Criminal Minds Season 11 Episode 17 Review: The Sandman

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Derek just can't seem to catch a break, can he?

The 250th installment of the show saw one of our favorite BAU agents once again in jeopardy at the end of the first of a two-part cliffhanger.

Criminal Minds Season 11 Episode 17, directed by Joe Mantegna, gave us the story of an Unsub who was looking for payback from his drunken mother for leaving him helpless at the hands of a pedophile when he was young.

The only problem was that his mother was dead, so he looked to a surrogate family (specifically, a child and his or her mother) to fill that important gap. He did so by filling the parents' eyes with sand and glue (while they slept), killing the dad, and then putting the mother through an hour of torture while she tried to help her screaming child.

With the first family the mother was accidentally killed so of course this meant he had to kill the child (who was of no further use to him) and then go hunt for a second family.

This time the mother made it out okay and so the BAU worked with her to stop the clock on him harming her girl, while the team finally located and killed him.

There were a few anomalies about this case. We are never told exactly why the Unsub wanted to glue the parents' eyes shut, or why he felt the need to put sand in them.

We also don't know why he wore goggles all the time. Granted, they worked to give him a sinister appearance. Perhaps they were symbolic of his childhood abuse, when he was told to look at only one thing – the hourglass – while he was being raped. Who knows.

While the case was sufficiently gruesome (and therefore consistent with Criminal Minds' story standards), the thing that really drew us was meeting the second family.

Just that minute or two of watching them interact with each other was enough to cause us to become invested in them. The horror of their situation became that much more awful, as we realized the formerly vibrant loving father and husband was now dead.

Still, it functioned more as a B story in this instance, since we are of course more invested in the Derek Morgan saga.

Seems strange, and yet true to life to watch Morgan deal with the aftermath of his torture in Criminal Minds Season 11 Episode 16.

No one, no matter how tough, can get over something that traumatic and then just walk into work six months later as if nothing happened. Of course there's going to be flashbacks.

And, knowing that the architect of his abduction and torture is still out there must weigh on his mind.

Yet his real angst remains for his yet unborn child. It was so cool to see Reid nail the problem perfectly, and give him the assurance he needed.

Reid: If there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that you and Savannah are going to be great parents.
Morgan: [smiling] You charge by the hour, doc?

About as cool as seeing the gang throw him a welcome back party, or having Rossi invite him to a boys night out poker game.

That last scene, with Morgan in the crosshairs of a gun, followed by a gunshot, was jarring.

I'm going to out on a limb though and say that the gunman missed him.

Or maybe he didn't miss at all. Maybe Morgan wasn't the target.

Until next week we're just not sure what exactly happened, or whether anyone was hit. Savannah shouted Morgan's name so we know she's still alive but that's about all we know for sure.

Next week can't get here fast enough.

Final thoughts:

  • Before leaving the poker game, Morgan's voiceover quoted a line from Joe Walsh's solo hit "Life's Been Good." That would be the same Joe Walsh who was sitting at the poker table with the guys.
  • Be sure to join us next week when we review Criminal Minds Season 11 Episode 18 entitled "A Beautiful Disaster." This one's directed by Matthew Gray Gubler.
  • As always, you can catch up on any missed episodes right here at TV Fanatic when you watch Criminal Minds online.

Now it's over to you. What are your thoughts on this episode? What do you think happened after that last shot rang out? Hit us up in the comments!

The Sandman Review

Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (41 Votes)

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

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