Warning: This review contains spoilers from the season 11 premiere of Criminal Minds as well as possible spoilers from the season itself.
“Pleasure in the job, puts perfection in the work.” – Aristotle (Spoken by Hotch)
Last night, Criminal Minds kicked off the start of its newest season and it didn’t disappoint.
“We’re all doing jobs we don’t normally do.” We are reminded early on that there’s a void in the team when they gather to brief the case and there are two empty chairs. One of them used to belong to Kate Callahan and the other belonging to Jennifer Jareau who is on maternity leave after giving birth to her second son, Michael. You can tell there is a different dynamic with them; they’re all having to put forth extra effort to be as efficient as they’re used to being. They even express it a couple of times. I was very pleased that instead of just mentioning that ‘Oh, JJ is on maternity leave’ to let viewers know what was going on, they put in an absolutely wonderful scene with JJ and her newborn at home, on the phone with Hotch discussing and letting us know that she would be back, but wasn’t ready to just yet.
Hotch is busy with the case and with trying to find someone to fill a position on the team. In the time that he is interviewing the first candidate for the job, Dr. Tara Lewis (or Tara, as she wants to be called), things don’t seem to be going so great when he points out that while she has the most experience in her job, that isn’t necessarily the skill sets required for this particular job and he has to excuse himself before the interview is complete as new information is found. This comes full circle later on when she proves just how useful she can be towards the end of the episode when she happens to be around at the just the right moment to help out.
It was so great to see them sitting down actually profiling the unsub instead of running around looking at crime scenes the whole episode. Criminal Minds is about profilers, after all. We got to see Reid be the one to identify where the unsub got his idea for the way he painted the faces and go off on one of his ramblings, Rossi make a few of his sassy remarks, Garcia and Morgan had a small interaction without it being overly flirty, which isn’t a problem, but I miss just them doing more than just that. Too bad we didn’t get our signature “Wheels up in thirty!” from Hotch since this case didn’t require them to travel.
The case was quite interesting and twisted. The twists they added in kept everything moving along and one of the final twists was actually quite shocking. It all works out though, Morgan and Reid use their skills to make the arrests needed, and without Tara’s help things most likely would not have ended well, at all.
However, that was not the end. Later, Morgan pays the unsub a visit in the hospital. You’d think patients that were handcuffed to the bed wouldn’t be able to do any harm, right? Well this guy proves that wrong. After revealing to Morgan something called “The Dirty Dozen” he rips his own stitches out of his mouth and dramatically displays how much pain he is to the nurse to manipulate her into thinking it was something Morgan did. Morgan is forced to leave as the unsub flashes him an evil smirk. Season long story-line, here we come.
My overall thoughts: I’m happy they didn’t shove the new character in our faces right off the bat, and let her show what she could do before being accepted onto the team at the end. I’m not sure how I feel about her yet, but I already like her better than I thought I would. I have to admit I had low expectations leading up to it for many reasons. Firstly, we have yet another new cast member to start off the season with…again, and I think they’d benefit from focusing on the ones they have already. I still do. We also have some new writers, and while none of them wrote this episode (Breen Frazier did) I was nervous to see what they’d all decided to start with in the writer’s room. I’m excited for JJs return (which won’t be until episode 7) and I hope this season they let each character have their moments to shine, and have more genuine family moments that isn’t just them all gathered around after a hard case at a bar because that is what made the show what it is. If they continue like this I think we’ll have a really enjoyable season.
“Courage is grace under pressure.” – Ernest Hemingway (Spoken by Garcia)