Maybe Tom Wolfe got it wrong.
Maybe you can go home again
JJ pondered that thought as she returned to her hometown and painful memories on Criminal Minds Season 14 Episode 5.
JJ was at the heart of this episode, directed by Matthew Gray Gubler. That certainly explained why we didn't see a lot of Reid this time out
She has always been the BAU's empath, and by getting a glimpse at her roots through memories and flashbacks, now we better understand why.
The suicide of JJ's older sister Rosaline had been first addressed on Criminal Minds Season 5 Episode 13.
But now we learned that Rosaline's death was much more understandable than she had previously thought and that the monster that claimed her was still haunting East Allegheny decades later.
That monster wasn't the local boogeyman called the Tall Man but someone much closer to home
I was afraid the powers that be were going to make the Tall Man a figment of Ally's schizophrenia, and that she had harmed her friends. Fortunately, they didn't take that easy way out.
Instead, the storyline took a darker, more twisted path with Bethany a conquest of the unsub, Chelsea their target and Ally an unfortunate bystander.
Being back on her home turf, JJ should have been a helpful guide for the team, if she hadn't been so haunted by memories of Rosaline and their unhappy family life
She had escaped to the University of Pittsburgh, then Georgetown, for good reason, and now she was getting to recall why all over again
Also for good reason, she was, naturally, knocked her off her game, and she admitted so to Prentiss. Still, from Ally's detailed description, she was able to figure out where Chelsea was being held just in time to get her medical help and save her.
But Chelsea's reaction to the heart necklace that Rosaline had given to JJ tainted her fondest keepsake of her late sister, while essentially blowing the case wide open once JJ had settled enough to put together the pieces.
That was primarily thanks to Rossi, the BAU's calming voice of reason. He helped JJ to ponder why Rosaline had given her the necklace, and who might have felt threatened by it way back when.
And it was heartening to see an enraged JJ, wanting to take vengeance for her sister and the other girls through the years of whom this predator had taken advantage.
That was the big drawback of this episode, a shallow suspect pool. There was Chelsea's father Tom and Ethan Howard, the principal. Unless someone appeared out of the gloom in the third quarter, after Tom got eliminated as the unsub, that left Ethan. They didn't even need Garcia's Google skills to winnow down possible suspects.
So solving the case was much less work than getting JJ into the right frame of mind so that she could solve the case.
But this wasn't meant to be a mind-bending case of the week.
It was about lifting that overbearing weight from JJ's soul and showing how far she had come from being an indecisive child when faced with her sister's suicide to become the strong woman she is now who can face down monsters.
Equally important were the scenes at home with Will and the boys at the beginning and the end, showing how she can put the ugliness aside to enjoy a normal family life. Points to Will for finding just the right piece of jewelry to replace the heart necklace.
These scenes showing the characters' past and their home lives serve to flesh out them out more than strictly sticking to the cases of the week. There's been more of that this season, which has been beneficial to the show.
I give credit to Gubler for not turning up the gore and violence to force a very special Halloween episode. With all its (ab)normal ghouls and freaks, Criminal Minds is creepy enough, week in and week out.
Other shows may try to borrow from its playbook for this holiday, but this remains an eerie original.
SPOILER ALERT: Next up is an Alves spotlight episode, directed by Joe Mantegna (so expect less Rossi). It's about time. Two years in and all we know about Alves is that he loves his dog and his doctor girlfriend, although it's hard to say in what order.
To learn more about JJ, watch Criminal Minds online.
How soon did you identify the predator? Do you feel you know more about JJ now? Who else deserves the spotlight treatment?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.