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Criminal Minds - Cure - Review: “Virus”

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So how’s this season been treating you thus far, CM fans? You guys been enjoying the relative calm and peace that’s been playing out up to now?

Seriously, with the exception of the events of “Wheels Up” and Matt being grazed by a bullet in “Submerged”, things have been moving along pretty steadily and uneventfully for the team for the most part. Even the impact of Floyd’s return on Garcia’s emotional state, or the conditions put on Reid’s return to the team, were brief flare ups at most. It’s gotten to the point where one could easily be forgiven for not remembering that the season had started off in such a dramatic fashion.

If the events of this episode are any indication, however, that period of calm and peace is all about to change pretty dang quick. A character from the “Beyond Borders” spinoff shows up briefly to deliver some startling news that will impact two team members going forward. And somehow, I’m getting the feeling they’re not the only ones who’ll wind up in the crossfire. Alongside that surprising storyline, there was a case, of course, and for the most part, it was a pretty intriguing one. There were codes to crack and mysterious callers and potential political intrigue and messages drawn in blood. It would’ve been a top case, too, had the reveal not been something of a dud, but eh, can’t always have everything, right?

Overall, though, the case was a good way to distract the team, and the viewers, from any potential anxiety regarding the shocking ending, and it made for a fun brain teaser of sorts as well. Settle in, and let’s try and make sense of all the craziness that unfolded this hour.

The Case:

A man and a woman are burning the midnight oil at an office, talking shop. The woman, Abby, is looking over some papers and files, trying to sort out what looks to be some sort of very messy financial issue. Unfortunately, it seems she and the man she’s with, Andrew, might have to start all over, as things just aren’t adding up right.

Andrew takes pity on Abby, telling her to just go home to her family and let him handle this mess. He feels responsible for what happened, and he doesn’t want to burden Abby with his crappy workload. Generous guy. Abby accepts his offer, and prepares to leave, but just as she’s getting ready to head out, somebody pops up and sticks a gun in her face. The intruder then binds her hands and feet with tape, gags her, and as we get a look at this intruder, they’re dressed in what looks to be some kind of tactical gear, complete with mask. After the unsub has Abby under their control, they then go find Andrew...and shoot him.

Emily sends Reid and JJ, who were staying late at work (more on that later), out to the scene to investigate. They get one bit of good news upon arriving: Abby’s alive and, despite being bound with tape, is otherwise unharmed. Andrew, however, is dead. He was bound in the same manner as Abby, but that’s where the similarities end, and it’s also where the case takes a strange turn. Andrew was found dead in his office, his body facing the wall.

Why is that significant? Because on the wall is a drawing, made in Andrew’s blood, no less, of a serpent circling a rod. As Reid explains to JJ and the local cop investigating the scene, this image is famously known as the Staff of Asclephius, and it’s associated with the arts of healing and medicine. When the cop notes that she recalls there being two serpents circling the rod, Reid explains that that’s because the Staff of Asclephius, which only has one serpent, often gets confused with the Rod of Hermes, which has two. It’s an error which started thanks to a mistake by the U.S. Army Medical Corps back in the early 1900s. Oops.

Anyway, bottom line, the Rod of Hermes has nothing to do with the field of medicine. The Staff of Asclephius does, and that’s the one the unsub drew. What confuses Reid and JJ, though, is why it was drawn on the wall of Andrew’s office. Andrew didn’t work in the field of medicine, he worked in financial management. Yet for some reason, the unsub wanted to put that image here – and what’s more, he wanted Andrew specifically to see it.

As Reid and JJ are mulling this curious detail over, we see somebody sitting in a shadowy dark room somewhere (of course), collecting photos of a man. Their next move is to dial 911, and they leave this message, complete with distorted voice (again, of course): “We are Asclephius. We have begun the bloodletting. You will fear us, for you are the disease, and we are the cure.” ‘Kay, then.

