Criminal Minds Review for Episode 9×09, “Strange Fruit”

Seth Gilliam as Lyle JohnsonCriminal Minds Review for Episode 9×09, “Strange Fruit”


“They think we’re killers!”

Well, to be fair, you do have rotting skeletons at various stages of decomposition in your back yard, and since your neighborhood wasn’t built on an Indian burial ground? Kinda suspicious.

This was an odd episode. Shot very dark (with the exception of when the team was outside in the daylight), with everyone dressed in black, even Penelope, with no explanation for it just set a weird tone. The little gossipy hint between JJ and Cruz at the beginning was exposition-heavy and obvious; this was a conversation they would’ve had long before now, and probably on the phone, not at the office where someone could overhear, like Garcia nearly does.

Racism is always an excellent focus for deep, true life drama, and a black man’s rage is a topic worth delving into, but what was with that ridiculous Rossi reveal? Stuffing the kid into a locker isn’t that unusual an occurrence, but to add the pee factor was just gross. It wasn’t necessary, and I really had trouble believing it actually happened at all. Also now Rossi was bullied in high school too, just like Reid was? Unoriginal. And how will it affect Morgan and Rossi’s dynamic? Is Morgan always going to look askance at Rossi now? All the rapport they’ve built over the years down the drain? I don’t buy it.

When exactly did the BAU become shouty bullies? JJ looked ridiculous trying to browbeat the suspect, and Hotch was stymied by the son’s blatant “yessuh, massa” act that went on far too long. The son was wimpy, the wife was dumb and clueless, and the dad was just a murdering psychopath (although I need to give props to the actors – they owned their parts and were all excellent). Exploring his motivation didn’t excuse his crimes or make him sympathetic in my eyes, and I’m sorry but those KKK assholes would not have just castrated him, they would’ve killed him. The son’s parentage was confusing to me – so who actually fathered him?

Morgan got short shrift in this episode, a big mistake. This was a great opportunity to show yet again just how heroic and complex our ‘sculpted chocolate god’ really is, especially in comparison to this guy. How he’s faced incredible adversity of his own, but instead of turning to brutalizing innocents, he made a choice in his life to rise above it, to help instead of harm. Too bad he was written so one-note here.

So were Blake and Reid! They were nearly useless, spouting info that could have easily been relayed by the local law enforcement. I was very dissatisfied with the team interaction this episode, even though their profiling was pretty solid. I don’t like it when everyone is written interchangeably, and they were definitely that.

So Rossi’s a racist, JJ’s a liar and a sneak, Hotch is a bully and the rest just flounder. Not my heroes, not my team, and definitely NOT my favorite episode.

Directed by Constantine Makris

Written by Janine Sherman-Barrois

6 thoughts on “Criminal Minds Review for Episode 9×09, “Strange Fruit”

  • June 25, 2020 at 2:14 am

    Rossi isnt a racist. He clearly stated that he was forced to do it because it would’ve happened to him if he didn’t do it to the black boy. He said the n-word, yes, but that doesn’t really make him racist. The point is that Rossi isn’t necessarily racist, and part of me feels that what he said may have not been true because of what he said to Morgan, that he was “working him”. It may have meant that he was trying to get him worked up.

    • September 7, 2020 at 3:22 am

      Rossi is a racist. All of the other team members would’ve taken it instead. It doesn’t matter whether Rossi was forced to do it or not, he still did it. And saying the n-word ESPECIALLY makes him a racist. He said ‘Sure I have’ so casually and then clearly stated later that he did not feel bad about what happened. Rossi’s a terrible person. Yes, he may have been trying to get him worked up but that does not excuse his behaviour.

      • September 7, 2020 at 6:29 pm

        But he’s not. He’s not a terrible person. He’s a good man. Look at his behavior in every single other episode of this series. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t like this episode – everyone was acting so OOC, it was nuts. Janine should’ve known better, but she wrote it like this anyway.

      • April 13, 2021 at 3:37 pm

        To say he is racist is ignorant because you’re ignoring character development, he was a child, how old are you in 9th grade? Like 15? You cannot call an fully grown man a racist for what he say well over 20 years ago. He has never shown any signs of being racist in any other episode. And he was pressured into it, obviously that doesn’t make it right but kids that age have a strong need to fit in. It’s basic psychology

    • September 28, 2020 at 1:09 am

      I agree that he is not a racist! And we love him… BUT, it is in fact true what he did, given the very last of the episode when he went to his locker. We see him recall the voices of the boys telling him to do what he did. And you’re correct. Using those words doesn’t make you a racist, it makes you ignorant as hell. But what he said he did is not a lie and we see that he is hurt by it. Thank god the writers let us see that he regrets what he did, otherwise, I’d lose respect for him.

  • August 28, 2020 at 11:12 pm

    Glynn Turman was AMAZING. One of the best guest stars ever to be on this show.



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