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'Criminal Minds' fan recap: A horrific crime, a hostage situation

Season 11 | Episode 14 | “Hostage” | Aired Feb 10, 2016

At the risk of sounding cliché, nothing puts anger in my heart like child endangerment. With a storyline reminiscent of the Oscar-nominated Room, this week’s Criminal Minds was tough to get through. Centering on a group of girls trapped for decades by a despicable man, episode 14 is lifted up by terrific acting and a story that gives the uncomfortable subject matter the respect it deserves.

We open with two girls trying to escape from a creepy basement. As one struggles to saw through a lock, the other pleads with her to stop. “Daddy” will get angry. After a brief struggle that leaves Number Two knocked out, our sawing hero breaks through. Escape! She turns to a third girl, who looks to be deathly ill, and promises to get help.

A captured girl attempts to break loose in episode 14, season 11 of Criminal Minds.

Not moments after Saw escapes, a large 40-something man bursts in, sees she’s gone, and grabs the unconscious girl. The sick one is left behind. In his words, “She’ll just slow us down.”

Luckily, Saw made good on her promise. Her name is Gina Bryant (Rebekah Kennedy), and she was able to flag down police after escaping. Garcia reports the now 20-year-old was abducted when she was 8. The sick girl, Shelia Wood (15), was found by police and is in the hospital, while the unconscious girl, Violet (Amelia Rose Blaire), is still missing. Gina knows her captor as Tom, even though that’s most likely a fake name. The house they were trapped in belongs to a woman named Clara, who’s been dead for years.

WHEW!

The investigation
Now that the introductions are out of the way, it’s time to find this bastard! Reid, Hotch, and JJ are on hospital duty. While Gina will be fine, Shelia isn’t doing so hot. Signs of extreme physical abuse are everywhere. The most striking thing is that these girls have no concept of the outside world (á la Room).

Morgan and Rossi uncover a distrubing closet of torture toys in episode 14, season 11 of Criminal Minds.

As Gina tells the story of how she was abducted, Morgan and Hotch comb Tom’s lair/kiddie prison. All the telltale signs of disgusting pedophile behavior are there: bondage porn in the kitchen, homemade sex racks, and a cupboard full of blood-stained tools. I almost threw up typing that sentence.

Back at the hospital, Gina does her best to piece together where Tom and Violet could be. She thinks they’ll be at the “disappearing place,” but she has no clue where that could be. Only Violet was allowed to go on the regular. The girls were all given flower names: Sheila was Daisy, she was Rose, but Violet’s real name is still a mystery.

As the girls become acclimated to the 21st century, we meet Sheila’s mother. Her tale of separation and agony is a heartbreaking one. But before we can learn more, Reid runs in with a sketch of Tom. Gina confirms that it’s the guy, but before we can celebrate, hospital workers rush to Shelia’s room. Gina notices the commotion, sees Sheila’s mom scream, and panics. Always the strong one, she desperately wants to help her “sister.”

Reid and JJ interview on of the victims in episode 14, season 11 of Criminal Minds.

All this time, Tom has been driving around with an obedient Violet in the back. Being the oldest of the bunch, she’s completely subservient to him. It’s a sick and twisted father/daughter relationship.

The profile…maybe.
Garcia has good news: The unsub’s real name is Michael Clark Thompson. The team begins to deliver the profile, but is interrupted by the squawk of a police radio. Michael’s van has been found and, wouldn’t you know it, he’s sleeping in the front seat! They roll up, arrest him and take Violet into their care. Happy ending, right? Nope! Not even close!

In the hospital, we learn Violet is emotionally attached to Michael. She refuses treatment and wants nothing more than to see him. She doesn’t even remember her own name. We also learn that Shelia, the sick girl, has passed away. This hits Violet deep, but doesn’t shake her from her conditioning.

Lilly and Jasmine await their rescue in season 11, episode 14 of Criminal Minds.

Meanwhile, the team comes to a horrible realization: Violet may have gone full term with Michael’s children, hence the regular visits to the “disappearing place.” Hotch confronts a smug Michael—who won’t talk without a deal.

On cue, we see not one, but two young girls eagerly awaiting the return of their “daddy.” Violet has had kids, and now that Michael’s in cuffs, they are in even more danger.

The closing-in
Throughout the whole episode, JJ has been desperately trying to shake the girls from their years of conditioning. Violet (whose real name is Amelia) has been the toughest. Even when JJ brings her real parents to the room, Amelia refuses to acknowledge them. Memories brim to the surface, but her PTSD pushes them down.

The unsub takes a victim behind the curtain in season 11, episode 14 of Criminal Minds.

After Hotch learns the two young girls (named Lilly and Jasmine by Michael ) have been alone for a week, they actually consider cutting a deal with Michael. As part of the deal, they allow Michael to see Amelia (Violet). At first, she’s ecstatic to see her “daddy” again. After he shamelessly twists her against the BAU, JJ pulls the trump card: She brings her real parents into the room. Sparked by both the memories of her real upbringing and the recollection of Michael’s torture, she snaps out of the trance and attacks her fake daddy.

But we still don’t know where the disappearing place is. Luckily, Garcia uses Michael’s OCD nature to find another abandoned home owned by a deceased person. The BAU swoop in and rescue Lilly, but Jasmine won’t wake up, and we never learn whether or not she’s okay. Here’s hoping.

Amelia reunites with her parents and Gina. Watching the beginning steps of her new relationship with her real family and current connection with Gina is striking and beautiful. With everyone safe and a deal off the table, they lead Michael away for trial.

JJ attempts to comfort Violet in season 11, episode 14 of Criminal Minds.

But he never makes it. Still reeling from the death of her daughter, Sheila’s mother appears out of nowhere and shoots Michael dead. While her revenge is understandable, it’s bittersweet. Michael would have suffered endlessly in prison. Thanks to the mother’s shortsighted actions, Michael is spared a lifetime of shame and misery.

If it weren’t for this recap, I would have turned the episode off after 10 minutes. Child abuse and pedophiles strike a chord of deep-seated hatred within me. But I’m glad I hung in there. Easily the most uncomfortable I’ve been all season, this episode of Criminal Minds is daring, bold, and frightening for all the right reasons.

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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