Criminal Minds – Recap & Review – To Hell…And Back

photo: cbs

photo: cbs

Criminal Minds
To Hell…And Back

Original Air Date: May 20, 2009

JD – Associate Staff Writer
JD@thetwocentscorp.com

In four seasons, Criminal Minds has done four different finales that have left me utterly emotional in one way or another. Last season it was an adrenaline high, jumping out of my chair and shouting. This season, I was wrecked. Er, emotionally wrecked, not drunk or anything, and not just over the final few minutes.

We start out in a bad neighborhood in Detroit, where the streets are lined with prostitutes, homeless, and drug addicts. A man is driving around watching them. He gets out of his car, sticks a gun in the back of his pants, then goes through the crowd, his gait awkward. But no one gets shot. Instead he appears upset, and leaves.

So where does one go when feeling down about that sort of thing? Canada, of course. Only our guy has an interesting way of saying hello to the border patrol. He pauses by their booth, then floors it, driving the car around in a circle and crashing into the booth. When the border control gets him out of the car, he confesses to ten murders. He has the pictures of the victims on his passenger seat (and miraculously they’re still in the seat after that wreck!)

Back at the BAU, we get the run down. Mr. Lead-foot is William Hightower, who claims to have murdered ten people and dumped their bodies across the border. He was a Sergeant in the Army until two months ago. He lost his leg, and was discharged with a Purple Heart and a commendation for valor. He hasn’t given a dump site, and refuses to talk to anyone but the FBI.

Hotch sends Morgan and Prentiss off to check out the neighborhood the victims were taken from, while the rest of the team goes straight to the Mounties.

The officer in charge of the Case, Jeff Bedwell, turns out to have been a student of Rossi’s, and he’s prepared for them when they get there. He seems to think Hightower fits the profile. Rossi tells Bedwell that Hightower won’t want to talk to anyone but the person he perceives as in charge, so they head off to let Hotch have a few words with him.

And by ‘a few words’ I mean that Hotch is Very Hotchly, and it doesn’t take very long to get Hightower to admit that he didn’t actually kill those people. He eventually gives away that all he wanted was to make sure the murders were investigated. See, his sister went missing off those streets, and he started noticing more disappearing. He went to the Detroit police three times, and no one did anything.

Cue the pigs! Cue the start of the many, many shots of said pigs. You will have had enough of them by the end of the episode. Anyway, some really big lumbering guy has one of the missing people tied up on a slab. He treats the guy to a nice spinal cord injury, via a hammer to the neck, and then sucks some sort of fluid out of the back of the victim’s neck with a syringe. Yum.

Hotch and Rossi get Hightower released into their custody, and Garcia finds something interesting. On the nights of the abductions, medical facilities near the area had break ins. They decide theunsub must be keeping the victims alive to enjoy their torture more.

The team talks to Hightower’s mother, who says that her daughter disappeared shortly after cashing her welfare check, and they team quickly puts together that all the missing people had been cashing their checks at the same place, a run down motel nearby. Which is where we meet Kelly, also known as Victim Number Two of the episode. As victims go, she turns out to be pretty awesome. Take lessons from Kelly, guys. You never know when you’ll be abducted by a guy with an unhealthy love of pigs and neck breaking.

The team rushes to get Kelly, and find nothing at the border cross, but Hightower suggests the Civil War era underground railroad that runs from Detroit to Canada. They scurry off again and find a car hidden in trees where ourunsub left it to boat Kelly across the river. Garcia checks the VIN, and they find one Mr. Mason Turner, a former medical student who lives on a farm. The team flees to the farm, where they find Turner in bed. Hooked up to a ventilator. And paralyzed from the neck down.

Somehow, this doesn’t quite add up.

All hell breaks loose, with Bedwell convinced that the FBI wasted his time, until Morgan finds a bin outside the house, filled with shoes. And I mean filled. Just when they start to wonder where the bodies are, Spencer pipes up. Pigs are omnivores. There probably won’t even be bodies to find.

My favorite parts of this episode were Rossi’s interactions with Mason Turner, turning the mirrors Turner has set up to see into other rooms, and insisting that they are having a swell time together, and wordlessly threatening to unhook Turners breathing tube. It’s not subtle, but it’s effective, and so veryRossi . (I might have mentioned just a couple times how much I adore that man. Maybe. Just a couple of times.) Turner admits that it’s his brother Lucas who’s killed all those people. He says his brother is crazy, and the FBI should shoot him first and ask questions later.

Rossi gets a picture of Lucas to the team, and Hotch gets Garcia to the farm to dig through Turner’s laptop. Turner is not happy about this turn of events at all. Morgan isn’t very happy at the moment, either, but for totally different reasons. Hightower told them in his interrogation that he’d given his sister his dogtags to wear. Guess what they just found?

