Criminal Minds Review: "Corazon"

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Despite all the behind-the-scenes casting controversy, the always-chilling Criminal Minds has produced some of the better episodes in recent memory during its sixth season.

Did "Corazon," the first episode of 2011, live up to the show's standards? Mostly. At times, the show gets almost too graphic, relying on razor-sharp writing to compensate.

When the writing and filming don't feel quite right, you're left with an episode you feel could have been better - even if a sub-par Criminal Minds is still better than most TV.

BAU Members

This week the team traveled to Miami in search of an UnSub who practices a mystical (and eerie) Afro-Caribbean religion and has been killing (and dismembering) his victims.

The writers deserve much credit for even attempting some of these settings and plot lines and the terrific cast is always worth watching, but this one didn't quite hit the mark.

Something about "Santeria," as I believe the religion is named, did not come across as believable and the filming style felt like the show was trying a bit too hard to be gritty.

That said, the case involved a number of unexpected twists in the hunt for this disturbing UnSub, while a subplot involving Reid’s undiagnosed illness bookended the episode.

Jimmy Mercado, a local who knew the victim, first tells the BAU about Santeria. They also meet Julio Ruiz, who runs the local soup kitchen, and his teenage assistant Elian. 

The team meets with a professor writing the only book on the topic when they learn Jimmy Mercado is dead. The UnSub is now targeting people who talk with the BAU.

Julio is dragged to the station for questioning, but despite his criminal past, he seems genuinely remorseful and is ruled out as a suspect. Elian, however, not so much.

When the kid turns up MIA, he begins to look guiltier by the minute, but the BAU later begins to suspect Elian was framed, thanks to various inconsistencies in the case.

Parts of the crimes fit in with Palo Mayombe, but others did not. No prints were left at the scene, but a bloody footprint conveniently matched a shoe found in Elian’s room.

It all seemed a bit obvious then. Prentiss and Morgan figure it out that it’s professor Walker, trying to get press for his book, who committed the crimes and framed Elian.

Reid stumbles upon the killer and a tied-up Julio, and after some clever outmaneuvering, the rest of the team show up to arrest the UnSub and free Julio and Elian.

All the while, Dr. Reid and the MRI of his brain are the episode's backdrop. The guy has been suffering from very bad headaches and even some mild hallucinations.

In the end, the scans of his brain are surprisingly normal. The doctors suggest he might be suffering psychosomatic symptoms due to stress. This is likely not over yet.

Reid's migraine appears to be caused by past emotional/psychological trauma, so we can't imagine we've seen the last of this. It will be interesting to see where it goes.

Overall, it was solid, just not Criminal Minds at its best. A little predictable and gory for the sake of being gory, but again, the show is almost a victim of its own success.

It's hard to expect a home run every time out, especially after five-plus seasons, and even attempting some of these borderline out-there stories counts for a lot.

What did you think of last night's Criminal Minds? Comment below!


Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (98 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


With films and television striving to have more realistic pieces of work, why was sensationalism dominant over accuracy? This episode gives the public an impression that these horrific practices are acceptable and common in the Lukumi/Santeria and Palo Mayombe. Not so! How much more would it have cost to hire a priest as a consultant? There have been many crimes performed in more recognized religions, and there a very few pieces that give such a gory representation. Rape and murder were the calling cards of the Crusades.while they held the cross. Weren't babies buried in the walls of convents and monasteries? Was the blood and horrific crimes accentuated? The persistent maligning of African based religions needs to stop, and the practitioners need to unite and act. The viewers might soak this up, but Santeria is recognized as a New Religion in college text books. Inaccuracy and false representation is unacceptable. The writers,directors and producers owe the spiritual community and religion an apology. Kathryn Forestal
olorisha of Yemoja


It is extremely offensive as a priest in the lukumi faith to see that you have chosen to portray Santeria in a way that is not only untrue but a complete distortion of practice. The network should apologize for its portrayal. The writer should be fired immediately and the actors should be ashamed of themselves for perpetuating negative stigma towards Afro-Caribbean faiths. You have sparked an outrage in our community over your offensive representation and if it had been towards Christian or Jewish based faiths, someone would be held accountable. Enough with your poorly researched hate propaganda towards indigenous faiths. Apologize!


I remember when actors and actresses,producers, and directors themselves would study not only their lines in their scripts but study the entire character and life of that person/character they are going to be playing before performing the role as not to make a fool of themselves on camera..janet jackson lived a couple of months with some girls in the "hood" so as to learn the modern street lingo and physical gestures which helped her much in her acting role as a street girl in the movie poetic justice. I respected her for that and other actors/actresses that study their roles in it's entirety and not give fake half ass performances of what they only imagine or hear tidbits about especially when it comes to a religious perspective. There are sooo many books on Santeria and Palo religions not to mention you tube videos out there for the person to have gotten at least 99 percent of it right..just when i thought Hollywood cult movies that were all so wrong, stupid and fake was truly a thing of the past. Instead of real acting we're getting these fake High Fructose actors, producers and directors..and screen story writers especially the writers.


All I have to say is that this television program should be ashamed of themselves. It's obvious that the team of writers DID NOT DO THEIR HOMEWORK in reference to the ancient tradition they were presenting to the world.
Sadder still, the American public will not be intelligent enough to research what has been presented by the show, thus they will take what the writers have presented as truth. I guess for some, one can sleep good at night knowing that they feed their families on the bases of disseminating untruths about groups of individuals that they no nothing about just to get ratings at Nielsen every week.


Extremely off beat, and very offensive to us priests in the religion. Episodes like this one causes society to look at priests/santeros like me as monsters. Absolutely distastful...


