The "Criminal Minds" Season 8 premiere, "The Silencer," introduces the character Alex Blake (Jeanne Tripplehorn). She replaces Prentiss (Paget Brewster), who left to work for Interpol at the conclusion of Season 7. Alex is a welcome addition to the show. She seems to tie the group together rather than divide it, as Prentiss sometimes did. The episode was as scary, as always, and a great introduction of the new character.
Alex and Garcia have a rocky start
Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) hates change. She can't let go of Prentiss, having just arrived home after a visit with Prentiss in London. Garcia did a background check on Alex and learned that she is highly intelligent and talented, but starts bad-mouthing her in front of the team anyway -- voicing concerns that Alex could be mean. It backfires when she realizes Alex is standing behind her.
Garcia is immediately proven wrong. Alex is friendly with a bit of a "girl next door quality" that is easy for viewers to like. She's also tough, but not egotistical. She shares these qualities with both Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) and the other team members, tying those two factions of team together in a sense. Sure, Alex is not as brusk as Reid, but she brings new skills to the fold. Her interesting linguistic skills add another fascinating aspect to the analysis of Unsub behaviors. By the end of the episode, even Garcia is happy to have Alex on board.
The Silencer is an interesting Unsub
The Silencer (Troy Kotsur) is a complex character. The idea of the The Silencer brings a compelling aspect to the episode. He was born deaf but was forced by his mother to get a cochlear implant. Because the mother was horribly abusive, the implant only served to make her abuse unbearable. Now he could hear all of the vile things she screamed at him, and he couldn't turn the sound off. It was like non-stop torture for him.
It's easy for viewers to sympathize with the character. Torture brought on by mere noise would be enough to turn anyone insane. The Silencer is evil and cruel, torturing victims by sewing their mouths shut while they are still alive. But he also gives a glimpse into how evil is born, which is both fascinating and terrifying.
Alex has history with Strauss
Strauss (Jayne Atkinson) basically ruined Alex's life for 20 years by allowing her to take the fall for arresting the wrong suspect in a highly political case. Since nobody on the team likes Strauss, this type of history could be a good thing for Blake. In fact, it could serve to bring the team even closer together.
A surprise ending
The final scene shows photographs of the entire BAU team being developed in an unknown darkroom. The scene seems like it has been done before. One may recall some crime dramas with an "evil film developer" scene, where photos of characters the viewer cares about are being developed. The scene was ominous, but familiar. Let's just hope that when the team is faced with this case, that there will be the original twists and turns that fans have come to expect from "Criminal Minds."
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