"Criminal Minds" ...A Thousand Words (TV Episode 2010) Poster

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Different, disturbing and emotional
TheLittleSongbird22 September 2016
'Criminal Minds', one of my most-watched shows for several years now, has very much varied when trying to do something different. "...A Thousand Words" is quite easily one of the show's more successful efforts.

Is "...A Thousand Words" also one of Season 5's best episodes? Along with "100", "The Uncanny Valley" and "Mosley Lane", yes it is. As said, "...A Thousand Words" is an example of different done well, nothing feels uncomfortably strange or ambiguous, with no unanswered questions, something like exorcisms not as creepy as they should have been (like "Demonology") or the team playing a part in unsubs' fantasies in forced and patronisingly fake denouements. Everything done differently is done for a reason and done incredibly well.

The beginning sets the tone of the story brilliantly, usually am not a fan of the unsub being known from the start but the beginning was creepy and made lots of room for twists and turns. And there are a great many here, ones that are fully developed and none feel irrelevant to the story. A notable example is the identity of the unsub's partner, that cannot be seen coming and even visibly leaves the BAU left aghast especially when the episode did such a great job making one believe that it was somebody from the obvious gender. There are also some clever and diverting clues and great use of profiling and pathology.

Scenes between the latest victim and the partner are very intriguing, with a real disturbing edge, the wonderfully dingy setting plays a lagr part but the victim genuinely looks frightened and the partner is a genuine threat which is surprising for someone in their condition. The climax is both disturbing and emotionally poignant. Despite how this sounds like these scenes and the case dominating the episode, have no worries the BAU do have plenty to do and there are very enjoyable character moments like the whole interaction between Prentiss, Morgan and Reid, which gives the episode humour and heart, and the card game between Prentiss and Reid. Rossi's development has also come on a long way since his introduction in "About Face".

"...A Thousand Words" is visually one of the show's most grittily atmosphere and most audacious, while the music is haunting and melancholic. The writing is smart, thought-provoking and tight in structure and pacing, personally didn't think that the middle of the episode suffered from being bogged down by too much talk (it's talky but it didn't feel unnecessarily so). The story is tense, suspenseful and surprisingly complex in emotion.

Strong acting helps, and "...A Thousand Words" has that. Paget Brewster and Matthew Gray Gubler stand out of the regulars and Dean Norris, Holland Roden and especially Jolene Anderson are excellent in supporting roles. Even with limited screen time, John Thaddeus immediately makes this serial killer duo easy to be terrified of.

Overall, different, disturbing and emotional and one of Season 5's best episodes. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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ttapola18 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
A very good episode, this one. The opening scene is reminiscent of the discovery of the Sloth sinner in Se7en, different enough that it doesn't feel like a rip-off. Actually, it's pretty clever – in Se7en, the police *thought* they were entering the killer's apartment, but here they actually *are*. Only to find him dead. And his latest victim quite likely still alive, but missing. Also both in here and in Se7en, the killer turns himself in.

The episode takes place in Florida. Heat = tight shirts for Morgan, Prentiss and JJ. What a nice coincidence! For some reason, Rossi and Hotch remain fully suited while Reid doesn't wear a jacket. Could the episode be more obviously gratuitous? Not that I'm complaining – Criminal Minds has always lacked sex appeal, whereas most other crime procedural shows have plenty. Prentiss' red shirt is used in other episodes as well, the reason of which is pretty much a no-brainer.

The script is pretty innovative, giving us something new in the show's 110th (by IMDb's count) episode, not a variation of any of the past episodes. Even the BAU members are baffled by the killer's suicide. Dean Norris (of Breaking Bad fame) does great job as the Police of the Week, making his detective stand out from the crowd he belongs in. Of course there have been others as well, but they aren't a different matter. Compare him to the tattoo artist who is ripped straight out of cliché stock. Dude.

Because of the novel idea here, it's very hard to say how it will end. In this case, the series' overall unevenness works in this episode's favour – this *could* be the brilliant episode that is long overdue. There hasn't been a 9/10 since Roadkill, and that was episode #88 (or #4.23, if you will)! While the plot takes a creepy surprise twist before the final act and the ending certainly offers food for thought, it doesn't negate the middle of the episode, where the plot drags because of too much talk, not enough tension. So, as a whole, this is "just" very good, a seven, as it happens, just not a Se7en.
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