Criminal Minds -- A Tale Of Two Fathers
The Ghosts and Agent Hotchner
This was the episode where ghosts from Hotch's past returned to haunt him [just in time for Halloween]. It was also the episode where the unsub was connected to Hotch's issue of the week: being a good father.
In Wichita, Kansas, a teen named Samantha Wilcox was off parking with her boyfriend when he tried to force himself on her. Enter her daddy Eddie who beat the tar and nicotine out of him and took off with his daughter. It was believed he kidnapped his daughter. Turns out she hates her mother and went off with her father, willingly.
When Hotch is giving the details of the Wilcox case he suddenly collapses. Seems he's suffering from internal injuries caused by The Reaper's initial attack on him. Things are touch and go for awhile during the surgery and Hotch's vision of going into the light is going to a movie theater dressed in a tux where an equally dressed up Hayley waits for him.
They watch a movie called The Decision which features scenes of Hotch with Jack and Beth. Hayley puts the seal of approval on that pairing. And counsels Hotch to tell Jack he loves him more often since he's not a mind reader and can't know unless Hotch tells him.
Then The Reaper shows up and also puts his seal of approval on Hotch and Beth. Then the movie ends and Hayley says it's time to go. She removes her wedding ring and gives it back to Hotch telling him she still loves him as they watch The Reaper head back down to hell, where he apparently got a furlough from to put in his two cents on the matter. Next Hayley heads off into the mist back to heaven. And Hotch gets back into the cab that brought him there, heading back to the land of the living.
When he wakes up in the hospital he asks to see Jack and tells him he loves him.
The other father and child relationship doesn't have such a happy ending.
Before Eddie came to get his daughter he and his partner pulled off an armed robbery and Eddie killed his partner. When the team watches the video of what happened they discover Eddie's partner turned on him and he was basically defending himself. Unfortunately, any case of self-defense he might get to lessen the charges that will be leveled against him are blown when a man at a service station recognizes him and he kills him. Then when he's trying to steal another vehicle since the police know the make and model he's driving, the guy he tries to jack starts beating on him and he kills that guy to. This time in front of Samantha.
That's when she learns the truth about daddy, but he's still keeping something from her. The team learns that Eddie's father killed himself and Eddie was left with his body for two days when he was a child. They figure since he knows the situation is hopeless for him, Eddie is going to take Sam to the same place his father killed himself and let history repeat itself.
The team arrives and they get Eddie to let Sam go, but when Sam realizes what Eddie's planning to do, she rushes back in refusing to leave him. She actually manages to convince Eddie not to kill himself. She said she'd rather get letters from him and to visit him in prison than to have him dead. Afterwards he gives himself up and is arrested.
I have to be honest and say I could have done without Hotch and his visit with Hayley and The Reaper. I didn't really buy it. Hotch seemed to have dealt with his father issues with Jack quite some time ago. We saw a lot of episodes where Hotch was being a good and loving father to Jack. So why did he need that little speech from Hayley.
Also, Hayley and Hotch were divorced when she died. So what was the whole giving him her wedding ring. Besides Hotch already moved on from Hayley when he got involved with Beth. Hotch's side trip to the afterlife just didn't make much sense. And why have The Reaper pop up there, as well.
While I appreciate the show didn't want to do the afterlife with any religious overtones, why have the anteroom to either heaven or hell be a movie theater. And while the movie was called The Decision, I never really got the feeling there was any decision or struggle from Hotch to stay with Hayley and not go back. She even pretty much told him when it was time for him to go.
Don't get me wrong, I liked Hotch and Hayley as a couple. So it was nice seeing them together but a couple of things ruined that enjoyment. One was injecting Beth into the scenes. And the other big spoiler was The Reaper. While I can see Beth was being sold as Hotch letting Hayley go and moving on with Beth. What the heck did The Reaper add to the episode? From where I was standing he added absolutely nothing.
It was a nice idea, but it might have worked better right after Hayley died when Hotch was in deep mourning for her. And it was kind of farfetched that Hotch suddenly collapsed from injuries he sustained from the original attack of The Reaper on him that was how many years ago? Wouldn't Hotch's doctors at the time have noticed the damage when they had him open saving his life? Would they have really left parts of him injured so he could almost die at another time? If that's the case, Hotch needs to get new doctors.
The show made a big deal about Hayley and The Reaper returning, perhaps to bring in viewers who were curious how they could manage that. But material really didn't live up to the promise.