REVIEW for Criminal Minds Episode 13×09, “False Flag”
“You have a jet? I can’t even.”
In an episode that excelled on every level, especially intellectually, it was added coolness to see so much focus on the women this time around. In working through this case, Prentiss was as ‘by the book’ as she gets, but willing to listen to other points from the team in making her decisions. Resistant at first to let the suspect record the questioning, she gave in to Rossi’s voice of reason. She was supportive of Tara, letting her know she could talk about it or tap out if it got to be too much, and insisting Tara prove out her theory was a leader’s job, and it worked.
The way the profile was given differed from the norm, and for that we THANK YOU, show! It was interesting to see them present from the get-go, then head backwards into the case. It was also cool to see the profile given in a more realistic manner with just a few of the agents relaying it, instead of everyone going down the line and saying one sentence like they had rehearsed it. JJ was especially clear and professional in dealing with what some would call whackos, not letting them distract from the team’s message when they veered off-topic with shade for Rossi’s latest book.
Tara took the lead on interrogating truther Melissa (played exceptionally well by Zelda Williams, who is indeed Robin’s daughter), and Aisha brought it! Calm and direct, yet realistically emotional when warranted, she was more than a match for the clever suspect-cum-UnSub. Melissa as played by Zelda was riveting as the conspiracy theorist who rattled Tara by denying Sandy Hook actually happened. It was a thankless role as we no doubt universally would resent and disagree with her, but she pulled it off, her determination, if not her theories, wholly believable.
The writing for everyone was stellar, and included old-school profiling and deduction. Exceptional detective work always thrills me and our team was on the nose and worked closely with the Sheriff (wow, how bout that hair, huh?) and his staff instead of being off on their own for most of the episode. Thanks Breen, for digging deep into your significant trove of BAU lore to show them getting down to the nitty gritty, and everyone contributing something different.
There was just the right amount of Garcia, and she was as professional as we’ve seen her. Still, gotta love her ‘weather balloon’ comment, and her discovery of the ‘hermit’ snake oil salesman Bob Orci’s (wonderfully played by veteran character actor Richard Gilliland) whereabouts was a huge help.
Did we miss Reid, absent from this one? Yes. There’s always an enormous void when he’s not around, but the story was so well told and gripping that I didn’t pine for him as much as I thought I would. I did keep wishing he was there in certain parts, like the bleach/coral off-gassing, and the Catcher in the Rye page stuff that he would have been perfect for, but instead it fell to JJ and Garcia working together to make those calls.
Everyone’s loving Rossi’s distinguished gray in his hair and goatee that’s showing up now, but it was Mantegna’s directing that stole the show. Way to keep it tight, focused, and moving fast, Joe! The script was fantastic, but it was left to Mr. Director to keep us on our toes, and that he did. Joe’s mastery of the material and the performances he drew from our actors were evidence of his intimate knowledge of, and deep respect for the show.
I don’t know if it’s the HD or what, but on second watch the BAU sure was looking fine in various tones of aubergine and gray. Maybe them all being dressed in the same color palette was a visual clue to trigger a togetherness vibe among our team? Probably overthinking it, but they looked great!
Emily’s snark about arresting the coral, and deliberately leaving info out for ‘dramatic effect’ was hilarious!
I now want secret compartments all over my house.
The looks that passed between Tara and everyone else at the end were awesome. Warm and heartfelt, they were all proud of the work and acknowledging “This is why we do this” to one other. It was a perfect ending.
Written by Breen Frazier
Directed by Joe Mantegna