I wasn't expecting a lot from this episode because I didn't enjoy the previous season finale all that much but I guess this was marginally better than "Our Darkest Hour", which isn't really saying a great deal.
With all of the hoopla surrounding the firing of A.J. Cook and the limiting of Paget Brewster's role this season, I really was wondering what they would do with this episode. For me, the answer is, not much. Again, while I concede that it was an improvement on the Season Five finale in some ways, in others, I was not at all impressed.
For me, A.J.Cook, Tim Curry and Matthew Gray Gubler had this episode in the palm of their hands and everybody else was pretty close to 'second string'. With A.J.leaving after next week's episode, I suppose the producers thought they should give her some strong stuff to do in her last two appearancesand so, the writers did that as A.J. was terrific all the way through, showing that she can do anything that is required of her if given the opportunity. Unfortunately, that has been denied her for the rest of the run of "Criminal Minds" following the decison by CBS.
Tim Curry was good in 'Our Darkest Hour' and even better here as Billy Flynn, the unsub who has been practicing his craft for so long. While I enjoyed watching him work with Spicer's daughter, the child herself didn't do a lot for me in terms of my feeling her pain or any actual sympathy because she didn't seem able to capture what would be necessary to make me have those feelings and that's a shame, but the actress is young, so maybe she will learn.
The idea of Morgan taking on a certain amount of responsibility for the child doesn't work for me. The writers have given us too many single parents and I think we need something a little different. Plus, apart from "Profiler Profiled", I don't think I've actually seen Morgan 'connect' well with a child, in fact, sometimes, he has no idea how to interview them at all and can be quite abrasive without meaning to be. I would prefer him not to have the added distraction of responsibility for the child as I think the writers should just let Morgan be Morgan.
Matthew Gray Gubler echoed the feelings of thousands of fans when Reid was astonished, hurt and horrified at the idea of J.J. leaving the team. I imagine that was a deliberate action by the writers to try and make us all feel better about the fact that someone else understands our sadness. It's a pity that the decision makers at CBS didn't understand a little bit better because they are messing big-time with a winning formula and I can't think of a single, plausible reason for wanting to do that. It makes no sense at all.
Some parts of this episode, particularly the flashbacks involving Billy Flynn were understandable, but they were also time consuming and it isn't usual to spend so much time on the background of an unsub, especially during a season premiere but kudos to Tim Curry for his performance.
I hope the writers can do better in future episodes this season but 'thank you' to A.J. Cook, Tim Curry and Matthew Gray Gubler for doing such fine work here. Well done.
I have not actually not gotten a chance to see this episode. ION always goes backwards after 'Our Darkest Hour'. I had enjoyed the episode however and Matt Spicer as I am a 'Without a Trace' fan(The actor who portrayed Matt Spicer, Eric Close is a main team member on WAT, Martin Fitzgerald). I hate to judge, I have a history of being quite wrong when having done so. I had come here looking for this episode's name intending to look for it online as the first one always intrigues me so, leaving me very interested in the conclusion. After reading the description of this episode however, I am afraid I am not quite so anxious to see it anymore. I was somewhat disappointed in what I read.
I'd still give it a try but will no longer go looking for it.
Your diatribe against Isabella Murad is absolutely clueless. Don't you get the clue that she was playing the character the way she was told to, which was moreover that way it should be played? Didn't you get that clue, that the serial killer considered her like a granddaughter because he had let her father live in 1984? Didn't you get the clue that that is why he was so solicitous towards her, and that's what gave *her* power over *him*? Didn't you get the clue that she had some inner wisdom that made her understand the situation implicitly, and inner strength rendering her fearless? Didn't you get the clue that she looked like a tiny buddha in the last shot with the final show quote about a family being a garden from the buddha? There are even more clues that you obviously didn't get, but there's not enough space on the internet for them! I never, absolutely never, leave comments on anything on the Web because I consider it mainly a huge waste of time, but Your Cluelessness Left Me No Choice!!! From A.J. Cook's soliloquy over the radio to Tim Curry, to every closing shot of every cast member, to the interaction between Shemar Moore and Isabella Murad at the end to the, finally, one tear running down her cheek in his arms, this is one of the overall most perfectly realized television drama episodes in recent memory. And since I just about never leave comments about anything on the web, also I am not prone to exaggeration. Everyone from the casting producer to the director to the cameraman to the film editor deserves credit and praise for a perfectly realized hour-long television drama: and not least of all, Isabella Murad! Take a good look at her eyes in the screenshot from the show under her profile on imdb that this site won't let me post the url of, and tell me that's not acting!
Maybe it's because I'm viewing it East Coast, but I'm shocked the boards aren't already abuzz about the terrible acting of the little girl way out of her league amongst the heavy weights that include superb maniac Tim Curry. Apparently doing well as a voice over artist, Isabella Murad is not camera ready & it's a shame that such an acclaimed show would force veteran actor Curry to share so much screen time with such a terrible actress.
