Criminal Minds Season 9 Review “In the Blood”

After last week’s incredible Criminal Minds episode reunited Hotch with his dead wife and her killer, it was bound to be a step down when you follow it up with a paint-by-the-numbers episode. While there was nothing particularly wrong with “In the Blood”, it was tough to get too excited for a standard installment.

After a fun scene between Garcia and Reid, complete with Spencer’s hilariously terrible Dirty Harry impression, the team makes their way to Utah to investigate a girl getting stoned to death. It’s quickly discovered that there’s some kind of religious or fanatical cult behind the killings, and the BAU has got to figure it out quickly before they can get back to their Day of the Dead party!

Before we found out who the bad guy was, we had an honest-to-goodness red herring in Parker, the super creepy guy at the library played by John Lee Ames. It’s not often that we get such a viable option, especially one with such a lengthy rap sheet, so it was a nice little swerve to learn that the shy librarian was the bad guy all along.

The Unsub of the week was Leland Duncan, played by TV actor James Immekus. I remember this guy from the game L.A. Noire, and he’s still pretty darn creepy here. I wasn’t entirely clear on why exactly he thought people were witches though. He had those weird visions, right? Where he saw the other villagers and stuff? So he thought he saw these people as witches, I guess. But you could tell that he knew that these visions weren’t real. At least at first it looked like he was trying to erase the visions from his head, or to convince himself that they weren’t real. I always find the conflicted Unsubs so much more interesting, since you can tell that they feel truly bad about what they’re doing, but they can’t help themselves. This dude was just plain crazy, which doesn’t make for the most interesting motive.

I’m a little surprised that we still aren’t seeing or hearing any more from the new section chief Mateo Cruz. I guess it’s a good thing that he’s not getting in the BAU’s way like Strauss used to, but I’d definitely like to see more on what’s going on between him and JJ.

Anyway, the last scene was a very sweet moment for all of our characters to remember the loved ones that they’ve lost. Some of these loved ones were lost on the show, and some weren’t, but it was definitely a very emotional scene for all of them. I especially liked that Hotch placed a picture of his wife, and didn’t say a word. He didn’t have to. This was a great ending to an otherwise underwhelming episode. They can’t all be winners, I guess!

Random Thoughts:

– The location of the first stoning kill was at the tourist location Vazquez Rocks, which you might have recognized from several episodes of the original Star Trek, the season four finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the scene from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey where Bill and Ted are thrown off a cliff by their robot selves. There’s tons of other stuff shot there as well. It also happens to be about 10 minutes from my house.

– Wouldn’t the Unsub’s boss at the library have a little something to say about him screaming at her and lying to customers?

– I loved Hotch discreetly thanking Garcia for keeping his birthday a secret. It’s nice little moments like that that go a long way to reinforcing our connection to these characters.