The BAU are called to work on the case of Teddy Bryar, a former physicist and now delusional psychotic, who has hijacked an El Paso to Dallas train. Bryar killed a security guard in the initial gunfire. The BAU rush to the scene when they learn that one of the hostages is Elle, who was on a business trip alone. Teddy, egged on by his "delusion" named Leo, is aware that Elle is an FBI agent from her case file folder. The other hostages on that specific car are Dr. Linda Deaton (Teddy's doctor, who was heading to a conference on psychosis where Teddy was supposed to be a success case study); Elaine Curtis (a young single pregnant woman who was heading to get an abortion); Josh Patel (a young man with a history of drinking and driving and who had been disowned by his family for doing so); and Harold Anderson (an armed but unbalanced and meek man who was heading to shoot his estranged wife). Teddy will not negotiate with anyone except those he deems to be the "higher authority". The BAU ... Written by
Matthew Gray Gubler who plays Dr. Spencer Reid practiced to be a magician when he was younger, and performs a magic trick as part of the plot. In interviews he has mentioned magician Harry Anderson as an influence. One of the hostages on the train is named Harry Anderson. See more »
There never have been direct flights from Washington D.C. to El Paso. In fact, most of the flights to locations in Texas route through either Houston or Dallas which are major hubs.
If Elle was going to both El Paso AND Dallas, she almost certainly would have landed IN Dallas from Washington D.C. and had to catch a flight TO El Paso. The train ride would be illogical as she was already where she needed to be when she arrived in Texas. See more »
Really not one of the show's best episodes, not a complete train-wreck either
"Derailed" has proved to be a very divisive episode of 'Criminal Minds'. Some really enjoy it, others dislike it intensely. Personally am somewhere in the middle.
It is not one of the best episodes of the show, and there are far stronger ones in Season 1. "The Fox", "Riding the Lightning" and "The Fisher King Part 1" are notable examples. But the worst episode of Season 1? No. One of the weaker ones, but by far the worst episode of the season is "Machismo", which also ranks down there towards the bottom.
Where "Derailed" mainly falls down is in the very flawed story execution. There are good things about the story here. There is tension and suspense, the episode showcases Reid's character wonderfully, the ending is poignant, Morgan and Garcia do shine when her initially chirpy demeanour changes drastically after hearing what has happened, Gideon is also interesting, the unsub is developed well and Morgan's developing chemistry with Reid is hard to resist.
On the other hand, "Derailed" is also slow and predictable, and also contrived in places. It can be lazy when it comes to logic, it is not easy to feel sympathy for Elle because she is pretty cold and egotistical here (considering that the episode centres mainly around her that is a big problem) and the other hostages are nowhere near as interesting as they should be with too many of their subplots unresolved and pretty wasted actually (in a way they were necessary but they were executed in a cheesy and underdeveloped fashion).
Supporting cast are very much inconsistent. Chris Bauer does an excellent job with a very old-hat kind of role, the paranoid schizophrenic is hardly original territory for 'Criminal Minds' or any crime-mystery show in general, but Bauer does bring tension and complexity to the role. Jeff Kober is indeed brilliant as Leo as well. Of the hostages, Susan Gibney comes off best and Kevin Cristaldi tries his best with an incompletely written and pretty nonsensical character if a little bland. However, Anil Raman is awful and incredibly irritating as a character that adds very little.
When it comes to the BAU, too many of the BAU are underused especially Morgan, Garcia and JJ (who barely does anything, at least Morgan and Garcia have that scene), and again Lola Glaudini does fail to inject much personality or warmth as Elle. However, Reid plays the most interesting character in the whole episode and Matthew Gray Gubler is truly exceptional. Mandy Patinkin also performs with authority and intensity. It can be admitted though that it is very clear how much the team care for one another, which is truly adorable and affecting.
The episode is also very well made and atmospherically scored. There is evidence of taut and suspenseful writing, though also instances of it being disjointed and incomplete.
All in all, not a train-wreck but there are definitely much better episodes in Season 1, let alone in 'Criminal Minds' history. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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