“The FBI’s sharpest thinkers have murder on their minds.”

For the love of Pete will someone just let Reid finish one of his rambles without interrupting and saying they were sorry they asked?

Criminal Minds centers around the team of the FBI’s BAU, or Behavioral Analysis Unit. Led by Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson, Dharma and Greg) and David Rossi (Joe Mantegna, Joan of Arcadia) the team travels the country on their private jet aiding local law enforcement in capturing unsubs (unknown subjects) by creating profiles of the sociopaths, psychopaths, deviants and other criminal elements.

Criminal Minds: The Sixth Season caught intense fan outrage when CBS announced it was writing out two of the three female leads. However the cast changes led to a compelling story arc. The two-part finale for the character of Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster, Huff) was arguably the best produced episodes of the entire series’ run. By giving Prentiss 18 episodes to exit there was momentum, suspense, subtlety and a whole host of other well-conceived devices which highlighted not only her character but the relationships she had with the team as well. Better still, it allowed for her absence to truly be felt during the last third of the season.

But the departure was so good, so well-crafted it felt like the finale. It left a serious disconnect from the last bit of the season, leaving the season to end on a somewhat blah note. After Prentiss’ departure the episodes devolved back into the psycho-of-the-week format and failed to deliver any emotional resonance.

This lack of balance is further evident with this season’s addition of FBI cadet agent Ashley Seaver. I can understand wanting to have characters depart, but when a new character emerges they should perform a role. Seaver is merely an audience substitute. After six seasons the audience doesn’t need that type of character.

Criminal Minds: The Sixth Season falls short of delivering an entire season’s worth of great episodes. However, it remains a compelling show with a formula all its own. It’s different from the competition and shines a light on the darkest parts of human nature. There’s no ‘will they or won’t they’, no snark and banter, no characters on crusades; just people trying to explain why bad things happen to good people.

The video suffers from some softness around the edges. Any overwhelming dark levels can be attributed to a deliberate lighting choice to enhance the story, but overall there could have been a crisper transfer of this. This doesn’t feel HD at all. It feels digital but not in a good way, rather in the faint pixelating that occasionally appears. Criminal Minds has always used very deliberate audio cues to heighten mood, reveal inner thoughts or accentuate the horrific nature of what we’re seeing. So the audio is a well-incorporated track and doesn’t suffer from level drop offs or hollowness at all.

As far as special features go, the show is tightly edited thus the deleted scenes included don’t betray anything that wasn’t already in the aired episodes. The photo gallery was interesting to look at but nothing compelling. What was compelling were the BTS featurettes which broke down some of the big action set pieces of the season and detailed just how much work went into what was onscreen for mere minutes at most.

Unlike many of its crime fighting comrades, Criminal Minds: The Sixth Season isn’t interested in romantic liaisons between core members of the team or with being funny or cute. What it is interested in is shining a light on some of the most depraved acts of humanity and asking “why?” More often than not you want the episode to end with the unsub getting killed instead of seeing them carted off to jail and I’m fine with that. It stands out and endures because of its refusal to pander to the fads of its competition.

THE VERDICT

Not guilty.

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