Criminal Minds: Season 5, Episode 10

The Slave of Duty (9 Dec. 2009)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
8.0
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While Agent Hotchner takes a leave of absence from the BAU, the team must regroup to solve a home invasion case.

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Erika Silverman
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Joe Belser
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Det. Landon Kaminski
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Cade Owens ...
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Following the murder of Haley by George Foyet and Foyet's subsequent death at Hotch's hands, Hotch needs to take some time to regroup and review both his professional and personal life, especially in how to deal with raising Jack on his own. Strauss provides him with an option. In the meantime, the team, without Hotch, is called to a case in Nashville, Tennessee. Two young brunette women, both high powered executives, have so far been killed in their own homes, the floor around them covered in rose petals. Evidence indicates that the women were being stalked, and that the unsub is hyper-vigilant in his control of the murders, with both being almost identical down to what the women ate prior to death. It seems as if the unsub is romancing the women against their will. It isn't until they discover an anomaly to the routine of one of the victims and look at the unsub profile is a slightly different manner that the team begins to piece together who the unsub is and who he might target ... Written by Huggo

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9 December 2009 (USA)  »

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[last lines]
David Rossi: [finding Hotch at Haley's grave] I had a feeling I'd find you here. Have you told her yet?
Aaron 'Hotch' Hotchner: Told her what?
David Rossi: That you're coming back to the team. That fighting the bad guys is who you are.
Aaron 'Hotch' Hotchner: I don't have to tell her. She already knows.
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Funeral of Dreams
5 August 2011 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

So, at the preceding episode's end it *seemed* Strauss was willing to look Hotch's beating of Foyet to death through her fingers. It is highly unrealistic and also troubling that the writers want us to believe that FBI (or at least Strauss) would just dismiss such extreme loss of control merely on the basis that Hotch *believed* Foyet would kill his son if Hotch didn't kill Foyet. Fact: Hotch killed a man who was already so beaten up he could not defend himself. Last time I checked, that constitutes as suspected manslaughter. At the very least, Strauss should be confine Hotch into psychiatric evaluation.

The episode begins with Haley's funeral, which is sombre and touching. Then Morgan confirms what I feared: Hotch will return to work. Implausible! The man clearly lost control - a law enforcement agency cannot put a person on field in that state. But hey, the writers of this series have proved time and time again that if anything, they are inconsistent.

But at least for this episode, the team has to manage without Hotch, being called to work from Haley's wake. They are in a race against the clock with an unsub who is likely to kill again within 1 day - this is always a simple but effective way to raise tension. But not inventive. The investigation presents several mysteries which give the episode more pull. It also helps that the show-runners have a reliable guest star.

Rena Sofer has proved herself to be very capable in recurring roles in recent years, in 24, Heroes and, after this aired, in NCIS. In the role of Erika Silverman, she makes us feel what it is like to be in this unsub's sick fantasy. Wes Brown is also great as the insane but imaginative killer Joe Belser. And the surprise turn that happens during Belser's capture of Erika is genuinely shocking.

Things also improve when Strauss "subtly" suggests that Hotch retire. Now this is somewhat believable. But this plot unsurprisingly falls flat when Hotch refuses full pension and informs Strauss he will return to work. Well, at least we can expect a leadership contest between Hotch and Morgan? It is, after all, foreshadowed by Rossi, right? I wouldn't hold my breath if you have not yet seen this episode.

In the end, one stand-out scene ("Why! Do! You! Have! A! Key!") is not enough to salvage a pedestrian episode. This is above average, but as 6/10, just barely. Another case of potential for a classic wasted. A shame.


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