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