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'Criminal Minds' recap: A Halloween chiller

Season 10 | Episode 5 | “Boxed In” | Aired Oct 29, 2014

Four shows in and we’ve had airline crashes, bug blankets, and more crazies than you can shake a stick at. Episode five hits us with the most intense subject Criminal Minds has tackled yet this season: the abduction of a little boy.

The setup

In a quaint pumpkin patch in the middle of somewhere, a young boy finds more than apples and giant squash. Underneath a cart, he and his mom discover a body dressed in a skeleton costume. After some poking and prodding, they learn he’s a barely alive boy.

Meanwhile, Hotch is visiting an “unusual” friend of Garcia’s for a last-minute Halloween costume. Hotch’s son, Jack, desperately wants to be Darth Vader and Hotch is going the extra mile to make it happen. But just as he settles in to enjoy the holiday with his son, the phone rings. The BAU is calling and, as always, Hotch heads off, leaving his son and sister behind.


The case

The boy found next to The Great Pumpkin is 11-year-old Joshua Parker. He’s been missing for exactly 364 days, and while the team is happy he’s alive, they fear there may be more abductions coming. The team’s only link to the new unsub is a pedophile named Rodney who’s currently in jail for a similar crime.

As we review the facts, we cut to a creepy guy cleaning a creepy cell for a creepy purpose. It’s Halloween night and the underground lair needs a new, unwilling tenant.

While the unsub does his housecleaning, the team reviews the facts. Both victims were nabbed on Halloween and although the first child died from malnutrition, there were no obvious signs of abuse.

The “New Kate Wrinkle” moment: Kate’s biggest asset as a team member is mirroring our own frustration at the killings. She’s an everywoman, somebody who gets just as mad at the murders as we do. I’m dying to learn more about her in the coming episodes!

Morgan and Kate

Breaking up into small groups, Reid and JJ check on the recovering young victim. Despite being in captivity, Reid comments on how well he was taken care of. The atrophy of his muscles indicate a lack of movement and thanks to the puncture wounds on his arms, Reid deduces the boy was locked in a box.

While JJ and Reid look over the first victim, Hotch and Rossi go over the case’s finer points. They believe holding the victims is the unsub’s main goal. It’s not about murder or even harming them. They realize it’s all about control.

Meanwhile, Kate and Morgan have a chat with the old offender already in jail. After three seconds of reading his reactions, they discover he’s a liar. He was not responsible for the death of the first victim and while that rules him out, it makes finding the real killer that much more difficult. They do discover that the unsub may have been jealous of their assumptions. How dare they think a felon did his crimes. With some of the pieces in place, it’s time to spread the word.

We now cut to a family finishing dinner. While an FBI warning plays on TV, Hunter, the family’s youngest son, heads out to do some Halloween mischief. After egging some houses and running from an angry homeowner, Hunter gets snatched by a mysterious villain wearing a skeleton mask. Half of me says, “serves you right.” Half of me fears for the young boy’s life. I refuse to say which side won out.

Kid in Basement

After learning Hotch’s son won the costume contest, he and Kate interview Hunter’s shattered parents for information. As they give them the name of Hunter’s friends, we cut to the unsub dragging him into a small underground box. And his last words to Hunter as he locks it? “Spend some time in here and you may learn a lesson.” He’s a strict one!

Hot on the unsub’s trail, JJ, Morgan and Reid interview the egged homeowner and learn more about the situation. Thanks to Reid’s encyclopedic knowledge of the original case, they realize Hunter, like the original victim, was a prankster. The final profile piece is in place.

The profile

The unsub seems to be a male in his late twenties, early thirties. His motive is to punish kids who he believes have done wrong. They think the unsub is either a fundamentalist or a religious zealot. The timeline of 364 days indicates he’s “mission oriented” and is likely to offend again. They also believe he has a tough time connecting with other people, has a blue collar job and, most importantly, came from a broken home.

As they wrap up the profile, a woman walks into the station. She’s scared, crying, and thinks her brother may be the one the BAU is looking for.


The closing in

According to the sister, her brother, John David, has had a history of mental illness. Smothering cats, killing dogs, the whole works. They even had an abusive dad who locked them into trunks every time they misbehaved. Explains the dungeons! She hasn’t seen her brother in three years, leaving one last link: her mom.

Hotch and Rossi zoom to the mother’s home to see if she can help locate her son, John. As her baby boy sits in a car drinking while Hunter screams for help, Mom insists John couldn’t have committed the crime. Luckily, Rossi has a way of getting information and after some meditative mind games, breaks her down. It turns out she killed her husband in self defense after he locked John in a trunk as punishment. A flashback to mom cracking her husband in the head with a fire poker cements the confession.

After JJ assures the mom her actions were pure self defense, she tells them John is probably hiding out where his dad is buried. As the team rushes to the site, John loses his cool with Hunter, opens up the cell door, and begins to beat the snot out of him. We don’t see anything, but it’s very uncomfortable nonetheless.


The payoff

After delivering the beatdown, John parks his car on top of the underground cell and exits just in time for the BAU to arrive. He surrenders quickly but refuses to tell them where Hunter is. In the interrogation room, Hotch, JJ ,and Rossi deliver some fantastic reverse psychology. Just as John is ready to break, his mom comes in and begs him to give up Hunter’s location. John finally cracks, the team rushes in and saves Hunter in the nick of time.

As the boy is rescued, John is led to a police car. Before he’s stuffed inside, his mom arrives to give him one final hug. In the end, a mother’s love is a mother’s love. Hotch kindly reminds her that the ordeal wasn’t her fault. She had to do what she had to do.

Upon coming home, Hotch sneaks into Jack’s room only to find him missing. In a minor panic, he runs into his sister who tells him Jack is sleeping on the couch, still in his Darth Vader costume. It’s a soft reminder of the power of paternal love. No matter how many cases Hotch solves or how many crimes he witnesses, he’ll always feel protective of the little boy he leaves behind. Often police procedurals make the good guys seem robotic. Watching Hotchner hug his son reminds us they’re still people even when the case file closes. A chilling, illuminating episode.

Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays at 9/8C on CBS.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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