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'Criminal Minds' Season 6, Episode 1 (Season Premiere) Recap (VIDEO)

by Piet Levy, posted Sep 23rd 2010 5:55AM

Agt. Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore)['Criminal Minds' - 'The Longest Night']

Two primary thoughts about the start of 'Criminal Minds' Season 6 last night: First up, this was by far the most dramatic, moving episode since last year's chilling Reaper-Hotch showdown (the show's greatest episode ever), an exceptional feat for a procedural-driven series entering its sixth season.

Second, why does JJ have to go? It was downright criminal (pardon the all too obvious pun) that A.J. Cook was forced out, particularly after the terrific performance she gave in this, one of the show's best episodes in recent years.

You may recall the Season 5 finale ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. In that episode, the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit was hunting for the Prince of Darkness (Tim Curry), a despicable serial killer with horrible hygiene (and especially rotten teeth no dentist would dream of touching). His M.O. was killing people during a blackout, something he had mastered over 26 years. The episode ended with Darkness killing a detective (Eric Close), raping his sister, kidnapping the detective's pre-adolescent daughter Ellie (Isabella Murad) and beating up the BAU's baddest agent, Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore).

The premiere basically picked up where the last episode left off. Darkness tried to make Ellie his partner in homicide, to share his miserable lot in life, to ruin her childhood. 'Criminal Minds' has featured many a monster, but Darkness may be the most heartless. "The question isn't why do I kill people. The question is, why I don't kill everybody," he explained to Ellie. Oooh. Creepy.

Making matters worse, the power grid in Los Angeles overloaded, so the entire county was in the dark, making it a true field day for a man who loves to kill in the dark. The BAU tried desperately to figure out Darkness's identity, with Morgan getting so agitated he even snapped at his precious "Baby Doll," sweet, loopy computer tech Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness). The BAU learned that Darkness's real name is Billy Flynn, that he grew up the child of a prostitute and killed his mother when he was a teenager. Knowing his back story, and learning from a victim that Darkness loved to listen to news radio hoping to hear reports about his crimes, JJ got clearance to address Darkness directly through all of the area's radio stations, to try to convince him to let Ellie go.

JJ had no negotiating experience -- Hotch (Thomas Gibson) usually handles that, but he couldn't get to the radio communications center in time -- and Cook did a great job of selling her character's nervousness and, eventually, her resolve. "What happened to you, it isn't fair, but what you're doing to her isn't fair either, and if anyone should understand what that feels like it's you," she told him. "You have the power, you can do what you want to do. But for once, you can choose to use that power to do for Ellie what should have been done for you. You can choose letting her go. You can choose teaching her, yes, there are monsters and it's okay to be afraid of them, but it's not okay to let them win, and it's not okay to be one." Good stuff. Kudos to Cook, and to the episode's writer/director, Edward Allen Bernero, for giving her such a strong four-minute monologue. Really, it's the least the producers can do to make up for her unjust canning.

Well, after JJ spoke to Darkness through the radio, Ellie was set free, and Morgan and the team located Darkness at a house, gun in hand, hostages at the foot of a bed, leading to another powerful scene. Curry can be a fine actor, but he does tend to chew the scenery, and that was definitely the case with his smiling, repulsive Darkness. But in this last scene, the actor, giving a tearful performance while never resorting to sympathy, made Darkness human and sincere. "When I shot her," Darkness told Morgan about killing his mother, "she looked at me with such ... she was ... I think relieved. I think I helped her escape. Was that really true, or did I just imagine it to make killing her easier to live with?" But Morgan wasn't moved. He didn't flinch in the slightest as he fired nine rounds into Darkness when he pointed a gun at a hostage.

It's doubtful that 'Criminal Minds,' a show which, like Tim Curry, can be melodramatic from time to time, could be this consistently good each and every week. But at least it provided a great season opener, and a great end for Cook's run, as she officially leaves after next week's episode.

A few other thoughts:

-- Darkness may have been a despicable human being, but he sure had great taste in music: Three different Leonard Cohen songs were used for trippy dream sequences depicting Darkness as a young boy with his mother in a field, standing under a solitary tree. (The songs, should you want to make your own Prince of Darkness playlist, were: 'Night Comes On,' 'Dance Me To The End Of Love' and 'Sisters of Mercy.')

