Criminal Minds Season 14 Episode 11 Review: Night Lights

Spoilers

The good news was that Matthew Gray Gubler returned from whatever personal project on which he was working.

This meant that Reid was back from his teaching sabbatical to help out on Criminal Minds Season 14 Episode 11.

What does this mean in real terms? Well, Reid being there just makes any episode better.

Why? I’d have to say believability. When Reid proclaims something, it just feels right. He’s the master of minutia.

It also comes down to a viewer’s comfort zone. I’m more likely to accept a conclusion from Reid, Rossi, JJ, and Prentiss because, well, they’ve put in the time. They’re the veteran profilers.

Lewis, Alvez, and Simmons seem perfectly capable, but we haven’t been getting to know them for a decade. To me, Lewis feels like a professor, with Alvez and Simmons seeming more like cops. And likely they’ll never get the chance to reach veteran-profiler status.

Related: Criminal Minds Season 14 Episode 10 Review: Flesh and Blood

This is no one’s fault. Change is bound to happen on any long-running series.

Everyone has their favorite Law & Order lineup (any unit with Jerry Orbach) or CSI team (it was on borrowed time after William Peterson left). And not all shows can transition as seamlessly as M*A*S*H (kids, ask your parents).

Reid just provides that wunderkind feel, offering a detailed analysis of the pros and cons of exposure therapy or exclaiming “Addresses” after looking at a table covered with numbers. That never gets old.

Unlike some, I won’t just turn off an episode because Matthew is off doing some indy art film which he finds more creatively satisfying. The rest of the cast deserves better than that.

Anyway, let’s just hope Reid is sticking around for the handful of episodes remaining this season. Criminal Minds needs that extra 20 percent or so of enjoyment that he provides on each episode in which he appears.

Frankly, I can’t Matthew for stepping out about a third of the season. How many times can one get psyched for yet another unsub taking vengeance on the people that he perceived as wronging him?

Related: Watch Criminal Minds Online: Season 14 Episode 10

I mean, CSI died because viewers got tired of watching close-ups of hair and fiber. Follow the evidence. Got it.

Yes, Dustin didn’t get the help he needed from his doctor and his parents. And things went downhill from there. Because people don’t have any choice in the direction that their lives take.

Does that give him the right to kill not just the doctor and his parents, but the doctor’s wife and a couple of strangers in the wrong place at the wrong time? No, not really.

So, for a change, bucking the pattern of this season, it was difficult to feel sorry for the unsub.

Points for the creative use of the doorbell camera in the opening scene. It’s good to see those cameras are useful for something more than thwarting porch pirates. Like providing one bizarre clue for law enforcement and a WTF moment for the homeowners.

I could understand why it took the BAU a while to get a handle on this unsub. There was no rhyme nor reason to his choice of victims, with a beloved local pediatrician and his wife and a running couple from out of town. His methodology made little sense either.

Related: CBS Cheat Sheet

But good old investigative techniques paid off. What caused the unsub to go to the rental home? The woman caretaking the home proved to be the key witness who pointed the team to the unsub by dredging up a painful memory from the past.

It’s nice to have a case every so often that Garcia doesn’t solve with a Google search at the 45-minute mark.

It was good to see that Alvez and Garcia were on good terms again, now that she wasn’t having to share her office with him anymore now that he’s not grounded by Prentiss.

Was Alvez really so dense that he didn’t get the concept of “Happy wife, happy life”? Seemed so.

Related: Get CBS All Access via Amazon Channels for Hit Shows, Exclusive Originals & Live TV!

The “It’s a Wonderful Life” references at the end were enjoyable if a little late. But, since the housewarming party was entirely Lisa’s idea, why not reschedule if she got called in to work? One simple text chain would take care of that.

After seeing the horrors they experience on a daily basis, is it any wonder the BAU members are frequently drinking at episode’s end?

To catch up before the shortened season wraps, watch Criminal Minds online.

Were you glad to see Reid back? What was Alvez thinking? Any sympathy for the unsub?

Comment below.

Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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