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Criminal Minds Season Finale Review: Face Cards and Farewells

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Whoa. Where do I even begin? Oh right, with the bank robbery. Or maybe the hostage situation. Or the near-explosion of Will and Prentiss. No no, the wedding maybe? Or Emily's decision to leave her beloved BAU team. Right - now you see why this season finale will be no walk in the park to sum up, but I'll give it my best shot nonetheless.

I have to say, even though the writers made some not-so-subtle copycat moves during this two-part finale of "Hit" and "Run," it still kept my attention the entire time and was pretty exhilarating to watch. In order of occurrence, my observations are the following:

The whole Face Cards thing was intense. We've seen people die on this show before, but something about the way they kept callously putting bullets into people's heads really stuck with me. Seeing a little girl watch her father be killed right in front of her was equally brutal, as was watching JJ's reaction to Will voluntarily walking into the bank...let alone seeing him be shot. It wasn't immediately clear to me that Downs was part of the UnSub plot - as was their intention I suppose - and the writers purposely threw us off course by having him ask the young mother next to him if she was OK. Nice job trying to confuse us, it worked.

Tricia Helfer on Criminal Minds

Then when they lost the video feed and Garcia knew that they'd had people tapping into it, it also served to throw us off a bit. But maybe the best part of the robbery was when Reid figured out just in time that the Queen was going to blow the whole place up. Go Reid, always using his head! And go Will, while we're at it. He didn't have much of a part this season, but I loved how much of the action he saw in this finale. But then again, I've always been a sucker for his character.

It's worth noting that when JJ called Hotch "Aaron" with a stern and pleading look, he immediately knew to defer to her wishes. It's nice to see that JJ/Hotch connection, we haven't seen it a lot lately. He'd know better than anyone what she was feeling if she thought her loved one was in danger, and there were lots of Reaper-esque elements in this storyline for sure.

I loved when Kevin and Reid came to join the rest of the team. I loved when Hotch and Rossi (kind of) ordered Strauss to let them handle it their way and keep the Director at bay. And I loved when Will left his wallet for JJ to find. All great, in my opinion.

I didn't think it was a surprise when Izzy killed Chris, but I was surprised to find out that there was a 4th UnSub, then to learn that he was the dude in the bank, and finally to learn their real motivation at the end. I know we always complain about them revealing the UnSub right away, and technically we knew it this time, but they managed to find a way to let it unfold in layers throughout the two hours, so it didn't feel stale to me. The narcissist profiling was decent, as well, I think they fit a fair amount of it in. Anyone disagree?

The whole disgruntled combat veteran thing felt less than original to me, especially since we'd even seen it this season, and the Chad references and history of Izzy's overseas crimes weren't as explained/developed as I would've liked, but I guess the writers were grasping at straws a little there. It's also worth noting that Rick Dinkle wrote the first hour, and everyone's favorite writer to hate, Erica Messer, wrote the second hour. Did anyone have a preference?

The Izzy/JJ throwdown was insane, to say the least. Did you see her pull the clip out of that gun? It was straight out of the Matrix, I swear. Nothing would unleash rage in JJ like thinking that her child is in danger, but I was impressed by the level of their combat. Remind me to never piss off JJ, that girl doesn't play around. Izzy's interaction with Henry was just downright creepy, they did a good job of making us feel uneasy when she was with him (or maybe that was just me). I also loved when Hotch saved Morgan at the end. The BAU team was really cohesive and helped each other out so much this time - even Kevin got involved.

Hour two was definitely more suspenseful in terms of the near-explosion of Union Station and our beloved agents. Will's relief was palpable when Prentiss figured out the way to disarm that bomb, and even she seemed surprised. One second left? Damn, thanks for the heart attack, Criminal Minds. I really, really liked that scene, even if it was a cheap "Speed" rip off in a way. I think helping us figure out why we were even seeing that plot unfold took a lot of explaining by the writers, and maybe that's a sign they were just trying to pack too much in, or maybe it was just that the Chad thing was a little random. Even letting the old couple make the "story" reference and then having Prentiss repeat it a few times seemed overly obvious. There are times when I think they should give us more credit as an audience, you don't need to hit us over the head with stuff for us to pick up on it, thanks.

