This episode tackled an especially relevant topic.
The case of the week examined the difference between fact and opinion on Criminal Minds Season 13 Episode 9.
Although it was a little heavy handed, it offered an interesting twist of the series' usual formula.
In addition, for once, Lewis was used to good effect.
The narrative actually started partway in, with the BAU giving a profile to...well, the first question viewers wondered which was "Who are these people?"
It was a group of conspiracy theorists, or truthers as they preferred to be called, or conspiracy nuts, as the public at large views them.
Naturally, these truthers were based in Roswell, N.M., the home of Area 51, where the government hides all the aliens it has captured through the years.
What happened to bring the BAU to Roswell was laid out by Lewis, as truther Melissa Miller insisted on taping her interrogation for her podcast.
After all, the internet is the home for wacky theories of all stripes; many laid out in podcasts.
What followed was a tag-team effort, as the squad pieced together evidence while keeping Melissa, the main suspect for being the unsub, enrapt with a string of investigative tangents.
I don't remember many episodes in which the BAU had the unsub in the box from the get-go. And Melissa was a worthy adversary, as she seemed to know quite a bit about the team members.
It's hard to say how much of the blather she was spouting she actually believed and how much was meant to keep the Feds from closing in on her.
This hour was more lighthearted than normal (as light-hearted as a murder investigation involving a serial killer can be). It was a hoot watching team members latch onto to conspiracy theories which they themselves embraced.
There were scenes you just don't get in a normal episode, such as when the truther asked Rossi why his last book sucked.
Then there was the scene where Alvez and Simmons broke into Orci's cabin, guns drawn, only to discover that Prentiss had the sheriff fly her there in his copter. Don't cell phones work there? And, rather than being a terrorist building bombs, Orci was a con man with bad taste in fertilizer.
And to have one of the deaths caused by fumes from aquarium-cleaning supplies was a stroke of genius.
It was just a pleasant change of pace. Melissa didn't even qualify as a serial killer. Yes, she shot one boyfriend who had found out about her other boyfriend. And then Boyfriend #2 shot himself when he figured out she was using him.
But in the end, it was a love triangle that ended badly. It wasn't yet another unsub who started killing people after something blew in his/her brain as a result of some deep, childhood trauma.
It doesn't have to be complicated and depressing every week.
And it had a simple message as well: Shit happens.
Not everything is the result of complex machinations. Not every plane crash is the result of a bomb. Sometimes a tiny part just snaps. Most times, the simplest explanation is correct.
Instead, many people take a handful of random happenings and piece them together into a conspiracy that fits their worldview. Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, despite all facts to the contrary.
Lewis kept promoting the idea of collecting clues that led to a conclusion, rather than starting with a conclusion, then finding facts that fit it.
It was refreshing to see Lewis come out of the background and take the lead for a change. And finally, we got a human reaction from a BAU team member, as she went into an office to scream in frustration. With all they see, shouldn't they be venting more often?
She was the one who ultimately figured out that Melissa was making one of her fellow truthers into an accessory after the fact. Still, I wonder how somebody who sees shadows everywhere could resist looking to the package which Melissa gave him.
In the end, the truthers realized that it was possible for the enemy to come from within rather than from outside.
So now it's time for the mid-season hiatus, because, let's face it, this is not a series that lends itself less to a special holiday episode. "We've captured the Santa Claus Slayer. Let's head to Rossi's for vino and pasta."
After the hiatus, how about bringing Reid to the forefront again? I know he got a lot of screen time during Criminal Minds Season 12, but let's not mistake that with getting a lot of love. How about an episode covering how he's coping with all he's been through?
In the meantime, to get your fill of gruesome murders, watch Criminal Minds online.
How did you like the tone and approach of this episode? Did you change your mind about Lewis? How soon did you have Melissa pegged as the unsub? Comment below.