Reid finds find the hayloft in the barn where Lucas sleeps, and finds some child-like drawings in it. He tells Hotch that he seriously doubts Lucas is psychotic. His drawings suggest he’s mentally retarded, and this type of retardation and psychosis almost never go hand in hand. Before he letsHotch leave, though, Reid makes a point to ask if he ever had a feeling that a case was going to end badly. Hotch dismisses it, but now I certainly have a feeling it won’t end well.

Normally I would end it here. I don’t really like spoiling the endings for you guys, but I don’t really think I can talk about a season finale and not talk about the ending. That would defeat the purpose. It’s the ending of the finales that get us pumped, right? So if you haven’t seen it and want some modicum of suspense even after reading most of the plot, stop reading now, because I’m just going to keep chugging along to the end.

Things get even creepier when Garcia finds out what was on Turner’s laptop. Apparently, they were doing experiments to try to fix Turner. Garcia can’t even bring herself to say what they did, and Turner goes on to point out that not a jury in the world would convict a man who never even touched the victims. Looking back, I’m not sure whether I’m happy or sad thatHightower heard all of this.

Meanwhile, Kelly and Lucas are in an underground cave. Lucas had been waiting for a call earlier, and Kelly kept telling him to go outside to get it. Since then they’ve struggled, and Kelly managed to get Lucas to go out of the cave to get her food, which is how she found his cell phone where it had fallen out of his pocket. She then begs him to let her use the bathroom outside, and she really is sweet with him. She understands what he needs, and he finally takes her above ground where she tells him she needs privacy. As soon as she gets it, she makes a call, and Garcia intercepts it.

The call doesn’t last long when Lucas finds out Kelly is calling, but it’s long enough to get a location, and the team rushes off to find her. When they get to the underground cave, Kelly pleads with Lucas not to fight. She’s a good girl. She knows he didn’t mean it. She tells him to hold his hands up asHotch pulls her away, and Lucas does what she asks. Except that as soon as he tries to stand up, the SWAT team fires.

Morgan screams at them to stop, but it’s too late, and while this is happening at the cave, Hightower is taking his revenge on Turner, who was left alone in the chaos. He grabs a gun left behind, and shoots Turner before JJ and Garcia even have a chance to react.

No, Reid. That didn’t end well, did it?

The team heads back to Quantico, all miserable, and Hotch gives us a voice-over instead of our standard closing quote. As he says, sometimes there are no clever quotes to sum things up. He heads back to his apartment and immediately pours himself a drink, taking a long sip… and then a hooded figure comes into focus behind him.

Hotch turns to see George Foyet (remember him from Omnivore?), dressed in his Reaper garb, pointing a gun at him.

“You should have made a deal,” Foyet say, then the screen goes black, and a gunshot sounds.

Eep! Hotch!

This episode really is very reminiscent of second season’s Legacy (which is one of my favorite episodes), and a lot of people aren’t liking that much. They’re saying this was too redundant. But here’s the thing: The cases are totally dissimilar aside from the victim pool, and where that’s concerned, we’ve seen the same types of victims over and over and over anyway. And when going to this grand a scale, killing almost ninety people, there’s not really another way someone could get away with that if they chose victims with even a slightly higher profile.

I didn’t have a problem with the episodes similarities at all, and thought the case was an interesting one. It was a two hour finale, but it kept me involved enough that I barely noticed the extra length, plus Kelly was really one of the coolest victims we’ve had in a while. She was smart and proactive, and she listened to her captor. She was doing a little profiling herself!

Now to the part we’re all thinking about. Normally I wouldn’t even bother to worry that a show might kill off a main character. Season finales almost never play out the way they look. If it hadn’t been for the recent writers layoffs on the show (in which they let go several of their best writers) and subsequent rumors that we would lose a cast member, I wouldn’t be worried this time. And I’m not, really.

Except that I am… just a little. People are going on and on right now about how the show couldn’t get away with killing its “lead”, but the show has an ensemble cast. There were people that thought the show was going to fall apart when MadyPatinkin left, and in my opinion, we actually have a more cohesive cast now. Not to mention that they usually don’t pick on the same character at the end of each season two seasons in a row. Last seasonHotch got blown up, and this season it’s implied he’s getting shot? Weird.

That said, I do think it would be a bad move to kill Hotch. I was telling someone earlier this year that Hotch is the one character the show can’t survive without (I can be very melodramatic at times, if you hadn’t noticed). Hotch is the center, their support, their moral compass. We need Hotch. They simply can’t kill him.

Thus far, though, my show has never let me down, so I’m standing with them here, instead of the people in a tizzy about Hotch’s fate. My show will do right by me.

And if they don’t, I’m just going to have to go to CBS and handcuff myself to the doors until Reid finds some miracle genius solution to raiseHotch from the dead.

