The Wife:

This is the second week in a row in which Criminal Minds has sent the BAU team out to parts of the world with which I am familiar: the American West. Last week, they caught Vacancy killer Wil Wheaton (or would have, had he not been hit by a semi) in Lake Tahoe, and this week, they went searching for The Wire‘s Andre Royo in California’s Central Valley. So, after being killed off on Heroes, Bubbles decided to become a hobo migrant farm worker who started perpetrating home invasion murders after his brother kicked him out of his quadrilla, or migrant work group. His character follows the quadrilla that abandoned him as it moves from farm to farm along Highway 99 (which runs from Baja to Blaine, WA), but instead of making amends with his family, he catches out of a box car, wanders into a neighborhood, finds a house with no dogs, alarms or outside lights and proceeds to opportunistically murder the inhabitants of the house. Then, he showers, huffs some household solvents, tries on the clothes of the deceased (but covers the body of the male victim in his own dirty clothes), eats a meal, sleeps in their beds and leaves.

“It’s like Goldilocks became a serial killer.” –Agent Emily Prentiss


And finally, one bed was just right and he slept there forever.

And finally, one bed was just right and he slept there forever.

Prentiss got two more funny lines in this episode that I didn’t write down, but she was definitely on a roll tonight. This episode also introduced us to J.J.’s replacement, Jordan Todd (Meta Golding), with whom Morgan flirts at a coffee shop earlier in the episode, but somehow doesn’t seem to realize that she’s just as observant about human behavior as he is. It also introduced us to a lot of hobo symbols, which reminded me of a season one episode of Mad Men, “The Hobo Code,” in which Don Draper reflects on a time when a hobo came to his family farm to work for a day in exchange for a meal. In that episode, the hobo teaches Don what certain symbols mean and explains how hobos communicate to one another that a house has work, food, a doctor, a kindly old lady and so on. This episode of Criminal Minds has a similar scene in which some local transients (including some who, like Bubbles, huff chemical solvents) teach Rossi and Morgan how to read the hobo codes for clues. The use of the hobo code is a lot more interesting in that episode of Mad Men, as it gives the young Don Draper an introduction to the language of symbols used in advertising, but in this episode of Criminal Minds it serves more as a plot device, but was nonetheless cool to see.

The Husband:

This was a nice return to form for Criminal Minds, which has been trying to branch out in the first four episodes this season, something that has come with very mixed results in my opinion. The NY-based second-parter that opened the season was an incredible use of the CM ensemble and a nice bit of action filmmaking – a characteristic that was surprising for this often more…internal show. (Unlike Numb3rs, where pretty much anytime Colby or Sinclair knocks on a perp’s door, a foot chase scene will almost always immediately ensue.)

This week, we got a good mystery, a good unsub (what up, Bubs?) and a psychologically interesting case that goes just that much further in showing us gross crime details than it really needed to. (A major characteristic of CM, I find the murder details on this show far more harrowing and disgusting than those on Showtime’s more uncensored Dexter.) I appreciated the focus on California’s migrant farmer community – even though if you lived anywhere in CA (especially in NorCal), you’d know that the Central Valley doesn’t look at all like that – as it’s a fascinating section of Western American culture that is often ignored.

The Central Valley actually looks more like it does on this map.

The Central Valley actually looks more like it does on this map.

(In other words, no, California is not just sun and beaches and palm trees. We also happen to have the world’s ninth largest GDP in the world completely on our own, plus towns with a lot of fog and rain, snow, deserts, mountains, various religious beliefs and, yes, even Republicans.)
Good ep, good train-based action sequences and a good use all around of BAU’s particular strengths. Just the way I like it.

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The Husband:

You may have noticed that we the Children of Saint Clare have not written about Heroes since its third episode this season, but it is not without good reason. We’re just simply bored. We’re bored, confused, pissed off and somewhat angry at this show, one that had such a great run during its first season, only to make bigger and bigger mistakes each week. I was originally planning on running through a list simply of what exactly is going wrong with the program, but I have been beaten to the punch by just about every blog, magazine article and online piece written about the show. MSN did a great online bit a couple weeks ago about all the show’s shortcomings and potential solutions, followed a week-and-a-half by Entertainment Weekly bluntly stating exactly what the show needs to do in order to regain any kind of popularity or critical acclaim.

Basically, I agree with pretty much all of what people have said, and I’m sure my wife does, too. The characters aren’t acting like themselves anymore, everyone is following along with Idiot Plot conventions and demands instead of being smart characters, the time travel stories are becoming far too much (enough with the potential futures: it was kind of lame in s1, so why would it be better now?) and the ensemble is simply far too big for the show to attain any kind of true continuity or balance.

We must stop ourselves from ruining our own show.

We must stop ourselves from ruining our own show.

In our last review, I declared that the show was doing a good job in getting itself right back on track, learning from its mistakes in s2 by being more open in a narrative sense and regaining some of its shot-out-of-a-cannon pacing that made s1 so addictive and fascinating. I thought as a standalone piece, the third episode this season showed a lot of promise, but in the following three weeks the entire operation has, quite simply, fallen apart. Nobody seems interested in any sort of continuity, fixing plot holes or putting some real emotion back into the program. Whenever a good new character is introduced, they’re killed or forgotten about almost immediately (I’ll miss you, Andre Royo), basically having the writers admit that they have no clue what they’re doing. And some self-contained plots, like Claire, her mother and her “mother” battling the Puppet Master, are nifty in and of themselves, but hold absolutely no relevance to the central mythology and through-line of the show’s arc itself.

