The apparent death by Satanic ritual brings the BAU to a small town, and the profiling morphs into a search when it's learned that a teenage girl is missing.The apparent death by Satanic ritual brings the BAU to a small town, and the profiling morphs into a search when it's learned that a teenage girl is missing.The apparent death by Satanic ritual brings the BAU to a small town, and the profiling morphs into a search when it's learned that a teenage girl is missing.
The concept was not a bad one for "The Popular Kids", which is why it pains me to say that it should have been so much better than it was. There are a fair few things that save it, namely great acting by Matthew Gray Gubler (who is the episode's most well-developed character), Mandy Patinkin and Shemar Moore, helped by that these characters are developed well here. "The Popular Kids" also deals with Reid's nightmares and stresses with the job very well and sensitively, allowing one to really relate to him (have done numerous times throughout the show but along with "Elephant's Memory" this is one of the stronger cases), and there is a beautifully done scene at the end with Reid and Gideon, a fine reminder of how strong the bond within the team is.
Morgan's protective and sympathetic big brother side was lovely to see, and preferable to his more tough guy and hardened image in later seasons and in episodes like "I Love You Tommy Brown" and "Burn" where he was rude and a jerk. Even those who are not crazy about the character in general will like most likely what the show did with him in the first three seasons or so. The production values continue to be very high, with lots of style, atmosphere and class, and the music is haunting stuff often and while it doesn't quite enhance it never distracts either. The acting from all the regular leads is very good, though have to admit that Elle has never been a favourite with a few exceptions and she still isn't.
However, there are far more interesting stories than the one here. The episode feels dull and padded, despite starting promisingly and a couple of good scenes, and is not only routine and formulaic but also predictable and obvious. The identity of the unsub can be smelt a mile off, from the moment they were introduced one immediately knows it was them which dilutes the tension and suspense. The team do very little here and feel underused at times, they are not as useless as they are in "Honor Among Thieves" but one really does have to despair at how long it took to figure it out when it was too obvious to the viewer too early.
With the script and direction, they are a case of getting the job done reliably but with not much spark. The supporting characters are not interesting, either being underwritten or annoyingly idiotic, and that is including the unsub (one of Season 1's least interesting) and the sheriff is a good example of the latter. The support acting never rises above average.
Overall, one of Season 1's weaker episodes. 5/10 Bethany Cox
- Sep 16, 2016