Watching this episode you realize how important minimally competent actors are to the show. Even filler fare can rise above in the correct hands. There's a reason very few people were sorry to see Lola Glaudini leave Criminal Minds: she's never progressed beyond her high school acting classes, and wouldn't know how to develop a character if her life depended on it. If you watch this performance, she's taken what could have been an amazingly complex character who is pathologically evil and boiled her into a one-emotion act. The problem here is that her emotion of choice -- the only one she knows how to play -- is a remote dominatrix. Unfortunately, since Lola can only play herself, all she pulls off is remote. She's not comfortable enough in her skin to show the innate sexiness of a dominatrix, and she will never have the talent to move beyond a self-portrait. By the time the final con is played and an explanation for why the character is what she is, no one cares. Certainly not Glaudini, who reveals nothing at her character's exposure. Add to all this Witt's facial tics and eye-rolling, and you just have to feel for Bogosian, Noth and the crew who had to live through this shoot. This one is definitely worth a miss unless you're a hard-core fan.
Blackmail ensues when a meek, balding, would-be writer married to a wealthy socialite and consorting with a ditzy mistress wakes up in a hotel bed next to the bound, dead body of a pretty, blonde, married Ukranian girl he had met the night before in a bar
This episode had a good, swift pace, some workmanlike investigation (with some solid contributions from Falacci, who other times has come off as loud and confrontational rather than substantive), a nasty, colorful character in the Ukranian's abusive husband, and the makings of a good blackmail premise and clever, premeditating villain motivated by a colorfully described career slide. Unfortunately, characters and plot details were sketchy and undeveloped, and they smacked of empty sensationalism. The episode had no clear, serious point to make about its apparent theme of lonely people. And the regulars acted as if they were just going through the motions.
The story wound through various characters and situations that were interesting for a while. But then it rushed toward the solution, without ever clearly explaining the relationship between the ringleader, the child-like mistress, and the Ukranian young woman, or the exact workings of the blackmail operation, which seemed implausible, haphazard, and ad hoc. The resort to murder was convoluted and made little sense (it took a huge risk simply to create a way to blackmail the writer). All of this undercut the supposedly cool, calculating profile of the ringleader and the understandability and fun of watching the characters in action. And the writer and the mistress ended up being annoyingly drab, simple characters.
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