Review for Criminal Minds Episode 12×02, “Sick Day”
“You’re a hero, Jennifer Jareau. Don’t you ever forget that.”
Whoa! Filled to the gills with action and destruction, and jam-packed with emotion, Virgil Williams gave us what we’ve been asking for in character development and heart, as well. This was a winner across the boards, so jumping right in…
AJ Cook was an acting force of nature as she took us through everything JJ had experienced that day, using Will as her insistent and accommodating sounding board. Reluctant at first, she soon opened up as in his gentle way he made her see that she needed to unload, despite it being 3am and having a baby up with the croup.
Those that already like JJ, like me, were pleasantly surprised that they decided to take a detailed look at what goes on when she goes home. We’ve seen them bathing the kids, and waking up in the morning. But this conversation needed to happen, and this time, we were privy to it. I’d like to see them go home this deep with everyone this season, time allowing.
Disclaimer – I don’t like Will with JJ. I get zero chemistry from the pairing, and always have. Short of all the smooching (which seemed forced and inappropriate to me, given her state of mind), he could’ve been her brother encouraging her to talk. But I liked him as a person better after this episode. Not that he was ever a bad guy, he hasn’t been, but he always just seemed tacked on for convenience because AJ got pregnant. I’ve no doubt Will loves JJ with all his heart. It’s the reverse I can’t buy.
I want to talk about AJ’s acting again because even though JJ’s always been a favorite and a sympathetic character for me, tonight it was her empathy that was spotlighted. I believed every single thing she said, every single emotion she shared, every moment felt true and earned and honest. She was very good in 200, but that episode was highly divisive (nobody cared about the Afghanistan plot) and way too much was going on. This was different. Personal. Visceral. She brought it home. Kudos to AJ, and an overwhelming majority of the fandom seems to agree.
As good as she was, someone had to write those words. With all the controversy surrounding Virgil Williams of late, most wouldn’t blame him if he just stayed quiet on social media. Yet he gamely showed up on twitter, promoting his episode, proud of it, as he should be. The dialogue and the story, and the teen girl’s unfortunate end wrenched our hearts and made us care (made me cry), and invest. Well done.
Yes, this was the episode that resulted in Thomas Gibson getting fired, we may just as well get that out of the way. That’s on him. This was also the episode that made non-JJ fans see her in a new light. The writers’ room broke from the usual format to give us something different-told in flashbacks as was the case with 200-but there the similarity ends. And we all sat up and noticed.
The team. Well… Garcia’s computer was on overdrive, and spat out some odd stuff like ‘boys with brown hair in a five-mile radius’… what? Tara and Rossi were largely absent, Hotch was dour and ill-used, and paging Dr. Spencer Reid please because sometimes he’s just full-on Gubler and as much as I adore Matthew, we need Reid, most often. The new guy, Luke (why does everyone call him ‘Luke’ and not ‘Alvez’?), seemed to overstep in the opening scene with JJ on the jet, but it ended up making sense anyway because they had saved those victims together, all but one.
And wow that was hugely upsetting, the loss of that girl, that sister, that daughter. Did I already say that? Much talk has been had about why wasn’t the one closest to the fire saved first? JJ said it herself… the boy she saved first reminded her of Henry. Why’d she order Luke to run and catch the UnSub when LLE could have nabbed him while they saved the kids together? All valid questions.
Maybe your take is different but all of that just made it more real to me. Sometimes, there’s just a horrible fucking clusterfuck and you go with your instincts and do the very best you can. They were in a firepit with boiling hot metal chains and locks and screaming children and they did what they could do, the best that they could do.
Larry Teng’s direction was outstanding (seriously, some of those shots rivaled some of the best Netflix and cable shows that sport a WAY bigger budget, and big props to the always amazing crew), and while I’d like to see more of the team present and involved when one of them is singled out and featured, I was duly impressed with this episode. I feel like I want to say more, like I’m forgetting a whole bunch of things but for now, while I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next, this one will stick with me for a very long time, indeed.
Written by Virgil Williams
Directed by Larry Teng