Seven weeks after the 100th episode, Criminal Minds looked like it had peaked with its realistic depictions of the effects of child abuse. The 16th episode of the season, “Mosley Lane”, is the one that topped second season classic “P911” whilst retaining part of the earlier episode’s format; of stolen children helping each other, with varying results. It’s one of a few in the fifth season where the story is past the middle when the episode actually begins, and a new child kidnap is part of that beginning.
Normally the pace of Criminal Minds rattles along like an express train, but they pack a lot into this episode’s 40 minutes. A parent who lost a child eight years before, ends up assisting both the team and the new kidnap victim’s parents; the creepy kidnappers evoke the Hansel and Gretel modern fairytale angle that the writers were looking for through their first-choice casting of Bud Cort and Beth Grant as the serial kidnap and murder team. Their detached performances display the banality of evil approach which has proven to be realistic in real-life cases of this time such as those of Steven Stayner, Jaycee Dugard and Shawn Hornbeck, as well as the parents tearing themselves apart.
The ending is also realistic enough, updating P911’s open ending for just the two kids, to one that is bittersweet for the three in this episode and the eldest survivor played by Evan Peters, best known in the UK for the movie Kick-Ass and an episode of the Mentalist, both shown last year. It’s the new benchmark for a show that has already set a high standard and the writers Simon Mirren, teamed with Erica Messer this time, will have to work hard to top this episode either for fans or for realistic depictions of the aftermath of CSA-related kidnap cases. It’s expertly directed by Matthew Gray Gubler which explains his character’s fade into the background on this episode compared to normal, but the episode didn’t suffer thanks to the general ensemble quality.
There are other good series 5 episodes and we’ll bring you those retrospectives at a later date, and we’re sure that the show is repeated in the US frequently. Meanwhile, season six of the show is released on DVD in the UK on Monday 28th November to update people watching without satellite connections, so if the writers have leapt over the high bar within the following season, we’ll bring you those reviews in the future as well.
Sources: IMDB.com, TV.com, “Case File: Grim” and “Gubler Direct” Featurettes on Season 5 Box Set