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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
To Live Is to Die, 20 July 2011
Author: ttapola from Finland
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a pleasant surprise. In the past, this series has had a couple
of *brilliant* season finales, namely #1.22, "The Fisher King: Part 1",
and #3.20, "Lo-Fi", to which the following seasons' openers (#2.1 and
#4.1) have failed to live up to. Add to this the fact that season 4
finale, "To Hell... and Back" ended in a situation similar to "The
Fisher King: Part 1", with Hotch being shot instead of Elle, meaning it
was only natural to despair when Hotch was found alive after
encountering The Reaper just as Elle was found alive after encountering
The Fisher King.
But. What first seemed like the series giving us *another* serial killer who apparently can't kill someone at point-blank range with a gun soon becomes a clever trick. Were the writers *pretending* to fail as they did with "The Fisher King: Part 2", only to be able to pull the rug from under the viewers' feet when The Reaper's diabolical intentions are finally revealed? If so, bravo!
Also, with The Reaper, Criminal Minds seems to finally have found its own Jack of All Trades (The Profiler). What The Reaper does to Hotch, forcing his family to be placed into protective custody so that Hotch cannot stay in contact with them, causing him to live in constant suffering makes The Reaper one of the most sadistic criminal masterminds ever. And he has a cool name too!
Yet, there is more. With the Reaper - Hotch situation developed into a state where The Reaper is (for now) *constantly* in the picture, without actually being present, the whole series finally embraces a fulfilling continual narrative its been so decisively trying to avoid for four years in favor of new-viewer-friendly stand-alone episodes. Yes, Criminal Minds is still not The Wire, but hey, *nothing* is The Wire. And if one wants a non-HBO example for fairness's sake (The Wire not having the network-enforced limitations that Criminal Minds does), we can say that Criminal Minds is still not Babylon 5, Fringe or Lost. Yes, they are not in the Crime Procedural genre that has been overflowing since CSI made it so popular, but all three had a grand plan from the beginning, even if B5 and Lost did not manage to realize it as originally intended. Bottom line: Criminal Minds just *evolved*. In this sense, it feels like Supernatural - a show that after a few (three to be exact) flawed seasons found redemption and became must-see-TV (for seasons 4 and 5 at least).
One almost forgets that The Reaper is not the Unsub of the Week. The actual main plot is clever, gripping stuff too, even though after a wonderful twist the climax is a bit of a disappointment. However, overall, this is still great, 8/10, stuff and proves that after four seasons of wildly variating episode quality, Criminal Minds is *not* yet out of the game.
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