No joke.

So what did you guys think? Loved it? Hated it? Worried about Hotch? Ready for the new season already?

…Ever going to eat pork again?

Give me your two cents!

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11 Responses to Criminal Minds – Recap & Review – To Hell…And Back

  1. mcgarrygirl78 says:

    I’m still teetering. I liked the case, I didnt even think about Legacy, which is a fantastic episode, when I was watching this. I just didnt think the case had season finale excitement. I know the week before we got ohno!Reid and the potential for chemical terrorism and that was all exciting but this didnt turn into a season finale for me until they got on that plane and Hotch started the voice over because then I got a sense of holy moly, what is getting ready to happen. Still, I was intrigued, even if I thought it moved a bit slow. When they got to the heart of it, when we knew what really happened and why, I was mortified. It’s going to take a while to get the image of 89 pairs of shoes out of my mind.

    I dont know if this show can survive without Hotch. He is the moral center, the “mom”, the glue that holds people with very different personalities and ways of approaching their job together. Funny, I never thought the show would not survive without Gideon, at least I hoped it would because I knew it had the potential to. Without Hotch, I am not at all sure. I am going to trust in Ed Bernero though, who really hasnt let me down yet, and has made Wednesday my favorite day of the week again.

  2. jd says:

    I will admit, it definitely didn’t have the same excitement factor as some of the other finales (and yes, Amplification was better on that front, for sure). Like I said, last season was an adrenaline rush. This season’s finale left my with this deep sadness. I think it made the impact a season finale needs to make, just in a different way than we’re used to seeing. It hit me hard, even if my heart wasn’t racing, you know? Eighty-nine pairs of shoes.

    My only problem, really, is that the cliffhanger wasn’t actually integrated into the plot. It was tacked on at the end, and it worked, but it felt like an add on.

    He is the moral center, the “mom”, the glue that holds people with very different personalities and ways of approaching their job together

    EXACTLY! Only I would argue that Hotch is the dad and Rossi is the mom, but I’ve never met anyone who agrees with me, so maybe my family is just odd. 😉

    • mcgarrygirl78 says:

      In recent episodes as we watch his character grow, I might have to go with you for Rossi being the mom. They know they can talk to him about some of the personal things while having to remain strong for “dad” Hotch. I’m a little behind, still working with the Gideon and Hotch dynamic. But I can totally see Rossi in that role for Season 4 and beyond.

      The end did seem tacked on, and I dont know if it worked but it damn sure knocked the wind out of me so I guess it did the job it was supposed to do.

  3. Kelly Kenrick says:

    By now, a lot of people should know that this plot line was taken almost straight out of the headlines. I knew what they were going to find from the teasers, because the scenario played out on Canadian TV screens a few years back, only there were only 50 bodies, and only 6 convictions, nothing about experimentations for spinal cord injuries.

    So, the entire plotline didn’t surprise me. It was interesting on how they unfolded it, how they changed it from actual real life events to make it fit their story. Here in Canada when the finale was on there was even a disclaimer at the beginning warning of the sensitive nature of THIS program (emphasis on this). A few extra words in the usual disclaimer.

    It was nice to see how the characters dealt with the horror – after 7 years, how much more can Morgan take, and why should they bother. I was thinking of that last night when I watched the finale for a second time. Why bother, when the criminals keep popping up and it doesn’t seem like the good guys are making one step forward in the battle? Because the common people, the little, everyday person who lives their lives relatively untouched by the horrors that law enforcement officers deal with regularly, need them to – we need them to protect us, to fight for us, to be our white knights. If not for them, we would be over run. Hang on, Morgan, because you do make a difference. You make it possible for small town people to still keep their doors unlocked at night, and give big city dwellers the confidence to walk around after dark.

    I don’t know how the season opener is going to play out. I don’t know whether Hotch will die, or if Morgan will leave the BAU, finally burned out (the powers that be are certainly keeping that close to the chest – we have no idea whose contracts have been renewed … more reason to wait with bated breath.)

    If Hotch dies, I’ll still watch, I’m a Morgan fan. That’s not to say that I want Hotch to die, far from it. It will probably depend on who replaces him, if that’s the way things turn out. We survived without Gideon, and I definitely like Rossi better.

    It is interesting that for the second season it ends up being Hotch in peril. The writers seem to have a sadist joy in putting his life on the line. We’ve had Reid, we had Garcia, and we’ve had Hotch. What happened to the others? It’s going to be a long summer for me! And the season opener is going to have to do one hell of a job!

  4. jd says:

    Kelly –

    I had heard it was based on a real case, but I hadn’t done much digging on it. I know they often base things on real cases, though it winds up twisted enough by the end that it’s not so recognizable. It’s interesting that this time it was so recognizable that there was a special warning on Canadian TV. Obviously, I wasn’t “spoiled” by the real case, so none of it was predictable to me.

