Our Darkest Hour (Season Finale)
Original Air Date: May 26, 2010
JD – Associate Staff Writer
Last night was the season finale of Criminal Minds. We followed a killer hunting in the dark, using rolling blackouts in L.A. for places to target. After the last three really good episodes, we were all pumped about it. And adding to that, we knew the always amazing Tim Curry was going to be the unsub.
I couldn’t wait, and spent the night leading up to it coming up with ridiculous cliffhanger endings (‘which team member shot JR?’) to keep myself occupied until I saw the real thing. And as usual, when there’s so much expectation with so many fans on any finale, there are always mixed reactions. I’ve heard everything from love to hate about last night’s finale. You’ll have to read on for my opinions!
We start in what appears to be an old Winnebago. A highly stylized opening scene that reminds me a little of Tarantino. Grainy footage takes us through several cities, then we’re in L.A. and the footage isn’t grainy anymore. The RV stops and the driver, our unsub (Tim Curry), lights a cigarette as the radio announces rolling blackouts throughout the city. He gets out of the RV and watches the lights inside a nearby house go out.
Inside, victims #1-2 (we’ll call them Mr. and Mrs. Victim) are lighting candles and complaining about the heat. Mr. Victim insists the bedroom windows be left open, then a banging sound gets them both out of bed to investigate. They determine that the noise was branches beating against a glass door in the wind, and go back to their bedroom. Mrs. Victim notices the windows have been shut again, but before she can do more than ask about it, Creepy Unsub in the bedroom door clocks Mr. Victim over the head. Cue begging, gunfire, blood, annnnnnd the BAU round table room.
JJ flashes pictures of the victims up on the screen. Both victims were beaten, and Mrs. Victim was raped repeatedly. She was left alive by our unsub, who she’s described as white, with mean eyes and repulsive breath. But the team needs more than one or two bloodied victims to head out on a case, so JJ provides two more, a double homicide not far away. The ballistics match those of Mr. and Mrs. Victim.
When the jet lands in L.A., Morgan and Prentiss meet up with this week’s Cops of the Week, Detectives Kurzbard (Robert Davi) and Spicer (Eric Close), at the victim’s house. They go over some details of the case, and when Morgan suggests the unsub cut the power, Kurzbard tells them about the rolling blackouts. Meanwhile, at the hospital, Rossi and Reid check on Mrs. Victim. She’s in restraints because she’s already tried to kill herself twice. She’s too upset to really give them anything to help, which doesn’t really surprise me. They have talked before on the show about how female rape victims are likely to feel more comfortable taking to another woman. So why did Hotch send Rossi and Reid? They couldn’t put her at ease if they tried!
When they’re back at the station, Garcia gives Reid a call to say she really hasn’t found anything that sounds like their unsub in L.A. so Reid tells her to expand her search to all of southern California. Prentiss and Spicer pop in on Reid and JJ. They introduce themselves (after Spencer gives one of his ‘no one needs to know this, but I’m going to spout facts at you anyway’ speeches), and JJ tells Spicer the press is asking for him. Spicer says no one else wants to do it, and since it hasn’t hurt him yet, he agrees to go over a few points with JJ for the 11 o’clock news.
Meanwhile, victim #3 (we’ll call her Ms. Horror Movie Cliche) is driving home in a blackout. She pulls into her driveway and tries the garage door opener when she should know full well that the garage won’t work in a blackout. When it doesn’t work, she decides to go unlock her front door and leave it cracked while she runs back to get her sleeping child out of the backseat of the car. But Ms. Horror Movie Cliche isn’t done being a cliche yet! When she comes back to the front door to see it’s no longer cracked but wide open, she brilliantly decides to go inside anyway. Can you believe she had the nerve to look surprised when she turned around to find a killer behind her?!
This is normally where I would stop the recap so I wouldn’t spoil the ending, but seeing as how this is a cliffhanger, there really isn’t an ending yet. Plus, I figure there’s more to talk about. So if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know the ending, stop reading. Otherwise, I’ll give you the (not so short) short version of the rest.
