The apparent spiking of citizens of a town in New Jersey, puts the BAU on the trail of a poisoner who may not be done.The apparent spiking of citizens of a town in New Jersey, puts the BAU on the trail of a poisoner who may not be done.The apparent spiking of citizens of a town in New Jersey, puts the BAU on the trail of a poisoner who may not be done.
Thankfully, after a proper step in the right direction with "Riding the Lightning" the season mostly ended very strongly, slumping only with the mediocre at best "Machismo" (the worst of the season, and one of the lesser 'Criminal Minds' episodes). "Poison" is one of the best episodes of the season's hit and miss slow-period after "The Fox" and before "Riding the Lightning", and while it is in the top half of Season 1 it came incredibly close to being one of the very best of the season.
It didn't quite. It is agreed that the scene where Elle (who has never been a favourite of mine and while she has definitely fared worse in episodes before and since the episode does nothing to make me warm to her) arrests a suspect is clunky and jars. Also, after such a fantastic opening (a contender for the best opening scene of Season 1) it was a shame that the episode didn't have a scene giving closure for the father and son featured in the beginning, to see their story unresolved felt somewhat of a cheat.
On the other hand, "Poison" starts off absolutely fantastically. Of all the first season's opening scenes, "Poison's" was the scariest and most nail-biting, will openly confess about it giving me nightmares for a while afterwards. In terms of how it was shot and in terms of atmosphere there hasn't been an opening scene quite like it in this particular season or even in 'Criminal Minds' history. Luckily, the rest of the episode lives up to it apart from one clunky scene and lack of closure for the father and son. It is so creepy as to how people can be affected by something so awful so easily in this episode, the suspense and tension mounts to pulse-raising heights and the twists and turns keep coming, surprising us constantly with a motivation revelation that one does not see coming.
While the type of unsub and his motivation are somewhat typical (both being familiar territory in this genre), they are still interestingly done and believable because the situation is so frightening. Also really liked that the story was a change of pace from the usual serial killer or kidnapping formula, along with "The Tribe" it is one of the season's most unique in its premise and ideas (it was from memory the first episode of the show to focus on the poisoning concept). The writing is thought-provoking and taut, with nothing feeling irrelevant, cheesy or padded.
You can't write about 'Criminal Minds' and not talk about the lead characters and the team itself, and by now (remarkable for a show so early on in its run) a vast majority of the characters are interesting and their personalities well established, especially Gideon. Only Elle doesn't do much for me. The team dynamic is close-knit and loyal and it's lovely to see. All the acting is uniformly good, pacing is tight and the direction is solid. As always, it's a very well made episode, with especially clever photography and editing in the opening that makes one really believe that the hallucination was happening for real, while the music is suitably mood-enhancing.
In conclusion, came very close to being one of the very best of Season 1, and while not quite reaching there it is in the top half of the season (with a terrific story and an example of how to do an opening scene well) and one of the best of the period where the season wasn't as consistent. 9/10 Bethany Cox
- Oct 16, 2016