This week’s Criminal Minds episode “Inner Beauty” was the first that saw the newly smaller team come up against one, quite odd Unsub. The team definitely, for the first time in a couple of season, feels relatively smaller since the departure of Morgan (Shemar Moore). Briefly solved last week with the return of Prentiss (Paget Brewster), audiences I’m sure, are eager to see if the BAU team will be getting a new team if the series is picked up again next year. Either way, the fluidity with which they work together, still remains. The opening scene of the episode followed a young woman, who we can assume is a prostitute, walking home. Once in her apartment building, she hurries herself into her front door as a dark figure walks towards her. As the scene continues, the fear she felt in regards to the repair man is ill-placed, he’s actually harmless and as he heads to the boiler room to drop his equipment off, makes a gruesome discovery. Two dead bodies in the water tank. Not only that, the decomposition that has taken place starts to reveal itself upstairs, while the young woman takes a shower. Can anyone say gross?
Contrastingly, we meet Rossi (Joe Mantegna) first, as he is seen commentating a baseball style game of catch with, who we learn, is his grandson, Kai. It is his birthday and although Joy isn’t there to celebrate, Joe and his son-in-law are. But it isn’t long before they are joined by an unexpected guest; Rossi’ second wife, Hayden, turns up. Talk about a reunion, 29 years in the making. Rossi and Hayden talk, barely. He wants answers, but Hayden really doesn’t have any. The choice she made is the only one she saw plausible, back then, all Rossi cared about was the job. She thought she was saving him the pain of choosing between his child and the job he loved so much. Rossi is taken aback, and obviously hurt, not to mention the timing of Hotch’s (Thomas Gibson) phone call adds insult to injury. 2 Jane Does have been found, and duty pulls him away once again.
As Rossi makes tracks to meet the team, the Unsub is in the process of striking again; he is seen stepping in for a young woman being accosted by a male. He offers her a ride, she accepts but of course it was all a ploy to get her into the back of his van. He smothers her, and the episode is officially starts. When the team are all together, the theories start flying; due to the type of victim they see – a prostitute, they posit that the Unsub may be a drug dealer, angry pimp moral enforcer or vigilante. The first break they get is with a man named Isaac Henry, he’s connected to the latest victim with 4 previous arrests against his name. After an intense interrogation from Hotch, the team deduce that he has nothing to do with the crimes. He may not be a very good person, but he isn’t the UnSub.
Meanwhile Rossi and JJ (AJ Cook) are at the crime scene trying to gather more information to deliver the profile. This time, the disposal site is different but has a similarity in that the body was disposed once again in water. JJ observes another key factor; the UnSub is not only placing his victims in water, but enclosed objects such as the spas, and water tanks. Elsewhere, Lewis (Aisha Tyler) and Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) are inspecting the body at the medical examiner’s office when they discover that the UnSub has been using two blades to cause the injuries. Not only that, the victims are being pumped full of opiates and painkillers. During this same time, the UnSub is seen giving his latest victim said painkillers.
With all this new information, the team joins forces to continue brainstorming ideas and the reasons behind why the UnSub is doing what he’s doing. They discover he uses a blonde hairspray, indicating that he is trying to make his victims look like someone in his life. A surrogate of sorts; they wonder if it is someone he feels rage towards. They also question why water, why enclose them? Is it a ritual? With enough now to give the profile they move forward; he is a white male, possible a surgical sadist, and is a member of the recovery community. Transformation is the goal; he is trying to make his victims look a certain way and in fact not better, but worse. He believes though he is helping these women, he is choosing to distort the women’s faces because the surrogate he is trying to mimic was the love of his life. The title of the episode is no more accurate then when the team gives the profile. Referring to the fact the beauty comes from within; he doesn’t really care about the physical (not as much as we think), but more about what’s on the inside.
With the case becoming more and more complicated, JJ and Rossi take a quiet moment to go over the information they have so far. JJ is trying to bounce ideas off Rossi but soon realises that his mind is elsewhere. Rossi catches her up on the development with Hayden returning and what Hayden said was the reason behind keeping Joy secret all these years. And in a very earnest moment, in which JJ ensures Rossi it is coming from a place of love, she reminds him that he was all about the job back then. That she knows Rossi, and in the past nothing would have come between him and the job.
As time is really running out, Dr. Reid uses his ever-impressive brain working out that the cheek signature of the UnSub represents Neurofibromatosis, a tumour condition. With this important piece of information, Garcia uncovers Sarah Sherwood. Her history includes committing suicide by drowning herself in her pool, with the covers tightly on. Sarah Sherwood in fact was connected to Joseph, our UnSub. They were in a relationship, and after quite a few mishaps – a very public anxiety attack – Sarah committed suicide. Feeling responsible and wanting to rewrite the past is what the team works out is his motive for his crimes. Not only that, when he was younger his mother was in a car crash in which she suffered horrific facial injuries. Everything is starting to add up. With the team jumping into action, the current victim isn’t doing too well, she’s dying. Getting there just in time, Rossi and JJ are tasked with talking Joseph down. And as we see reality finally setting in, he releases the victim and is placed under arrest.
With the case closed, Rossi returns to finish his conversation with Hayden. It’s obvious the little pep talk from JJ earlier really hit home. He acknowledges who he was back then, and that he understands why Hayden made the decision she did. They share a longing look, one shrouded in deep emotion and obvious history, and with that look, a few snappy words, the two begin to bond over being grandparents. With all the wives of Rossi’ we’ve met, there hasn’t been one I haven’t liked. We have to give it him, he certainly knows how to pick them. Now it’s just a matter of keeping them.