Thank God that's over.
The Linda Barnes invasion was quickly ended on Criminal Minds Season 13 Episode 16.
And to think the BAU accomplished that by following Barnes' own advice.
Her mission was good optics, finding cases that would make the BAU, and by extension, her look good.
That worked only too well. The BAU saved a senator's daughter, then got his official sanction to get the band back together. Prentiss used that leverage to get everyone reassigned or rehired while managing to put Barnes in the doghouse at the same time.
I guess what that means for Barnes is being hoisted by new own petard.
The best part about this episode is that the members of the BAU got to re-discover how good they have it. Sure, they continually get immersed in the gunk that is the minds of the sick puppies they hunt, but there are worse fates out there.
Of all those that got transferred, Prentiss had it the worst with that schmuck for a partner who seemed to relish busting his fellow agents for their indiscretions. What an idiot!
I'd say Garcia's situation was a close second. A buttoned-down cybercrimes division just seems so counter-intuitive. Hackers in power suits? Really?
Of course, JJ had it the worst overall, as Barnes rejected case after case that she, Alvez, and Simmons proposed because they didn't have the right feel. I mean, who cares about dead bankers or elderly immigrants?
But then the perfect case fell into Garcia's lap, a Dropbox full of creepy triptychs showing a woman in three poses: free, in captivity, and dead.
Yes, Garcia's new boss and Barnes both declared the photos as fake, as if Garcia wouldn't know a Photoshopped photo if she saw one. What a couple of morons!
After Barnes' rejection, JJ rightly got the real BAU back together to pursue the case as all the former members, unfulfilled in their new roles, ran back to participate.
I do wonder how everyone except Garcia was able to take off from their day jobs to work on the case. Vacation time? Sick days? At least the BAU trio could file it under looking for acceptable cases. Barnes didn't seem like the most attentive of bosses.
Barnes still managed to impede the investigation in her own way by sealing a file of the original murder by the unsub years earlier, thinking she was doing a favor for a powerful man. If she had put in a little more effort then and caught Peck, the new murders wouldn't have occurred.
Instead, Peck's lust for his dead step-sister led to his recreating this crucial moment in his life, re-sculpting the event to fulfill his fantasy.
It was amazing how quickly the BAU solved the case, considering that they had to sneak around and had minimal resources with Garcia having limited opportunity to wave her digital magic wand. Of course, her identification of the buyer with a pricey bottle of wine led them to Peck.
The whole point was that the BAU didn't need all the resources at their disposal to profile and solve crimes. They only needed their brains and a whiteboard. Rossi pointed out the case felt like a return to the BAU's roots, a group of dedicated agents gathered in a small room.
But that wasn't what the Barnes trilogy was all about. As Joni Mitchell once sang, "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got til it's gone."
It had been suggested that this was an effort by the Criminal Minds brain trust to make viewers appreciate what they have (see the symmetry there?).
In other words, this may not by the series that some remember with rose-colored glasses as they continually pine for the days with Hotch and Morgan. But this arc showed that it most definitely could be worse.
Three episodes with the ambitious, bureaucratic caricature that was Linda Barnes seemed much longer. Yes, it was incredibly heavy-handed. It was a good thing that she didn't have a mustache to twirl.
That set up the cheer-inducting moment when the senator ceded control of the BAU back to Prentiss and she used the opportunity to get her team back together while simultaneously getting Barnes in trouble.
Speaking of which, could one senator truly overrule an assistant director of the FBI and essentially make policies changes? I guess so, if he's on the committee that controls the bureau's budget.
What's next, now that the team is back together? I'm guessing they'll try to come up with interesting unsubs that pump up ratings during the stretch run, starting with an "It" homage on Criminal Minds Season 13 Episode 17.
To enjoy Linda Barnes all over again, watch Criminal Minds online.
Aren't you glad that's over? Will anything be different now?
Will the BAU be free from outside interference? Comment below.
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.