In Baltimore, Maryland, retired couple William and Helen DeMarco are found murdered in their home, a young white male who was seen fleeing from the scene of the crime. In reviewing the crime scene, the BAU see signs of extreme torture in the killings. They also know that there was a third victim. Hidden throughout the neighborhood, they later find the dismembered body parts of that third victim, Freddy Condore, a low level mobster and nephew of the deceased. The case becomes a turf war in the FBI between Organized Crime and the BAU, who decide to continue to investigate regardless. They believe the killer is a sadist who has killed upward of one hundred men. In going through Condore's history, the team quickly find the name Jimmy Baker, a self-professed rehabilitated ex-con whose mug shot looks remarkably similar to that of the suspect fleeing the murder scene, but whose background raises some red flags amongst the team. When they discover Baker's true identity, the BAU also ... Written by
'Criminal Minds' when good or at its best makes for compulsive viewing, and one of the few shows today not missed without fail. Season 1 did become inconsistent after "The Fox", but, while there were a few dull and routine episodes between that and "Riding the Lightning", "What Fresh Hell" and "Natural Born Killer" were very good.
The only thing that seemed a little off about "Natural Born Killer" was the very odd talk about optics that will leave some scratching their heads. To a lesser extent, Morgan also seemed to find the gun a little too easily, doesn't one think? However, there are some great character moments, like the fight with Hotch, the rapport between Garcia, Reid and Elle (Garcia has some smart and hilarious lines and this is one of not many episodes that didn't leave me cold towards Elle) and the scenes between Hotch and the unsub.
As for the torture, it is harrowing and genuinely scary here and not in a way that feels gratuitous (if anything it added to the already creepiness of the atmosphere), if anybody hates rats they are guaranteed to hate them even more. The unsub is one of the season's, and show's most interesting and chilling, amazingly played by Patrick Kilpatrick with a stare that will give even those with strong stomachs and not easily terrified the heebie-jeebies.
"Natural Born Killer" is one of the season's most stylish, darkest, grittiest and atmospheric visually, and the music is haunting. The writing is strong, with some of the best use of profiling in 'Criminal Minds' history, and the story is riveting and filled with genuine horror, tension and suspense. The regular acting is very good across the board, especially Thomas Gibson, but Kilpatrick gets the acting honours here.
In conclusion, a riveting episode with torture that has rarely been scarier or more effective and profiling that the later seasons (especially Season 11) should have taken notes from. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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