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Criminal Minds Season 4 Episode 21: A Shade Of Gray

Criminal MindsThe last episode before May sweeps was pretty formulaic and predictable. It might have been more engaging if I hadn’t seen this plot before on a million other crime shows. We get it already, TV. Kids are evil sociopaths.

Episode Summary

In New Jersey,  little Kyle Murphy has disappeared and when the BAU arrives his parents, Dan and Sarah, are making a plea to the news media for his safe return. Dan and Sarah are helped and comforted by Detective Lancaster, a family friend, who has been investigating the murders of two other young boys.

The BAU arrests a registered pedophile, Hugh Rollins, who becomes the prime suspect in the other two murders. When Kyle’s body is discovered and some of his belongings are found in Rollins’ house, it looks like Rollins will go down for all three deaths. However, while the other two murders are undeniably tied to Rollins, the profile doesn’t fit with how Kyle died. It doesn’t help that Rollins’ confession, which he gave to avoid a harsher prison, doesn’t match the details of Kyle’s death.

After further investigating, the team discovers evidence that Kyle died at home and that there was a cover-up to make it look like Rollins abducted and killed him. Lancaster, who is trying to protect the Murphys, confesses to the crime but the BAU doesn’t believe him.

Eventually, the true story comes out. Kyle’s older brother, Danny, confesses to murdering his little brother after Kyle accidentally broke his model plane. Dan and Sarah tearfully tell the team that Danny kept saying he was sorry so they thought it was best to cover for him by framing Rollins. However, Prentiss observes Danny’s total lack of remorse and is horrified when Danny casually admits to previously killing a family pet.  She informs the devastated Murphys that their surviving son is a sociopath and will never feel guilt or empathy.

High Points

The acting was solid all around in this episode, particularly by John Billingsley, who played Hugh Rollins. He managed to make a sickening, cowardly, and undoubtedly guilty character somewhat sympathetic. Spencer Garrett also stood out as Lancaster, who wanted to solve the crime but also protect his friends.

Low Points

As I already mentioned, this type of plotline has been done to death. Off the top of my head, I can think of CSI, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and CSI: Miami episodes that have dealt with sociopathic children who kill their sibling or another child. This wasn’t a bad episode but it didn’t add anything new to the trope.

One of the reasons I like this show is the funny or revealing character moments we get in the episodes. This one really didn’t have any of those beats. If I hadn’t watched an episode before, I’d think all the members of the BAU team were generic and one-dimensional.

Next week: Moonlight‘s Alex O’Loughlin returns to TV as the latest unsub the BAU is trying to catch.

Topics: Criminal Minds | Comments Off on Criminal Minds Season 4 Episode 21: A Shade Of Gray

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