17 September 2020 | TheLittleSongbird
It is hard to resist an episode with a title as beautiful as that, the name given namely in choral music to the Hymn of the Virgin Mary (or canticle). It was no surprise to me that this was not going to be a pleasant episode, that is obvious reading the plot synopsis whether online or on the television guide and if seeing other episodes of 'Criminal Intent' and the whole 'Law and Order' franchise, known for uncompromising approaches to heavy subjects.
Of which "Magnificat" has one of the heaviest. Really do have to disagree respectfully with the user that considers it the worst episode of 'Criminal Intent'. To me it is absolutely nowhere near being one of the worst let alone the worst. If anything, "Magnificat" again from personal opinion is one of the best. Not just of Season 4 but of the show in general, that sees the season and show back on track. A vast improvement over the disappointing previous two episodes "Eosphoros" and "In the Dark".
"Magnificat" is especially good in the performances and the emotional impact. The acting is some of the best of the entire show in my view. Everybody is brilliant but two especially stand out. One is Vincent D'Onofrio, which was no surprise as he was always brilliant as Goren but here is some of his best work. Showing the beauty of emotions and thought processes telling so much through the use of the eyes and the face. Not just in his anger towards Whitlock, such as in the interrogation where Goren's and Eames' incense at Whitlock's uncaring attitude is very deeply felt by the viewer as well, but also in his compassion when speaking with the child that survived. Carrie Preston is deeply moving, broke my heart actually, in a difficult role as a deeply troubled character.
Kathryn Erbe works and contrasts beautifully with D'Onofrio, she is just as good as him at showing anger and is equally expressive. Her heartbreak over such a terrible case is also immensely believable and incredibly authentic, as is when she and Goren realise the truly gut-wrenching truth. Sam Robards plays one of the show's most despicable characters in a truly chilling way and brilliantly, especially in the interrogation scene, effectively making the blood boil.
This is an incredibly emotional and very disturbing episode and one that grabs the attention straightaway right up to the last second. The case on the surface is enough to make one cry and be angry at how something like that could happen, but every bit as soul-destroying is what drove the perpetrator to do what they did. In one of the few 'Criminal Intent' where the viewer's anger and hatred is directed towards another person other than the perpetrator, so much so that one in a way roots for them to be the one responsible. The interrogation is Season 4's finest in my view and one of the best of the whole show, and it was amazing that the political and social aspects of the case were handled in the nuanced way that it was (as this could easily have been heavy-handed).
Could find nothing wrong with the slick production values, the haunting but not overpowering music or the tight and sincere script. As well as the subtle but never dreary direction.
Overall, incredible episode and one of the season and show's best. 10/10