So, it seems rather obvious that many people have been pissed off by this episode because it is submitting to hollywood stereotypes of Afro-Caribbean religions. Not to be offensive, but let me just say, "Chill out!" My religion has been trashed for a very long time as well, but I can deal with it. If there's inaccuracies in some movie involving it I don't become dissapointed in the movie, I still enjoy it. Also, remember that the preist and his assistant ended up being good guys, not the un-subs. The unsub wasn't even a true believer in Palo Mayombe, he just used it as an means to get attention. Another point: no matter what the religion, if it is involved in a show like Criminal Minds the darker side will always be high-lighted. A serial killer can't use the happy, moral, loving side of a religion as his excuse to kill! For example, in Season 4 Episode 17, Demonology, the dark aspects of Catholisism was used in a case. It's not just Palo Mayombe that is used to make a creepy, religion based crime show episodes. Now, with all of that out of the way we can finally think of poor Spencer. With all of this religious crap going around every one seems to have forgoten his issues! I'm mean he is possably developing schitzophrenia for heaven's sake! Of course, if the writers know their stuff (which they probably don't) then they'll know that schitzophrenia does have a physical effect on the brain and that it usually manifests in late teens, early twenties. Spencer is too old for that. Well, let's just hope he gets better then. Signing out,
Lyric Gray


This episode was extremely insulting to a priest in the Lucumi tradition and it was a mumbo jumbo of misinformation, stereotype and another way for "Hollyweird" to continue to misrepresent African Traditional Religions in a negative light. Please stop the nonsense and the hoopla of trying to make money off what I practice, what I believe in, and making me look like a drug dealer, a killer and/or not normal for any involvement in the Santeria, O'Lucumi traditions. Far too many inaccuracies.


You know the sad reality is even though the themes are played out to some of us..hollywood and tv has played this over and over before,strides have been made to educate the communities outside of our's..i bet you ask any young person out there (most of them tune into that show, what they know of AFRICAN SPIRITUALITY,MOST OF THEM NEVER HEARD OF OBA PICHARDO and what he and his family has sacrificed for us to have what is our god given right- they will most likely say to you WHO IS HE ? and give you the old srereotypes of AFRICAN SPIRITUALITY )so basically to these people what they see is what they believe,sadly most people today if it's on tv it's has to be true,the brain is a terrible thing to waste, man and they are wasting out there-cause noone thinks for themselves anymore,we have beome very lazy mentally as was necessary to continue promoting the lies, is necessary caus there's a whole new generation to mis-educate,it is necessary for us to not take this so lightly cause it's our kids who will pay the price for this new breed of ignorance,our laid back attitudes and refusal to see the danger/damage disguised as mere a person of african descent who has embraced apart of my cultural heritige this ignorance and racism i deal with every day on some level..I KNOW THIS IS CONSTANT STRUGGLE REGARDLESS OF THE STRIDES THAT OUR ANCESTORS HAVE MADE IN THE be seen and treated as an EQUAL AND WITH disrepect to those who have posted their own opinions..this is merely mine also...MODUPE


."CRIMINAL MINDS"CORAZON"(S 6 - EP 12)".. I happen to catch it after my txt started to blow up on me, from those who know of my love for AFRICAN SPIRITUALITY..THE CONTINUED ''SYSTEMATIC DEMONIZING & DE_HUMANIZING OF TRADITIONAL AFRICAN SPIRITUALITY" is still such a vital part of this society.The continued need of those who for some reasom : ) are still uncomfortable by those of us who don't fit into the " WELL U R DIFFERENT FROM THE REST THEM,U R NOT LIKE THE REST OF THEM" category,find it still necessary to RE-ENFORCE THE IMAGES & STEREOTYPES...IS SAD.......EVEN MORE SAD IS THE DESCENDANTS OF ONCE PROUD AFRICANS, are so lost, so far removed..that tomorrow will choose to BELIEVE the GARBAGE shown on the EPISODE " CORAZON" CCRIMINAL MINDS.. what a befitting name "CRIMINAL MINDS.....OUR SELF HATE RUNS THAT DEEP,SO DEEP THAT.... "WE HATE "OLOFI" BUT LOVE J.C.....WE HATE TO BE CALLED AFRICAN..BUT ARE PROUD TO BE CALLED NIGGERS,NIGGAS,BITCHS,NEGROS,COLOREDS,BLACKS,GUYANESE,TRINIS,JCANS..E.T.C ".... I know a lot will disagree,u r entitled..but just think.."HOW CAN U HATE THE TREE AND NOT HATE THE FRUITS IT BARES"........ "IT'S CRIMINAL WHAT WE CONTINUE TO DO TO OUR MINDS""......MODUPE GBOGBO EGUN..This i had posted on FB AFTER SEEING THE EPISODE.KNOWING THAT THE NEXT DAY WHAT I WOULD HAVE TO DEAL WITH AT WORK..


Kiambote krikoria. Greetings to all of the priests out there.
I find it interesting how much attention this got from the religious community. Frankly, I didn't really feel offended nor belittled. What can we expect? Our religions are religions with secrets. And to be honest I don't think there's ever going to be a true practicioner that will reveal the secrets because we know why they're there. So I think it will always be this way.
At the end of the day , the priest ended up being a hero as a person entirely concerned with the well being of his community and even the unbelievers. In my mind that is a favorable exposition. The fact that it had inaccuracies is ok with me.
As a palero and olorisha, I don't mind how they depicted my beliefs. You want to check out a messed up depiction of us? Check out a movie called Borderland. Now that is messed up!
I remain a fan of this show. I have to agree that some of the scenes were overly gross and out of context, but again how can we expect otherwise when we practice oral traditions that are guarded?
Oh well. I hope they revisit the issue and have Dr. Reid get that cleansing (although a paraldo, you have to admit is a bit more than that).
May my mother Oshun grant you all ire omo, ire owo
God bless you all.

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