Rossi's planning of a surprise wedding, wrangling JJ's mom, and seeing the team all come together to celebrate Will and JJ was pretty great, I have to admit. Rossi has really, really grown on me this season, and I love how much of a dad role he can step into at times. Hotch, on the other hand, doesn't have a dad role with the women of the BAU, it's more of a concerned husband-thing. When he revealed to Prentiss that he knew her "tell" move, I wanted to scream out for her not to leave. For him to ditch Beth and date Emily intead (and I don't hate Beth, like a lot of you do). I'd even finally seen the JJ connection you all have been talking about - Hotch has a gentle but protective way with them. Kind of like Morgan and Garcia. In any case, there's a lot of love (platonic, I mean) between BAU members and we really saw that in this finale. Everyone was sweet to one another...except Kevin. Lose the girl, Kevin.

I kid, I kid, he was great too.

So they've clearly left the door open for Prentiss to do some guest spots now or return if she ever decides to come back. It was nice how she didn't want to take away from JJ and Will's night, but even though so many of you hate her, I liked Prentiss and I'm sad to see her go. I was surprised (as Morgan seemed to be, too) that she'd been "unhappy" or doubting all this time, and the cracks in the foundation, you can't go home, blah blah stuff was a little too metaphorical for my liking. But I did appreciate that they finally acknowledged that they'd smoothed it over too quickly initially, even for Prentiss.

Watching that last scene where Emily walks around seeing her friends smiling, laughing, dancing (and even doing magic - love you Reid) was sad. Even though I wasn't surprised to see who was getting married, as Thomas Gibson suggested we might be (come on, it was obvious Will would live and marry JJ from the beginning of the ep), that scene really made me realize how different they'll all be once she's gone. I'm sad for what we'll have to adjust to next season, but in the words of Prentiss herself, every ending is a new beginning, too.

Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (320 Votes)
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I was so surprised at Will and JJ getting married, I thought it would be Garcia and Kevin. Lose the girl, Kev. And I am NOT kidding. I loved the whole 2 hrs. was surprised all along, and Emily's former boss, was on Supernatural. I like Beth, if that is who Hotch settles on. Hated Emily leaving, but I knew she was, hope she comes back. Did not like Izzy at all and I knew she would kill her so-called boss or lover in the end. I am very happy now.

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Incredible final episode and sorry to see Prentiss leave. Rossi/Mantegna always seems to be the supportive father figure for the BAU; maybe in the next year, they can have some episodes with him as a central character. Perhaps the Jason Alexander/Professor Rothschild character that Rossi had the memorable interrogation scenes from a previous episode could escape from his detention and torment Rossi similar to the Foyette/Hotch episodes from a couple of years ago. Anyway, The Mantegna/Rossi character to me is underrated and underutilized.

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The reason the spin-off didn't work was because of the actors that were picked. Come on -- Forest Whittaker?!!

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Something about Izzy was so attractive kinda like chilling with a tiger, it will either tolerate u until its had enough or is hungry or it can end up loving u. But either way Izzy is ma dream girl

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postman and Jeremy--They tried a spin off. It was called Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. NCIS:LA is odd IMO. It's an extremely popular spin off that has surprised everyone. Spin offs don't usually do well, outside CSI. But the Criminal Minds one had an abysmal first season. Wasn't picked up for a second. A lot of original Criminal Minds fans had problems w/how the new team were introduced on Criminal Minds. Anyway, a spin off's been done, and likely won't be again.

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can anyone tell me the name of the actor who plays Will?

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Loved the show. It was a great two hours. If someone had to leave, I'm glad it was Emily and not JJ. I thought it would be JJ leaving after Will's getting shot and her child being in danger. JJ is a terrific asset to the show. She brings a nice warmth and calmness to all the chaos around them and she keeps them at their best. It was a sad ending with Emily leaving; however, I'm glad that JJ and Will got married. I hope they don't replace Emily with a new character. I'd rather that the current characters have a bigger role in things.

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I had such a love-hate relationship with this finale. It was a spectacular episode. Kudos to the writers and the actors. But I HATED seeing Prentiss go. I don't get why some people don't like her. I thought she was the most complex and interesting character on the show (and a brilliant, snarky badass to boot). Paget Brewster is a solid actress and clicked so well with this great ensemble cast. I really hope they don't replace Prentiss. The team is still solid. Take some time to explore the other characters.

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Great episode. I was so glad it wasn't JJ leaving. I like the whole cast but if it is a choice between JJ & Emily I am glad it's not JJ leaving. Can't wait till next season

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Interesting that a comparison was made to the reaper storyline and haley gets bumped off yet the team manages to save Will. Guess its only the women that are shown the door on this show. Can't JJ cut it like Hotch and manage bringing up a kid and cope with a demanding job? How come Hotch ego didn't get the better of him on this case, seems like Will life is more important to him than Haley was that he worked as a team and not a one man solo act.