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'Criminal Minds' fan recap: Staples, shocks, and staying awake

Season 11 | Episode 8 | “Awake” | Aired Nov 18, 2015

Spoiler alert: Criminal Minds can be a terribly unsettling show. Usually it runs somewhere between Goodfellas and Se7en. Tense and gripping with just enough gross to keep it icky. But this week’s episode dives into Saw/Hostel territory. A stomach-turning yet satisfying tale of torture and loss, this week’s Criminal Minds is easily the most uncomfortable of the season thus far.

Our opening gets right to the squirm. Screaming? Check. Long shot of a creepy hallway? Check. Bloody man chained to a pipe? Double check.

JJ grabs some elevator shut eye in episode 8, season 11 of Criminal MInds.

But before we can dive in, we need some recurring-storyline cleanup. An exhausted JJ meets Tara while Garcia has a tough conversation with Hotch. With four hit men on the hunt for her, she’s being put into protective custody at the BAU. Things are ramping up quickly.

The case
Two Phoenix men have been abducted, one dead (Steven) and the other missing (Lance Coleman). Steven was restrained for days and severely tortured. But the men have absolutely no connection. The nature of the crimes seem personal, but all signs point to random. The team is perplexed.

Garcia begins her mandatory witness protection in episode 8, season 11 of Criminal Minds.

But surprise! We cut to our victim escaping the creepy hallway to the sound of a whirling helicopter! Will he escape? Answer: Nope. As the voice of our unsub tells Lance to wake up, we realize it’s just one of a number of delusional fake-outs this episode throws at us.

The investigation
After learning what a swell guy Lance is from his wife, we get more troubling news. Not only is Garcia striking out on tracking Lance’s whereabouts, we learn Steven had his eyelids stapled open. The unsub wanted him to see the torture as it was happening.

On cue, our unsub wakes Lance and asks him where “she” is. When Lance says he promises to tell him, the unsub busts out the staple gun!

Lance Coleman is victim number two in episode 8, season 11 of Criminal Minds.

Meanwhile, the investigation leads to more dead ends. After much key-clacking from Garcia and brain-wracking from JJ, a theory is formed. The unsub may be preying on good Samaritans. He pretends to be in need of help, flags someone down, and takes advantage of a good deed.

But it’s too late for our dear friend Lance. After another delusion, he’s brought outside by the unsub. With a gun to his head, Lance pleads for his life for the sake of his daughter. The unsubs stops, thinks, and blows him away. Something about the daughter got to him. This prompted me to tweet:

The profile
After discovering the body, the BAU is ready to deliver the profile. Our unsub is a sadistic inquisitor, somebody who gets off on watching his victims resist questioning. Fit enough to subdue healthy men, the unsub is antisocial, unassuming, and probably suffering from some form of PTSD. What’s worse, his victims are surrogates who will never be able to deliver what he’s looking for.

Throughout the profile, we watch a flashback of our unsub watching his daughter at a dance recital. He seems completely normal. Clearly something happened to his daughter, which lead to his current psychosis—but what?

Our unsub

After the flashback scene, we cut to him working over a new victim. He douses him with water and asks him where the skull tattoo on his hand went. When the unsub doesn’t get the answer he wants, out come the electric cattle prods. A good zapping follows.

The ramp-up
Fueled by her own baby-induced insomnia, JJ hits on an epiphany: The eyelid stapling means he wants to keep his victims awake. Maybe the trauma that caused him to go down this evil road is sleep-deprivation related.

Proving JJ’s point, the unsub unleashes a new horror on his latest victim. The unsub places a set of headphones on the victim’s head and blares screeching music, causing his ears to bleed. I only include this detail because it’s absolutely horrific.

Morgan and the team delivers the profile in episode 8, season 11 of Criminal Minds.

After learning our unsub’s name and occupation (David), we get another flashback to non-crazy times with our unsub. A scene where he sings along to “You’re My Sunshine” with his daughter is sweet, mainly because we see the man he used to be.

The closing-in
Thanks to JJ’s sleep-deprivation angle, Garcia starts looking up recent accidents and tragedies along Route 10 (the scene of both abductions). The only sleep-related incident they find is a child-snatching case. While the father was asleep at a rest stop, his daughter was abducted.

The abducted daughter of our unsub in episode 8, season 11 of Criminal Minds.

The pieces then fall into place. Our unsub is William Taylor, the father of an abducted girl who was never found. Still thinking she’s alive, he’s been tracking down random people looking for his daughter’s captor. The fact she has taken while he was snoozing explains the eye-stapling/eardrum-rupturing torture. He wants his victim to stay awake like he couldn’t.

As the BAU rushes to his location, William checks in on his captured David to find he isn’t there. David jumps from behind the door and starts choking him out. William falls and David runs off. Outside, David has nowhere to run and a chase ensues, prompting me to tweet:

After minutes of sneaking around, William finally corners David in his tow truck. As he questions David on the whereabouts of his daughter, JJ and Tara roll up. They tell William his daughter’s body was found the week before (trigger!), and he was there when she was discovered. A horribly sad flashback ensues where we see him discover her body. Luckily, we only see his reaction, not the carnage.

After a moment’s hesitation, he refuses to believe JJ and backs up to ram them. Shots ring out, the truck comes to a halt and they find William dead—so dead.

The haunting, final shot of the man with the mysterious skull tattoo in episode 8, season 11 of Criminal Minds.

On the plane home, JJ finally gets some shuteye as Morgan and Rossi playfully make fun of a surprisingly absent Reid. Even when we learn the man with the skull tattoo was a real person at the end, the episode is oddly satisfying. I’ve always found unsubs who were victims themselves fascinating, and this was no exception. Despite going full Saw V in the torture department, the end result was equal parts interesting and terrifying.

Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays ay 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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