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Criminal Minds -- The Halloween Horror
Trick or Treat
In this case there's more trick than treat for the children the unsub preys upon.
Halloween seems like a fun holiday for kids. They dress up in costumes and go door-to-door begging for candy. But even when I was a kid and it was more simpler and innocent times, there was always a darkness to the holiday. I remember my mother having to inspect the candy I got because she was afraid one of the people might have placed a razor blade in the candy or injected poison in it. There would be stories every year of how a child had found a razor blade in his or her candy or was poisoned. And as time has changed Halloween has gotten even darker. Last year the big news story was that the police were keeping watch on sex offenders who'd gotten released from prison to make sure they didn't go out and attack any children.
Even though Criminal Minds at its best of times is a very dark show, this episode actually featured a more lighter Hotch. Hotch even smiled and his face didn't crack in two. He was on a mission to get Jack the Halloween costume of his dreams. Unfortunately, after giving it to Jack he wasn't allowed to stay home with Jack and enjoy the holiday with him. He got called into the office about another child.
The case begins with a woman at a pumpkin patch on Halloween looking for just the right pumpkin when she notices her son is missing. It looks like he may have been snatched, at first. Then she finds him and something else she didn't plan to find. 11 year old Joshua Parker who disappeared last Halloween and he isn't in very good shape.
It seems this isn't the first boy to disappear on Halloween. The first victim, a boy named Tommy, died after he was found. The team believes the boys are being kept in a wooden box for the year they're missing. And unfortunately, it appears the Halloween Horror has already got a new target in mind for this Halloween. A boy named Hunter. Also unfortunately, his family doesn't see the warning put out on TV warning parents not to let their kids go out alone this Halloween because they could be targeted.
The unsub is stalking Hunter and watching as he and his friends are out on Halloween egging peoples houses. When Hunter gets separated from his friends, the unsub wearing a skull mask nabs him and tosses him in the trunk of his car. Then he drives out to his lair and tosses Hunter into a hole in the ground. Afterwards he drives his car over the hole so no one can figure it's there and that Hunter is trapped beneath the car.
The team labels the unsub as a Fundamental Vigilante. He wants to punish boys he feels are bad. Actually, it's a lot more twisted than that. His abusive father locked him in a trunk one Halloween and his mother came home and killed his father. Then she got the unsub to help her dispose of his body. Now he's become his father and the boys he's punishing are really himself.
A woman comes to the team to say she thinks her brother is the one kidnapping those boys. She tells how her brother used to lock her in closets and that he tried to smother her. He also killed a bunch of cats. This leads the team to the unsubs mother who finally admits the whole truth and figures out where he's taken his latest victim.
It was driving me nuts when they were looking everywhere for Hunter but under the damn car. I suppose it never occurred to them to look under the car. After awhile they give up not being able to figure out where Hunter has been stashed. That's when the unsub's mother convinces him to tell where the boy is. The car is quickly moved and Hunter and taken out of the hole in the ground.
I suppose one or two things could happen in regards to Hunter. He'll never be bad again after being kidnapped for being a bad boy. Or he'll go the other way and become even worse than just a kid getting up to some Halloween mischief.
Hotch comes home to find Jack asleep and still in the costume Hotch got for him. It's too bad Hotch couldn't have been able to spend the night with Jack. But that's the way it goes with his job. If not for Hotch and the team Hunter wouldn't be back with his family, so the time he has to spend away from Jack helps others. And maybe what Jack will remember about the night is not that Hotch didn't take him out trick or treating but that his father got him the costume of his dreams.
I was shocked just how big Jack has gotten and wondered if they recasted him with someone else. He's growing up. It was nice seeing Hotch with Jack and seeing a much lighter Hotch. We haven't seen that for awhile. It was a refreshing change. And the whole scene with Hotch having to go to see the fortune teller friend of Garcia's to get the costume was the kind of scene the always sober Hotch doesn't usually have. Here's hoping we get more scenes of that with Hotch.
I'd read before watching the show that Thomas Gibson directed the episode and that his own real-life children played in the episode, but I wasn't sure which were his kids. Anyway, despite the Halloween Horror it was a very enjoyable episode.