Criminal Minds “A Place at the Table” Review (Season 10 Episode 20)

Criminal Minds A Place at the Table Season 10 Episode 20 05

There’s only three episodes left in this 10th season of Criminal Minds after tonight, so I was hoping for “A Place at the Table” to give us a little idea of how this season will be concluded in just a few weeks. While we didn’t get much on that front, we did get a pretty gnarly case of the week and an epic guest star.

The case began with a suitably disturbing opening scene, as we find a family all gathered around a dinner table dead. Not only were they dead, but Christmas music was playing in the background, causing me check my episode listing to make sure this wasn’t a Christmas episode on repeat. Obviously the music made sense later, but the rest of the case made very little sense to me. Usually on this show we deal with a single victim, or we have multiple victims who are not related to each other at all. In this episode we had five victims that were all related, and each member of the family had their own set of secrets. They all had at least one significant other, and some were cheating on others and some were gay and hiding it and some were gay and being persecuted for it. There was a lot of stuff going on, and it was a little hard to get caught up at first. I don’t typically get confused on this show, but they were coming fast and furious with all of the character names and I always had to remind myself which one was Evan, Lance, Marc, Dillon, etc. I don’t know if this was just a problem with me or what. Maybe I’m off my game or something, but maybe the episode writer Bruce Zimmerman could have done a slightly better job at differentiating the characters.

It was also a little weird that we got a little visual recap at the end of how the murders went down. Usually the way this show works is the BAU will figure out who the killer is, then they’ll figure out how they did what they did, then they’ll rush to find them before they claim another victim. Tonight, however, we got to see a flashback scene of how the demented Marc Clifford killed his entire would-be family. Marc was played well by Secret Life of the American Teenager’s Grant Harvey, and the scene of him at the table with his dad and his dad’s dead family was definitely disturbing, but the whole decision of having a recap scene like this was a little odd.

It seems like just about every episode this season has a case of the week, and then a secondary story that focuses on a personal side story for one of our team members. This week the focus was on Hotchner, as his father-in-law is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Man, I thought the case was already confusing, but it was taking me a while to figure out what was going on here too! I had to double check to make sure that we’d never met Ed Asner’s character before, and that appears to be the case, so why do we need to care that he’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? I mean sure, it’s sad for anybody to get that disease, but this whole story would have been much more effective if it was happening to a character that’s been established in previous episodes. It also didn’t help you sympathize for the guy because he’s such an unforgiving jerk to Hotchner. I’m sure Roy is still very sad to have lost a daughter, but does he think it’s helpful for him to be so unrelenting in his cruelty to Aaron about it? Shouldn’t he be aware that Aaron thinks about her every day? That he already sees her in Jack’s eyes and wishes she could be a mother again? I’ve never wished Alzheimer’s on anybody before, but Roy was definitely pushing it for me. The final scene between Roy and Aaron gave his character a little bit of layering, as we see that he’s probably just holding on to her memory so strongly because he doesn’t want to lose it, but that doesn’t help me.

Maybe I’m just having a weird day, but I found both of these storylines a bit perplexing tonight. What did you guys think? Sound off in the comments section below!

Random Thoughts:

– It kind of made me sad how Reid kept shutting down the officer at the crime scene. “Looks like the table was set up before he killed them.” “No it wasn’t.” “Looks like there was a fight.” “No it doesn’t.” The guy’s just tryin’ to help, Reid!

– Man, Ed Asner is really going for these A-hole roles recently, isn’t he? I just saw him a couple weeks ago on The Good Wife where he played Guy Redmayne, an aggressively sexist, homophobic, racist, and altogether extremely unpleasant old man.

– The visual of Ed Asner excitedly playing Xbox is one of the greatest things I’ve seen this week.