16 January 2017 | TheLittleSongbird
Much improved over "Protection", but as a season finale it could have been much more and didn't feel like an entirely satisfactory completion of the story arc
Season 10 is not as wildly variable as Seasons 6 and 9 or as mostly underwhelming as 11. However, it is generally one of 'Criminal Minds' weakest seasons, with some solid episodes but also of all the seasons one that contains one of the bigger numbers of average or worse episodes (Season 11 having the highest).
There are great episodes in Season 10 such as "Mr Scratch", "Nelson's Sparrow", "The Forever People" and "Rock Creek Park" (also liked "Lockdown" a lot, there are a few other episodes that from memory were also good but need re-watches). At the same time, episodes like "Breath Play", "If the Shoe Fits", "Protection", "Scream", "Hashtag" and "The Boys of Sudworth Place" were really disappointing.
'Criminal Minds' has had good season finales such as "The Fisher King Part I" and "Lo-Fi", as well as some lacking ones, especially "The Replicator" which saw a potentially good story arc fizzling badly. "The Hunt" is certainly much improved over the previous episode "Protection", but for a season finale it could have been much better, especially as it was wrapping up a story arc based on a very heavy and dark subject (human trafficking). It's better than "The Replicator" but one of the weaker season finales of the show to me and was honestly expecting to be more excited and disturbed.
Production values as always are of very high quality with a lot of style and atmosphere. The music is suitably haunting and melancholic, having presence while not being overbearing. The acting is very good from all the regulars (Jennifer Love Hewitt, who more often than not didn't worked for me during her 1 season stint on 'Criminal Minds', also giving one of her better performances of the season, actually looking panicked and distraught, and it was one of few times where she didn't feel as dull or out of place as she tended to). In support, standing out are a sparkling Greg Grunberg (bringing depth to a quite likable character) and a cast-against-type and brilliantly loathsome Brian Howe (Zorgen being one of not many unsubs of the season to properly stand out, the others being Mr Scratch, Donnie Mallick and Shavers). Hailey Sole does a great job as a less bratty and more resourceful Meg, especially considering the frightening situation that she is in.
"The Hunt" utilises the team far better than other Season 10 episodes like "Scream" and "Protection" and the balance is much better, with more even screen time between characters, everybody works much better as a team and it feels more like a team and characters that were wasted in those two episodes like Hotch have more to do and are actually interesting. The chemistry is adorable and the character moments are delightful, something sorely missed in "Protection", such as the press conference, the chilling interrogation between Rossi and Zorgen, the interplay between Morgan/JJ and Reid, Reid talking about black holes, the 69 joke and the very emotional final scene between Kate and Hotch.
However the case, considering the subject, needed more urgency and should have been more exciting, suspenseful and disturbing than the relatively routine, sometimes atmospherically bland and derivatively plotted one it was. That the outcome was not surprising at all, due to the show's endings in latter seasons tending to be on the predictable side and especially because it was spoiled in advance due to hype ruined the suspense also. The dangers of the internet and the horrors of human trafficking could have been more insightful and more horrifying than here, instead of reinforcing what we know already by common sense and being treated in a run-of-the-mill fashion.
Lovely moments in the script with the team and Zorgen's mind-haunting line "you know what's great about the internet?"..., but it could have done with some tightening up in places and more profiling (though there is more than with "Protection" and it makes sense and feels more logical) and much more psychological delving into the criminal mind would have been more welcome. There is a twist that could have been cool, and as conceptually nasty as it was it was not one that shocked me hugely and the secondary unsub is neither memorably played or interesting, almost like an afterthought.
All in all, could have been much more, and didn't feel like a completely satisfactory conclusion to a story arc that was somewhat interesting but reasonably under-utilised throughout the season, but an alright conclusion to the season and a big improvement over the previous episode. 6/10 Bethany Cox