The only real and honest relationship in that household - despite Frank the dad's protest and homophobia - was the sincere love between Lance Kingsman and Ezra Warren. The rest was a rat's nest of manipulation, greed, blackmail and extortion.
It was really a nest of vipers, at least on the male side.
Let's connect the dots:
- Frank had a 26-year affair with Cora Gilliam, to whom he gave $20,000 twice a year as part of their "arrangement".
- Frank's son Dillon found out about the affair so blackmailed his dad in the amount of $5,000 per month while the affair lasted.
- Frank hated that his son Lance was gay and forbade the family members from speaking about it.
- Jenna was dating Marc Clifford, not realizing that he was her half-brother. (Important note: while they didn't sleep together, you have to know there was at least something physical going on between them. Cue the Star Wars' Luke and Leia theme music)
The story didn't tell us, but it looks as though Frank got tired of paying out all of that money, hence his breakup with Cora. He effectively killed two trough pigs with one stone.
What's worse, we didn't get any kind of redemption from the case at all. Sure, Hotch stopped Marc from killing his mother, but what was the end result for her? She lost not only her ex-boyfriend, but her son as well. She has no one and nothing.
That's a harsh lesson to be learned, all at the cost of making the decision to take up with a married man for 26 years. (Let's not play the double standard here though either: Frank is just as much to blame, and he ended up paying for it - a consequence of his embittered son)
There just simply weren't any winners in this episode of Criminal Minds: not Cora, and certainly not Hotch. Maybe we can look to Jack, who is oblivious to the adult drama going on around him. And perhaps Hotch's sister-in-law Jessica too, who thinks her father buys her story about having extra money as a result of her advancement at work.
- This was one of the better whodunit episodes, as it strictly involved the investigative aspects of the BAU. We weren't privy to the unsub until near the end when he finally laid his cards on the table for his mother.
- Hotch is clearly one of the Good Guys. You have to say that about a man who generously gives so much toward the care of a man who pretty much hates him at this point.
- The opening scene created some cognitive dissonance, as the strains of "Jingle Bells' played while the camera panned around the house. Rossi summed it up nicely with sleigh bells in April?
- If you missed anything or need to review this episode you can do so when you watch Criminal Minds online
- Be sure to tune in next week for the episode entitled "Mr. Scratch" on Criminal Minds Season 10 Episode 21. Note that it's directed by Matthew Gray Gubler.
- A personal note: I got into a cab today. The driver was friendly. He offered me a bottle of water, and said "I've got a full case of it here". This eerily reminded me of last week's episode Criminal Minds Season 10 Episode 19. Naturally, I thanked him and declined the offer.
What did you think of this episode? What are your thoughts about Roy Brooks? Was there any way Hotch could have gotten through to him to end the enmity between them? Let us know your thoughs in the comments below!
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.