There is quite a bit to enjoy and praise about this episode, most particularly the excellent work done by Kirsten Vangsness as she (as Gracia) endeavoured to be all things to all people (something that I think we all try at some point in our lives.) The fact that Garcia, perhaps more than all the others, misses J.J. so terribly was very obvious here and I have to admit that I loved the way she explained to Hotch the 'how' and 'why' she could replace J.J. as the Media Liaison.
When she stepped onto the plane before the journey to Akron, I was delighted to see that even though she had made so many changes, she was still one hundred percent Garcia underneath it all. It would have been a huge shame if she had been any other way.
The plot was something different and very interesting, even if it did get a little convoluted in places. I was a little surprised when Prentiss had to ask the unsub's wife to clarify what she was talking about when they discussed her early days with the killer as I would have thought it was obvious. The unsub himself didn't scare me at all and I thought he was actually quite dull even though I liked the premise of what he was doing. I found it hard to have too much sympathy for the victims except for the first two couples because I was crossing my fingers and hoping that Garcia would perform brilliantly and, of course, after her talks with Hotch and Morgan,she did.
I loved the by-play between Hotch and Garcia and I was impressed with the fact that he took the time to give her confidence a boost as it must have been lagging badly considering she thought she had ruined everything. I REALLY hope that we DO see more of Kirsten as part of the team, most particularly when they travel as she is a character whom everyone seems to love and with the yawning gap left by A.J. Cook's departure, I think a stronger presence by everyone's favourite Technical Analyst/Part-time Liaison is just what the doctor ordered. I hope that Kirsten's role won't be greatly curtailed after she begins working on episodes of 'Suspect Behavior' as that would be a huge shame for all 'Criminal Minds' fans.
The only two things that I found a little irksome were the fact that, once again, we are hearing about Ellie Spicer and we already know that there is more to come. I hope it doesn't end up being a season-long arc because it really has nowhere to go. The other small issue I had was that, once again, Reid mentioned 'The Son of Sam', which he always does whenever anyone is shot in a car. Given that Reid has an eidetic memory, he would certainly know of several killers throughout history who have used the same MO so I'd like it if the writers mentioned some others instead of just 'The Son of Sam' in the scripts. They mention the BTK Killer constantly too when similar cases come up and that could be improved upon. This is not a criticism, just a minor annoyance.
All in all, in my opinion, a much better effort, largely due to Kirsten Vangsness, and Thomas Gibson, with some good work thrown in by Shemar Moore as well. I still miss J.J. a lot and I suppose myself and a lot of fans are going to continue to do so but this was an improvement on earlier episodes.
I'm looking forward to seeing what they have for us next week.