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When on form, and even better at its best, 'Criminal Minds' is one of
my most watched and most re-watched shows and is a personal favourite.
It is nowhere near as good now, but there are still good to great
episodes made every now and then when the show doesn't forget what it's
about, but Seasons 1-5 was its prime period.
Season 6 was when 'Criminal Minds' became wildly hit and miss, and generally is one of the show's weakest seasons. There are good episodes such as "Middle Man", "Remembrance of Things Past", "The Longest Night", "Into the Woods" and "Hanley Waters", but also some average or less episodes like "Today I Do", "25 to Life" and particularly "The Thirteenth Step" (which didn't feel like 'Criminal Minds' at all). "With Friends Like These" is towards the lower end of the season.
There are good things. The production values as always are very high in quality, being atmospheric and stylish, while the music has the right amount of the ominous touch and the pathos. There is some decent scripting, like the deduction of the patterns, Hotch's implication of a more experienced profiler coming back, everything with Reid (such as his scene with "protective big brother" Morgan) and some welcome humorous banter with Morgan and Garcia.
Acting is mostly very good, Matthew Gray Gubler being exceptional, with Reid's fear and dilemmas being powerfully written and acted.
However, the case itself is pretty bland and predictable, with the early reveal of the unsub diminishing the suspense levels and the unsub's motives and circumstances being obvious too early on, making it unbelievable that it takes so long for the team to figure it all out. The photo of Prentiss was a lovely touch quickly gone to waste by Garcia's relative lack of emotion, speaking of Garcia aside from some humorous banter with Morgan she doesn't make much of an impression especially in a type of role completely wrong for her.
It is true that Hotch is underused, and Rossi even more so, though Hotch does have a couple of good lines and has the one instance of classic profiling of the entire episode. There is far too little profiling, what there is is reached to all too conveniently and with too much conclusion jumping, only the stuff about the patterns convinces as good profiling. As well as there being far too much Seaver, again a badly mishandled character thrown too much in the viewer's face who continues to be a chronically dull, annoying and pointless presence with dumb, facepalm-worthy dialogue and a constant air of inexperience. Rachel Nichols' acting continues to be very limited.
Overall, watchable but pretty lacklustre. 5/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Becoming a Criminal Minds freak just last summer doesn't mean I don't
appreciate the legacy of the show. I've watched every episode to date,
& this one just didn't live up. There's no other way to put it: 'With
Friends Like These' was predictably written, & snooze-worthy in
The unsub's trio of instigators were phantoms! SURPRISE! Within less than ten minutes we knew they were products of a troubled mind, but for some reason, the writers insisted on beating these dead horses to paste, the only twist being his insomnia. Repeated glimpses of flame, water dousings & references to exorcism seemed clumsy at best. And the 'climatic' scene where Reid's image becomes wavy was actually painful to watch.
Hotch was underused to the point of irrelevance, with Rossi trotting behind. We were subjected to Morgan acting as Seaver's nanny & Reid's shrink. Do they seriously think we're buying Seaver as a valid BAU profiler because Garcia baked her cupcakes? Or that we'll relish Reid spiraling into psychosis? For crying out loud, no wonder the kid has headaches. Lighten up! Give Reid a break & bring back the starlet in the swimming pool.
Seriously, I fear the Criminal Minds team has lost its way, or perhaps, they've split their creative resources to accommodate the unworthy spin- off, which would ultimately prove fatal to both shows. In either case, someone needs to listen to the disgruntled viewers & get the train back on its track... sooner is better.
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