CRIMINAL MINDS “Middle Man” Review


CRIMINAL MINDS “Middle Man” Season 6 Episode 7- The BAU are called to Idaho when young women are found assaulted and murdered in cornfields. The women are exotic dancers, the men who killed them college students out for a bit of fun. The team have to overcome an abrasive sheriff and a twist: instead of the usual double team, there’s a trio of villains to catch.

The twist was unsurprising to the viewers as the writers behind Criminal Minds have continuously decided to safely show the villains before the BAU team suss them out, that way the ‘jump the shark’ incredulity is reduced. It is a cheap was out of the situations, masquerading as a way to get into the psychology of the unsub. The major problem with this is that they don’t analyse the psychology of the characters-it’s even worse. They want us to empathise with the characters, with the despicable frat boys who call rape sex and call literally chaining a woman to a pole a bit of fun, who begin to rethink their plan only when the FBI arrives in town and not a moment before. The empathy is crucial: at the final standoff scene we’re supposed to care what happens to the young man-don’t blame him, his father is mean and he’s naive and easily manipulated by the cool guy, which is why he’s tortured and raped, why he beat his friend’s (also a douchebag) head in with a baseball bat. Oh, wait sorry, where’s my empathy?

It is not that I’m against this line of storytelling-rooting for truly despicable people is why I love shows like I, Claudius and Breaking Bad-but those characters either embrace their evilness, or are so clueless that it is enjoyable to watch them prance around in their piety. Here, the characters are actually empathising with the guy: “we’ll get you a good lawyer”? Puh! Get him a jail cell and plaster it with crime scene photos of his victims.

I wish the episode had kept up to the standard of the intense first scene, with the woman running through the cornfield, a truck at her heels. Unfortunately it dithered until the point where the usual psychological analysis of the unsubs literally labelled each member of the group, the camera switching from face to face: “Leader” “Lieutenant” “Follower”.

The disbelief continued when the writers decided Prentiss needed a pseudo heroic moment and after literally being prodded out from behind the cover of the cars, she holstered her gun and stood alone in front of two armed men and their hostage. Seriously?

I was hoping the sheriff would provide some conflict-his first scene was promising, hatefully stating that he blamed the strippers for their own demises, but alas he was just a contrived puppet to evoke a sort of emotional response at the end. Well, they got one: relief as the credits rolled.

What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments below!

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