Garcia has a similar reaction as she later plays the recording, which the 911 operator had saved and sent along, for the entire team back at the conference room. Her attempts to trace the call indicate it’s coming from someplace in the Ukraine, so yeah, this case is just getting weirder and weirder. Since the call mentions a “we”, the team wonders if they’re dealing with a domestic terrorist group or a group of anarchists. They compare this call to others of its kind, and notice there’s a few important things missing. For one, there’s no mention of the victim. For another, the caller isn’t rattling off a list of grievances. They clearly want to fix something, but who or what they think needs fixing isn’t made entirely clear. Maybe they just want to incite fear?

The team also look closer at Andrew himself. His personal life seems pretty ordinary – he’s a divorced father of three – but his professional life is a little less clean. As noted, he works in finance, and there’s been recent issues of mismanagement within the company. Certainly would provide a valid motive for murder, no? Perhaps that’s what the unsub (or unsubs, as this does feel like the work of some group) thinks needs fixing? Maybe somebody in the group worked with Andrew, and wants revenge?

Tara and Luke head out to talk to Abby to see if she can help shed any light on what happened. She’s understandably traumatized by her ordeal, and also feels incredibly guilty over Andrew’s death. She regrets not making any noise of some sort that could’ve alerted him to the intruder in time. Poor girl. That’d be so tough. Tara rightly assures her that she needn’t blame herself, however, and tries to comfort her.

Once she calms down a bit, Abby does manage to give Tara and Luke some important information. Apparently, shortly before his death, Andrew was getting anonymous e-mails involving threats to burn down his business. Yikes. He got an IT guy to trace the IP address, and discovered the e-mails were coming from a teenage boy named Kyle Reeves. Kyle’s father Peter was a client of Andrew’s, and was impacted by some of the recent financial woes Andrew’s company had been dealing with. Andrew let that go, though, because he sympathized with the stress the Reeves family was experiencing, and didn’t want to pile on. Decent gesture, but perhaps his good faith and attempt at kindness was misplaced.

Meanwhile, at the morgue, JJ and Matt learn more about Andrew’s murder. The coroner notes that Andrew’s wounds were overkill (thirty-six stab wounds in all!), indicating a personal anger of some sort, but despite that, some of Andrew’s wounds are also rather shallow in nature, and have an odd curved shape to them. Matt explains that the odd-shaped wounds were the result of a curved blade called a karambit, a type of weapon which is commonly used in southeast Asia. The young woman assisting the coroner lets her geek side fly at this point, mentioning that a karambit is also known as being a traditional Klingon weapon. Hm, maybe she should meet Reid and Garcia.

Since the use of the karambit matches up with the unsub’s tactical garb, that implies the guy might actually have some sort of military experience. So that’s one potential part of the puzzle solved. Now they’ve got another to figure out, and boy, is it a doozy. The group then notices a piece of paper rolled up and crammed into Andrew’s mouth. Upon pulling it out, they realize it’s some sort of coded message.

You guys, I think we’re on a National Treasure-style quest here.

The coded message is sent back to the conference room, where Rossi, Emily, Reid, and Garcia are gathered. Reid observes that this seems to be inspired by the sorts of cryptograms that the Zodiac Killer sent. That guy really left quite the legacy for budding killers, didn’t he? Garcia confirms that Kyle Reeves isn’t responsible for this note, however, as he’s currently stuck in juvenile hall for other inappropriate texts he’d recently sent somebody. Sounds like Kyle’s dad might need to have a talk with him at some point, if he hasn’t already.

Reid and Garcia then start talking amongst themselves about how to crack the code, and they do so by rattling off a string of technical jargon involving talk of four different types of alphabets and numbering systems and key shifts and whatnot. It’s all very complicated, and let’s just say the expressions on Rossi and Emily’s faces during this scene mirrored mine exactly. This scene also left me all the more impressed by Vangsness and Gubler’s acting abilities,‘cause seriously, how they were able to remember and rattle all of that off without tripping up at any point is beyond me.

