First and foremost, as I am always a strong proponent of, it's about the case. Case first. Then characters. (But it's hard to tow that line this time, even for me.)
Basically, we have "Natalee Holloway: Maryland." Not much writing needed here – a young woman goes on vacation with friends, is abducted after leaving a club with some young men, including a very well-off, good looking one, who claim to have dropped her off at her hotel all safe and sound. Parents very much involved – sort of. I will admit it was much better than a documentary. Faint praise indeed.
Kudos, first, to Michael Welch and Christopher Marquette for their performances as the suspects. Well played. Second, hats off to the writers for remembering that our team are profilers, and using them as they should be used, not having them racing around, guns blazing, for once. The interrogation scenes were excellent. The not so twisty twist of having the "submissive" actually being the clever murderer? Good, but you've done it before in The Perfect Storm.
Parents are mad, but don't make any other contributions – that was a mistake. I'd like to have seen them insist on taking a role here, besides the refusal to leave the building. And, of course, the wife is blamed by the husband. A pattern emerges… but I'll get back to that.
Speaking of mistakes. What moronic police officers! First we have the 'come on, she's dead,' guy who hangs around in the background to ask questions just so the BAU can explain things. THEN we have the fact that, although they apparently confiscated their cell phones, the brain-dead officers did not check them for evidence! Really? In all the time that you've held them you couldn't have gotten a court order for that? And, when, exactly, has the BAU ever even considered getting a court order for any of the 'intelligence gathering' that they've done? Utterly stupefying.
Kudos, also, to have Morgan NOT go ape-crazy on the suspect. A role-reversal for him. Almost like he's a real agent and not just a hot-head.
JJ finds the clue. Nice panacea to the fact that you're shoving this character (and actress) out the door – let's make her the irreplaceable one now that we've kicked her out. Tiny sops to the blood soaking into the floor. But I digress. Again.
Finding the girl alive was a nice touch. But I'll get to that later.
Now to character. JJ's 'offer she couldn't refuse.' Strauss' continued characterization as a manipulating harpy that has absolutely no control over anything that makes its way into her hands. The sudden alternate universe in which an employee of the FBI can be forced to take a job with the Department of Defense – or anywhere for that matter. I will not be able to suitably convey the utter disgust and disdain I have for the writers for displaying this swill with a 4.5 rating for the ep. I am appalled.
This episode should have been called, "No Strong Women Allowed." Besides the victim, not one woman is given any power over her own life. JJ is 'forced' to take a new job. Strauss is 'forced' to 'force' her. They are all victims, and I will not applaud any show for making a strong woman into a victim, and JJ is very much the victim here.
In the real world, JJ had options. First, she could decide to take her backlog of vacation/sick days in order to hit up HR and perhaps contact a lawyer. Second, if she is given the only option of transferring (to a completely different government agency!!!) or being fired, she could offer her two weeks notice and simply leave until they got the message that she could not be manipulated like this. We know she's not coming back, no matter what words of hope they gave Thomas Gibson to spout. A bullet to the head, while upsetting, would have been more respectful to the character.
Erin Strauss. Seriously, writers, take some classes in how to write a strong woman administrator. Her 'hands are tied' scenarios are getting ripe. And her smarmy, 'more time with your family' is false on the face of it.
JJ's decision to 'take the high road' is a mirror of what actress AJ did this summer. Her choice. Perhaps that makes her stronger than someone who simply rants and raves and pouts. She was 'laid off' as so many in the regular workforce can sympathize with. But that isn't what they chose to do to JJ, so, they all flail their hands helplessly in the air, sigh, and cry, and wish it weren't so. Please.
The deliberate attempts to parallel the victim with JJ (you caught the name, right?) leave me with bile choking my throat. JJ didn't 'save herself,' she simply let the waters close over her head. The elevator doors close because it was 'above her pay grade' and she sighs and moves on. Yeah, I get it, that's what happened to AJ. JJ deserved better.
Perhaps this was an attempt to let the cast and viewers say good-bye. All it did for this viewer was to stoke the fires of anger as the women fall like ninepins and the illogical, unintelligent excuses continue.