8 May 2018 | TheLittleSongbird
Creepiness and sympathy
'Criminal Minds' has always been one of my most-watched shows and was a personal favourite for a while. Seasons 1-5 was its best period, Season 4 was especially great. It did get hit and miss from Season 6 onwards, with a mix of good and more episodes and disappointing and less episodes. Season 11 was, apart from about 5 episodes, pretty weak. Season 12 was inconsistent but generally an improvement, its weakest episodes nowhere near as bad as the low-points of Seasons 6, 9 and especially 11.
Season 13 so far has not been too bad, in fact it's been quite good. It is already so much better than Season 11, which started off well actually but quickly went downhill, and has generally settled quicker than Season 12. As far as the previous Season 13 episodes go, "Wheels Up" and "Killer App" were particularly good. Up to this point, only "To a Better Place" was a little disappointing, with a lot of admirable qualities but also an over-familiar and not much special case.
"Dust and Bones" actually for me was one of the better Season 13 episodes. The case has enough nice and surprising turns to stop things from being too familiar and a lot of creativity. There is a good deal of suspense, genuine creepiness (with a fairly unique modus operandi and a few touches, like with the tongues, not being for the easily unsettled), but also sympathetic emotion and a little weirdness that's never overdone.
The team work, the procedural aspects and how it's all solved evokes prime 'Criminal Minds', there is lots of each and it's all thought-provoking and delightful. It doesn't make the mistakes that many latter season episodes made (i.e. too much unsub, unsub revealed too early, problematically executed cases, too much reliance on convenience, lack of balance, too many soapy personal life subplots, team underuse and not enough procedural/delving into the criminal's mind). In fact, there is a sense that "Dust and Bones" didn't forget what made 'Criminal Minds' work so well in the first place. The twists keep coming and the unsub reveal was not an obvious one at all, credit is due for taking precaution in not making it obvious at the start or too early in general.
Plenty of room for little character moments within the team, one of my favourite things about 'Criminal Minds' and something that lifts even the lesser episodes. Reid's explanations and theories in particular are classic Reid and the Luke/Phil subplot is done with a lot of heart, both characters having immense likeability (Luke has been more interesting than this season). Matt has settled well, is a likeable character and gels very well with the team, much more so than most new team members who either took a while to settle or never did anything for me.
Everybody does a great job with the acting, all the regulars are strong as ever and the unsub despite their awful acts is one that one feels sorry for at the same time with such a troubled past.
Visually, "Dust and Bones" is stylish and atmospheric, while the music is haunting without being over-bearing while having presence still, the script is taut with a touch of sweetness and poignancy here and there and the direction is alert and accommodating.
However, for me the ending was a little rushed and while there is credit for not going the typical end of takedown route it just felt like an anaemic end for a case of this nature.
Another flaw for me was the unsub's explanation rant. That came over as contrived and over-explanatory and was not really needed, when reiterating what we knew already from the team deduction.
Summing up, very well done. 8/10 Bethany Cox