Criminal Minds Season 9 Review “The Return”

Criminal Minds Season 8 Episode 5 The Good Earth

Just about every episode of this ninth season of Criminal Minds has focused on one of the team members in particular, and tonight’s episode focused on Derek Morgan. Not only did “The Return” introduce us to Derek’s lovely girlfriend, but we actually got to return to his hometown of Chicago!

I was surprised that nobody even mentioned Morgan being a Chicago native. When the team has visited the Windy City in the past, we will often have Morgan reminisce about his tough childhood. You’d think they would have mentioned this in tonight’s episode especially because of the nature of the Unsubs. Young kids being forced into causing random acts of violence seems like something that would have hit home for Morgan, since he’s frequently referenced the fact that he grew up in a gang territory and had a few run ins with the law himself. He was also a Chicago PD officer, so that means this should have even more of a connection to the case. He had one little line at the end when on the phone with his mom, but I would have appreciated a lot more.

It was definitely an interesting concept for an Unsub, too. It’s not often that you feel such a large amount of sympathy for the killers on this show, but that’s definitely what you felt here. The idea of children being abducted is already so awful, but having them being brainwashed into committing these unspeakable acts was just so awful.

It wouldn’t have been anywhere near as effective if the actors playing these brainwashed kids weren’t cutting it, but they were all superb tonight. The first two didn’t have any lines, but you could still see in their eyes that they were dead inside. The Daniel kid was superb, conveying his innate desire to carry out his captors orders, but also truly loving his mother and wanting to be with her. It was just heartbreaking seeing him forcing back tears like that. I would have liked to see this resolve itself a little more than it did, but I guess we’re supposed to assume that he went back to live with his mom.

Despite the cool concept of the episode, and some pretty exciting scenes, the whole thing was really hampered by one major problem: Why on Earth would the Unsub train these kids to recite his old badge number?! That was probably the dumbest thing we’ve ever seen an Unsub do in the history of this show. You’re just telling these kids exactly how to direct people to you in case they get captured. Unless his goal was to get captured, this didn’t make any sense at all.

Apart from that one gaping plot hole, I did enjoy “The Return” and I’m excited to see what’s in store for us next week!

Random Thoughts:

– Did anybody else have a hard time reading Garcia’s text on Morgan’s phone? I had to rewind and pause to make it out.

– That local detective at the Chicago PD had a very distracting mustache. It made him a little difficult to take seriously. I guess Movember exists in the Criminal Minds universe.

– That was a pretty cool touch to have A.J. Cook talking about abducted kids at the end of the episode. I’d like to see more of that on this show, since they so often address issues like abductions or abuse.