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This has been a successful unblocking.

If you would like my thoughts on episodes 16-18 of this past season of Criminal Minds, they are here. Otherwise, I was physically and mentally exhausted but completely unable to sleep last night, so I ended up watching the rest of the season.


11x19, Tribute: Oh hey, Emily's back for a day! And as usual, I will smile politely and stare right on through because in metaphorical terms, I am a stray dog picked up by this family four years ago and Emily is the older daughter who went away to college before I got here, so I like that they like her, but we have no personal bond and we just never will.

I thought it felt kind of rushed overall -- you're telling me this guy is so sophisticated that he can kill people all over the world for a DECADE in the most stylistic and meticulously researched manner, but let his Thrill Kill mentality make him devolve fast enough to start firing guns in crowded dorm rooms? OK. And when they were contradicting themselves on the profile I had flashbacks to Community's Ass Crack Bandit and the quote "We know that he hates money. Or loves it. Or doesn't care about money and hates butts. Or loves them." Maybe they just overextended themselves and weren't able to pull off four huge episodes in a row after all.

But ultimately, I really loved Garcia's squee that Emily stopped by to visit her/take her out to dinner. And also when it upgraded to Girls Night. And even when it devolved into a team dinner and I just sat there thinking, "Guys, Derek does not live 50 miles away." Although I guess he might be too busy with a round-the-clock crybaby to meet up at a restaurant for an extended period of time, so let's pretend Emily stops to visit him on the way home.

(I couldn't even empathize with Reid that much at the beginning, because again: he didn't leave the country. Or even the area code. He's not dead. And, once more for the back, you literally just practiced working without him for six whole months. I cannot accept that the fact that he's Really Gone makes that much difference. I feel like this is being done mainly for the viewing audience's benefit to help fans ease into it, and that's thoughtful, but somehow still irksome.

11x20, Inner Beauty: I thought that was pretty cool. I like unsubs whose crimes are based on misguided love, and never you mind what that says about me. At least with those guys, you have a chance to save yourself. His late girlfriend's backstory was super heartbreaking, and his depressing childhood wasn't much better.

Is this the one where Garcia is all excited to  use her vacation time to visit Emily in London? I can't remember when that happened but I need to mention it somewhere beacuse it was so cute.

11x21, Devil's Backbone: WONDERFUL. 2nd best of the year. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

  • A missing-child story in which -- PLOT TWIST -- the kids are still alive 2 years later

  • Imprisoned serial killer Frances Fisher

  • The most pleasant and mild mannered yet clearly deep-down terrifying serial killer you've ever seen

  • Talking to each of our team members individually and displaying an uncanny ability to pick up on personal details and read them like an intake report

  • Purring that after knowing her for 30 seconds, it's clear that JJ is smarter than Hotch so why isn't she in charge (that's the kind of question I like to ask, if not for the fact that said promotion would be a big waste of her time that she could be spending with family)

  • Developing amazing cat-and-mouse rapport with Lewis in which it's not actually clear who is the mouse. That was a magnificent display of two powerful and equally matched women going head to head.

  • Being as chillaxed and droll and unruffled as a hibernating frog no matter what they tease, threaten or bribe her with

  • Writing smuggled-out letters in complex cipher codes

  • Convincing our team to take her all the way to Kentucky, and temporarily handcuff free

  • Manipulating events for years just to successfully cause and bear witness to one last death that no one sees coming (although: shouldn't they have seen it coming at the last minute? Like, the second she whispered to him, she was clearly either going to make him kill himself, or kill her. I would have premptively aimed for a shoulder and dealt with the bureaucratic paperwork later)

  • UNTIL: Hotch makes himself useful for once and spins the most awesome how-the-hell-did-he-even-find-all-that-and-why-wasn't-it-found-sonner backstory about how her murderousness was cemented by having a baby at 14, being forced to give him up and then having her 15-year-old boyfriend murdered as punishment to boot, so now every runaway teen she kills is her punishing her past self.

  • Also, that "a storm is comin'" warning at the end was amazing and made me go running for the finale, for which I'm so glad I didn't have to wait more than 10 seconds.

11x22, The Storm: oh man, THAT IS HOW YOU FINALE.

