Kathy sees Criminal Minds: “The Pact” S8:2

The team workin’ hard.

Synopsis for “The Pact”

Overall, I thought this episode was an improvement over last week’s. Not only that, I learned something: Criminal Minds ain’t what it used to be. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, depending on your perspective.

What I like most about CM is the mystery aspect—the team profiling, finding, and arresting/killing the perpetrator(s). But over the past couple seasons there has been a trend toward featuring the unsubs (unidentified subjects, in case you don’t know) and their stories. So what used to be a mystery show has morphed into 43 minutes of suspense, with the team becoming superfluous because they are two steps behind the audience.

This suspense storytelling usually happens when there are “names” as guest stars. In “The Pact”, the names are Kim Wayans and MacKenzie Phillips, who were both pretty good in their roles as a grieving, hysterical mom avenging her daughter’s murder, and a budding psychopath who uses grief as an excuse to kill. It’s interesting stuff, if you don’t mind suspense. And there were a few twists to this story that were well done.

But I’d rather have the mystery. That means less screen time for guest stars, well-known or not. I’m not really interested in the criminal’s story, beyond goal, motivation, and thwarting the BAU. For me, suspense really works when there’s a lot of time to delve into those psychological behaviors, whether during a two-hour movie, a two-or-three part story arc, or even a season-long subplot. Otherwise, everyone gets shortchanged in the character department—the unsubs and the BAU team.

But back to “The Pact”.  As a suspense episode, it was better than most. Would I watch it again? No. Am I waiting for a mystery episode? Yes. Will we get one? Stay tuned.