Review for Criminal Minds Episode 11×22, “The Storm”
“If I drop them, they’ll break.”
How incredible was this finale? On a scale from Hit/Run to Lo-Fi/Mayhem? I’d say we’re squarely in The Fisher King I/II territory.
Excellent from start to finish, this gripping, tensely plotted cliffhanger amped us up for the (HOORAY!) season 12 premiere, big time. If this is any indication, Breen and Erica write exceedingly well together, and should do it more often, if only their schedules would allow. The profiling was spot on throughout – one highlight being the Dept. of Justice jerko reading Hotch’s “workplace shooter” profile back to him, with another being our team figuring out about Antonia’s son. Not to mention how they whittled down to the actual plotter. I love our team.
Can we talk about Hotch for a minute? I cannot say that I have ever seen Thomas Gibson more on point with Hotch than he was in this episode, and I could make this review all about just him. Don’t get me wrong, TG is the king of moments and of rising to the occasion, but his command of the interrogation room at the DOJ was absolutely stunning, and an Emmy-worthy performance, straight up.
Hotch not only demanded to know everything the interrogator thought they had on him, he listened intently and immediately rebutted and followed through, conveying what he would do next, and using honest and effective threats to get that smug prick to believe in him (“Tell me every detail of your case against me or I will call every lawyer I know and they will drop everything to come here and help me.”). As the DOJ complied and started revealing to him their ‘evidence’ he lowered the boom by stating common sense (So I’m going to blow up a town, make my son an orphan, and call 911 to tell them what I’m planning?”).
He then flat-out schooled them on where he should be at that moment (“Am I more effective here, mentally planning the report I’m going to make that will have you hauled in before a subcommittee, or out there catching him?”), all without disrespecting the man’s authority. He got him on his side, albeit reluctantly. If anyone has ever questioned if Aaron Hotchner is THE MAN, this episode, all his scenes here, will convince them. It gave me chills, in a good way, and I sense Breen’s writing here. It may feel like I’m rambling but I also must mention how he jumped from this whole huge detour, this accusation, to being back in the driver’s seat and commanding the unit completely effortlessly. Hotch took zero time for any pity party and I was impressed anew by his dedication.
JJ with Antonia. Great scene. Frances Fisher is always amazing, and her acknowledgment of her son and her concern for his safety was totally believable. They found the chink in her armor. I was almost able to believe I was seeing a conversation between two normal mothers fearing for their sons. Almost.
JJ’s anger and open hostility was relatable and real, and there was never any question as to who had the upper hand here. When she delivered the line in response to Antonia’s ‘goody two-shoes’ taunt: “Yeah, yesterday? Maybe. That was before your son had Special Weapons and Tactics burst in and draw their guns in the same room as MY son.”… I felt it in my sternum. Well done, AJ.
Reid. Oh, Spencer. As if I needed any more reason to love that brave, noble, kind soul. He was an absolute Renaissance Man in this episode, showing warmth, humor and love to the kids (I so love it when he has any chance to interact with his godson), reaching Antonia’s autistic son Asher through gentle, probing questions (and here I have to say that this was definitely a favorite scene. The actor playing Asher was completely perfect in the way he responded to Spencer, and come on, let’s hope there’s no more talk of Reid being autistic or having Asperger’s because he just doesn’t). He was able to completely talk him down and get him to open up to reveal the UnSub’s name without shutting him down, and further, was the one who astutely recognized Asher’s challenges and quickly conveyed them to the team almost immediately after they found him.
Further, not only did Reid contribute heavily to the (excellent) profiling, he was also instrumental in the showdown at the prison, effectively shooting several of the would-be escapees, and helping to bring down the helicopter. And WOW wasn’t that cool? I loved that explosion and the resulting crash, and I’m not usually one for big showy blowups, but that was fantastic. Cinematic, even.
I love Spencer and it’s no secret to anyone that he’s my favorite character. He’s incredibly unique and exceedingly capable, contributes so very much to the team professionally without ever sacrificing or compromising his empathy or his humanity, and cares and loves them all so deeply. He is not only my most beloved character on the show, but when written (and played by Matthew) like this? Is my favorite character on any show.
The prison. The roundabout scene with the serial killers? YES! And here I must give props to Aisha Tyler for her stunning work. If watching Criminal Minds has taught us anything over 11 years, it’s that you never show the killers your fear. Tara Lewis was fully aware of the danger she was in, yet she drew her weapon only when they started coming at her. She listened to Ennis, drawing him out, and I got the feeling he really didn’t want to harm her, but he would have anyway. These type of scenes are where Glenn Kershaw’s directing shines, and always has. We see you, Glenn.
This was a short part of the episode, and I wanted it to go on longer. It would have made a great singular episode, maybe with each killer being released at an interval, the BAU unable to reach her, and Tara having to cope with each one individually – either shooting them, or talking them down. If she’s going to be Morgan’s replacement? It would be a great way to showcase her qualifications and solidify her position on the team.
As much as I seriously dug this finale, there’s a couple of nitpicks I’d be remiss in not talking about:
– Reid’s mom is scared to death of flying. Tara specifically asks Spencer if Diana’s okay with it and he answers in the affirmative. If this is a new development, we need at least a sentence as to how it happened because in The Fisher King episodes she was extremely upset with having to fly and literally says the words “You know I’m terrified of flying!” In an episode which emphasizes continuity with the past, this is a glaring error.
– Rossi and Hayden are adorable. I seriously mean that and I have always enjoyed Sheryl Lee Ralph and the winning sincerity she brings to her roles. Her obvious struggle with the accent though, was something I (and many other fans) couldn’t get past and it took me out of the scene. Nothing against the actress of course, though I do feel this particular character may have been miscast.
– Will relegated to babysitter. Yes, yes, I’ve always wanted Spencer and JJ together instead, so I’m aware that my noticing is suspect, but Josh really looked like he didn’t want to be there, and I’m wondering if it’s time for Will and JJ to split. Even their kiss was perfunctory and dispassionate and considering all she’d just been through? A little more emotion from both would’ve been appropriate. When JJ walked away from the table with the team for the latest update, he looked SO done.
– I miss Morgan. I miss him in the opening credits, and I miss him getting mad at all the things we the audience would get mad at. I’m sad for Penelope that he’s not there and I just… really do wish his absence was temporary. He would’ve been awesome at the prison this ep. Ah well, maybe he’ll make a guest appearance in twelve.
That’s it from me even though I could continue to talk about this episode all night long! Please leave your comments below, and let everyone know what you thought of this fantastic finale. Can’t wait for season 12!
Written by: Breen Frazier and Erica Messer
Directed by: Glenn Kershaw