Original Air Date: Jan 20, 2010
JD – Associate Staff Writer
I was worried when this began that it was going to be just another version of A Higher Power, but I am so glad I was wrong. I am glad they brought Jim Clemente back. He wrote Lessons Learned way back in 2006, and I hope it doesn’t take four years for him to write another episode, if this is the way they’re going to be.
So where do we begin? Right, with two suicides. But the BAU doesn’t handle suicides, you might say, and you would be right. But if you said JJ can be very convincing, you would also be right. According to JJ, there were two more deaths the previous week on the same day. She gets Hotch to agree to go investigate even though it doesn’t sound like a BAU case (something she’s done before), and off the team goes. Oh and they bring Garcia. For us Garcia fans (and how could you not be a Garcia fan?!), this always spells greatness.
The problem with these suicides, we learn on the jet, is that these kids are perfectly normal. In fact, they are both outstanding kids with absolutely no reason to kill themselves. They haven’t shown any of the classic indicators that suicidal people display. On the ground, the team splits up to check out the kids homes, and Garcia winds up with one of their laptops. As Hotch explains, she was brought along to look through their computers to see if there were indications that they were suicidal in their files or internet activity. Once she gets onto the laptop, though, it appears to be blank, and it takes her a few moments (because she’s fast like that) to break through a trojan virus. It lets her get onto the computer… straight to an internet site called “The Choking Game”.
The website is orchestrating a competition. It’s pitting high school against high school to see how many people will choke themselves until they pass out. They also have to film it and upload the videos later for proof. Now the one victim could have easily been recording through her laptop, but the second victim didn’t have one. I wonder why the team didn’t find any recording devices in the second victim’s room. As Garcia points out, he was playing through a video gaming system, so the team should have found something, right?
Minor plot hole aside, the team now has enough to give a profile, and they are off to find the culprit!
I really enjoyed this episode a lot. It is a treat to have an episode with a focus on JJ and Garcia. To be honest, I had a very hard time relating to JJ for a long time (as in not until the last season and a half), and I really feel like she’s had a disservice done to her in the past. She’s the media liaison, so she’s not always in the thick of things, and I think it’s very easy to overlook her. It’s probably easy for even the writers. I only really started to appreciate her after we had the insane Jordan Todd take over for her for a while. I was begging for my JJ back then.
It seems like lately she’s being incorporated in the cases more. At first it was all about her maternal instinct, which was got old fairly quickly. I was trying not to roll my eyes in the beginning of this episode when I thought this was going to be yet another ‘JJ sympathizes with parents who lost their kids’ thing. But it wasn’t, and I’m glad the episode kept me hooked long enough to see it through to the end when we find out about JJ’s sister. We really know very little about JJ’s past, surprisingly little when you consider this is the fifth season. The fact that I was even teary eyed for her at the end is just proof of all the work that has been done with her since last season. I am finally starting to care about JJ, when I didn’t before.
Dear show, keep feeding us more snippets of backstory. Love, a Fan (with a capital F).
This episode did a great job of showcasing Garcia as well. Actually, as she may put it, she was rad. I just about had a little party when Hotch sent Garcia in to the interrogation room. Hotch proved once again that he is almost never wrong. Garcia clicked with Christopher just about as soon as she walked in the door, and I love that she treated him like a normal kid. It was so fitting of her. She sees so many horrible things on those computer screens, and this episode gave us yet another example that she is still able to look for the good in people. She walked in to the room thinking he was a murderer, but she didn’t once treat him like that, and wound up winning his trust in a way Morgan and Reid never could have. I do wonder why Garcia didn’t outright tell the team he gave her the earring, though. Other than that it made the story flow the way it needed to, it made no sense to me that she would hide it. Any thoughts?
Though the episode did a great job of letting JJ and Garcia stand out, it also didn’t feel forced. Too often it seems that when an episode focuses on a less prominent member of the team, the rest of the show suffers (last season’s House On Fire comes to mind). Clemente knew that the episode needed balance to stay solid–bringing forward two characters who don’t get a lot of action, while still letting the rest of the team shine as usual.
The ending was probably the best part for me, the way JJ brought her experiences around to give Hotch some friendly encouragement. Of all people right now, Hotch needs it. But JJ’s confession and Garcia relating to Christopher’s loss of his mother does draw to light just how many people in the BAU have lost someone. Hotch lost his ex-wife, JJ lost her sister, Morgan lost his dad, Garcia lost her parents, and Reid’s dad left him. It’s a sad, sad show, folks.
So what did you guys think? Give me your two cents!