While this season's opening story had a lot of action and interesting plot, there was a noticeable hole in the team dynamic, brought about by the departure of Kate and temporary absence of JJ. It doesn't feel like the usual team anymore.
Criminal Minds Season 11 Episode 1 opened with the case of a killer-for-hire who injected his victims with a slow-acting infusion of nutritional supplement, designed to produce a painful embolism, resulting in a cardiac arrest.
While the case was interesting, as was the usual sleuthing done by the BAU to put all of the puzzle pieces together, it failed to ignite the full sense of family atmosphere we're used to seeing. JJ in particular was noticeable by her absence, even in spite of her one brief appearance on the phone with Hotch.
The team was stretched thin, and we kept hearing variations on the phrase "we're doing jobs we don't normally do," throughout the story, just to remind us that things are not normal for this unit.
And it shows.
We didn't see the usual give and take (except for a very short brainstorm session between Morgan and Garcia, both not doing what they normally do), and this lack of presence permeated the episode.
It's understandable: the team had a convoluted and messy case to figure out, and there was very little time to do it, with the few people available. So the logic was intact.
Logic does not take the place of the indefinable something that makes this show unique, however.
The show is dark to begin with. It always has been. And always there's been a kind of family atmosphere between the BAU members; a camaraderie that lifts the viewer up and away from the ugliness of the cases they're investigating. Last season Kate even got in on that, when she was teasing Reid, or commiserating with AJ about their kids.
The saving grace, and a reason for hope for this season, is the introduction of Aisha Tyler as Dr. Tara Lewis. I really liked the brief glimpse of her character when she told Hotch 2:00 a.m. is my jam.
She's going to be a great fit for this team. It's too early to tell whether she'll provide the necessary family dynamic that will connect them all closely, but we have reason to hope that'll be the case.
In the meantime, there's a deadly killer who looks as though he might be able to effect some carnage. Our unsub, identified as Giuseppe Montolo, has stated that he and his merry band of contract killers are out to murder "The Dirty Dozen."
After being captured and shackled to a hospital bed, his first order of business was to rip out some of the stitches in his mouth, in a way that made it look as though Morgan had assaulted him. That rictus grin at the end foreshadows an interesting development, as we begin to wonder whether he'll get leniency because of what will be alleged as a kind of police brutality.
It looks as though that's going to be the arc of Criminal Minds Season 11.
- The Silk Road mentioned in the show was a real "dark net" place where people mostly used to buy and sell drugs and other black market items. This included killers for hire, though it wasn't nearly as romantic or ominous (or as effective or pricey) as popular stories like this episode might imply. Though it's now defunct, it is certain that replacement markets have sprung up on the dark net. In this, the story was consistent with reality.
- AJ Cook did indeed give birth to her baby. She had a second son they named Phoenix Sky Anderson on July 23. There is no word on when she'll return to the series full time.
- Be sure to watch Criminal Minds Season 11 Episode 2 entitled "The Witness."
- As always, you can watch or re-watch the entire story when you watch Criminal Minds online.
What are your thoughts on "The Job"? Hit us up in the comments!
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.