Ultimately, all this cryptobabble boils down to Reid asking Garcia to use the letter “E” as a starting point, as that’s apparently the most commonly used letter in the alphabet. Huh. Today I learned. His assumption works, and somehow, Garcia manages to translate the message into proper English as a result. And wouldn’t ya know, it’s another long rant, mainly railing against “impotent men” who work in the finance, law, and religious sectors who the unsub feels are “poisoning” the system by not protecting people. It ends with the same sentiment shared in the 911 call: “For you are the disease, and we are the cure.”

“Sure as hell aren’t talking about the band,” Garcia says. I love her.

“The game is afoot. His game, with us.”

The note also indicates that the person who sent it will agree to terms of surrender if the news media broadcasts this code’s manifesto. Reid believes that demand indicates a narcissistic attitude, and that leads him to think they’re not dealing with some kind of group here after all. Rather, it’s just one guy doing all of this, believing themselves to be smarter than everyone else. Thing is, though, if the unsub really wanted to get their message out there and get the attention they crave, they could’ve just posted the thing online somewhere, as many like them tend to do. But they didn’t. This message was meant for the BAU specifically to see. But why?

While they’re working that out, we meet our next victim, a man named Douglas. He’s leaving work that night, chewing out some poor guy named Jeff, wanting him to fix something. His call is abruptly cut short, however, when the unsub, who’s hiding underneath the vehicle, swipes at his ankles with some hard object, knocking him to the ground. As Douglas cries out in pain, the unsub crawls out, hovers over him, and, well, you can guess the rest.

As with the other men, Douglas was forced to stare at the Staff of Asclephius drawing, and he was stabbed to death. But there are a couple notable differences here. Andrew was killed in his office, while Douglas was killed outside. And Douglas didn’t work in the finance industry. He worked in the aerospace/engineering industry. Still no explanation as to why the unsub is using a medical image to taunt people who don’t work in that field.

Douglas’ death is made all the more tragic by the fact that there was help just inside the building where he’d worked. A security guard was on staff that night and saw Douglas on his way out. Unfortunately, since he was inside the building, he was unaware of what was going on outside, and the security camera facing the parking lot would’ve been no help, because it went down an hour before Douglas’ murder. That doesn’t sound like mere coincidence. Clearly the unsub has some familiarity with the buildings, and had likely been stalking his victims (meaning they were specific targets) and scoping out their places of work prior to killing them. Creepy.

Douglas had a piece of paper with a code stuffed into his mouth, too, which is delivered to Reid and Garcia. This one’s a little tougher to crack, but that doesn’t stop our brainy buddies. Reid and Garcia continue to use their combined awesome nerd powers to try and figure it out, and since the unsub has made a point of talking about a “cure”, Reid suggests using that word to help crack the message.

And voila! It works! The message is fairly similar to the first one, but there’s a new and troubling detail in this message: a mention of a “third corpse”. Apparently there’s another body out there somewhere, and the cops haven’t yet connected it to this string of murders. But now that Reid and Garcia have that information, they turn to trying to find this John Doe. Take that, Mr. I-Think-I’m-So-Smart Unsub.

The rest of the team, meanwhile, starts sorting out their profile, and for such a seemingly complex case, their unsub sounds pretty basic. Basically, the guy has military experience, and is clearly holding some sort of personal grudge against somebody in either that field or the law enforcement field. They feel betrayed by this person, and their victims are likely surrogates for whomever is the object of the unsub’s real anger. His talk of powerful men committing “infidelities” is further proof of that, as that sounds weirdly specific for somebody who’s trying to make some grand threat.

Soon after, we see the unsub driving through a neighborhood, quietly observing some guy as he leaves for work. Later that night, when the man returns home, the unsub strikes, stabbing him on his front steps. A woman comes to the door upon hearing the man’s screams, and she immediately calls 911. As she does so the unsub halts mid-attack, glances up at her...and runs away. Well. That was unexpected.

