I had to look at this episode from two different perspectives: the first, as an episode for the long time fans of Criminal Minds, and the other as an episode designed to draw in new viewers. The time slot after the Superbowl is known as the time slot of a lifetime. The theory is that many millions of people have just watched the game, and haven’t had a chance to change the channel, and they are willing to try something new. What an opportunity for the best unadvertised show on television!
For the dedicated CM fan, this episode gave us some things we really wanted. We got to see our team having fun together, letting their hair down, dancing, messing around. Even though Gideon didn’t “play well with others,” he got to relax doing what recharged his batteries. Then it was “to the Batmobile!” and the team is off to Georgia to try to catch the mission-based killers. The team interaction was great, and the unsub was played to the hilt by former teen-star Van Der Beek – who would have guessed he could be so creepy? And the cliff-hanger ending had what all fans who are honest with themselves are secretly hoping for: our team members are in a heap of trouble.
For newbies the writers started off gently, leading the audience down the profiling pathway, and introducing them to the particular terminology of the FBI BAU. There was enough explanation, but not too much. The plot was simple but elegant, and although the crimes were some of the yuckiest and most visceral, you can certainly say that new viewers got an accurate depiction of what CM is about. All the characters were shown doing what they do best.
It must have been hard to try to straddle that line – almost like writing another pilot without boring the diehard fans to death. From the casting to the tempo to the character development, CM pulled it off.