While fixing a burst water main, a city works crew digs up the back yard of the home of the Johnsons - father Charles, mother Tina, and their middle aged son Lyle - upon Tina's approval. ... See full summary »

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Tina Johnson
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Lyle Johnson
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Charles Johnson
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Cheryl Bishop
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Mike Bishop
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M.E. Tamako Kimura
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Greg
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Storyline

While fixing a burst water main, a city works crew digs up the back yard of the home of the Johnsons - father Charles, mother Tina, and their middle aged son Lyle - upon Tina's approval. The Johnsons have lived at the house for thirty-five years. The crew finds the skeletons of two human bodies buried in the yard. The BAU takes the three members of the Johnson family in for questioning, who they believe know something about the skeletons, primarily because Lyle ran when he saw the authorities at the house. While Hotch, JJ, Morgan, Rossi and Cruz question the Johnsons individually, Lyle initially comes across as the most guilty by his animosity, however the team eventually believes his attitude is more a facade hiding other issues. Charles also demonstrates a more reserved form of animosity, he being a history buff who continually implies how he and his family, as being black, have been persecuted, this situation being no different. The identification of the two bodies and of the ... Written by Huggo

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TV-14 | See all certifications »
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20 November 2013 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Rossi mentions the Central Park Jogger case. See more »

Quotes

Jennifer Jareau: [Hotch is watching Rossi's interrogation] How's he doing?
Aaron Hotchner: I think he's making progress.
Jennifer Jareau: I'm surprised none of them have lawyered up yet.
Aaron Hotchner: Tina and Lyle haven't because they know that they're innocent. Charles is a sociopath. He thinks he can talk his way out of it.
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Soundtracks

Strange Fruit
Written by Lewis Allan (as Abel Meeropol)
Performed by Billie Holiday (as Billie Holliday)
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A decent attempt at doing something different
3 August 2016 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

'Criminal Minds' at its best (and while it is a show with seasons better than others and all the seasons having a mixture of wonderful episodes and disappointments) is enough to make the show one of my favourite shows.

There are better episodes of 'Criminal Minds' than "Strange Fruit", but it was a decent attempt at doing something different (if not completely coming off successfully) and it's nowhere near close to being one of the show's low-points.

People may be disappointed at the relative lack of action and that much of the episode is dominated by interviews rather than profiling and such. To tackle the heavy subject of racism was a bold move, and while there are some harrowing and poignant moments, especially the end, the theme could have been handled with more grace and subtlety, not surprising as it is a subject that can fall into the danger of being heavy-handed.

Knowing who the unsub is a quarter of the way in, so the case is more a whydunnit rather than a whodunit, does take away from the suspense somewhat as well, and there is not quite enough of the rest of the BAU which robs us of the little character moments and the adorable team dynamic that is a large part of the show's appeal.

On the other hand, "Strange Fruit" is a very well made episode as ever, stylish, gritty and quite beautiful, while the music is both haunting and melancholic. The script is thought-provoking, particularly in the scenes between Rossi and Charles, and the story though with the odd sedate spot has plenty of tension between Rossi and Charles and has a powerful ending, in a rare occurrence where one sympathises with the unsub and despises the victims.

The episode is strongly directed, and the performances are very good. Joe Mantegna is a revelation as Rossi, crucial in making the episode work because Rossi takes centre stage and is an interesting character here, and while L. Scott Caldwell and Seth Gilliam are great even great is the brilliant turn of Glynn Turman.

Overall, not completely successful but decent and one of the more interesting episodes of Season 9 (one of the better ones overall too). 7/10 Bethany Cox


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