Criminal Minds – Recap & Review – Mosley Lane

photo: cbs

Criminal Minds
Mosley Lane

Original Air Date: Mar 3, 2010

Meg – Reviewer

Wow. So the first time I ever fill in for JD and recap Criminal Minds, I get the episode with the sinister child-immolating granny? Nevertheless, this episode—while creepy with a capital “WTF”—was actually pretty awesome (not to mention directed by Dr. Reid himself, Mr. Mathew Gray Gubler).

We open on a family strolling about the Ashburn, Virginia “Winter Festival”—which is noticeably unwintery (especially considering Ashburn got buried in the recent “snowpocalypse” – but I’ll suspend my meteorological disbelief for now). The mother (played by Grey’s castoff Brooke Smith) gets distracted by a woman running through the crowd yelling that she’s lost her son. When Brooke looks back, she realizes her impossibly cute little daughter is gone.

Knowing that they have the best chance of recovering the missing girl, Amy, within the first 24 hours of the abduction, our BAU heroes get cracking on the case. Dr. Reid irritates me by obscuring his cuteness with a mop of hair that looks like it was on the losing end of a grisly fight with a an electric eel. But I digress…

After seeing a news report on Amy’s abduction, a woman shows up at the BAU claiming that whoever took Amy also took her missing son, Charlie. JJ immediately recognizes the woman as Sarah Hilridge—an alcoholic whose son was taken eight years ago and who pops up every time a child disappears. The scene between JJ and Sarah is moving, as Sarah reveals just how broken she is from her loss. Talking with the BAU, Sarah describes the day she lost Charlie, explaining that she had been distracted by a woman yelling about losing her son. A collective light-bulb blooms over the heads of the BAU team.

Meanwhile, little Amy is in captivity—in a dark room with funky wallpaper and some small holes in the wall. Amy approaches one of the holes cautiously. And even though I can sense it coming, I still jump when an eye pops into the hole. It’s a little boy who tries to ask Amy her name. Unfortunately, he’s interrupted when a woman swoops into the room and starts beating the crap out of him. Later, the stern-looking older woman (am I hallucinating or was she the Muffin Buffalo lady from Wonderfalls? Let me know in the comments if you recognize her). The woman (aka Grandma Creepypants) sings eerily to the boy she was attacking earlier. She puts him in a cardboard box. Is he alive? Still singing, Grandma shoves him into a burning furnace (Sweeney Todd much?). I sincerely hope he’s dead…

Amy wakes up to see a boy standing over her. He asks her name, tells him that he is now her brother and that Amy’s new name is Allison. Terrified, Amy hides under the bed when the unsubs (it appears there is also a Grandpa Creepypants involved) look for her. They are sooooo disturbing. Seriously – this is like what would happen if the Natural Born Killers went straight-edge and turned into deranged geriatric childnappers.

JJ goes to talk to Sarah, finding her at home with a cigarette and drink. Sarah shows JJ her very own “murder board” where she has collected articles and research on abducted children for the past decade. JJ begs Sarah to stop drinking. I don’t know—if she can put together an entire conspiracy wall while on the sauce, I’m pretty impressed.

The team strategizes. Morgan surprises me by coming out of left field and asking JJ if she now believes Sarah’s claim that Charlie is alive because JJ is now a mother. Yeesh. Prentiss identifies herself as a “non-mother” and says she believes Sarah too. Morgan backs down. The team realizes that the unsub is probably working with Charlie and another accomplice. Even worse, they realize that the unsub has been abducting children for almost a decade. Garcia does her computer magic and identifies 12 other missing children that fit the profile. Sarah recognizes most of the families from a support group she attended. The team is reluctant to contact 12 families and cause them more pain if they have been moving on with their lives. Sarah, who would know, says any parent would risk that pain if they had a chance their child was still alive

The team starts focusing on families in northern Virginia on isolated properties who have been visited by social services in the past ten years. Garcia comes up with 23 matches. Morgan grimly notes “we’re knocking on the doors of 23 families and all of them have done something wrong to a kid.”

Morgan and Prentiss arrive at Unsub Manor and chat with Gramps. They immediately sense that he is suspicious and Prentiss notices a picture of a boy that looks suspiciously like Charlie. As Prentiss and Morgan talk to Gramps, Grandma covers Amy’s mouth with her hand, whispering “if you make a sound, I’ll kill your mommy.” She sticks Amy with a syringe.

Prentiss calls Hotch, while Morgan and Gramps stare each other down. Meanwhile, Grandma has stuffed the kids in a hearse and escaped to the crematorium. Inside, Grandma burns teddy bears and dolls while Amy, Charlie, and another Unidentified Girl Abductee (UGA) cower in the corner, fixated on the flames. As if she couldn’t be any more EVIL, Grandma tells Charlie to put the catatonic Amy in one of the coffins so she can be furnaced. Charlie pulls a gun on Grams. She laughs at him –probably a bad idea considering he then shoots her in the gut.

The BAU raids the house and finds Charlie’s polaroids of all of the other kids. When the team looks for Gramps, they are told he is in the bathroom. Immediately, they race to the bathroom and break in, because in TV-land any recently-arrested perp who goes to the bathroom will automatically either escape or kill themselves. With Gramps, it is the latter.

Back at the BAU, Reid gives Sarah an inspiring pep talk as she frets that Charlie won’t remember her or want her. The elevator doors open and Charlie just looks so fragile. Sarah cries. JJ cries. Charlie cries. I cry. UGA and Amy are also united with their parents. However, nine other families crumble at the realization their children aren’t coming home. Ouch.