-- The episode also featured 'Who By Fire' at the end and, if you may recall, Cohen's 'I'm Your Man' for the Season 5 finale to introduce the Darkness story line. This just solidifies our personal theory that a Leonard Cohen song makes any movie or show better. (Except for that sex scene in the pretentious superhero movie 'Watchman' set to Cohen's 'Hallelujah.' That was just wrong.)

-- Young actress Isabella Murad is one to watch. We never expected such a strong, mature performance from a girl playing the hostage of a serial killer (the pairing of Darkness with Ellie definitely made Curry's caricature more like a character). And to see Ellie quietly cry at the episode's end, a single tear dripping down her cheek, was heartbreaking. It's nice to see that 'Criminal Minds,' while escapist entertainment, rarely cheapens its ending. When it comes to catching criminals and investigating crimes like these, there's never a happy ending.

-- For nearly every episode, 'Criminal Minds' has featured a previously spoken or written quote, delivered by one of the actors via voice-over, to illustrate the episode's theme. This week, Cook had the honors, with a quote from Buddha: "A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another, the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if these minds get out of harmony with one another, it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden."

What did you think of the Season 6 premiere? Was Curry's Darkness one of your all time favorite villains? And how do you feel about Cook's performance and saying goodbye to JJ next week?

'Criminal Minds' airs Weds., 9 PM ET on CBS.

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I miss AJ. But I am especially sad that they are killing off all the women...Prentiss is next...although Prentiss is getting some good stage time in the meanwhile. I would love for them to give Prentiss a spin off, if she must die, that she PRETENDS to die and goes back to working for INTERPOL with her new friends. I did think this week's episode with the child with Autism was especially good.

February 25 2011 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really enjoy AJ Cook on the show. She is an exceptional actress. I will miss her. When you take a person like AJ Cook off the show you change the show for the worse. I believe AJ Cook's last episode will be mine as well.

September 23 2010 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with mfisher. episode was good but doesn't surpass the Reaper episodes, when garcia was shot, and when Reed was drugged but i don't agree at all about Paula Prentiss. Paget is great! isn't there anything we can do to keep JJ and Prentiss on? I mean that's crazy! All of them are integral and make the show. For me, if one had to go it would be Rossi. There would still be enough men on the team. We need Prentiss to balance it out.

September 23 2010 at 3:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jan Crump

Excellent show and episode, but am hating on CBS for firing JJ. She is an integral part of the team. She handles all the publicity and information trading and I don't see how they'll do that without her. Each team member has their own importance and it was the TEAM that made this show. Not sure it will be good without her. I'm not ready to stop watching yet, but will jump ship when it starts sliding. CSI is not any good at all without William Peterson. Hate the new guy, his story background. And the fact that they got rid of the lab girl. They change such stupid stuff and it makes no sense and hurts the show.

September 23 2010 at 1:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

looking forward to see what csi premiere has tonight also and trying to warm up, again this season, with William Petersen's replacement

September 23 2010 at 11:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

PS I hate the thought of JJ leaving, wonder if it's because she and her southern husband want to be full time parents? If anyone should go it should be the Emily Prentiss character, something about the character and that actress just dont sit right with me for some reason

September 23 2010 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It was good, not great, nothing will surpass the Reaper shows, also the one where blond IT gal was stalked/shot, and the one where Dr Reed was drugged and then got into drugs because of that...I hope they do not go down the path of letting people off the show then episodes slowly deteriorate, I think CSI has become like that, that show is not the name without William Petersen in lead role, though I like his replacement as an actor just dont care for him in that role

September 23 2010 at 10:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mfisher's comment
jean frank

The way I understand it, this will also be Paget Brewster "Emily's" last season. I think she will be on longer than AJ, but still gone through no choice of her own sometime this year.

September 23 2010 at 11:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jean frank

I will miss her friendship with the team esp Matthew. I truly don't understand them taking two cast members and throwing them to the wolves....oh wait, they are both females! AJ's character has always been important to the show, she represented the average person...like those who watch the show. We would like to be as strong as the rest of the team, but though good at our job would have emotion on our sleeve as does Cook. BTW I wouldn't want to see any of the team leave...

September 23 2010 at 10:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jean frank's comment

who is other cast member leaving??

September 23 2010 at 11:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Prentiss is having her episodes reduced.

September 23 2010 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is a pity to see JJ leave just as she's really shining. When did CBS become anti female?

September 23 2010 at 8:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great episode. Cook was awesome!!! She should stay, they are idiots for making her leave.

September 23 2010 at 6:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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