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'Criminal Minds' fan recap: Matthew Gray Gubler directs a startler

Season 10 | Episode 21 | “Mr. Scratch” | Aired Apr 22, 2015

Criminal Minds fact No. 351: Whenever Matthew Grey Gubler sits in the director’s chair, the episode hits crazy levels of intense. This week, the insanity dial gets turned up to 11 in one of the scariest eps this season. A maddening blend of horror and surrealism, episode 21 is guaranteed to make your skin crawl and your heart stop.

But first, we have a murder to set up. On a rainy evening, Hotch is interviewing Larry Maron at the BAU. He’s there for killing his wife, but Larry is convinced he’s innocent. When Hotch presses him on what happened, Larry tells him a hard-to-believe story. The night of the murder, he went downstairs, smelled sage, and was attacked by a shadow monster with talons for hands. It was the creature who killed his wife, not him!

The shadow monster creeps from the closet in season 10, episode 21 of Criminal Minds.

Hotch has some bad news for Larry. He was caught red-handed. The good news is that there are two other instances of people claiming a shadowy monster killed their loved ones. Someone is inducing innocent people into killing sprees.

The investigation
As the team reviews the case, there doesn’t seem to be a single link. All three killers were different in every possible way. They were obviously drugged, but nothing shows up on the tox screen. Even worse, how can one drug make everyone see the exact same phantom? Hotch thinks it’s not the drug … it’s the mental condition it’s exploiting.

Interviews with the other two killers reveal very little. Kristy is comatose and Daniel claims the monster tied him up and raped him. After JJ and Morgan prove to Daniel that all that never happened, Garcia stumbles on a clue. All three killers were adopted in 1985.

Rossi and Reid investigate an air vent in season 10, episode 21 of Criminal Minds.

Reid and Rossi then discover the drug cocktail that turned the victims into crazed maniacs: One drug puts them in a state of hallucination, and the second makes them easy to control. When the people are told to attack their fear, they are really attacking their victim.

But why do they all fear the same shadow monster? Something must have linked them together.

Meanwhile, a young boy asks his dad to chase away a boogeyman in his room. After a tender moment, dad goes downstairs, smells sage, and BAM. He gets attacked by another shadow monster. (Who sounds exactly like the aliens in Signs. Just saying.)

The ramp up
The next day, the team discovers the dad’s body. It looks like the unsub wanted him to kill his son. Luckily, paternal instinct kicked in, prompting dad to cut his own throat. Hotch then talks to his ex-wife to get more background. It turns out she had forced him into therapy after he cheated on her, and he came home with wild stories of molestation and childhood seduction. She tried to convince him they weren’t real, but he would have none of it.

Hotch and Morgan works through the details of the case in season 10, episode 21 of Criminal Minds.

Hotch realizes what’s going on. The unwilling killers were all acting out recovered memories from therapy. These memories are often false, originally thought up as childhood fantasies, but when dredged up in a session, can seem very real.

But how does the unsub know their stories? He must have been with them at the orphanage 30 years earlier when the monster and the wild tales were originally made up. What’s worse, the tall tales probably ruined his life in some way. And how do we find out where this orphanage is? By trying to get through to the zonked-out Kristy.

Using a stick of burning sage, Hotch and Rossi finally get Kristy to react. When she does, she starts speaking like a four-year-old. As they talk, she suddenly sees the monster coming. Then, all hell breaks loose. The lights go out, the computers go ballistic, and Kristy starts violently scratching herself. When Hotch finally settles her down, Kristy blurts out the monster’s name: Mr. Scratch.

A victim of the unsub

The closing in
Garcia has a good-news/bad-news situation. Whoever hacked the network was exceptional at it, but they weren’t trying to get into BAU data. They were trying to access the Witness Protection Program’s database. He’s looking for every kid who wronged him with their crazy stories back in 1985.

Reid, however, discovers a clue in the encryption. The hacker went to Harvard and probably worked for the NSA. Hotch calls in a reluctant favor and gets a name: Peter Lewis. Turns out his father, an orphanage owner, was falsely accused of being a pedophile by the kids’ wild stories. And a doctor by the name of Susannah Regan was the woman responsible for their testimonies. Guess who the final victim is!

Hotch does his best to avoid the unsub

Hotch rushes to the doctor’s home to find her safe and sound … until she stabs herself in the neck! Peter comes from nowhere, a struggle ensues, and Hotch is knocked out with a double blast of crazy gas.

Hotch wakes to the buzzing of his phone and the ramblings of Peter. Dazed, Hotch tries to work his way out of the mess, but the drug is too strong. Suddenly, the team arrives and a wild shootout occurs, killing Rossi, Morgan, and Reid! (At this point, I yelped and scared my dog. True story.)

Luckily, all of this was a hallucination brought on by Peter. Hotch’s greatest fear is losing his team. Double luckily, the BAU shows up for real, and when Peter commands Hotch to take them out, Hotch finds enough sanity to turn and shoot Peter. Wounded, Peter runs off, gets cornered by JJ and Morgan, and surrenders.

Hotch has the 1000 yard stare at the end of season 10, episode 21 of Criminal Minds.

Afterward, Hotch is still full of drug-induced fear. As Peter is lead to the car, he turns and points to his head, showing Hotch that he won. Peter broke him down. And when Rossi tries to find out exactly what Hotch saw in his delusion, the screen goes black and cuts to credits. Damn!

This was, by far, the best episode of the season thus far. Tense and terrifying, Gubler again proves himself a wizard in the director’s chair. Only one more episode until the season finale!

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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