A train that could go back in time…

Being a review of Criminal Minds 4×05, Catching Out, Written by Oahn Ly, Directed by Charles Haid.


…well, it was inevitable that eventually, Morgan was going to have to tackle a train. And it’s always fun when Morgan and Hotch get to play Lethal Weapon.

This week on Criminal Minds: JJ is pregnant, Reid is conflicted about where babies come from, and Morgan embarrasses himself trying to pick up women who are smarter than he is.  Also, a train-hopping inhalant addict brutally murders his way across Central California, and Hotch rides shotgun with a handgun. Nice shooting, Tex.

I thought this was a generally solid ep, one with much more of an ensemble feel than we’ve been seeing lately. The team was back, cylinders firing, functioning as a team—and that was nice to see. As was a little object permanence with Prentiss’ skill set. For a moment there, I was afraid they weren’t going to remember that she speaks Spanish, but I should have had a little more faith.

I think the most interesting  conversation in this episode has more to do with the discussion of class and family issues among itinerant workers than any new developments in the ongoing character arcs (everybody is there and themselves; Prentiss still wants kids; Morgan is still a horndog an emotionally damaged and overcompensating individual; Hotch has apparently recovered from the damage to his hearing apparatus; Reid is still painfully aware of his boobytrapped genetic legacy), and so that’s where I’m going to aim my guns.

I’m fascinated by the silence of the UNSUB—played by Andre Royo, who many will remember from The Wire and Heroes—in this episode. He doesn’t have a single line, all his history and drama are explicated in his actions and in the words of people who know him, and in the hobo signs that serve as a form of communication for the speechless and socially isolated.

Family and class are important threads here. The UNSUB and his half-brother, Ruben Garcia (veteran character actor Pepe Serna, doing a lovely job) try to find ways to care about each other even in the teeth of a hopeless life. I find something particularly telling about the way the UNSUB’s brother—who is, by the way, one of the highlights of the episode—says, “he didn’t want to work.”

The part where he talks about not having been there for his brother was understatedly heartbreaking.

That scene also raises a question by implication: how many of the people who judge this migrant worker, devoted family man, could do the work he does? How many of them rely on his labor to eat and feed their families? How many of them sleep in nice beds when he sleeps on the ground? Prentiss keeps making the Goldilocks reference:  the bed was just right, and Goldilocks broke it all to bits sleeping in it when it was not hers.

It does, kind of elegantly, build an understanding in the viewer of the source of the UNSUB’s rage, his sense of exclusion, and the satisfaction he gets from sleeping in the blood-soaked beds of his victims. And of course, the UNSUB himself is not without humanity. He may murder without a thought—but his murdering is work that goes to support his family. He steals from his victims, but he doesn’t keep the money. Instead, he finds a way to send it home and prove his worth to the people he’s left behind.

It’s a creepy sort of felicity, but an inescapable one—as evident as the filial pride with which JJ shows off her kicking baby—while meanwhile making plans to have another person come in and care for her surrogate family while she’s on maternity leave.


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