29 June 2016 | TheLittleSongbird
Superior successor to "Our Darkest Hour"
Admittedly, this reviewer liked "Our Darkest Hour" more than some people did, finding it atmospherically creepy, with haunting use of Leonard Cohen, some good tension and Tim Curry was brilliant.
It was flawed sure, like lapses in continuity and credibility and one performance that didn't do much for me but overall it was a solid season finale.
The general consensus is that "The Longest Night" of the two episodes forming the two parter is the better episode, and it is a consensus this reviewer very much agrees with. The case is more developed, more is learnt the character of Billy Flynn and one is told why he is like this and slightly (if not by much, who could really fully sympathise with sometimes who's killed so many people) understand so.
"The Longest Night" is not perfect, with Robert Davi agreed having very little to do and there is a little humour here and there that doesn't really mesh well in such a dark story. As well as more development on the mystery and Flynn's character, what makes "The Longest Night" an improvement over "Our Darkest Hour" are fewer continuity lapses, credibility is more consistent and after not being hugely impressed by her in the previous episode with meatier material and wider range of emotions needed Isabella Murad's acting is much improved and much more confident.
'Criminal Minds' has always been a very well made series, and "The Longest Night" is not an exception with stylish filming, nice locations and while not as chilling as in "Our Darkest Hour" use of lighting and darkness is still effective. Music is pretty minimal here, but what there is, most of it being some very haunting use of Leonard Cohen (especially "Dance Me to the End of Love") fits well.
Writing here continues to be solid on the whole, Flynn's dialogue especially his answer to why he kills is bone-chilling, the ending is tense and somewhat moving and JJ's speech over the radio is one of the series' most poignant moments. The story is more developed this time round, it's paced well and it all makes sense and has good atmosphere. The chemistry between Flynn and Ellie is crucial to making the story work, and the dynamic works wonderfully with some genuine tension going on between the two.
All of the regular 'Criminal Minds' cast excel, Shemar Moore gets the lion's share and Morgan's angst is acted with real brooding intensity but one has to credit AJ Cook too, she shines very well here too especially in the speech. Once again though, Tim Curry dominates, the creepiness he brings to Billy Flynn being positively skin-crawling and in the best of ways.
In summary, a series premiere that improves over a still solid series finale. 8/10 Bethany Cox