Any day someone tries to take Aaron Hotchner down is a good day. It is possible I was one of the supporting players in this conspiracy to arrest. It sounds like the kind of job I'd sign on for (foolishly, without knowing or asking why they wanted me to take him down. I'd just do it). The whole time that guy was smugly reading back Aaron's profile on workplace shooters that oh-gosh-doncha-know-just-HAPPENS-to-also-fit-him-to-a-T, I was near crying for joy. I knew it wouldn't stick, but for a while, I truly got to believe.

The part where DOJ dude went all the way back to ELLE and thew in his face that she was dismissed for doing (essentially) the exact same thing he let Rossi off the hook for? THIS IS MY JAM. I never knew Elle, and having only seen her in one old episode I have even less interest in her than Emily, but I ran across a subsection on Tumblr once that was p.o.ed about the misogynistic way her exit was treated, and I feel like this vindicates them.

But by far my favorite part was the pandemonium-laden prison melee. Way better than the one they survived last year. In no small part due to the terrifying results of the most incompetent SWAT team ever being like, "Hey Tara, there are some escaped prisoners in the control room, you know, the room that controls the cell doors, and it's real dangerous so how 'bout you just stand here and wait for us all by yourself in the middle of the circular SERIAL KILLER WARD, k?"

(That pack of creeps enclosing on her like wolves was genuinely scary though.)

Other stuff:

  • Love that JJ was on the scene to usher the two semi-traumatized kids out after Hotch got arrested. Henry looks so grown up! And actually adorable?

  • I loved Reid quickly intervening to shut down the trigger-happy SWAT team and connecting super well with the autistic suspect

  • I distinctly remember not paying attention to Mr. Scratch because I was so bored with the Hotch focus -- haha, it's not even mentioned in my archives despite being Gubler-directed -- but I'm glad I was able to keep up.

  • Helicopter goes up...helicopter gets shot mid-air and comes down in a ball of flames. Awesome, if an oddly peaceful landing back on earth.

  • WORLD'S BEST UNCLE SPENCER REID

  • LET'S FOCUS IT ON AGAIN BECAUSE THAT WAS SO CUTE

  • Happy team dinner ending #2! (okay guys, seriously, you know you could have invited Derek and Savannah to this. Now it's just insulting).


And just when I was sitting there thinking, "Wait, didn't they say this was going to be a cliffhanger? This is the opposite of a cliffhanger. Was I actually reading about episode 21 last spring? I mean I'm def. not going to argue a happy ending, but..." then it took us through a rare door past the happy ending and went, "Hey guys. Super big stakes on the table. Note I said stakes and not steaks for a reason. TIME TO GO CATCH THIRTEEN ESCAPED SERIAL KILLERS AT ONCE."

Which is GREAT! Because now my curiousity is fully piqued and I'm excited to see what happens next, but I am in no way frenzied or out of my mind wondering how they're going to fix something or how I will manage to survive the hiatus. The fact that they gave you a choice between ending on the closure-filled happy ending or sneaking a peek at their premiere plans* is really what makes this such a magnificent finale.

*Edit: apparently they didn't have definite premiere plans, because they STILL WEREN'T RENEWED when this aired. Damn, CBS! Why you gotta be that way? Fortunately, as I mentioned before, it was renewed shortly thereafter. Better yet -- wait, have I mentioned this already? If I did I can't find it -- it's coming back with Adam Rodriguez on board as the Rotating Cast Member, and aklsdjalsdjklsjdf YAY. This is truly the most charmed casting department.

Edit #2: OK this is adorable: "Shemar Moore turned up to the set on the first day of filming to bear gifts for the cast and crew. This is the first year that he hasn’t had to be there when everyone else gathers together for the table read, but he didn’t want them missing him too much. According to TMZ, the actor turned up on set with the gift of watches. The faces all have his initials and the line “Always on Time,” which is a comment about him always being late to set. He decided he wanted his former co-workers to always have a part of him with them wherever they are."

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The best part is that I've successfully reduced my summer hiatus/cliffhanger anxiety wait time by over 50%. Always the one upside to being weeks behind on good shows. Now...off to see if I can unblock NCIS. That requires more writing before watching, though. Darn.

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