Nothing disparaging about the kid. Her big problem is the inability to emote anything negative. Great thing in a Mouseketeer, but not in a victim of a serial killer! I honestly could not watch the whole episode because every scene with her made me switch the channel after suffering through her smiling as a man gets shot next to her, smiling as the evil killer yells at her, smiling with fake tears planted in her eyes as the nice people "comfort" her at the end.
I had expected a lot from this episode and was sorely disappointed. The writing was unoriginal, trite hackneyed etc..From the death of the aunt which was telegraphed from the beginning of the episode (and unecessary to further the bond bwetween the girl and Shemar's character.)to the killer's background. The best part of the entire episode was the performance of AJ Cook..It is ironic that JJ, who imo has the most inner strength of anyone in the unit, is being written out..It appears to me that the series in venturing into "jump the shark" terrority. Shemar is a talented and skilled actor who was handcuffed with predicatble behavior by the script. The performance of Isabella was lackluster and curiously lacking emotion due more to the writing and directing than her acting skills. This show highlighted for me what is and has been wrong with hollywood for many years. Hollywood is in a recycling mode where originality has gone out the window. In addition they seem to be carrying on what I call the "vietnam war syndrome". If you examine the writing pre vietnam and after vietnam there is a noticeable trend. The killers story ( a prostitute mom and the child who watches her degrade herself) has been done numerous times...Sadly, this episode could have been a strong one allowing Derek to honor the memory of Det. Spicer in a memorable way, instead the writers and producers chose the cliched route. Lastly using an actor of Robert Davi's ability as window dressing is inexcusable. On the whole, the episode was a pathetic excuse for originality and creativity.
Was there a worse way to end last season cliff-hanger? No, I doubt it.
I had loved "Our darkest hours", it was scary, it had an awesome tension that kept me awake the night I saw it. But what's this? First of all, nobody seems to care about the detective that was killed - not Morgan, not his partner, not even his daughter. This girl who, kidnapped by a monster who raped her aunt and killed her father, is so smart and witty and unbearable in her "I-know-who-you-are-and-I'm-not-afraid-of-you". Come on!!!
The story goes nowhere, messing everything around: no tension, no pathos, nothing. There's something that made me laugh and something else that made me furious. What made me laugh is that a criminal who killed people all around the country for 40 years, surrenders after a three-minutes' speech, because who's talking is a mom and, as a mom, she says he had to be protected (hey, I'm laughing again...). What made me furious is that they depict this criminal in a way that you feel for him, in the end, because he's a victim too, he's the first victim. And it doesn't matter too much - as it usually happens in CM - if not every victim becomes a killer, right?
This was definitely a fitting conclusion to last season's cliffhanger. I really enjoyued this episode, because it was very interesting, quite suspenseful and it had a lot of great action, as the BAU hunted odown its most elusive seirial killer.
I really enjoyed many of the scenes, such as JJ's negotiation and plea over the microphone with the unsub, and it is certainly a fitting way to seee her off the show.
I also loved the epnding, where Morgan goes into the house and the events that follow.
Overall, a truly amazing episode! Great work guys, and I can't wait to see next weeks' episode, which will probably be an emotional inducing one!
Without the knowledge that the character of Jennifer Jareau would be leaving the team, that actress AJ Cook was summarily fired by the powers behind the throne this summer with no notice to cast or crew, without a personal mindset that those in charge of CM have lost their footing and their direction, and, of course, without the residual anger that we are losing both JJ and Prentiss, strong female characters in a male dominated industry, would my opinion about the season opener be any different?
Let's recap – and, yes, folks, there will be spoilers here.
Last season's finale was a let-down, containing little that could be called logic, outside characters that became uber-important, and a 'cliff-hanger' that left us with the firm, solid soil of 'so what?' beneath our feet. The second half had nowhere to go but up.
Enter Ed Bernero. I thought it was a stellar idea for this talented man to take over the finalizing of this story line, to try to pull the raveled edges of this unsub – and this episode – together and to leave the fans with optimism about a season that is already mired by illogical changes and what sounds like a bent towards soap opera. Unfortunately, with twists into the surreal and fantasy sequences that made the ballet scenes from Oklahoma seem consistent, EddyB delivered a Dali-esque ramble on the horrors and happiness of family life.
Thumbs down to the golden wheatfields of Billy Flynn's mind, to the mommy-complex extraordinaire, to the altogether jarring choice of music that, every single time it played, threw me out of the narrative to look around my living room and say, "what the heck?" These were bad choices. Diversions into so-called art instead of decisions that would have moved the story along and pulled at the guts and brains of the viewers.
I must also question the decision to have the young actress playing the hostage do so with an almost completely flat affect, to display none of the horror or panic or even frozen grief that would surge through any child put in this position. Are we to believe that she, in her youth, was able to cut off all emotion, rationalize a need to show a strong face (that even her trained father couldn't do), and summon up some kind of inner wisdom of the ages in order to deal with this disgusting, horrible man who just killed her father? Yes, children can be strong in the face of rampant abuse, but this little girl had absolutely no backstory to suggest she had any experience with this kind of situation, so the director's instructions to the young actress make no sense on the face of it. And, they leave the audience completely disconnected to this young victim, as unable to empathize with her as JJ was with Billy himself.
