Assistant Director Linda Barnes’ attempt to “restructure” the BAU ended the only way it could in the latest episode of Criminal Minds — with the team back together and her being told to keep her hands off the unit. Barnes made too mistakes and errors in judgment just in the last few episodes, setting herself up to fail.
She tried to take control of the unit, deciding which cases they’d take and dishing out orders she expected everyone to follow (or, more likely, fail to follow, to give her an excuse to fire one of them, like she did with J.J.) She also appeared to make her plans for the BAU a bit too known to those outside the FBI (including senators), given what we heard from Senator Mayhew after the team saved his daughter. Really, she stood no chance against this team.
Barnes Shouldn’t Have Been in the Field or Picked out Cases
It just took Linda going into the field with the team once and making a judgement call that she shouldn’t have made — interfering with the agents’ attempts to talk down an UnSub by putting an innocent woman’s life in danger and ultimately leading to the UnSub’s death — to prove that she may have experience in the field, but she belongs behind a desk.
She placed the blame for the outcome of that case on J.J. and the team at the time, which led to the reassignments, but it was a clear sign that she wasn’t the one who should be making those calls for the BAU. She knew well enough to take herself out of the field, but she insisted on J.J. running every decision by her after, and that included the cases they worked.
As we saw in “Last Gasp,” all Barnes cared about was the BAU making the FBI look good for the public. She wanted them to take cases that involved people the public would care about, “emotional victims.” J.J. argued that they needed to take cases that saved lives. She even told the assistant director the number of people who had died since she sidelined the BAU (26.) “People die when we don’t do our job,” she said.
The smart thing for Barnes to do at that time would have been to at least consider one of the cases J.J. brought to her. After all, sure, she’s had problems with how the team has been run in the past, but Barnes had to see that they got results and saved lives. Instead, she again turned down a case brought to her because she refused to see that photos weren’t staged and the woman in them was actually terrified for her life and then dead.
If not for the team’s involvement, despite her orders to not investigate and her splitting them up (and forcing Rossi into retirement), Senator Mayhew’s daughter would have likely been dead by the time she was found. It shouldn’t have taken an act like that for Barnes to acknowledge what the BAU has accomplished.
Barnes Could Have Used the Team to Her Advantage
The team has proven they get the job done. If she was really smart, Barnes would have used them to her advantage while still trying to maintain control of the unit. Instead of trying to shape their work into something the FBI could use for good PR, she looked at the optics of cases from the beginning when choosing.
In “Last Gasp,” she didn’t care if a woman’s life could be in danger until it was a senator’s daughter. Imagine how good it would have looked for her if she had been able to try to take credit for some of their work rather than have Prentiss tell a senator that she fired an agent for looking into a case that led to the rescue of his daughter.
Barnes’ Reassignments Were a Joke
She thought the BAU was a rogue unit that needed restructuring, so she reassigned most of the team to different divisions. Prentiss went to the FBI’s version of Internal Affairs (with the worst stakeout partner.) Tara was stuck listening to partners’ problems (with Mulder and Scully look-alikes.) Rossi was forced into retirement and working on a movie set where the actor didn’t appreciate his input. Garcia was stuck in a position where she couldn’t help like she did with the BAU. J.J., Luke and Simmons were still in the BAU but unable to do their jobs.
Barnes had to realize that the team would come together and eventually work a case she ordered J.J. not to, given what she saw from them. Putting them in positions that they’d want out of as soon as possible just meant it happened sooner. J.J. even warned her that they’d take her down with them, so Barnes only had herself to blame for how it turned out for her. Did she really think she could fire one of them (J.J.) and then not have the others fight for her to get her job back? Prentiss wasn’t above telling the senator what she’d done once it was clear he was on their side because of the way she’d treated them.
Barnes Was Too Eager to Change the BAU
Senator Mayhew had heard about the plans to shut down the BAU and spread profilers out to the field offices, and Barnes was quick to tell him it was just one option to increase efficiency. She was clearly trying to salvage whatever she could, but she had to have known already that she’d lost.
It’s just like how she had the team’s reassignments already chosen (for the most part) after placing the blame for what happened in “Annihilator” on them. She jumped the gun then — she wanted it to turn out a certain way, so it did — and here, she wanted to move forward with a BAU that looked like she wanted and could control, even though her plan was a bit extreme.
She knew they were the “crown jewel” of the FBI, but she didn’t seem to consider that it would only take them rescuing one person, the right person, for her plans to become impossible. She seemed to rely too much on the power she thought she held over the unit due to her professional relationship with the director, but all it took was someone with more power to put an end to that.
The director did tell her to keep her hands off the BAU, so it’s likely this is the last we’ll see of her and the last time she’ll be a problem for the team.
What did you think of Linda Barnes’ attempt to restructure the BAU? Do you think she set herself up to fail?
Criminal Minds season 13 airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Criminal Minds Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of CBS)