This episode was a wildly strong entry for the premiere of Criminal Minds Season 9.
The intense interest of the BAU members and their stories often overshadows whatever is going on with the Unsub of the week. In this case, you have to give the nod to the criminal storyline in "Inspiration" - which was delightfully macabre. Clearly, something was eating at our Unsub. So he made everyone else eat too.
Janine Sherman Barrois - who wrote this episode - did a great job in ratcheting up the tension from the get-go, showing a small bit of the end story first. When we saw the oil tanker barreling down on JJ and Morgan, it seemed certain that someone was going to be in the hospital for a few episodes. Fortunately, it was just a tease, and it wasn't until the end we got to see Morgan do a quick reverse to get them out of the way.
The casting for the Unsub was superb as well. We're used to seeing Fred Koehler playing unassuming, almost geeky sorts of characters. But as Wallace Hines he was eerily creepy and perfect.
His annoyed female downstairs neighbor somehow avoided being the next on his hit parade as she complained about the noise that his victim was making. Later, I expected him to invite her in. You know, for brunch and stuff. Clearly, her boyfriend was useless from the start. Guys, let that be a lesson: if your better half wants to confront a neighbor, don't let her. You do it yourself. You can handle bullets and knives and being hacked. (Man flu, not so much)
Up until a third of the way through the episode, there wasn't much that was surprising about what seemed to be a another typical Unsub: he needed to be caught because he was raping and killing women. The ick level increased exponentially when the team discovered a tooth in the stomach of one of the victims. "Oh by the way, guess what? They were eating body parts - specifically parts of a human head - before they were killed" (paraphrasing here).
Reid's theory about the Unsub exhibiting a kind of twisted preying mantis scenario was convoluted. You sort of had to bend over backwards to grok it all. No matter: it made sense to the Unsub and that's what counts, right? What's more: the BAU finally caught up to him and read him his rights, which allowed them to fly home, thankful for a job well done.
Except: JJ and Morgan weren't quite sure. Something didn't fit. I wondered then if maybe Mrs. Hines (played by Camryn Manheim of The Practice and The Ghost Whisperer) was the real Unsub. If so, what had we missed?
No, it wasn't her. What they missed was... The Evil Twin. And then it was all "whoops! Our time is up. Tune in next week for the conclusion." I wanted to throw my remote control at the TV.
As for the team, Hotch's struggle over whether to accept Strauss' previous position as Section Chief was summarized well: he didn't want an outsider coming in and questioning the team's every move (hint: like Strauss once used to do). Yet the opposite side of the coin was summed up in this exchange:
Morgan: You know what they say about desk jobs.
Rossi: That's how you get the ladies?
Morgan: No. Sitting is the new smoking. | permalink
I can't imagine Hotch taking that job. It's not who he is. (P.S. I agree wholeheartedly with Morgan on that last line.)
The only small weak spot in the episode was one of Garcia's lines:
JJ: Hey Garcia.
Garcia: I was starting to feel like the hottest people I know had left me at the altar, but now you're here to kiss me with crime. What's up? | permalink
"Kiss me with crime"?
- If this episode is typical of the quality of writing for the rest of the season, I think they can expect some great ratings.
- Kudos to the special effects artist who created the "woman walking on walls" illusion.
- A.J. Cook mentioned in our recent interview with her that Season 9 was going to be a thank-you card to fans of Criminal Minds. You can read that interview here.
- One of the strengths of the show is the dialogue and banter between the BAU members, as you'll see in this week's Criminal Minds quotes.
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.