Criminal Minds Season 8 Review “Pay it Forward”

Criminal Minds returned tonight with “Pay it Forward”, as our team makes it to a idyllic little town in Colorado to investigate a disembodied head found in a 25 year old time capsule. With only four episodes left in this eighth season after tonight, I’m hoping to see a little bit of forward momentum on The Replicator case and get a good idea of how this eighth season is going to conclude.

In a rare occurrence for Criminal Minds, our team is actually visiting a fictional town called Bronson Springs, Colorado. With most episodes taking place in or around big cities, like last week’s being in Chicago, it’s nice to take a break and go back to a small town for tonight’s installment. Some of my favorite episodes of this series have all taken place in smaller towns, and it really lends to the creepiness factor when everybody starts covering up heinous crimes and unsavory activity in an attempt to preserve the “perfection” of their town.

Tonight’s episode was directed by prolific television director John Terlesky, who also directed a couple Criminal Minds episodes last year including the incredibly disturbing installment “The Good Earth” from earlier this season. Every episode this guy’s done have all been pretty good, but none of them have really stood out as anything special, and that’s unfortunately how I felt about tonight’s.

It’s always pretty gutsy when they decide to reveal the episode of the Unsub early in the episode, as that means they need to maintain our interest in them for the entirety of the hour. When you keep their identity a secret, we at least have the mystery to keep us interested until the end of the episode. If you show us who the bad guy is so early, they really need to bring it to keep you invested the whole time. Tonight’s Unsub was pretty cool, and his display of all of the heads in the trophy case was effectively creepy and disturbing, but that was really the highlight of the whole episode.

With a somewhat underwhelming Unsub, a fairly by-the-numbers case, and absolutely no word on The Replicator or any character development to speak of, tonight’s episode was a bit of a disappointment. I’m hoping that the last few episodes of the season pick up a bit, but I’ll definitely be watching no matter what!

Random Thoughts:

– The season 8 finale episode is titled “The Brothers Hotchner”. Does this mean we’re going to finally meet Aaron’s brother?! Is it possible that he is, in fact, The Replicator?! Gasp!

– The director for tonight’s episode also directed an episode of Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. Did anybody else watch that show?! Oh man…not so good.

– Tonight’s episode reminded me a little bit about the 2007 Edgar Wright movie “Hot Fuzz”. The whole idea of people covering up terrible crimes and misdemeanors to protect the perception of their town.