16 September 2020 | TheLittleSongbird
If one loved the character of Nicole Wallace, brilliantly played by Olivia D'Abo, in her previous appearances "Anti-Thesis" and "A Person of Interest" (both from Season 2), they would likely be enthused by her return here in "Great Barrier". Speaking as one of those people that loved her before and was so excited at her returning. While worrying that it could potentially feel like one appearance too far and that it would be too derivative of the other two episodes, something that was felt regarding the character of Cat Adams on 'Criminal Minds'.
"Great Barrier" to me didn't feel like one appearance too far and it also didn't feel too derivative. Wallace has lost none of what made her such a great character, actually think she has grown as a character, and the chemistry between her and Goren still blisters. Nothing stale here on this front, plus her interaction with Eames chills just as much. "Great Barrier" struck me as a great episode, not as good as "Anti-Thesis" but is equal to "A Person of Interest".
There is actually not really anything really wrong here, just felt that "Anti-Thesis" especially had more shocks and suspense and early on it was not always easy to follow.
So much to love however in "Great Barrier" though. The production values are stylish and like Seasons 2 and 3 there is a slightly brighter look than the first season while maintaining the show's grit. The music doesn't overbear and is not overused. The direction is deft and allows D'Onofrio and D'Abo to have fun. The script is tight and intriguing, sometimes deliciously over-the-top, Wallace's taunting really gave me chills (such as with Eames and her sister's child, yeesh) in particular.
Once again, the story always compels and while it is very intricate it doesn't feel incoherent. Nor does it come over as too simple, thanks to lots of twists and turns. Everything with Wallace's past intrigues and is illuminating and despite the material not being subtle it didn't to me get too melodramatic. Goren is as perceptive and neurotic as always and Eames has some great snappy lines.
Even better is Wallace. She is as deceptively attractive and frighteningly cunning as she was before, but also deadlier and more manipulative. One of not many 'Criminal Intent' guest characters to fit under the term "Goren meets his match" and worthy of his intellect. All the performances are dead on, especially Vincent D'Onofrio (hardly surprising) and Olivia D'Abo proving once again that she can do skin crawling brilliantly.
Concluding, great. 9/10