    Oh yes, Morgan. That was something I didn’t have room to mention up there. I love Morgan’s doubt, his internal struggle in this episode. Quite honestly, I had been thinking they’ve been hinting at getting rid of Morgan for the last half of the season, and during his whole thing in this episode I was going ‘here it comes’. Then it didn’t come.

    I am definitely more of a Hotch fan than a Morgan fan, though, so I wasn’t overly concerned about that. I like Morgan and I don’t want him to go, but in my head, I could live without him if I had too.

    The writers seem to have a sadist joy in putting his life on the line. We’ve had Reid, we had Garcia, and we’ve had Hotch.

    A friend of mine pointed out that we’ve already had two main characters shot point blank and live: Elle and Garcia. If Hotch does get shot and live through it, that would be three. Amazing luck, these guys.

    • Kelly Kenrick says:

      Maybe this was just a character development thing then … Morgan questioning his effectiveness, his despair at tilting at windmills. Something that all law enforcement agents have to deal with at times, especially when there was been so many agents-in-peril episodes lately; and stemming in part from his failures in Omnivore – a wake up call maybe?

      Truthfully, while I’d mourn the loss of Morgan in the show, I’d still watch it, because there’s enough of a good ensemble to make it worth watching. It would depend on the dynamics of the show from then on. Same with Hotch, probably. Unlike CSI which I pretty much stopped watching as of this season. It’s not that I dislike Laurence Fishbourne, it’s just it’s lost something without Grissom, there’s not that grit, or insight, or something.

  5. jd says:

    McGarryGirl78 –

    Yes, Rossi has certainly gotten a lot more mom-like the longer he’s on the show. He takes care of his team. I saw him that way in season three, though, too. Not right away, of course, but it developed.

    It’s funny, with Hotch and Gideon, Hotch was the mom, and Gideon was the dad. Now it’s reversed for me. In the overall scheme with all three of them, though? Gideon is the dad, Hotch is the mom, and Rossi is weird Uncle Dave that slips the kids scotch at family functions.

    • mcgarrygirl78 says:

      Yeah, I was still seeing him as Uncle Dave for a while, definitely slipping liquor to the kiddies.

      I love all the characters on the show and given the right set of circumstances, I am sure it could survive without any of them but I will be so heartbroken if any of them leave. Derek especially, I think there are so many places his character can go. The way he is with children, his police/military background, his bonding with Emily as well as Reid and his strange but beautiful relationship with Hotch, not to mention the entire Garcia factor….the show would be lacking without him.

      I say if anyone has to go, I can totally live without JJ. I might be alone with that but 4 seasons and I still feel her character is such a blank slate, she has no depth at all IMO even though I like her enough, I feel no attachment to her.

  6. DragonLadyK says:

    Hotch was what kept me watching through the Reid-in-peril crap and the Prentiss abortion crap and the Reid’s addiction crap and the meh-villains and the JJ/Will half-assery and Rossi’s anger management issues and Prentiss’s Morticia phase. He’s the hook.

    Without Hotch, the stuff that annoys me would bore me out of the show.

    Siggen’s theory is that the rumors of a cast member leaving were started by PTB as a publicity stunt taking advantage of TG’s contract-renewal, to make sure that everyone’s butt is absolutely glued to the seat for the premier. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping she’s right.

    DragonLady

    • Kelly Kenrick says:

      I certainly hope that Siggen is right and that this is just a publicity stunt. Does anyone know whether it’s just TG whose contract is up? I’ve heard that MGG renewed his contract, so I assumed everyone had a contract renewal. There’s been no confirmation that anyone is returning, besides MGG. I think there’s a conversation with TG online tomorrow night, however. Maybe he can shed some light – unless he’s sworn to secrecy. On the other hand, there has been no noise about anyone leaving the show, unlike there was with Desperate Housewives losing a cast member.

      • DragonLadyK says:

        Whether everyone else’s contract is up or not, renewals present an opportunity. If an actor’s contract isn’t up, there’s no suspense: “we know TG has two more years on his contract and he doesn’t want to leave, therefore he’s going to live.” Usually if the lead is in danger there’s no suspense, either — it’d be like shooting House in the season finale: who’d fire Hugh Laurie? However, starting a rumor about the need to ditch someone for budget reasons, with TG probably being either the first or second-most paid… well. Now you’ve got butts glued to the seats. If he’s sworn to secrecy I’m REALLY going to be betting on Siggen’s theory.

        Though here’s to hoping they don’t pull an Elle with Hotch. “Oh, Elle’s okay, whew, we’re safe– wah! She’s gone!”

        DragonLady

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