The Wife:

Oh, Luke Perry, I’d like to send all of the original 90210 fans a copy of this episode in which you play a slightly pedophilic cult leader just so that they’ll stop asking you to come back and do an episode of the new 90210. You were scary. And you look a bit haggard these days. But don’t worry, it’s haggard sexy. Like C. Thomas Howell. Point is, you coming back to 90210 would be bad.

Scary cult leader Luke Perry aside, this episode was a great exploration of the relationships between the BAU team. Prentiss and Reid infiltrate a fundamentalist compound to investigate potential child abuse. They pose as Child Victim Interview Experts from Colorado’s Child Protective Services, a job title that prompts Perry’s cult leader Cyrus to inquire how far humanity has strayed from the path to need a job like that. Unbeknownst to Prentiss and Reid, the Colorado State Police had planned a raid on the compound to rescue the children.

When the raid goes down, the rest of the BAU lead the hostage negotiations in the interest of getting Prentiss and Reid to safety. Hotch puts Rossi in charge of negotiations, sneaking in a bug to listen in and hoping that Prentiss and Reid will work on freeing the hostages from the inside. They do: Prentiss by giving herself up as an FBI agent so that Reid could work on Cyrus, Reid by endearing himself to Cyrus and cleverly guiding the hand of the prophet to get him to release those he deems to be nonbelievers (which Cyrus does by testing his followers with non-poisoned wine that he tells them is, in fact, poisoned).

Paget Brewster is not sorry that she didnt save herself for Luke Perry.

Paget Brewster is not sorry that she didn't save herself for Luke Perry.

When Cyrus hauls off Prentiss to beat information out of her, she communicates with the rest of the team by calling out “I can take it,” a subtle reminder to her colleagues that they don’t need to rush in to save her just yet. Cyrus secludes her from the rest of the compound, but his child bride’s mother comes to care for Prentiss, which Prentiss sees as an opportunity to convince the woman to get her daughter and other children out of the compound before the situation escalates. Meanwhile, the outside team acquiesces to Cyrus’s request for a meal for the compound, especially with Reid’s backing. Hotch writes in code on the food packages to let Reid and Prentiss know that the raid will take place at 3 a.m., further demonstrating just how close-knit these characters are and how well they can communicate with each other indirectly.

The chicken place is open til 3 a.m. Thats all that means, I swear.

The chicken place is open til 3 a.m. That's all that means, I swear.

Jessica’s mother helps Prentiss get all the women and children to the basement so that the FBI can spirit them out the backdoor when the raid happens. Morgan bursts in to the compound and takes out Cyrus before he can blow the whole compound while Prentiss got the women and children to safety, save for Cyrus’s wife Jessica, who ran back in to see her dead husband and ignited the blast, sacrificing herself for her husband’s beliefs.

Luckily, Morgan and Reid got out in time, but not without causing me intense distress at the thought of potentially losing my beloved Spencer Reid! Not okay Criminal Minds! Don’t try to take him from me twice in one season!

Criminal Minds decided to follow up an excellent episode like “Minimal Loss” with “Paradise,” a pretty lame episode that was basically the lovechild of Vacancy and Tarantino’s Death Proof. (In short, couples are tortured in motels and made to look like they were killed by accident in big rig accidents.) The only good things about this episode were seeing Lost’s William Mapother be slightly less creepy and seeing geek favorite Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation) grow the balls Wesley Crusher never had and morph into a psychotic rapist and murderer, who ultimately meets a fitting end when he’s hit by a semi.

For as much as I didn’t like “Paradise” (because I saw Vacancy, people!), I did enjoy that two weeks in a row, Criminal Minds managed to take former teen heartthrobs like Luke Perry and Wil Wheaton and turn them into scary, completely unsexy people.

The Husband:

Nope, no vacancies. Room 8 is technically vacant, because the occupant is my mother and she is not alive, but I try not to advertise that.

Nope, no vacancies. Room 8 is technically vacant, because the occupant is my mother and she is not technically alive, but I try not to advertise that.

Yeah, the episode “Paradise” is like Vacancy and Death Proof, but it’s also like…oh, you know…Psycho. While Wheaton does a pretty damn good Norman Bates – and, to be fair, a good Frank Whaley in Vacancy – the episode didn’t feel like an episode of Criminal Minds so much as a straight-to-DVD movie. (Or, more specifically, straight-to-premium-cable fare like Blacktop with Kristin Davis and Meat Loaf.) I did get a big laugh at the ultimate fate of Wheaton’s character, though, bringing a nice sense of humor that most episodes of Criminal Minds lacks whenever Reid or Garcia are not onscreen. (Seriously, has J.J. ever cracked a smile about anything?) We did, I believe, get the first Hotch Funny ever when he commented on Garcia’s chipper and bizarre state.

“Remind me to have her drug-tested.”

The previous episode also felt a bit un-CM, although I do appreciate them trying to break out of some of their formulas. Problem is, the machinations of the Ruby Ridge/Waco plot felt more like Numb3rs than anything else. In fact, Numb3rs has already done a very similar episode a couple seasons ago, one that slightly bothered me because the FBI team ended up failing the mission, leading to the sacrifice/decimation of the cult due to a few Eppes Brothers mistakes. What bugged me was that such an FBI disaster, in the real world, would be dealt with by a very thorough internal investigation, but in the world of CBS procedurals was never referred to again despite Don and Charlie having been partially responsible for the deaths of two dozen people.

Oh CBS procedurals, will you ever cease to exist? Probably not.

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