Wow. Hats off to Mathew Gray Gubler for a brilliant episode. I still have lingering questions—why did it take eight years for Charlie to stand up to his captors? What was it about Amy that helped him get the courage to rebel? But questions aside, this episode was incredibly moving and terribly scary. What did you think of Mathew Gray Gubler’s directing job? Did you like the episode? Leave some comments and let me know your two cents!

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30 Responses to Criminal Minds – Recap & Review – Mosley Lane

  1. Brooke says:

    Now, were G’ma & G’pa creepypants molesting the kids, too?

  2. Meg says:

    Honestly I have no idea. The show didn’t really give any hints that they might be molesting the kids – it seemed more like they just wanted to have a “big happy family” and were stealing children to add to their collection. What did you think?

    • Anon says:

      They gave plenty of hints that they were molesting the kids, one being that it was pointed out they only kidnapped kids between 6-10 years of age and killed the kids when they got “too old” (If they just wanted a big happy family they wouldn’t have beat and murdered the children they kidnapped).

      But the biggest hint that they were molesting the children was the scene where the 2 girls were laying in bed and the parents burst into the room, Mae immediately jumped up and said “Don’t hurt her, take me instead.” as the father was coming towards the bed so he then grabbed her by the hair and led her out of the room.

      The mother then sat down on the bed and patted the space on the bed next to her while looking at the other little girl in a creepy slightly sexual way smiling and calmly gesturing for the girl to come sit next to her, that whole scene pretty much confirmed that the children (at the very least the girls) were being molested by the parents it was the only time the mother acted nice.

  3. Bridget says:

    First off, the creepy grandma unsub was Beth Grant who was the Muffin Buffalo lady from Wonderfalls.
    As for why Charlie waited till the end, I don’t believe it really had anything to do with Amy. I would guess that he realized he had the oppurtunity. No longer were they in there prison, but in a place that would be easy to escape. Also consider the fact that he heard the BAU at the house and new they had a chance of getting free.
    Secondly there was only the the grandma unsub and not the male, which increased his chances to fight back.
    Thirdly, it was obvious that the grandma unsub was distracted and wasn’t really paying attention to him since he had been submissive to her for so many years.
    Lastly, there was the gun. Could this possibly have been the first time he had access to one?
    I believe that the show was very well directed, especially considering it was Matthew Gray Gublers first chance. I loved the camera angles and the creepy music…it added to all the drama.
    The one thing I was slightly disappointed in was that the unsubs weren’t properly explained. There are so many unleft questions about them that the show did not answer. Why did they start abducting children? Why keep them? Why were they all abducted at eight years of age?
    This show was more about the victims and the families of the victims. Despite this, you can tell that this was a Criminal Minds episode, despite the lack of information on the actual Criminals.
    The episode was very well done and is on my list of favorites that the show has produced.

    • I also have the same questions- while I enjoyed the episode- I am left wondering what was the motivation? Were they molesting the children and then cremating when done? I guess because other episodes involved more development of the criminal I am missing that element here.

    • Anon says:

      I think it did have to do in part with Amy, he described the other boy Stephen who they killed “yesterday” as like a brother to him and that boy died protecting Amy. So his murder combined with him trying to protect her made him stand up and not let her be killed too so Stephen’s death wouldn’t be for nothing, but those other things you mentioned about knowing help was there having a gun and only the mother being in the room who was distracted likely gave him even more courage (remember he had other chances to escape when they would go abduct another child since he was in the car by himself, Stephen getting killed protecting the latest abducted child is the only major difference).

  4. K says:

    I’m just happy the spin off have not taken anything from my show. MGG did a good job, the creepy grandma was horrifying. and the angles were well placed, though i have to say the episode could’ve been written better. but then again, it’s a kidnapping case, those usually don’t have a lot of explainations.

    hopes MGG does this again, he was pretty good.

    there’s been a lot of jj actions lately, and hat off to morgan for pointing out jj-is-a-mom-now problem, and hat off to pretiss for standing up for jj to morgan.

  5. Meg says:

    I agree with the questions – the unsubs were SO creepy that I wanted to know more about them – why were they so horrible? MGG did a great job and I can’t wait to see what he does with his next directing opportunity.
    (and thanks for confirming my Muffin Buffalo suspicion!!).

  6. Brooke says:

    The only reason I say that they were molesting the children was because the G’ma motioned (with the creepiest look on her face and I believe slightly purring) to Aimee (on the bed) to “come and sit near her”. Just an observation.

    And yes, I was also thinking that the story would explain why the unsubs abducted children at 8 (9, in one case) years old.

    I believe Charlie might have finally snapped into fearlessness when he was asked to help BURN the children. I think that was his breaking point. Because at that point, he was directly involved in murder, and a brutal one.

    • Anon says:

      Exactly that scene convinced me they were molesting the kids they abducted but since it was vague and never shown what happened or talked about I looked it up to see if anyone else noticed it, the look on the mother’s face when she patted the space on the bed and told the girl to sit next to her was definitely sexual and seductive.

      And the father grabbing Mae by the hair and taking her out of the room after she begged him to take her instead of the new girl seemed like she knew he was about to rape Amy, they weren’t abducting another child and they never took the girls with them to do that (plus the mother stayed in the room to “cozy up” to Amy) so the only other explanation is he took her to be raped.

  7. jd says:

    I wondered why it took so long for Charlie to stand up to granny and gramps too. Maybe he’d never seen the crematorium before?

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