Ms. Horror Movie Cliche’s son is left alive, and Spicer seems protective of him, telling Morgan he knows that the kid won’t be able to give them anymore information. He says he knows this because his parents died in a drunk driving incident when he was little, and he’s felt guilty ever since. To try to keep people safe after the most recent murder, L.A. calls off the rolling blackouts.
Garcia widens her search, and finds that the unsub’s been killing for 26 years. He’s never been caught because he’s never stayed in the same city twice, but now he’s back to L.A. again. The team determines there must be a reason he came back, so they look at the first cases and find that Spicer’s parents were among the first killed. Spicer was the first victim left behind. It seems his grandparents lied to him about the car accident to protect him, and he was young enough to want to believe the lies.
Hotch believes the unsub feels he made Spicer into a hero, and wants everyone to know it was his doing. Hotch thinks the unsub may go after Spicer’s daughter next, and what do you know? He does. When Spicer and Morgan get to Spicer’s house, where his daughter is staying with his sister, his daughter and sister are gone, a newspaper article featuring Spicer laying on the bed they were sleeping in.
They head off to the first place they can think to check, Spicer’s sister’s house. Morgan tells the whole team, then the city’s power goes completely out as demand exceeds supply. Hotch and Prentiss get stuck in a traffic jam, and then cell phone service is lost next. Only after that does Morgan realize the unsub wouldn’t be going to Spicer’s sister’s house because it’s not personal enough. He would be going to the home he killed Spicer’s parents in. So Morgan and Spicer head that way, and there’s no way to tell the rest of the team where they’re going.
When they get to the house, Morgan finds the girls in a room, tied up with duct tape. As soon as he asks them where the unsub is, the unsub whacks him over the head with something. So the unsub was pretty much right there. Very perceptive, Morgan. Anyway, by the time Spicer finds them, Morgan is on the floor and bound with duct tape. The unsub is using Spicer’s daughter as a shield and has a gun to her. In spite of Morgan telling Spicer not to do what the unsub asks, Spicer does it anyway, dropping his gun and getting on his knees. He’s shortly thereafter paid for not listening and shot, but not before Morgan is made to promise that nothing will happen to his daughter.
The unsub grabs Spicer’s daughter again after Spicer’s down (dead? who knows at this point?), though, and drags her toward the door of the room, where he explains to Morgan that he doesn’t usually take to children, but that this one was “special”. Morgan assures the unsub that they will find him. “Is that another promise?” the unsub asks, then drags the girl out of the room, leaving Morgan on the floor with an injured/dead colleague, a frightened victim, and no way of letting the team know where he is.
I honestly wasn’t sure how I felt about this episode when I first watched it. I had already been spoiled and knew Morgan was going to be left alive but in a bad situation, but I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. This wasn’t it, and at first I thought I disliked the episode overall, but when I rewatched it, I liked it more. I think after two season finales of “OH MY GOD, SOMEONE’S GOING TO DIE!”, it was a shock to have a more subtle cliffhanger. But that’s not always as bad as it seems. I just had to give it a second chance.
I really loved Spicer in this episode. He was so good with that kid, and he didn’t seem jaded. He still wanted to believe in a reason for things. Unfortunately for him, the reason in this case was him. I wish we had more Cops of the Week like him, though, because I really felt like I knew him more than we usually get, and while it was stupid of him not to listen to Morgan at the end, what would you do if someone had a gun to one of your loved ones and was threatening to kill them?
And of course, I can’t end this review without mentioning Tim Curry. I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t get more of him, but I think that added to the effect. That last scene it felt like I’d been waiting so long, and then he was even creepier than I thought he was going to be. Perfect casting! And I can’t wait to see more of him in September!
So what did you guys think? Were you disappointed? Were you flailing with excitement? Do you think Spicer’s dead? How do you think the team will find Morgan? Or do you think Morgan will free himself first? Do you think the unsub will stay in town with Spicer’s daughter, or get her in the RV and flee? Is Hotch going to get road rage and start hulk smashing those other cars? There are tons of serious (and not so serious) questions to ask! What do you think? Give me your two cents! We’ve got ALL SUMMER to figure it out.