In “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy”, it was revealed that Director Erin Strauss (Jayne Atkinson) was suffering from alcoholism, and her disease had begun to affect her work. Though Hotch (Thomas Gibson) and Morgan (Shemar Moore) dealt with the situation, Strauss’ problem seemed to come out of nowhere, yet the writers had laid the ground-work for this revelation in earlier episodes.
The first indication of Strauss’ drinking problem came last season, when she asked Hotch to step in and cover her responsibilities while she handled a personal situation. In the first episode of the season, “It Takes a Village”, Strauss’ behavior seemed a bit odd, but one could have chalked it up to the relief and stress brought on by one of her agent’s returning from the dead.
Yet, there was also a scene where she came back from a break and subsequently popped a mint, possibly indicating that she had been drinking as a way to cope with her stress and used the mints to hide the smell of alcohol on her breath. This is only presumption, but I imagine the scene was placed in that episode to foreshadow the reveal of Strauss’ alcoholism.
Though alcoholism is a disease many people struggle with, those people also need to be responsible about how they handle their disease, and Strauss was not. Her previous attempt to get sober clearly failed, yet she continued to perform her duties while drinking on the job. On top of that, she went into the field with other agents and put all of their lives on the line with her behavior.
Strauss definitely should have known better, but no one is perfect and everyone make mistakes. Unfortunately, for a character who was already unpopular with the fans, this situation certainly did not help the audience’s perception of Strauss, and many fans expressed their hope that the character would not return after her last appearance.
I have always thought of Strauss as a compelling character, and I hope the writers have her deal with her illness and return to the job. But if not, I hope the writers at least tell us what became of her, like they did when Rachel Nichols departed the series and we learned that her character transferred to another team.
What about you? Would you like to see Strauss return and resume her duties or do you think it would be interesting to see someone new in that position?
(Image courtesy of CBS)