Luckily, the man, whose name is Scott, survives his attack, and Luke and Tara head out to the hospital a short time later upon hearing that he’s alert and ready to talk. Scott’s ex-wife Julia is there, fussing over him, and a short time later, their kids come by to visit, so it’s a big ol’ family reunion. Luke and Tara ask Scott if he’d received any recent threats at work, but he can’t recall any. He works as a judge in the family court, and that can be fraught with tension when dealing with bitter couples and custody battles, but Scott can’t think of any instances where he felt his life was in danger because of his job.

While the family’s having their moment, Matt interviews Scott’s girlfriend, Alana, in a separate room. She explains that she did meet Scott through work, but insists they didn’t get together until after he separated from his wife. That separation isn’t entirely official, however, as Scott and Julia are still technically married. Why? Because Julia had cancer (it’s in remission now, thankfully), and so he agreed to stay married to her in order to allow her to use his insurance to cover her medical bills. Wow. Quite the generous move, that. She recalls the attack, explaining she was dropping Scott off at his new place shortly beforehand, and confirms the unsub getting spooked and running off.

Back at the conference room, Reid’s still analyzing the latest coded message, when Garcia comes in with an identity for their third victim. His name is Marcus Powell, and he was actually the unsub’s first victim, having been killed in his driveway two weeks prior. The cops initially considered it a robbery/homicide, but the way Marcus was murdered fits with the other victims. He worked in the family court system, too, right alongside Scott. But that’s the only major similarity. There was no drawing involved, no coded message in the mouth, nor any 911 call. Hence the cops not making the immediate connection as a result.

Emily and Rossi look over the crime scene photos a little further, and they notice that the reason many of the victims’ wounds are so shallow is because their unsub is struggling with their desire to try and dehumanize their victims, given how personal their grudge is. The fact that the unsub couldn’t finish the job of killing Scott is further proof of that, and seems to imply that he was the real target all along. All the cryptograms and threatening 911 calls were nothing more than an attempt to throw off investigators.

But who would have a reason to kill Scott? Could Julia be secretly harboring some jealousy over Alana? Could Alana be frustrated over Scott’s continued connection to his wife? Those would be valid options, but the team comes across another suspect that looks pretty good to them as well: Scott’s own son, Rafael. Not only do the manifesto rants read as a teenager’s petulant attempt to try and sound tough and clever, but an investigation into his past reveals he had a history of disciplinary problems...and he also has military training.

And what would be his motive? Well, it seems he hasn’t taken his dad’s separation from his mom too well. He’s bitter at how quickly his dad moved on to a new relationship, especially given his mom is suffering from cancer. So that explains the taunting use of the medical symbol, then.

“His cure has to be sustained, like a cover story you need for a covert op. And I know about that.”

Sure enough, later on, after Alana wraps up her visit with Scott and leaves the hospital, she’s attacked and kidnapped right outside the building. Luke and Tara try and interview Rafael’s shocked mom and sister to see if they know where he might’ve taken Alana, but Garcia, tracking his movements online, finds the car in the parking lot of a nearby industrial park. JJ and Matt, who are already on the road, head out there and notice there’s a bloody handprint on the trunk, so that’s a bad sign. The trunk is opened, and reveals...

...Rafael inside. Huh? He’s alive, but covered in Alana’s blood. Alana, meanwhile, is nowhere to be found. Rafael claims that he was a victim of the attack and kidnapping, too, but the team’s not buying it. JJ and Matt are convinced he’s behind Alana’s disappearance, so they decide to play a little mind game with him. They tell him they want him to help them find the “real” assailant, and attempt to sympathize with Rafael’s struggle over his dad’s new relationship. JJ insinuates that Scott’s relationship may have started a little sooner than Alana had initially claimed, and his mom was none the wiser about the affair, and boy, does that get Rafael off and running.

As Rafael continues to speak, he gets angrier and angrier. His mom could’ve died from her cancer, and his dad had the nerve to just bail on her with some new girl! He confesses that he wanted to kill his dad, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. He couldn’t leave his sister alone to take care of his mom while he was in jail, after all, hence going after men similar to his dad instead. And when he did finally try and attack his dad, Alana’s presence, and the 911 call, scared him off. His anger towards his dad is understandable, but JJ tells Rafael that Alana is innocent and they need to save her.

