So Criminal Minds-I was a HUGE fan when it first aired and I watched it faithfully for seven years-only stopping when I moved from the dorms to an apartment that didn’t have cable.
I was so invested in this show as I was deeply interested in behavioral analysis. When I first went to college I studied psychology, hoping to work for the FBI one day…however, I hated the psychology classes as we kept having to talk about ourselves (I ended up switching to history).
One of the other reasons I wanted to watch this show was for Thomas Gibson.
Yes, I was a fan of his from Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas and Dharma and Greg. So when I saw the content of the show with this actor-I was gone. I needed to watch it-the remote is MINE!
And to top it all off-Mandy Pantinkin, his most famous role being of course, Inigo Montoya, was also in the show. I love him!
So the show is about the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit which is comprised of the leader Agent Hotchner and Jason Gideon. The rest of the team consists of Elle Greenaway, the sexual predator profiler (who ends up leaving and is replaced by Emily Prentiss). We also have Derek Morgan (played by the very handsome Shermar Moore) and appears to be the standard tough guy, ex-athlethe, charming, ladies’ man-but you find out there is far more to him than what appears at first glance. Spencer Reid is a super genius and the youngest member of the unit. He is only 22 in the first episode but already has three PhDs, two BAs, and has a photographic memory. Reid is utterly adorable.
Rounding out the team is Agent Jennifer “J.J.” Jareau, the liasion between the FBI and the town they move into to help out. She’s sweet, kind, adorable; and when the show dropped her the fans revolted, bringing her back. Rounding the team out is Penelope Garcia, the quirky, adorable computer whiz and annoying Emily Prentiss (I don’t like her).
There are a lot of memorable Criminal Minds episodes, but the one that really stuck in my mind was this episode, “North Mammon”. I think it largely had to do with the fact that it was a “J.J.” episode. Every team member had their “special episodes” were something in a case resonated with them and brought out why they were interested in this line of work and some of the reasons they took the path they did. As J.J. is one of my favorite characters it made this episode extremely memorable.
So the episode starts off in North Mammon, PA. The high school and town are going crazy with a pep rally as the BIG GAME is happening in a week. Having gone to an art school, I never experienced this but I have seen Friday Night Lights-football is huge in some towns.
Three girls are unimpressed and OMG one of the girls is the crazy girl in Accused at 17-the one that murders the girl and then tries to frame her friend. Oh, no…I looked it up. She just looks like the same girl but isn’t. Phew! That wouldn’t have boded well.
The three girls are having a girls’ weekend-house to themselves, pizza, probably movies. Two go in first while the third girl stops to bring in the trash barrels, and is kidnapped. The kidnapper threatens to kill her and uses that to grab the others. All are put in a concrete slab basement. Even creepier-the man knew their names. Why is he doing this? Who is he? One of the girls has a bad cough, and being in that basement only aggravates it.
Their kidnapper wants them to choose: two can live while the third will be murdered, their choice.
So as you can tell, this episode has a lot of Saw feeling to it. Saw came out in 2004, and spanned all kinds of sequels so it heavily influenced the media. Although when I was watching this, the scene with the girls on the basement made me think of Glass, when the cheerleaders have been kidnapped.
So the mom of one of the missing girls contacts J.J. through her friend, J.J.’s aunt-knowing that J.J. was a soccer star like her missing daughter she thinks she’ll understand that her daughter didn’t run off. You see they have been missing for five days and no one is looking for them or taking her concerns seriously.
Brooke Chambers’ father went out of town and her two best friends stayed with her-Polly Holmfeild and Kelly Seymour. The two girls disappeared, but left a message about going off on a road trip-the exact verbatim message.
When J.J. presents this to the team they question whether the girls just to off-but J.J. shuts them down. She was one of those girls, and knows they wouldn’t mess up full ride scholarships by taking off like this.
Gideon also points out that the message says they would be back on Friday, they only have a few days left to find them.
The team heads out to North Mammon and meets Police Chief Yates, who isn’t worried. They haven’t been able to locate Brooke’s father either-but that isn’t unusual, he often goes on long business trips-he’s a lawyer.
The team immediately knows that whoever this person is has been watching the girls as they know a lot about them-they knew they wouldn’t be at homecoming, that Brooke’s father was gone, that the other girls’ parents were at the pep rally, and that they could have the girls leave them messages, etc. Someone has been stalking and watching them and in a town that small it isn’t an outside-someone in the community.
So which person is a secret psycho?
I know a lot of people didn’t like it but I thought it was an interesting concept and take. A short of When a Stranger Calls, but with a community instead of house. Most likely the guy will be someone who seems trustworthy or normal.
Gideon starts walking to find a vantage point of where the person was watching them and discovers a spot with a perfect view littered with cigarette butts. There are a ton, someone has spent a lot of time watching.
So the town is still in celebration mode for the homecoming game, Chief Yates is a former football star back in the day and sees nothing wrong with it.
Meanwhile back with the girls they are starting to turn. It has been five days with no food, little waterm trapped in a basement, and being taunted by a man. The girls have started to unravel, unsure of how much time they have spent there. Brooke is growing sicker and sicker with her cough. Polly is by her side while Kelly is seriously going crazy-crazy and angry being trapped in their.
The team finds the girls’ car and search it. They discover the quarterback’s cap, but he’s ruled out as everyone saw him at the pep rally. Mr. Chambers finally shows up (hey-he’s the dad from the Mentalist “Red Tide” episode.) Mr. Chambers comes in during the debriefing and makes a scene. He sure doesn’t look like a lawyer to me or talk like one-sounds more blue collar.
