Criminal Minds‘ BAU team opened Season 11 down not just one but two team members, with Kate Callahan having pressed pause on her career and “JJ” Jareau still on maternity leave. But by episode’s end, Hotch had made a new hire, in The Talk co-host Aisha Tyler’s Dr. Tara Lewis.
Did he make a good call?
To be clear, JJ is on her way back, but “just not right now,” seeing as she’s still getting used to the upgrade from one kid to two. “Take your time,” Hotch reassures her, even though the team was jumping on a big new case. “Your job will be here when you’re ready.”
Hotch then went about interviewing candidates for the position but only got as far as the first one, Dr. Lewis, who came with high regards from the San Francisco field office. Thing is, the psychologist has spent 12 years interview serial killers after they are behind bars. Now, she declares, she wants to help catch them.
The interview is cut short by breaking developments in the new case, involving an UnSub who facepaints his vics in the style of commedia dell’arte‘s Pulcinella, though with the black and white sections inverted. When clues indicate the UnSub can’t eat solid food, it supports the theory that something must be wrong with his mouth. And indeed, we later learn, his piehole was recently mangled by a gunshot to the face, which is now still crudely stitched up.
Eventually, it is gleaned that the UnSub is Giuseppe Montolo, a contract killer who gets work via the Silk Road network within the Dark Net — and now he is targeting past clients. When Hotch & Co. discover that there’s a mole within law enforcement helping Giuseppe, they pinpoint Phil Wilson, a SWAT team leader who, with his wife Betty, has been coerced to abet.
Dr. Lewis, whom Hotch told to “wait” as they descended into this manhunt, gets precious little to do until the very end, when she must calmly pass her voice off as Betty’s during a phone call, knowing the UnSub is listening in. Lewis pulls it off and nearly succeeds in cuing Phil to duck so that the sniper can take out Giuseppe behind him, but Phil gets ballsy and swivels to pop the guy instead. As Derek chases down the UnSub, Reid talks Phil out of taking his life, pointing out that Betty will need his testimony if she is to get any leniency.
As the hour winds down, Derek confronts Giuseppe, who though hospitalized and seemingly with no cards to play, nonetheless taunts that he and his hitman ilk will proceed to target “The Dirty Dozen.” Meanwhile at the office, Hotch and Lewis resume their interview — 36 hours later! — though Garcia rightly surmises that she can send the other candidates home.