“Her blood. That’s on his hands.”

The way Rafael speaks about Alana, however, fills Emily, who’s listening in, with dread. “We’re too late,” she says. And sadly, she’s right. When Rafael finally tells them where he hid Alana, JJ and Matt head out to the location...where they find Alana’s body. It’s a heartbreaking ending, and JJ in particular seems to be hit especially hard by the fact they couldn’t save her.

As mentioned at the start of the review, I generally liked the case in this episode. It had a good air of mystery to it, especially with the use of the drawing and the coded messages. I liked the unpredictable nature of the case, and enjoyed being able to wonder where things would go next. Same with the mystery over our suspect – it was wise of the show to not have a list of potential suspects through most of the episode. The idea that the unsub could be anyone, or a group of people, fit with the eerie, shadowy nature of the crimes and the creepy messages. Even the few people we did meet throughout the episode didn’t come off as obvious suspects. We could sympathize with what happened to them, and yet, if one of them had had a role in the crime, there was enough possible motive to make it work.

I also greatly enjoyed Reid and Garcia working together to crack the codes. Granted, I don’t doubt that in real life, cracking those kinds of codes wouldn’t be that quick or easy (after all, as Reid himself noted, there’s still many of the Zodiac’s messages that have yet to be cracked decades later), but Reid and Garcia made figuring out the codes entertaining enough that I could handwave it here. It was fun to see Reid and Garcia demonstrating their respective abilities and skills, and I just always love it when they get to team up on a case in general. I like that they can “get” each other on such a nerdy level.

The reveal of Alana’s death was a good twist as well. Despite the fact we only got to know Alana for a brief time, her death was still heartbreaking, and given the intense, unsettling nature of the case, it seemed fitting things would end on an equally dark and tragic note. So often the unsubs release their last victim, which is good, obviously, ‘cause we all want the victims to survive. But outcomes like this are sadly very realistic and to be expected. Especially with an unsub as bitter as Rafael being involved.

The big thorn in this case, however, came in Rafael’s motive, and it’s an issue that’s plagued a few other cases of this sort. “False Flag”, as well as last season’s “Unforgettable”, set up these intriguing, complex cases, with grand threats and ties to shady people and unusual crime scenes…

...only for the motives to be very personal and simple in nature. In “False Flag”, it was a woman manipulating two men she was seeing. In “Unforgettable”, it was a woman trying to throw investigators off the fact that she killed her husband. And here, it was a young man who couldn’t deal with his dad leaving his mom for another woman. I know that many killers’ motives do tend to be personal in nature, but if you’re going to craft a complex case like the ones in both this episode and the aforementioned ones, it’d be nice have the motives be a little bigger and grander in nature for a change.

For example, maybe Rafael could’ve been trying to send a message about a social issue. He used the symbol for the field of medicine – is he angry about the state of healthcare in the country (or world at large)? He could have been one of those “the one percent have everything, while we’re sick and dying!” sorts, or they could’ve gone with the terrorist/anarchist angle the team initially suspected. Or, if they wanted to have a personal element, maybe Rafael’s family could have been impacted by financial issues, thus further impacting his mom’s illness and perhaps leading his dad to cheat, and Rafael lashed out as a result, feeling his victims are tearing families apart with their actions. That would be a good way to balance both the personal and societal motives.

And while I get that the idea was that Rafael liked to imagine himself this big, tough bad guy, only to be revealed as an insecure, scared young man underneath, I don’t know that that disconnect was entirely believable. I get that he ran because he saw Alana calling 911 when he tried to attack his dad, but since he wound up killing her later anyway, one would think he’d at least try to get both her and Scott before the cops showed up, or would’ve broken into the house and attacked them before she even had a chance to make the call at all. And he has a dishonorable discharge from the military, yet can craft these big ol’ codes? It just seemed a bit odd and inconsistent.