The team shares that the guy they are looking for is a predatory abductor, they usually build a nest before they take someone, and it is always a secret and secure place. They will also inject themselves into the investigation. The person will also, obviously, be missing from the pep rally.
They run the cigarette butts and the DNA matches with the girls’ soccer coach. They go to get him but Chambers gets there first and starts beating his legs with a tire iron-revealing he’s had a pedophile charge, soliciting an underage minor (she was a prostitute that “lied about her age”) and Mr. Chambers got his old football buddy off.
However, Don was seen at the pep rally and it seems off that kidnapper would leave cigarette butts full of DNA when he was so precise and removed all trace of himself in the house, so someone is obviously framing him.
Yes, whoever this person is wants these community “leaders” to all turn on each other. While the town is doing that-so do the girls in the basement. Kelly has a plan and Brooke can tell it is a dark one-one that doesn’t bode well for her.
The next day the trash guys discover the girls’ soccer uniforms behind the motel. The team moves to the motel and find out that one guy, John Sherman, uses the room once a month and pays an extra $100 to leave no paper trails-its Mr. Chambers. That’s right, he never left town.
They then question Mr. Chambers and it turns out he did lie about being away. He was staying at the motel where he meets a friend once a month-a man. It is a small town and he wants to keep that hidden.
So watching this, it is clear that whoever is doing this is trying to turn these “football stars” against each other and reveal secrets. Who could dislike them so much? Is there someone they bullied who is trying to get revenge? Is it someone who never got the recognition they felt they deserved? A fourth wheel to this golden trio? But if it is is to get back at these football stars why take these girls when only one is related to them? What is the plan here?
The girls are growing worse and Kelly tries to convince Polly to give Brooke up to be killed so they can be free. Polly refuses because she will not sacrifice her friend. But how long will that last?
Kelly tries to use the love Polly has for her mom to convince her-after all Brooke is cick-she is going to die anyway. Kelly works on her and wins her over. Kelly calls to the kidnaper who throws in a hammer to the room. They not only have to choose who will die, but but kill them.
The next shot we see Polly wrapped in a blanket and another girl coming out of a basement wrapped up in a blanket too so we can’t see her. Is it Kelly? Or Brooke?
Meanwhile the parents are going insane. They are supposed to be working together on finding out who the kidnapper could be, but are just gossiping, yelling, and blaming each other. J.J. has had enough and yells at them all.
I know a lot of fans didn’t like this episode as they felt it was unrealistic, but in this moment it reminded me of the Twilight Zone episode “Monsters on Maple Street”, how a little thing that causes mistrust can make people turn against each other.
The unsub drive the girls to North Mammon…weird.
Meanwhile, the agents have decided enough is enough-time to split the guys up. Before they can, Brooke Chambers’ phone turns on and they get a hit. The two girls were dropped right outside the police station.
Man this unsub is ballsy. Just right in front of them-no fear this sicko.
The first girl is Polly, as we all knew, and the second one is Brooke-Kelly is dead.
Ohhhh?!!! What happened? I can’t say I’m sad as Kelly proved to be an awful friend as she was going to kill her friend.
Kelly’s father brings up that they all played football together-the championship being tonight. J.J. thinks that might be the clue they need-maybe someone on the team?
The girls are in shock, but J.J. speaks to Polly. J.J. is the heart of the team and relaxes and reaches out to her-calming her and bringing her to the present.
Meanwhile, Brooke is sharing what happened with the police and other agents- they were hungry, thirsty, and cold. Kelly was trying to get Polly to help her kill Brooke. Meanwhile, Brooke hits Kelly with the hammer and collapses.
Poor Brooke-hearing your friends plan to kill you and then having to kill someone to save yourself-someone you thought was your very best friend.
These girls are going to be needing double the therapy.
Polly picks out their kidnapper from the football photo and it is Marcus Younger-the garbage man who found the girls’ soccer uniforms. It turned out he was the former star of the team until he blew his knee out-right before the championship game.
They find his house and check the storm cellar-and there he is, just waiting. Just sitting there with Kelly’s dead body waiting or the FBI and police to find him. This to me is one of the creepiest scenes-he is smug, relaxed, calm, even delighted to be found-and chilling next to a dead body.
He smugly tells them I never touched the girls or came into the room, I just revealed their inner nature.
What a jerkwad! He wants revenge for how he was treated when he got hurt-how he was tossed aside and forgotten. His teammates weren’t his true friends, and he wanted to show that these girls they are teammates that are also not true friends, that when the chips are down they would betray you.
What a jerkwad crazy psycho man. They don’t make it clear whether he has been plotting this for a while and waiting for them to get to the right age, or if it was just seeing them and the cheer for the championship that he snapped.
I know a lot of people didn’t like this, but I found this to be a very intriguing episode and unsub. Definitely one that sticks with you.
J.J. is upset over everything on the plane home as all the memories from her childhood are coming back. I really like this post scene as Hotch encourages her to be a profiler, and J.J. shares she prefers being where she is, as she likes being the one the family can turn to, and the one to choose the next case. It is really touching as we the viewer and the team all got to know J.J. better and see into more of who she is.
I enjoyed it as it was so different from the other episodes and a real look into J.J.
For more on Criminal Minds, go to Fantastic Fantasies
For more horror TV episodes, go to To All the Ghouls I’ve Loved Before: The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (1985)