The instant connection between Morgan and Ellie – which, we are told – is to be a continuing theme this season, was awkward and disjointed. Family, again, is forefront. Hotch, JJ, and now Morgan are to deal with the problems of raising a child with this type of job. Personally, I thought one single father was enough. If CM is not to veer off into TMI about the off-the-job lives of our characters, this 'survivor's guilt/family-less' duo might be a big mistake. Not to mention the fact that the so-called connection between these two was made up of one whispered (unheard by the viewers, which tells me they couldn't come up with realistic dialogue to accomplish this) conversation when the child is still highly traumatized by this event.
Shemar Moore, however, did an excellent job. Well written, well acted. He plays anger well. Other emotions? Good question. I suppose we'll find out.
(Aside - two thumbs way, way up to Reid's mini-rant. Was EddyB reading the forums this spring, I ask? Was this an admission that Billy Flynn's MO made no sense whatsoever? That's what it sounded like to me, and I cheered for that tiny shout-out to the viewers. Tiny shout-out. Not nearly enough.)
But the stand-out performance in this ep brings me back to my first question. JJ was professional, pushy, aggressive, wonderfully real in her self-doubt, achingly honest in her untrained attempt to get Flynn to release his hostage, and completely believable in her total lack of sympathy for his actions. Kudos, writers. Beautifully done, AJ. But, in the same breath, I must ask why this terrific character and this great actress is given this episode as her swan song? I am still angry.
I believe this episode had the potential to be excellent, but its director failed, utterly, to make the mishmash of fantasy flashbacks, un-childlike serenity and wisdom, and wrenching music coalesce into a great story. The plot was there, the actors were there, even most of the dialogue was there, but the storytelling was abysmal.
And, cast changes, illogic, and soapy angst aside, CM is about great storytelling - isn't that the bottom line?
Season 6, Episode 1: "The Darkest Night"
To recap the finale of season five, we are introduced to Billy Flynn, nicknamed "The Prince of Darkness", portrayed by Tim Curry. A murderer who is is lured out of hiding by a series of rolling blackouts. He has shot Detective Spicer and taken his daughter Ellie as a hostage, leaving Morgan tied up on the floor and the girl's aunt on the bed, leaving them helpless to pursue. I was excited for the return of the show, with tonight's premiere, "The Longest Night" continuing the pursuit of Billy Flynn. Tim Curry was terrific in his revival. In my opinion, he outclassed the rest of the cast, acting equal to the standard we saw by Jason Alexander in the season four episode "Masterpiece", which I still feel he deserved an Emmy nomination. I met author Nelson DeMille this past summer, and he explained that every character has to be explained and justified, no matter how small that explanation be. Within the scope of a 40 something minute show, they did just that, starting off with him having delusional fantasies of him as a boy of thirteen, dancing in a field with his mother. A vision that we learn at the end is what he hopes will happen when he sees his mother again in heaven. Billy gets in his broken down RV and takes to the streets, with Ellie in tow. This is where the episode takes a turn for me. The performance of Isabella Murad as Ellie, was lacking to say the least. At times she changes from disinterested, to aggressive, to nonchalant, with one moment when Billy shoots and kills a motorist who stumbles upon your basic "wrong place, wrong time" scenario, while Ellie watches from the RV without even flinching. With Billy on the run, the team learns that he constantly listens to news talk radio, to the point it gets his full attention every time it mentions his name. The team takes advantage of this, sending J.J. to talk to him using the emergency broadcast system. J.J. pushes through a soliloquy from less of the angle of an agent, and more of a mother, convincing him that he is doing nothing but hurting that little girl in the car with him. A surprising move by the writers to give her a large part, considering the preview of next week's episode looks like the last of A.J. Cook. So what does a crack addict that killed his prostitute mother at age 13, then countless others over the span of decades do? That's right, he lets her go and gives the team his location, leading up to the climax of the episode. Morgan enters a house alone with Billy holed up in a back bedroom with two new hostages for the showdown. Mind you, the same way Morgan blames Spicer for going into the other house without backup, ultimately causing his demise. After a short conversation, Billy makes a move, and Morgan kills him. All wrapped up in a neat, little package. The rest of the cast was almost non existent, not my preference, but from time to time necessary when you have a show with a large ensemble cast. Overall, I would have to say I was disappointed by the premiere. Here they have a pure talent in Tim Curry, and they could have put together a terrific two part opening, but they chose not to. Also, I feel it's unfortunate that they killed the character of "The Prince of Darkness". Tim Curry's performance was as good as John Lithgow as "The Trinity Killer" on "Dexter", and I would've preferrred if either woul've gotten away, leaving the opportunity to use him at a later date if they so choose. That's the beauty of letting a good bad guy get away. All in all, the episode was pushed, and I think the writers dropped the ball on this one.
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