Criminal Minds: Season 4, Episode 19

House on Fire (25 Mar. 2009)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
7.9
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When the kill count of a mass-murdering arsonist active in a small town reaches 31, the BAU are called in.

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Title: House on Fire (25 Mar 2009)

House on Fire (25 Mar 2009) on IMDb 7.9/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Tina Wheeler
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Dr Rawlings
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Tommy Wheeler
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Fire Captain Danny Wales
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Chief Tom Schultz
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Nancy
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Mother
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Storyline

A serial arsonist is active in Royal, Indiana. The arsonist went from setting fires in unoccupied buildings to largely populated ones. In the last two fires - in a community center and a movie theater - the death count reaches 31 people. The BAU realize that they have to tread lightly as they suspect the unsub to be a local, and with Royal being a small town, anyone they question will be the target of a public witch hunt. And with the high death count in such a small town, determining if there is a specific victimology is made more difficult. The arsonist strikes again when the BAU least expects. Because the latest fire is different than the previous ones, they believe the last fire is the one that holds the key to understanding the motivation and finding the perpetrator. This case is especially difficult for Garcia, who is asked to do things outside of her normal duties. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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25 March 2009 (USA)  »

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1.78 : 1
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Goofs

When Garcia states that Tommy re-emerged at 21 in Franklin, Indiana, she says that that's 300 miles away from Royal, Indiana. However, 300 miles from Franklin would put Royal well outside of Indiana. If she's rounding, 300 kilometers would be close to Gary, where the doctor mentions taking the burn patient. (For reference, the entire length of Indiana is 270 miles.) See more »

Quotes

Aaron Hotchner: [closing quotation, voiceover] "I have loved to the point of madness. That which is called madness. That which to me is the only sensible way to love." - Francoise Sagan.
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Features The Blob (1958) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sins of Omission
7 November 2010 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

Having one's episode to follow an instant classic like "Omnivore" must have been viewed as a no-win situation. Network shows that have 20+ episodes per year have a tight filming schedule, so multiple scripts are being written simultaneously and the episodes might even be filmed in different order than broadcast. In any case, one sympathizes with the writer and director of this otherwise worthy episode.

There is a lot to recommend this episode: great concept, excellent guest roles from some of the best supporting actors around, Michael Rooker, who's proved he's more than just Henry, and Sam Anderson, probably best known as Bernard from Lost, but a familiar face to practically everyone who watches TV. And while the word 'recommend' feels uneasy when applied to the scene that *will* linger in your mind like a similar scene in Se7en (I won't spoil it), it means the creators have achieved something memorable. Reduced to its core idea, the back-story of the arsonist is ripped straight out of real world, which makes it all the more frightening and thought-provoking. It is even voiced out by Reid at three quarters into the episode.

However, this episode is also written straight into the Criminal Minds mold that gets pretty distracting and downright insulting when forced upon the viewer the umpteenth time: Needless editing tricks, scenes of the killer shot out of focus, overlays of the events upon the BAU agents at the scene of said event, lectures given to the local police - all these could be at least used more sparingly, and in the case of the overlays, eliminated entirely, because unintentional as it may be, showing what happened earlier while simultaneously showing the agents explaining what happened is insulting the audience's intelligence. Less is more. The writers and directors need look no further than the classic episodes of this very series. This could have been a 8/10 (clichés in the story out-ruling a 9/10), now it's "just" 7/10 (still very good).


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