We know that Criminal Minds season 14 episode 5 had a lot of buzz going into it thanks to Matthew Gray Gubler as director, especially with this being a Halloween episode! It does make a great deal of sense, given that his episodes are often visually stunning to go with rather twisted stories and wonderful performances. As much as we love Gubler as an actor, we also truly love when he gets behind the camera.
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In coming out of this episode our biggest takeaway is that this was one of the best AJ Cook performances we’ve seen in some time, which made sense given that this was an incredibly-meaty story for JJ in “The Tall Man.” This episode had the character forced to revisit her hometown in order to uncover the truth about a missing girl and, beyond that, a longstanding urban legend about a “Tall Man” who took young people from the woods and had them confess to some of their darkest secrets — otherwise, they would face being cut.
To go along with all of this, this case also connected back to what happened to JJ’s sister Rosaline from so many years before. This was personal in all of the ways that you would expect from a good Criminal Minds episode. It was full of interesting twists and made us wonder where the story was going to go. The culprit here ended up being a counselor-of-sorts at the school, someone who understood emotions and was able to prey on them from unsuspecting students. JJ was able to get some peace, but beyond that Cook had several fantastic scenes — in particular the one in which AJ and Rossi sat down to trace through her past to try and figure out precisely what sort of clues she could find. Sometimes, forgotten secrets are the key to ensuring that things play out in the present as they should.
“The Tall Man” may be the best episode of season 14 so far. Not only did Gubler give the episode some of his traditional flair, but it was both creepy and also emotionally profound. We learned more about JJ tonight than we probably have in full seasons before, especially since we had a chance to see her alternate between her character as a BAU agent, a sister, a mother, and so much more. She was formidable when she needed to be as well as vulnerable when it was called for.
If Criminal Minds continues to deliver episodes like this one for the rest of the season, it’s going to be hard for CBS to justify canceling it. This sort of story is Criminal Minds storytelling at its finest and this will be an episode we will happily add to our Halloween must watch list for years to come.
What did you think about Criminal Minds season 14 episode 5 overall? Be sure to share in the attached comments. (Photo: CBS.)