So yeah. Great concept, overall decent execution. Just wish the wrap up had been a little smoother and more fleshed out, is all. As I alluded to at the start of the review, though, the case wasn’t the only mystery for viewers to figure out this episode. JJ had to deal with a suspicious situation of her own as well, and boy, was the outcome a doozy.

Meanwhile, back at Quantico:

“Emily’s not gonna let you get caught up in some crazy bureaucratic undertoe.”

Another day’s work is done, and JJ’s at her desk, wrapping things up for the night. She goes to shut off her computer...only to see an e-mail addressed to her. The e-mail is from Assistant Director Linda Barnes, and it basically says that she wants to have a meeting with JJ as soon as possible. JJ knows there’s more to this e-mail that isn’t being said, however, and that, combined the team’s general antagonistic history with the higher ups, has her immediately on alert.

Reid shows up at this point, asking JJ if she’s ready to leave, only to notice her concern. She tells him about the contents of the e-mail, and he assumes the meeting might have something to do with JJ’s covert operation when working at the State Department a few years back. JJ seems to share his theory...but that only adds to her nerves. Because, as she points out, the last time she got an e-mail of this sort, Strauss forced her out of the BAU. Reid tries his best to reassure her that that won’t happen, especially not with Emily in charge, but JJ reminds him that Hotch couldn’t stop Strauss all those years ago. At this point, Emily shows up and informs them of the case, effectively ending any further speculation about this mysterious request.

“For her it’s not about the job, it’s about consolidating power.”

JJ can’t get the e-mail out of her mind, though. Not even the case is enough to distract her. At one point, she asks Matt if he has any info on Barnes. Turns out he does, and if his stories about her are any indication, Barnes sounds like a tough woman. Remember how Matt joined the BAU in the wake of his former unit, the IRT, being disbanded? Turns out Barnes was behind that. According to Matt, Barnes seemed to want to undermine each member of the IRT, and their unit chief being investigated for a case just further gave her reason to end the team. Those of you who watched “Beyond Borders” will remember that Barnes did indeed show up to investigate the IRT for various incidents.

The IRT wasn’t Barnes’ only target, either. She was also responsible for changes in the foreign service units. The implication is clear: if she can do that to those teams, she can easily mess with the BAU as well. Needless to say, this does not help JJ’s fears any.

At the end of the episode, as JJ’s reflecting on the sad way the case ended, Emily comes to check on her. She tries to reassure JJ that she needn’t blame herself for how the case turned out, and reminds her that she’s always there for her. Aw. As they’re stepping into the elevator, Emily’s reminded of JJ’s meeting, and assures her that she has nothing to worry about there, either.

Or so Emily thinks. Shortly after, JJ steps into Barnes’ office, bracing herself for the possibility of a firing or a transfer. But as it turns out, JJ isn’t the one at risk. She’s not even there a minute when Barnes drops one hell of a bombshell on her: Emily is currently under an internal review, and as such, has been put on administrative leave. And JJ? She is now the acting unit chief of the BAU.

Uh, yeah. WHAT?!

Obviously, this is far from the first time somebody on the team has been under scrutiny by the higher ups, so that in and of itself is not too shocking. Even the fact that there’s yet another person stepping into the unit chief role isn’t such a surprise at this point. But the fact that this news was just suddenly dumped upon JJ with no ceremony or barely any explanation (onscreen, at least) was quite a whiplash moment. As is the fact that JJ, of all people, was picked to take over. She’s never given any indication of wanting the job of unit chief, and while she’s worked with the team for many years, she’s only been a profiler for part of that time.

You may recall, however, that way back at the end of season eleven, an unsub named Antonia Slade insinuated to JJ that she should be running the team instead of Hotch. Could that somehow be tied into this sudden shift in power? Keep in mind that shortly after Slade’s comment to JJ, season eleven ended with Hotch being interrogated by the DOJ based off comments Mr. Scratch had made. And not only did Mr. Scratch target the team from there on out, but Cat imitated his methods, and we learned at the end of last season there might have been a mole within the FBI helping Cat as well. Maybe all of this is tied to those situations somehow.

