You know what you *should* do? Emphasize the fact that Stetler is in it. And possibly also use the fact that for the first time, you could feel love triangle vibes without creatively editing the promos first. But I'll get to all that in due time.
First of all, what a ridiculously slow start for a finale - it took about 1/3 of the episode just to get off the ground, and by 9:30 I was already plotting ways to open this review by unfavorably comparing it to preceding years. I was leading off with "Even the anti-climatic revelation of the mole was more entertaining than this" when the episode abruptly began to pick up speed, and I had to rethink that approach. There were some things that worked...just not as many as things that didn't. Let's start there.
*creates effigy of Horatio Caine, strings it up, and pummels it in frustration* To quote Angela from Bones..."Could you stop being so weird, please? It's making me very uncomfortable." Hated his attempt at Kid Empathy tonight; flat-out hated it. Eric says the boy who found his mother's body "isn't talking to anyone." Horatio's answer: "He'll talk to me." Inflated sense of self-importance much? He sounded like he was going to pry a confession out of a murderous thug. It would have been much better, less heavy-handed, to simply have him look thoughtful and then cut to him sitting down beside Arthur. We've seen enough of this show to know that children open up to Horatio without having him hit us over the head with that fact.
Only in this particular case, I cannot fathom why the child WAS willing to talk to him. What made Horatio different from any of the other police officers on the scene? His stance lacks the warmth I always (used to) feel; there's no casual offhand comment designed to put the child at ease. All he does is sit down and share his name (and squint in a rather terrifying manner), and suddenly Arthur starts spilling everything he knows. Look, either the kid's traumatized or he's not; he can't be magically activated by Horatio's Divine Presence.
Somone who is remarkably (even surprisingly) empathetic with children is Delko. It's been a while since I've seen something as simple and heartwarming as Eric going out to get the little girl. Her giggle as he lifts her out of the boat, and his subsequent broad smile, strike at the core of what these characters are about. In a less poetic way of putting it, it's the frickin' cutest thing I've ever seen.
As for the case, when I initially heard the storyline - a serial killer who carves a "Y" on his victims chests as a signature of his extra Y chromosome - I thought it had some potential. Whatever gets us away from rich folk literally stabbing one another in the back, right? (hah) If the victims were quiet and low-profile young women rather than the flashy party girls, we'd be in a good place. Alas, the victims were as bland and insipid as ever, and the storyline quickly got derailed with the addition of a second killer, which took away all the thrill of having one deranged sociopath on the loose.
Sidebar 1 - I'm a little disappointed that nobody on the team noticed a difference between the cuts until Alexx pointed it out. I took one look at the Boston cases and the first thing I said was "those Y's aren't diagonal." Y vs. y.
Sidebar 2: The scariest part of this episode is the slo-mo montage of Alexx prepping the body for autopsy with a child's EERIE EERIE VOICE sing-songing the word "love" over and over. That song was made for horror movies. Horror movies about an old mansion haunted by an evil ghost in the shape of an innocent little child, who will lead you through the halls until you plunge through rotten floorboards to your death.
Voice: Sometimes I wonder about the way your mind works.
Grossest part of the episode? It's a tie between the blood spilling down the autopsy drain and the extended montage of fish-gutting.
Back on track, the revelation of the sister as the second killer was a huge letdown. How does accidentally pushing her sister down the stairs as a child translate to an ability to STAB A WOMAN TO DEATH? I'm pretty sure that even I could push somebody, but stabbing them's a bit different. You know, what with the blood and all. Obviously she was insane, because you have to be to insane to protect a remorseless serial killer, but still. I don't CARE about her motivations and her sorry little sob story. I wanted to hear more from the killer himself. I kind of understand why the writers shortchanged the hunt for him, in order to work out the Jake-Calleigh-Eric storyline, but I wish they hadn't been able to catch him so easily. It would have been nice to see him smooth-talk his way out of arrest the first time around, instead of gleefully admitting to the murders. Furthermore, I find it improbable that he could commit three murders and leave practically no evidence, escaping while the cases go cold, then commit a fourth murder in Miami and be caught the next day.
Speaking of Jake, was the prison van crash - which I can't help but notice was a) NOT A PLANE and b) NOT ABOUT HORATIO - supposed to be dramatic? I wasn't feeling that. The driver looked completely untroubled as the wheel started wobbling, and even after it crashed, Jake might have been bloodied up but I just didn't feel a real sense of emergency.
I have to admit I kind of loved Eric's snarky "I'm sure Jake would LOVE for you to go see him in the hospital," followed by Calleigh taking offense, as she very clearly should. That was what we call "out of line," Eric, and this petty/jealous side of you is very unappealing. For the time being, their potential as a couple remains all in Eric's head, as Calleigh has considered the possibility and rejected it. You can dissect the reasons why in fanfic, but for now, they're not happening. And I can't find any fault with Calleigh for wanting to give Jake a(nother) chance.
