Criminal Minds (S13E22) "Believer"

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The season finale was crazy, full of twists and emotional moments, and it had one of those cliffhangers that will have the audience counting the seconds until the next season.

Bookend Quotes
Penelope Garcia: “A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.” by Oscar Wilde

Spoilers ahead

This episode starts with dr. Spencer Reid and ends with dr. Spencer Reid, but if you think it gives us a satisfactory ending you are sorely mistaken.

Reid is with a  S.W.A.T team about the get into a warehouse. It’s dark, the atmosphere is creepy and there is a body. It seems typical Criminal Minds, but here is when things start to twist, it’s subtle actually, but it’s the first surprise. The body is not a body, it’s a very alive man who used to work for the FBI. The man is clearly out of his mind as he grabs a paramedic as a hostage, and although Reid and Prentiss are able to bring the man back to reality when the man finds out the current year tries to kill himself.

Once in the bureau, Owen’s story is explained to a very confused, skeptical Simmons. It’s actually quite sad. He was in the VICAP but he wanted to be a profiler, so that is what he tried to do, he profiled an unsub who he called the Strangler, but as there was only one confirmed victim, Owen tried to prove that the Strangler was a serial killer by forcing missing persons into his victimology. Obviously, this was criticized so Owen quit his job in order to focus on finding the Strangler. To make things more unbelievable, they found Owen thanks to an email sent to Reid… And yet, that is not the strangest thing about this episode.

J.J is understandably worried about Reid, after all, he got an email and went to investigate all by himself with a SwAT team, and the last time that Spencer kept secrets he ended in jail, but Reid tried to calm her down. I don’t think it worked with J.J, and I have to say, it didn’t work with me, quite the opposite, my concern increased to unbearable limits, and this was just the beginning.

Needless to say that the story told by Owen is hard to believe: he was investigating the strangler, following some clue, when he was kidnapped and taken to the unsub house. That is not the weirdest part, the oddest thing about the story is that he was kidnapped by a family and taken to some suburban house. There he was tortured by the seemingly ordinary couple while their son was the only one who treated him like a human being. There is always something especially scary about people who look absolutely normal and charming who are psychopaths, it’s terrifying real and this show loves to remind us that our neighbor could be a murderer. Back to the episode, the team doesn’t believe anything that Owen says, so they do what they always do, they investigate.

While Tara and Luke go to the storage unit where they find seven hyoid bones that the Strangler removed from his victims and kept as trophies,  J.J and Simmons go to Quinn’s house in order to speak with his family where they found a teenager who wish to see his dad again and an ex-wife who doesn’t want to see his ex-husband near her son or herself, and she has her reasons as Owen wanted to choke her to get in the Strangler’s head.

With all these new evidence, Quinn seems to be guilty, so Reid tries to obtain more information from him, and he is successful as he realizes that the son is one of his students, and with that, they discover his identity: Theo Holston. With his name, the team finds his house, and in there they find the bodies of Theo’s parents.

So things start to get even weirder, Rossi thinks that the case doesn’t add up and Reid can’t find the piece missing. J.J tries to help Reid so she reminds him that Owen quitting the FBI two weeks after Reid went to jail were two unrelated events, and the reason why Reid could get out of his prison and Owen couldn’t it’s family, Reid’s family fought to set him free, and now Owen’s family is gonna help them to resolve the case.

Owen meeting with his family doesn’t go as smooth as it could be expected. Well, perhaps nobody thought he would have a great encounter with his wife, but I thought it would go well with his son. It didn’t, it was chaotic, his wife didn’t want them to hug, Owen called his son “Theo”, his son got understandable sad and mad because of it… But, as chaotic as it was, it became one of the keys.

Meadows was the other key. She shows up in Prentiss office to tell her that Owen was innocent, and well, wasn’t that suspicious? I always suspect people showing up randomly to say that the suspect is a good guy, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, this is one of those things that happen a lot in the procedimental shows.

So, with those two keys, the team rebuilt the case, and they realized that Theo was the link. Things started to move fast after that.

Theo kills two guys in the subway and just when the audience believes that Theo is the killer, we find out that those two men weren’t innocent victims, they were the opposite to that. So Reid goes back to the interrogation room and Owen’s real story finally comes up: the Holston wanted Theo to kill him, but when Theo refused to kill him, the Holston try to force Owen to kill April, Theo’s girlfriend, which ends with Theo killing his parents and taking Owen to the storage unit.

When the team finally find Theo and April hiding in the latter’s house, we finally get a big part of the story. It’s not one serial killer, or a couple, it’s a cult, and they call themselves The Believers because they believe they will inherit the Earth. Isn’t that scarier than almost everything we have ever seen in this show?

Once the team knows the story, they decide to arrest the leader in order to stop the cult. He is not hard to find, in fact, to me, it looks as if he was waiting for the team, and the bowl with acid that was used to delete the fingerprints of the members was still there, a bowl that we saw being used by some unknown man. Prentiss sees it, and she knows what it’s its function, and it definitively picks her attention, but it’s not after a few hours later, when the team is celebrating their victory, that she realizes what it means: Owen has his fingerprints burned, which is what the cult does to its members, but they don’t do so to its victims, which means that Owen is a member, not a victim. So once again, the team seems to be proven wrong, so they run to the bureau.

And here it comes the cliffhanger. Did I say the team was celebrating? Well, not all the team was at Rossi’s, Reid and Garcia were at the bureau, the first one because couldn’t go and the latter because she was late to the party. And sadly, luck wasn’t with Penélope that night as she got into the lift with Meadows and Quinn, the unsub and the potential victim, and just when the elevator doors are closing, Garcia gets the message warning her about Quinn. We see Reid with Theo, there is a shot, he runs to the parking, and there he finds Owen bleeding out and Meadows with the gun. She is the unsub, and she has Penélope. The threat is clear, or Reid joins them or they kill Penélope.

And that is, that is how it ends, and what a cliffhanger. Now, we have to wait for the next season, although we don’t even know if there will be season 14 as the show hasn’t been officially renewed, though it’s a sure bet.

Hero of the day: the episode was focused on Spencer Reid, and it was about time, I missed him. However, I left a big part of Reid’s storyline out because I think his scenes with J.J deserve more focus. Don’t worry, there is not shipping in my reviews. But it’s hard to miss the focus this episode put on their friendship. This show is about the team, the family, and within this team, there are a few friendships that are special. but Reid and J.J’s friendship is probably the most iconic, alongside with Baby Girl and Chocolate Thunder’s friendship. But Morgan left, so J.J and Reid is the only original iconic friendship we have left, and this episode reminded us why they are so important to the audience. Their scenes were full of sweetness, support, and love. Also, those scenes were an oasis of tranquility in the middle of a crazy episode full of chaos, doubts, twists, and confusion.

Rating: I would give it a 10 if season 14 were a sure thing, because if this is the series finale I would give it a 0