Mole or not, though, it’s not surprising that Emily would be investigated just based off the past year’s events. Not only did she have to work to clean up the messes that Scratch and Cat made, but Stephen died on the job, and Reid wound up in prison. That’s an awful lot to deal with in such a short time span, and on that level, I can easily see where the higher ups might be concerned and want to know what’s up.

That said, however, it’s also reasonable for the team to be apprehensive about any investigations. This isn’t the first time Emily’s been scrutinized by the higher ups, after all, and she’s just the latest in the line of unit chiefs who’ve had their actions questioned as well. Nor is it the first time there’s been any concerns about somebody trying to split up the team. I also appreciated the nod to JJ being forced off the team way back in season six. And those of you who watched “Beyond Borders” and are familiar with Barnes’ style know that she could be quite tough on that show.

So is Matt right to suggest that Barnes wants to split up the BAU, the way she did other teams? Will this mean the team will have to be investigated as well, and answer to and for all they’ve been through in recent years? Is this tied to JJ’s State Department operation from a few years ago? Is Emily’s administrative leave short-term, or potentially permanent? Or will Barnes actually prove helpful in the end, and this is all just her having to do her job, the way Strauss had to do hers?

Ultimately, I’m hoping the last option is the correct one. Yes, the team’s taken lots of risks and done some questionable things, but they generally had valid reasons for doing so, and I imagine the higher ups will eventually come to realize that and let them off, the way they have in the past. Emily’s done well at stepping into Hotch’s role the past year, and I have no doubt she’ll fight like hell to keep her job and protect the team. Since she’s so used to dealing with being investigated, she should know exactly how to respond and deal with this situation.

Honestly, though, I wouldn’t be entirely opposed to this story arc creating at least a little bit of tension along the way. It’d be interesting to see how JJ settles into running the team, given she doesn’t seem entirely comfortable with the role, and how she and Emily deal with that. If Emily is under fire for how she handled Reid’s time in prison, maybe that causes some conflict between them Heck, maybe somebody gets suspicious of Matt, since it’s rather coincidental that he joins the BAU only for the director who broke up his former team to come in and start investigating things. And so on and so forth. We can assume the team will make it through this, the way they have other investigations, but given all the recent stress, it would make sense for cracks to appear at some point.

As for the idea of JJ running the team, I know that that idea has some fans split, and I can see where some might feel she doesn’t have quite the experience for such a job, but I’m personally okay with it. For all we know, her being put in charge could all wind up being a ruse of some sort, especially if Barnes is ultimately trying to help the team fight whomever might want to investigate them, or target them.

But since her promotion is likely legitimate, I will point out that she is very organized and knows how to take control of situations. She herself has commented in the past that she knows how to deal with bureaucratic stuff. In “In Name and Blood”, she kinda quietly took charge when the team was working the case in Milwaukee sans Hotch, Emily (for much of the case, at least), and Gideon. She tried to keep things between Strauss and the local officers running smooth, and stayed focused on the case while Morgan and Reid’s attention was occasionally focused elsewhere (on Hotch and Gideon, respectively).

And she’s about the only logical choice among the team. As good as I don’t doubt they’d be at running the team, Rossi doesn’t want the job, and I don’t know that Reid would want it, either (or could even take it, given all he’s recently been through). Garcia isn’t a profiler, so that rules her out, too. And Luke, Tara, and Matt, while clearly experienced agents in general, haven’t been with the BAU long enough to where they could be considered. So that pretty much just leaves JJ. And I’m genuinely curious to see how she’ll handle this situation.

So yeah. Looks like the latter half of this season will be ramping up to some degree, and I’m both a bit nervous and rather excited to see where it all goes.

What did you think of the episode? Did Rafael’s motive work for you? Did you find the complexities of the case interesting? Are you okay with JJ running the team? What do you think Emily’s being investigated for? Do you think the team as a whole is in Barnes’ sight as well? Should the team be wary of Barnes? Share your thoughts in the comments!


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