The show is now a fast, cool-looking, fancy sports car running over potholes and roadblocks, blindly speeding through the streets and is about to accidentally drive off a bridge and sink into the murky waters below.

Basically, it looks cool and seems cool, but it’s aimless and dangerous. I don’t know how they’re going to recover, but I don’t have very high hopes. I hate to be that kind of person, the complainer who bitches about every single flaw – I hate Lost detractors, for instance, who defend their ignorance of how good and intelligent the show actually is by claiming that none of it makes sense and never will – and I held out hope during s2 of Heroes that they were simply having a sophomore slump – hell, I defended The O.C. until its sad, bitter end – but I know when I’m bored, and it’s not a pretty sight. I have a high tolerance for bad television, but there’s a major difference between interestingly horrible and just blandly boring, especially when it used to be such an awesome piece of pop entertainment. When I can muster up the energy to write about the 17th season of Survivor each week – a show that has pretty much been repeating itself since it premiered eight years ago – but can’t seem to give a shit about Milo Ventimiglia and his newfound Stallone-influenced talking-out-the-side-of-your-mouth acting style versus Sylar and whatever personality the plot wants him to be this week, I know that there’s something terribly wrong.

I am also not someone who likes to join any kind of cultural bandwagon and only choose to pick on this type of show after a great deal of thought, so don’t think that this is simply me following the popular trend of hate for this show. It’s on my own terms and represents my true feelings on the matter.

I’ll hopefully still check in sporadically over the rest of the season, but consider episode recaps kaput.

The Wife:

We’ve both actually been dreading writing about Heroes, which is why we put it off for so many weeks. We just can’t recap it anymore. I know Heroes still has fans and perhaps those fans stick around just so they have something to be mad at, which was the entire rationale behind my commitment to watching My Super Sweet 16 with my roommates in college. However, I just can’t commit to this show anymore with a full heart. Movies are like a party where you want a lot of people to go and have a good time, but even if they don’t have a good time, they’ll probably come home with a good story about the awful time they had, and that’s just as valuable. (Really, aren’t your “Worst Party Ever” stories ten times as interesting as your “Best Party Ever” stories?) A television show, however, is like a relationship. We commit ourselves to an hour a week with these characters and invest our lives in their stories. A viewer is essentially in a relationship with their favorite shows, and I think my husband and I both feel very married to a show like How I Met Your Mother, or Lost or Mad Men. Heroes we dated for awhile and we liked where it was going, but then things took a turn for the worse and we didn’t feel it was right to break up with it when it was having some hard times, so we stuck around. We tried to be supportive. But now, Heroes? You have betrayed me and the other fans who entered into this relationship with you. I’ll still be watching, but I’m seriously hoping for the series demise at season three’s conclusion.

In addition to all of the failures my husband has mentioned above, I think Heroes‘ biggest failure this season is that it has completely lost the reverence for the medium to which it once paid homage. The first season of Heroes was a wonderful, wonderful comic book origin story that looked at each character struggling to understand what their hero bodies now mean and what their destiny should be. It reveled in the conventions of comic book lore, taking time to develop its stories and adding in a few perfect single-character driven episodes, like the one dedicated solely to HRG or, my favorite, the one where we learn specifically of Sylar’s origins, culminating in a beautiful Edward Scissorhands-esque scene where, wanting to make a snowglobe for his snowglobe-obsessed mother (Ellen Green), Sylar accidentally kills the woman who raised him. No Heroes moment is greater than that one, as it reflects the best parts of the comic book genre.

But now, I feel like the show has begun to mock the medium, and that I find both maddening and disappointing. In the first season, Heroes did borrow from other stories a little bit, but I felt those coincidences were done in a reverential way. Now, it’s like they don’t even care that they’re turning Mohinder (who has always sucked) into a rehash of Dr. Jekyll and The Fly. Or that the entire idea of having superpowers “created” is an arc from The X-Men. It’s no longer done with love or respect, but simply out of an attempt to keep the show interesting. It doesn’t feel interesting to borrow from someone else’s work and not do so respectfully. It just feels lame.

Dont you make me engage in an eyeball-off, mother.

Don't you make me engage in an eyeball-off, mother.


As far as mocking the medium itself, I point to Heroes‘ poor attempt at recreating a panel-to-panel style now that Isaac the painting prophet is long gone. In every episode, Milo Ventimiglia has an eyeball-off with another character, which in a comic book works well in a panel-to-panel reading style. But on the show, these things happen so frequently and are shot with a herky-jerky camera that they just come off as silly, rather than intense. These shots, combined with Ventimiglia’s newfound side-mouth-growl-talking, make his Peter Petrelli laughable. And I don’t want to laugh at Peter. I was supposed to like him. What happened to the nurse struggling to find his place in the world in light of his brother’s political prowess? What happened to all of the good things from season one that make for great graphic novel story arcs?

I miss the way Heroes was when it first began, and at this point, I don’t think I can rekindle my relationship with this show, even though it does seem to make minor improvements every now and again. I just can’t be with you for the long haul, Heroes. You’ve forgotten what I liked about you in the first place. I’ll stay with you until the end of season three, but I won’t talk about you with any of my friends or invite you to any parties. And when you’re done with this season, we’re breaking up. For good.

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