Tonight, CBS’ hit drama Criminal Minds returns for its sixth season. Following the events of the season 5 finale, viewers were left wondering what fate would come to Detective Spicer’s kidnapped daughter. With Tim Curry reprising his role as the crazed serial killer, will the BAU be able to close in on him before he takes another victim?
While many enjoyed the Criminal Minds season 5 finale, I have to admit that I was completely underwhelmed. Not only was it a poor episode, but it was also one of the worst finales of last season. Fortunately, it’s going to take more than one bad episode to get me to stop watching after all these years.
With a new season comes another chance for Criminal Minds to make up for past mistakes. Unfortunately, before season 6 could even begin, the series suffered a major setback. For some reason, "the powers that be" decided JJ (A. J. Cook) was no longer an important character to the series and subsequently fired her – something that costar Kirsten Vangsness (Penelope Garcia) wasn’t happy with. Along with Cook’s departure, fellow BAU member Emily Prentiss’s (Paget Brewster) role has been significantly cut.
Criminal Minds has never been the type of show to display fantastical visuals to represent or help explain any character's behavior. So I was more than confused when the episode started with a dream-like scene. Unfortunately, that surprise quickly turned into annoyance as they continuously cut to that same, poorly-realized scene throughout the episode.
I'm still not quite sure what, if anything, that added to the story – other than to waste time. While understanding the UNSUB’s association to the music is a relevant plot point, they have handled situations such as this previously without including extraneous scenes that diverge from the expected behavior of this series. The notion of The Prince of Darkness associating his relationship with Elle as paternal was an interesting twist, but as a killer who's quickly evolving, it seems absurd that he would give so much control to such a young child - especially this early in their “relationship.”
While my assessment of Tim Curry’s performance in the season 5 finale was a little harsh, it was more than deserved. Thankfully, he has redeemed himself in this episode. The scenes between him and Elle really helped viewers to fully realize his character. Obviously, this is something that should have happened in the season 5 finale, but as they say, better late than never.
While the majority of the episode has the team hot on the trail of the UNSUB, JJ was left manning endless phone calls which, in the end, served no other purpose than to artificially inflate JJ’s role in this episode and provide her character with more screen time before her unceremonious departure. A perfect example of this poor handling comes from the awkward scene in which she's forced to talk to The Prince of Darkness. As a long-time member of the BAU, it's should be almost impossible for viewers to believe that she has no hostage training. Throughout her tenure, JJ has been surrounded by skilled negotiators and had to, at some point, gain some type of knowledge.
Honestly, this particular scene was embarrassing to watch and did nothing but solidify just how little they think of JJ as a character. Not only was it was a poor monologue with lazy writing and cheap direction, but what made it worse is that throughout her painful plea, we were shown scenes of others listening and being affected by this terrible speech - a cheap ploy that may work on some series, but doesn’t fit in Criminal Minds.
Continuing with something that doesn’t fit in Criminal Minds is the premiere’s horribly written ending. For something that has been touted as a gripping conclusion to last year’s shocking cliffhanger, they really dropped the ball.
I’m not sure what’s going on with this series, but something needs to change quick… and by things changing quickly, I don’t mean firing A.J. Cook.
The season 6 premiere of Criminal Minds is a terrible start to what used to be a terrific series. With such drastic cast changes on the horizon, viewers have to be concerned that an episode like this is no longer the exception, but a sign of things to come.
Criminal Minds airs Wednesday’s @9pm, on CBS
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