31 August 2020 | TheLittleSongbird
After an incredibly bad Season 1, with so many offensively bad episodes, hopes were not high for Season 2. Actually it turned out to be a marginal improvement, the season premiere "Lost Souls" exemplifying that perfectly, and with fewer episodes that left a bad taste in the mouth. It still wasn't particularly good on the whole but there were moments which were not there generally in the first season. Hopes were not high for "Il Mostro" but the premise did intrigue and Italy is always a welcome sight.
"Il Mostro" had pretty much the same strengths and flaws of "Lost Souls", which was an episode that had more strengths but with the same flaws. It is not a terrible episode, thanks to a couple of good performances in particular, but it is not a particularly good episode either for the same reasons that are similar for all the previous 'Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders' episodes. And things that never really did improve sad to say. Some may disagree and that's fine, but generally again "Il Mostro" didn't do much for me sorry.
The episode is compensated namely by two performances. It was great to see Rossi again, absolutely love him and he is one of the main reasons as to why the original 'Criminal Minds' was still stuck with despite being so variable for a while. Just love his authority and sass, which Joe Mantegna has always delivered wonderfully. It was very interesting to see Paul Sorvino long after seeing him as Cerretta in Seasons 2 and 3 of the original 'Law and Order' (the role of his most recognisable to me), his role here is very far removed from that and he shows no signs of being taxed by it (quite creepy).
Furthermore, "Il Mostro" started off intriguingly and promisingly. The unsub is one of the show's few interesting and menacing ones, not original but at least they weren't vanilla in personality or had vague motivations which were the case with most of 'Beyond Borders'.
However, a lot works against "Il Mostro". The acting for the regular team still hasn't improved. Gary Sinise, who sleepwalks through his role, and Alana De La Garza, who fares better but is not the bright spot that she was in most of Season 1 and has little to work with, are well above what they are given. The less said about the mega irritating and stiff Annie Funke the better. The team work lacks cohesion and there is too much of a disconnect, while the procedural work is underused and very ordinary.
Neither have the production values improved. It still looks choppy and there is nothing authentic about the setting. The music could have been less in tone and placement and the direction lacks momentum and personality. Merely "getting the job done and going through the motions doing so" like. The dialogue, excepting a couple of occasional bright spots with Rossi, is mostly stilted and if it was meant to be taken seriously that was lost on me. The story has little energy and has no tension or suspense. 'Beyond Borders' episodes were not good at making sense in general, and that is no exception here (it does fare better than the previous episode though). Pacing is a problem, going downhill after a promising start, too often dull and then the denouement was rushed and forced.
While the improvement over Season 1 does continue, this is still not a particularly good episode sadly. 4/10