Didn’t think I’d ever hear a sound more powerful than chalk on a chalkboard but the opening scene in this week’s Criminal Minds changed that. In an episode titled “The Hostage” we open on a teenage girl hurriedly trying to saw off a padlock. The noise is enough to make anyone cringe. The girl is stopped by another female hostage saying “he’ll be mad” when he gets back. It is then we realise the nature of their captivity. They argue and fight eventually ending in one of them falling to the ground. With a little more elbow grease, we have success, the lock is broken. “Rose” ensures the others she will go get help. As the UnSub arrives homes to find the scene, he is angry and rushed, leaving with only one of the two girls left behind.
We meet the team in the board room. “Rose” has escaped and been identified as Gina, a young girl in the foster care system who was kidnapped at age 8. We also learn that Sheila, the other young girl left behind, had been found and was extremely ill in the hospital. The team discuss the fact that this UnSub seems like a long-term player evidenced by holding the girls captive for over a decade. They discuss the patience, and control that would have been required to perform such clean abductions. The UnSub, known as “Tom”, is missing and with the team on their way, Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) uncovers some interesting information.
The owner of the house where Tom has been holding the girls captive, Clara Riggins, is nowhere to be found. Can anybody say suss? Upon arrival at the hospital, JJ (AJ Cook), Reid Matthew Gray Gubler) and Hotch (Thomas Gibson) are informed that the girls show signs of undernourishment as well as evidence of torture and whipping. JJ has long been that character to invest in the victims, but when it comes to children the commitment and mission for justice is that much more important. AJ Cook does a nuanced job of perfecting the silent anguish yet stoic facade in cases such as these.
We cut to the house where Morgan (Shemar Moore) and Rossi are doing an intial search. Upon first look, the UnSub shows indications of OCD with an unusually ordered bedroom. The confronting part comes next when they uncover the dungeon, decked out with sex toys and torture weapons. What these girls went through now smacks us in the face. Followed up by Gina’s impact statement, we learn that “Tom” used a puppy to draw her in. Through her recount the trauma and degradation these girls experienced is obvious. Regardless though, Gina didn’t stop fighting.
As pieces fall together, Clara, the old lady whose house the girls have been held in, is dead. Her body has been found in the backyard of the house. Back at the hospital, the team continues to work every angle trying to track down “Tom”. As they finish questioning Gina, Sheila, the other young girl takes a turn and unfortunately doesn’t make it. The scene of Gina discovering this has happened will break your heart and the obvious connection these girls formed while being help captive shines through. The motherly touch of JJ is there to comfort and console Gina.
Once again, Garcia works her magic and finally gets a HIT on the UnSub’s car. Michael Clark Thompson is his name. As they get a track on his car, the Unsub with Violet is tow has pulled off to take a nap – to me this seems like the stupidest thing you can do when you’re a fugitive. The team eventually apprehends a sleeping Michael and a scared Violet who we discover is deeply brainwashed. Her PTSD and commitment to “Daddy” is unbreakable. At the moment.
As Rossi and Hotch (whose resting bitch face is giving me life) begin the interrogation of Michael, he barely has to speak and we alreay know he’s a slimy character. He proclaims that children need discipline, that he saved them when nobody cared about them. He is smug. Rossi sees right through it. The team reconvenes to discuss their next move; Thompson has evidently conditioned these girls. They figure out that he must have offered an incentive, or reward for good behaviour. This is when JJ clicks; what if Violet has children? Cut to another remote location, 2 young girls are in a similar basement. Could it be?
They work this theory, and with some magic Garcia (so priceless she is), finds Violet in the system. Her real name is Amelia Hawthorne. This next scene is breathtaking. JJ sits on the floor with Violet and offers her friendship, her trust and that she is no danger to Violet. The young girl begins to open up, and it is clear she doesn’t understand the true nature of what her life has been up until this point. She doesn’t understand that the experience she is describing is giving birth. You can feel JJ’s heartbreak as she listens on. The team are united in the decision to reunite Amelia with her parents as they believe it could be the only chance to truly break into her subconscious. They were wrong. The scene is shocking and unnerving to say the least.
Elsewhere, Michael is trying to make a deal, but Hotch isn’t budging. They are running out of time to find the two younger girls and they’ve played all their cards. A stipulation of his deal is that he gets to say goodbye to Violet. The interaction is laced with manipulation as Michael attempts to control Amelia one last time. As they share one last embrace, Amelia is flooded with memories and with that she snaps out of it. She recognises that Michael has hurt her, that what he has done is not right.
The squad assembles to follow a lead to a grocery store that Amelia frequented with Michael, and just as Lily and Jasmine begin to deteriorate JJ and Morgan bust in. As the episode closes, families and reunited and hearts begin to heal. Michael has met justice and is being lead out of the hospital by Rossi and Hotch when he is shot, dead. Jaw-dropping and completely out of the blue, the camera spins to focus on Sheila’s (the third girl who sadly passed away) mother, gun in hand. Talk about last minute twist.