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Criminal Minds S05E18 Recap: Setting up a Spin Off

This post contains spoilers for Criminal Minds S05E18 “The Fight”.

Wow.

That was pretty much the worst episode of Criminal Minds I’ve ever seen.

I don’t know if it was the writing or the acting or the directing or the casting or maybe everything, but the spin off team is just… wow. What a hopelessly transparent episode with only one purpose (to get us interested in the spin off) which it failed to do (I am significantly less interested in the spin off now than I was before).

Why do we need ex-cons turned ‘to the light’? Why do we need British ex-intelligence agents with sniper skills? What’s wrong with what we’ve had on this show up until now, which is smart people who wanted to be in the FBI and worked hard to get there the old fashioned way? (Not counting Garcia, who was recruited for her hacking skills, but that seems more plausible than hiring ex-cons and British secret service under ‘mysterious circumstances’.)

And what is up with the blond girl, because on a show with a track record for Women of Awesome, she was the flattest thing I’ve ever seen, and I’m including comparing her to every single Victim of the Week. The only redeeming part of this episode was that, in the foot race to stop the suspected perp, Prentiss took him down instead of British boy; for a second there I thought they were going to have him swoop in and tackle him suddenly from the sideline or something. This scene, of course, was made less awesome by the sniper save at the end, the only point of which was to impress upon us the marksmanship skills of British boy.

The writing was awful, the new character introductions were terribly Sue/Stuish, and the characters I know and love and tune in to adore were either absent (were JJ, Reid and Garcia even in this episode?), inconsistent (Hotchner has never smiled that much in one season, never mind one episode), empty line-machines (hello, my name is Rossi and I’m here because someone had to look surprised and deliver this line), or backboards for the new characters to introduce themselves off of (Morgan gets ‘fresh outta the Academy blond girl’ and Prentiss is tossed some travesty of a ‘flirt/get saved by the English guy’).

The acting — especially from the new cast, but also from the existing cast — was really, really terrible, and I’m not sure whether the blame for this goes to the writing, the direction, or the actors. I’m leaning toward blaming the writing, because it was really that bad and there’s only so much even the best actors can do with terrible lines.

My biggest pet peeve? In a show that’s all about profiling and the psychology of serial killers (it’s even right there in the title), this episode had almost zero psychological content: there was a serial killer of the week, yes, but it wasn’t worked into the plot and theme of the episode the way Criminal Minds usually does. It felt tacked on, sidelined, and side-noted. And for what? Foot chases and sniper rifles and a whirlwind of new characters trying too hard to be interesting. The whole thing felt contrived from top to bottom.

If this is any indication of what to expect in the spin off, I’m likely to stay far, far away. And I hope whomever wrote and directed this episode will also stay far, far away.

For all those who like Criminal Minds and haven’t seen this episode yet, my advice is don’t. It is 100% brutal. Pretend it never happened. If Torchwood was real, I would beg to be Retconned.

2 Comments to post “Criminal Minds S05E18 Recap: Setting up a Spin Off”

  1. orpheneritus says:

    I 100% agree with you. This show actually made me angry, even the original cast was reduced to caricatures of themselves. When I think on all the really great guest starts who have given fantastic performances of serial killer, it really show how weak this episode was. The tone and feeling of the show was compromised and launching a spin-off was not a good enough reason for ruining the episode. I’m only further incensed by the fact that I waited 3 weeks to see this terrible episode.

    • afterthree says:

      Having to wait three weeks for THIS was definitely up there on my List of Reasons This Episode Annoys Me.

      It’s possible some of the bad writing was because of how much they tried to stick into 44 minutes. It may have been better as a two-parter, giving the writers more time to introduce the new characters more organically and with more ‘show, don’t tell’ while still giving the regular cast the proper screen time. It still might have sucked, but maybe not as much.