Later on, tensions are still rife as Calleigh professes not to feel sorry for the woman whose daughter was abducted, since said woman is a murderer. It's role reversal from earlier, as this time Eric takes offense at her callousness. And it's Calleigh who backs down, foot in mouth, as Eric heatedly insists that when it comes to family you can do things you never thought you were capable of, in what is very clearly a reference to Marisol. YAY!
The last scene for this subplot is couched in the ending montage, so I have to take a moment to point out that said montage was a full three minutes long. This is not Cold Case! There are some nice things one can do with musical montages, but perpwalks are not among them, and recycling clips of footage from the same episode is DEFINITELY not among them. That's more like laziness, especially given how long this ending dragged on. And now's as good a time as any to point out that Horatio standing on top of a building doesn't have quite the same effect as standing below the giant Redeemer statue, and that it isn't quite so much coming full circle to the season premiere as it is making a crap-ass attempt to *look* like you're coming full circle.
Back to Jake and Calleigh. I have to admit that even though I really wanted her to haul off and slap Jake - or at least show him the same indignance she once showed Hagen - as part of a shiny musical montage...it was kind of sweet. She's all sweetness and light anyway; it's kind of hard not to smile at the way she leans in to examine for a better look at some heretofore unseen scrape on his jaw and gets swept into a kiss instead. In fact, I may have giggled in delight. And rewound ten times. ALL RIGHT, I LOVED IT. In my defense, Sara DuQuesne (who's made an art out of Ryan/Calleigh oneshots) has a variety of CaKe stories to go with her original genre, which has left me subconsciously open to the possibility. And Jake, when not smirking his head off, is by far the most attractive of her boyfriends to date. It's a pity Eric had to see it, but what girl doesn't appreciate a romantic thrill every once in a while?
There's one more storyline to touch on before I go, and that's Ryan's, which is where Natalia and Stetler have been biding their time.
Sidebar 3: If I were slash-inclined, by the way, I'd be all over Steler/Wolfe by now. Think of the parallels! You could even go into multi-layered slash, draw some connection between Yelina and Ryan, and OH GOD I'M ABOUT TO START TALKING LIKE THIS IS A VIABLE FIC OPTION. Muse, whatever curvy bunny you introduced into your breeding program is getting culled right now.
Right, so, moving away from that disturbing segment, I was somehow completely unaware that Stetler would be in this episode. Fantastic! Every second he's on screen is appreciated, but this is more like the guy I remember - I'm sure it wasn't NECESSARY to go back through years of Ryan's bank records, but Stetler likes to make things as difficult as possible. "A $6400 cash deposit! EXPLAIN THIS NOW." I wonder if that's going to important for a future storyline, or if it's just something tossed out to make Stetler look as vindictive as possible. I'm inclined not to give it a second thought, but I also can't think of anything off the top of my head, other than gambling, that would account for thousands in cash except maybe selling a car, and you'd think Ryan would remember that. Great, now this is going to bug me forever.
My sympathy for Ryan is inching back, given his angst-face over not having done anything back in the day when he could have stopped the killer. For goodness sakes, that was YEARS ago - he has nothing to feel guilty about, as Natalia has to remind him. This is where the ET clip comes into play too; I believe it's this conversation where Togo spontaneously added Ryan grabbing her hand before walking away. I was all set up to bash my head into the wall and curse about resurrecting ill-conceived shipping notions, but fortunately that never made it to air. *phew* It was bad enough that Ryan and Nat were left alone at the end, going through the tickets together. With Calleigh concentrating on her tangled love life and Eric grappling with a whole pack of issues while Horatio is off God-knows-where, it's becoming like these two are inseparable buddies, and I don't like it at all.
Overall, that was a disappointing finale. It lacked the drama, excitement, and high stakes one expects from a finale - plotwise, this could have been placed anywhere during the year. There were a couple of cute moments, but nothing to make me pull out my "OMG*SQUEEFWAMBLOWSUP*" card. It didn't work like season 2's finale, either, which was low-key as finales go but which had more heart and substance than the entirety of season 5 and half of season 4 put together. THIS was 42 minutes of apathy spiced up with cute bits in a couple of places. I remember this feeling - it's exactly how CSI went last year. Is it bad form to quote myself on that? Oh well, I'm going to: Boring as hell, a fitting end to a crappy season.
But then over the summer CSI pulled itself out of its rut and came back with its most stellar year yet. Do you think Miami can pull off the same miracle? I'm trying to be optimistic here.