The episode, entitled “It Takes a Village,” written by longtime Criminal Minds scribe Erica Messer, beautifully juxtaposes a pseudo flashback storyline with rich character arcs and a familiar, although uniquely original, delivery of the typical case-of-the-week.
Serving as a bookend to last season’s storyline involving the death of Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster), the members of the BAU must account for their brazen actions surrounding a last-minute case, which involved the man that presumably killed their co-worker, to a Senate Judiciary Committee.
With a continuous flow of rich dialogue, compelling scenes and a general sense of not being able to figure out what will happen next (which is extremely rare in television), the Criminal Minds season 7 premiere wonderfully represents the talent of the cast and crew involved in the series, all while slyly including analogies to their past experience with the firings of female cast members from the series.
With each line delivered to the Senate Judiciary Committee proving to be more passionate than the next, one can’t help but believe that these scenes were written as a proverbial emotional release for what all transpired over the course of the year. A flurry of firings, rehirings and a general sense of not knowing who all would return to Criminal Minds, this season premiere presents a set of eerily similar thematic elements.
While this episode’s concluding storyline, which began last season, isn’t specifically the best representation of a spectacular Criminal Minds case story, the manner in which it’s executed provided a refreshing change to the all-too familiar case-of-the-week.
Instead of simply focusing on the flashback storyline, which typically involves past events leading up to a shocking scene that was introduced in the beginning of the episode, a perfect balance was struck between their past actions, the reasons for those actions, and what resulted from the actions. As the timeline seamlessly jumped back and forth between each and every event, each character of the series was given the chance to shine, with a deeply compelling monologue typically following whatever events in the past were shown.
By far the most profound of those moments came from Matthew Gray Gubler, as Dr. Spencer Reid. While other members of the team confidently presented their position to the Senate Judiciary Committee, there was a certain element of beauty that came from Reid’s intellectual dominance and Gubler’s vocal timbre. The moment where the Senator stated “Calm down, Mr. Reid,” and Gubler replied, “I am calm – and its doctor,” may very well be one of the best performances of a line in the history of the series.
In a sense, the Criminal Minds season 7 premiere was much more than a concluding story-arc – it was a competent resolution to everything that transpired on-and-off the screen last season. While it can be said that many fans would have simply enjoyed seeing all of the familiar characters back together again (no matter the reasoning), the producers of the series made a conscious effort to respect the intelligence of those watching and to satisfy both the fanatic and intellectual side of its many viewers.
With the ending of the episode wrapping things up all too perfectly, due to a speech delivered by Prentiss, the premiere very much represents the notion that it’s the journey that matters, and not the end result.
Of course they’re going to be fine. Of course nobody from the team is going to be permanently suspended. But that doesn’t mean the manner in which we came to this resolution wasn’t appropriately earned, or deserved.
Let’s just hope that, as the premiere suggests, the team will remain intact from here on out.
Criminal Minds airs Wednesday @9pm on CBS
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