What follows is a pêle-mêle of ideas, of what I thought of the episode.
At the start of the episode we have a nice scene with Hotch and Rossi, in Hotch’s office, talking on the phone with the Warden who tells them what he has been facing since his appointment, 6 months ago: two officers murdered, both left with a sock in their mouth (yuck!).
Criminal Minds, the guessing part is taken out in the first minute of the episode.
Another great feature of the episode is that there are lots of details. The viewer does have to pay attention to understand it all. Like why would an inmate, who was a sexual predator, be left doing meals distribution to other inmates locked in their cells? Usually this is done by a deserving inmate, so why this guy? Sexual predators often have to be keep away from other inmates for their own good. This inmate, as he distributes the meals, gives a warning to another prisoner: the feds are here, you better keep your mouth shut. Why is this guy saying this? Who is really pulling his strings? Guards or Prisoners? This will be answered later ,when he is murdered, and the team finds out it was done by another inmate, same who killed the guards, and why.
Love that we had so many interviews done by the team. There was lots of diversity in those interviews: some refused to talk, some said very little, others hinted they knew something but refused to talk... No one talks to the feds, and if they did, they made fun of what the profilers told them;
- Rossi: "Mr. Watson, Sorry for the wait"
- Watson: "I hope you all know I had to rearrange my entire schedule. I had back to back meetings after the conference call."
The way the episode is constructed it is as if the team are peeling the different layers of the prison until its rotten core is exposed. The team is looking for who is killing those guards, but as the team uncovers clues about the murders, they do find out why they were murdered. It is in retaliation for the illegal fighting and the guards betting on the result of fights they organize among the inmates. The man who is at the center of it all is an inmate, Patrick Butler, who was forced to participate in such a fight and killed his friend Devon White. So we have inmates killing guards, guards who are killing some of their charges, and the ring leader for the guards being Dale Shavers, the right hand man of the Warden.
Criminal Minds the women can take care of themselves. Yes, Kate is one badass agent who can fight. One great thing about badass Kate is that she is not written as a super-agent who can take down EVERYONE ala JJ. The fight scene was believable (great use of a chair!) but not once did I go, "Oh, come on!"
There was interesting little details in this episode. The look one of the guards gives at Morgan and Callahan when they are discussing the fact that they could also have a bigger pool of suspects if they include the guards; added suspicion on both sides (guards and FBI agents). The well read books, most were not in good shape; I took it as this being an old prison, were the corporation who refuse to even do security upgrades, would not care much about entertaining the inmates, not even providing a TV from what we could see, so books are the only distraction available to the inmates.
By the way, what's with not having any covers, is this a prison rule? And speaking of details, always loved to see all the work put into showing the characters personalities by showing some of their home/office decor; noticed the trophies/medals in Hotch's office. All those little details make it even more rewarding re-watching episodes.
About the writing,Virgil Williams is now my favorite writer on Criminal Minds. The only episode of his I never really liked was his homage to Frankenstein "There's No Place Like Home" which was a bit too implausible for me, but apart from that one, I have enjoyed all of his episodes. "Lockdown" was solid from start to finish. I like that Williams tried to keep the unveiling of the unsub(s) until the end. Doing an episode in a prison could have been pretty restrictive in both, possible action and list of suspects, but we got multiple suspects, multiple reasons for what they were doing and the action was more than just the team reading files and interviewing suspects. Some have seen some political agenda in Williams writing, black inmates killing white guards. Sure, on a very simple level, one could take this away after watching the episode, but there was more to this than that. It had more to do with the differences between the men behind bars and the ones locking those cells doors; sometimes it only comes down to who has the power over the other. Control, who had it and how they chose to use it.
This was the second episode this season where a Virgil Williams episode was directed by Criminal Minds' Star Thomas Gibson and once again they did excellent work together. First, I like that Williams doesn't make Hotch disappear just so Thomas can be free to have more time off camera. Hate when one of the cast is directing and their character is just put aside, worse, they go through a door never to be seen again! Thomas works here was all about setting up an atmosphere of what it is like to be in a prison; it is claustrophobic, everyone lives in close quarter, no privacy (cameras are almost everywhere), the undertone of violence in everything that is said or done in between those walls... Since everyone are all in close proximity to each other in a prison, Gibson did film very close to his cast and the action. The fights scenes, all filmed at very close quarters, make the viewer feel as if they are in the scene, that they too are in prison.
Thomas Gibson gave us one of the best scene of this season when we see Reid working the huge pile of files. That scene was amazing! In a few seconds we not only see how Reid works, his ability at high speed reading, but at how things are for Spencer compared to everyone else. We know Reid is a genius, but how to show this? Thomas Gibson did an amazing job at showing how Reid can go through LOTS of information in a short time, but also not just that, but how Reid is able to put together that information, sift through it and find clues. In the scene we see how different Reid reality can be compared to another team member, especially when he is in full genius mode; we see him work at an incredible speed while, when Hotch comes into the room, he is shown in slow motion. Just brilliant!
I have to mention the casting. Great casting, all those actors playing the inmates looks tough and mean.
I love to see Rossi decency, it came out again when he did bring back to the inmate his books and he showed him respect by calling him "Mr. Pritchett".
- Garcia (To Morgan): "take care of yourself"
- Morgan: "come on you know me"
- Garcia: "yeah I do, That's why I'm saying it"
Babygirl sure knows that Morgan too often gets into trouble, and boy, was she right!
I mentioned the music in this episode, here are the songs that were used:
- "Muddy Waters" by The Gospel Whiskey Runners
- "Echoes" by Handsome Jack
- "Ancient Light" by Allman Brown
I tried real hard to find something I didn't like in "Lockdown" but could not come up with anything! This Criminal Minds fan was totally happy with the episode. Williams and Gibson did great work once again and I hope that, if there is a season 11, they will both again work together as writer and director.
I give this episode a 9.5/10.