Criminal Minds Review: Dislocation Boogie

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Tonight's Criminal Minds loped right past disturbing and dove straight into the dark pond of torture porn. To say that it's difficult to ignore the image of the girl getting her arm sockets deliberately dislocated by the sadistic UnSub - while processing the rest of the episode - is an understatement.

We're used to seeing the writers of Criminal Minds allude to cruel treatment of victims without overtly displaying much of it. We would see the axe begin to fall before the scene abruptly changed, and that would be enough. The writers left it up to our imagination to fill in the blanks. This scene was a departure from the norm, and was tough to watch.

That aside, the idea of the human marionette dance - a performance obliqued referred to as "a lullaby dance" by Matthew Gray Gubler in our recent interview with him - was haunting and bizarre. The music would have been almost enjoyable, had it not been for the knowledge of all of those limbs that had to be dislocated in order to pull it off (no pun intended).

Hunting a Ritualistic Killer

The story of "The Lesson" itself was an interesting one: man comes back from a coma and wants to change the history of his father's death by re-enacting it with marionettes who jump in to save him. From the beginning it seemed obvious that his companion was a construct of his imagination - as was his audience. I always find these scenes fascinating in that these phantom companions give us some good clues into the psyche of the murderer, much like we see in Dexter when he converses with his dear departed dad.

It was good to see the story of Reid and his mystery love interest get ramped up a bit, even if it only teased us.  If it wasn't for Reid's understandable paranoia about her stalker, they would have met up in the restaurant. At least we know that they truly seem to be playing in the same romantic ballpark, with their mutual love of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's books, and their coincidental gifts to each other of the same title "The Narrative of John Smith." Reid's concern about the possibility of his appearance was sweet, and it gave us a chance to see more of Blake's kindness and concern - even to the point of the encouraging text message she sent to him just before the date. 

(Check out this week's Criminal Minds quotes for some touching dialogue surrounding Reid's romantic activities.)

I think Gubler did an excellent job playing Reid and directing this episode at the same time.  Kudos too to Brad Dourif, who did some intense work in playing this week's disturbing UnSub.  You may also have recognized Sean Whalen who played the store owner who left his shop to warn the UnSub about the FBI investigation. 

What did you think of the episode overall? Do you think Reid's paranoia about the stalker fed conveniently into his anxiety about meeting his love interest or was that just a happy coincidence for him? Are you warming to Blake, or are you withholding judgement for now? Let us know in the comments!


Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (133 Votes)

Douglas Wolfe is a staff writer for TV Fanatic Follow him on Twitter



Did anyone else think Reid's girlfriend looked like Sissy Spacek from "Carrie?" Just saying! I think this was probably the most disturbing episode this season! Also, I like Blake so much better than that travesty of a character Rachel Nichols played. She's a good replacement for Prentiss, overall.


i agree that it was a tough watch-the dislocation-but not more disturbing than the guy that cooked his victims and shared also.i forget the name of the episode but i think it was second series.very well directed.and played.i liked it more than other episodes this series.


CountryGirl, here is the wonderful quote from the book Wednesday night's episode. "Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone-we find it with another." ~ Thomas Merton


Who wrote the quote in the book? I forgot to go back and look before I erased the episode off the DVR. Thanks in advance! :)


@Hege JJ has always done profiling it just she never told anyone, The reason she does it a lot more is because SOME fan though she was worthless.


>>I also have to add, I don't think it's very professional for a critic to base >>the rating of an entire episode on ONE aspect. Heh. I agree with you, trust me. If I had, it would have gotten one star.


I don't get why so many people are complaining. Yeah, the dislocating the joints scene was a little cringe-worthy but there have been more disturbing episodes than this. I think MGG did an excellent job as an actor and director as all of them did. I like the new girl too. This is what criminal minds is.


@Douglas Wolfe I also have to add, I don't think it's very professional for a critic to base the rating of an entire episode on ONE aspect.


I have to say I came her expecting standing ovations and I'm genuninely surprised. I half-dropped the series mid-season five and as I came back this year to see what was going on I was pleasantly overwhelmed. Every episode this season so far has been great, and this here was the epithome of it all. Matthew Gray Gubler knows how to direct! Had me on edge the whole time, kept me wondering about what exactly the unsub was up to. I guessed as fast as the next guy the partner didn't exist, but I was still intrigued by the reveal that he was actually a doll. Same for the audience. Until the BAU rushed in, I kept faltering: Are they real or are they not? The dance scene was a piece of art. A disturbing one, yes, but I'm pretty sure that was the point. Agreed on the limb breaking scene. I've sat through all the Saw movies, yet that made me whince. Really, really pushing the envelope. But I don't think they should back down if that's what the director wants to show us. It's his piece of work, he's free to do what he wants with it. Whincing or not, this episode brought me to the edge of my seat and had me sympathize with both Reid and the unsub. The plot was beautifully revealed and for once kept me guessing (a rare thing when they so often reveal the unsub minute one). Fantastic, I say. 5 out of 5. One of the series best.


@Brighton jack: your note about Reid not bothering to call her back once he realized the guy wasn't her stalker was what provoked my question about his paranoia being convenient. Deep inside, his anxiety may have overwhelmed him, despite all of Blake's encouragement.

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Criminal Minds Season 8 Episode 10 Quotes

Thomas Merton once wrote "Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone. We find it with another."


JJ: Well I think after this long hard week we just had we should all head over to Rossi's and pop open some old expensive wine.
Rossi: That's a plan.
Garcia: Could we maybe play some games too?
Morgan: What kind of games?
Garcia: You tell me, sweet cheeks.