As TV thrillers go, this was one of the more tense Criminal Minds episodes. As usual, I found myself conflicted between the great writing and the horrific subject matter, especially as the latter involved children.
Tonight's UnSubs in "The Wheels on the Bus" were a pair of brothers who, after being kicked off of a gaming site, decided to create their own version of the online video game entitled "Gods of Conflict" by playing it out in real life, using high school students as their game pieces, and real guns as their weaponry.
The gameplay around the first confrontation seemed uneven: one player merely had to open a box with a key, take out a gun and shoot the other player, whereas the other had to assemble a gun before he could even get in the game. I couldn't buy the fact that the girl remained functional after killing her classmate, despite the pressure to do so. You'd have to imagine that most people would fall to pieces after being forced to kill someone. PTSD anyone?
The other annoying aspect of the story involved the psychology of it. Usually the UnSub suffers a trauma early in life, or there's a trigger point somewhere at which time the sanity train falls off the rails and crashes into a mental abyss.
This time, the disease was slow. It began with two brothers, separated as a result of their parents' divorce, who kept connected by playing an online game. Well-meaning (but entirely out to lunch) moral crusaders have often complained about the evils of TV shows and console games, and note that kids can't seem to separate reality from them sometimes. If that were the case there should be all kinds of people with their heads blown off as a result of all of those violent Bugs Bunny cartoons. ("It's duck season! Shoot!") This hinted at a replication of that argument.
On the lighter side, we were treated to a team-up of Garcia with her former love interest, Kevin Lynch. It seemed at the start of the show that he wanted to let her down easy:
Garcia: Kevin. I need you.
Lynch: Yeah I got your text. I've been meaning to call you back about dinner the other night. Look. I had a really great time...
Garcia: What are you talk---. No. Have you seen the news?
Lynch: No. Why? What's going on?
Garcia: We need all hands on deck. | permalink
But then crime got in the way and we only learned at the end - after she kissed him in a "eureka!" moment - that he had a dinner date with someone else. Sounds like we won't be seeing too much more of him. She can do better anyway, right?
In addition to being a war veteran, and having three ex-wives, we now know something else about Rossi:
Morgan: These guys are replicating a video game?
Rossi: In the game you take over a form of public transportation. Train, bus...that's how you get your players.
Blake: Wait a minute. You've played this game before?
Rossi: Well I may have played it once or twice. | permalink
Now I'm wondering what other games he plays. Assassin's Creed maybe?
- The BAU members have each others' backs and not just when on the job. How cool that Rossi helped Garcia unwind and disconnect from the net by inviting her back to his place for some scotch - after first obtaining all of her gadgets.
- Garcia has a plethora of gadgets, including three cellphones and a tablet. The girl is connected.
- The Criminal Minds tumblr lit up with teens swooning over the inclusion of Devon Werkheiser's appearance (he played Billy, one of the victim players). He played in the "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide" series.
- The UnSubs were played by David Gallagher (Matthew Moore), who is known for his work on 7th Heaven. Andrew James Allen played his brother Joshua and is known for his work on the movie "The Lovely Bones."
- Check out our Criminal Minds quotes for this week for more.
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.