SPOILER ALERT: Plot details for Criminal Minds Season 14, Episode 2 “Starter Home” will be discussed heavily below. Read at your own risk!
After the harrowing cult episode of last week, it’s nice to see the BAU team catching a bit of a break from being a part of the crime and instead solving the crime. As the seasons went by, and the crimes the BAU tackled grew progressively more horrific, it’s astonishing to think of how each scene the BAU comes across can get worse with every passing episode.
This week’s episode, “Starter Home,” ensured that the show could still shock its audience and unearth something fresh, and yet still gruesome, for their newest crime: mummies.
“Starter Home” has David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) sent to South Carolina to check out a home in which a mummified corpse had been discovered. Upon his arrival with the local police to investigate where the body had been uncovered in the home, the police’s dog began howling and scratching at the floorboards and walls of the house. To their increasing surprise and horror, it was not one body that had been hidden within the house; by the time the BAU team was called in, the police and Rossi had unearthed five mummified bodies, and they were still finding more.
During the investigation, the medical examiner recounted to the BAU that these bodies were all over twenty years old. This information appeared to point to the idea of this being a cold case. However, as time went on and more bodies were found, they discovered that these bodies were fresh, approximately a year old. These, alongside the older corpses, were all female. This discovery could only mean one thing: there is a copycat at play.
The team comes to realize that the original owners of the home – Dorothy and Karl Elgin – were the original perpetrators, or at least Karl had been before his death. Dorothy, upon being visited at the hospital she was at and questioned of her involvement in the initial crimes, committed suicide before she could reveal anything useful to the team. Yet, it was her death that brought forth the idea that she was protecting someone, and that someone could be her child.
They were only off by a little bit. The Elgins had a daughter named Leeanne, and after she gave birth out of wedlock, Leeanne allowed her boyfriend’s parents, the Milburns, to raise the child while she ran away from her parents’ home. The Elgins discovered this plan and killed the Milburns before kidnapping the child and raising him.
Searching for the motivations, stressors, and triggers behind an UNSUB’s actions is what the BAU is famous for, and there is no exception here. The Elgins – and later, the UNSUB – were desperate for a surrogate to replace the daughter they lost. They would invite home younger girls, all brunette and around the same age as Leeanne, and initially they would be welcoming and delightful. However, once the girls showed resistance to staying there, the Elgins would mummify them so that their “daughters” would never leave them.
Criminal Minds has yet to find a storyline that would not make anyone paranoid and horrified of the common person’s innermost dark thoughts.
As mentioned before, despite the heinous crimes and acts that the team witnesses, it was great to see the team back together again. Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) appear to be adjusting as well as they can be following the events of last week’s premiere. I was more confident in Reid for his ability to bounce back; while he has suffered more than the average person has, it’s due to these past events that have allowed him to retain a thick skin for criminal acts done against him.
I was surprised that Garcia had jumped back into work as if she hadn’t been rescued from a cult literally days ago, and was initially apt to agree with Prentiss (Paget Brewster) when she reiterated that Garcia could take some time off. Yet, Garcia shrugs it off and states that “must go through a lot” is the job description of anyone that works in the BAU. This quip not only made me smile from hearing Garcia’s wit, but also commend her for her developing bravery since she is no field agent. Plus, she’s not wrong.
We also get to see shots of Rossi with his ex-wife Krystall (Gail O’Grady), and their relationship appears to be flourishing after their shared vacation in Savannah before the episode’s events. Rossi deserves some happiness in his private life, and it looks as though Krystall and her daughter Portia (Danielle C. Ryan) are the ones to give it to him. Even though Rossi has a history as a ladies’ man and a serial divorcee, seeing him happy with a family outside of the BAU team is always wonderful to see.
Criminal Minds returns on CBS on Oct. 17 at 9 p.m. CT.