Season 8 of Criminal Minds was always going to be an interesting year; with the departure of Paget Brewster, who played Emily Prentiss for 5 years and the introduction of a new character (Alex Blake played by Jeanne Tripplehorn), it was key that fans warmed to the new character and kept watching. With the help of some great standalone episodes, and an intriguing season arc with the unsub character of The Replicator.
Criminal Minds is very much like The Mentalist, in the sense that it’s a cop/detective show that has villain of the week episodes, but manages to get its viewers to invest in their characters a lot more than the CSI shows do, delving deeper into their pasts and personalities, and creating a family with its main cast. This season like past seasons, is no stranger to some characters facing difficult emotional situations, and I’ve picked out some of my personal highlights from this season.
The Fallen – After three victims are found burned beyond recognition, the BAU team, quickly decipher that the unsub is preying on homeless victims. Rossi becomes emotionally involved in this one as he discovers an old army friend living on the streets. This was one of the first few episodes to be aired, and although the other episodes were solid enough, this was the first memorable one for me.
The Wheels on the Bus – A bus full of students is kidnapped and although most of the students are found, the team soon discover that a group of them are missing, and are involved in a video game-style environment that resembles the rules of Battle Royale – kill or be killed. I thought this episode was great, I loved the concept and it was a solid episode.
Zugzwang – This is certainly my favourite episode of the season, I reviewed this when it first aired so click here if you wanna read more. This episode was truly heartbreaking. To see Reid finally get a love interest this season and see it quite traumatically snatched away was just a little depressing –I won’t be the first to admit I cried at the end.
All That Remains – We’ve got a couple of strands running in this episode that when it’s brought together, makes a brilliant episode; a father whose wife disappeared over a year ago, and now his daughter has disappeared in the same manner and he can’t remember anything. It soon turns out he’s got a problem with a split personality, and we have the added catalyst of a manipulative daughter who tries to frame her dad for the murders. We also get some extra J.J. back story, making the overall storyline rooted firmly within the story.
Broken – It’s not clear what this week’s unsub’s victim type is and why he targets who he does as two men are killed and then a female, leaving the team puzzled. However, when they realise the unsub is homosexual, but struggling to deal with his sexuality a twisted boys camp is revealed in the woods, which unfortunately could be quite real in America. It’s a memorable moment at the end of the episode when the team storm the camp, and find several boys trapped in a room, drugged, being forced to watch straight porn. Great episode and storyline.
Restoration – This brings the team back to Morgan’s hometown where he grew up to face an old adversary from his past – Carl Buford. When Criminal Minds first touched upon that storyline, it was an emotional and layered episode, and when it’s revisited in this episode it captivates you and certainly leaves you feeling for Morgan.
The season finale left me a little underwhelmed – the death of Erin Strauss (played by the brilliant Jayne Atkinson) was sad, particularly seeing Rossi fall to piece afterward, and Mark Hamill was a great villain, but the story felt a little rushed, particularly at the end. The producers have been tight-lipped as to whether The Replicator is actually dead or not, so the team may be revisiting this case when season 9 airs in September.
Criminal Minds will celebrate its 200th episode early on in the next season, and we’ve already been promised that we’ll delve into the psychology of Hotch and what the events of the series’ 100th episode, when George Foyet brutally murdered his estranged wife, have done to him. Producers have said that both actors who played Hayley, Hotch’s wife and Foyet have been invited back to film extra content in need be, so I’m extremely excited to see what that episode brings, particularly as the 100th episode blew me away when I watched it. We’ve also been told that this season, the team will go back to other unsolved cases from the past to possibly tie up any loose ends that fans may be wondering about. With all this being teased, I certainly can’t wait for my favourite team of FBI profilers to be back on my TV screens!
Garcia: I hope you saved me for dessert.
JJ: Morgan isn’t here, baby girl