Criminal Minds -- Portrait Of An Average American Family

Original Airing: February 6, 2013

A lot of the episodes this season have been really gory, but this episode was a departure from that in that it was very psychological with very little gore.

The episode started out with what appeared to be an All-American average family that was comprised of a mother and father and two daughters. Fast forward and the father is making a 911 call reporting both his daughters missing on the one-year anniversary his wife vanished on.

This episode also featured the kind of cop I hate. The one where the cop is convinced one person did the crime and he won’t look for any other suspects. The cop is convinced the father, Bruce, is the one who killed his entire family and he won’t consider any other possibility because that’s what his gut says.

At first, it appears the narrow-minded cop may be right. As the team investigates they learn Bruce’s wife, Judy, was having an affair before she disappeared without a trace. They also learn Bruce has a drinking problem and has blackouts when he drinks. During questioning the blackouts are discovered to be because when Bruce drinks it brings out another personality named Johnny. Johnny says he taught the girls a lesson, but swears he didn’t kill them.

The body of the youngest daughter, Katie, is found and it appears she was bludgeoned with the butt of the gun Bruce owned, but claims he has no idea where he disappeared to. They also learn Katie was making calls to an abuse hotline. The night the sisters disappeared she was on the phone with them as Bruce was banging on the door in a drunker rage demanding to be let in the room.

Sera is found alive out in the woods with the gun. There’s some hints she’s not all she pretends to be. It’s discovered she’s been texting with the man her mother was having an affair with, Jeff Godwin, telling him what a bad dad Bruce was. Upon further investigation, they learn Bruce had a prescription for a medication that would make him sick to his stomach if he consumed any alcohol and Sera cancelled the prescription so Bruce would fall off the wagon and blackout. It was all part of her plan to get rid of her family and set-up her father as the prime suspect.

At the start of the episode when all the attention was being focused on Sera, Katie butted in, and I suspected that maybe she would the criminal mind this week. That she was jealous of all the attention Sera was getting. Instead, it was just setting up Sera’s motive for disposing of her entire family. Sera said when her parents had Katie it ruined everything.

JJ is the first to start suspecting her because JJ lost her own sister and she finds Sera too cold and unemotional about it. When Sera is taken down by the team she says she just couldn’t fake what she just didn’t feel.

I actually wish the show would do more of these psychological episodes like this one because it was a refreshing change from all the usual blood and gore. I thought Ken Olin did a great job as the alcoholic father who kept you guessing if he murdered his entire family or not. Even when it looked like he’d done it, he still made you sympathize with him. That’s good acting.

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