Criminal Minds‘ mid-season finale isn’t an episode that will have you talking and counting down the days to see what happens immediately after it, but it is what you expect when you turn on your TV on a Wednesday night at 9pm and tune in to CBS.

The episode begins with the UnSub setting a car on fire, which seems to promise an exciting hour, but unfortunately, “Amelia Porter” doesn’t quite live up to those expectations. That’s not to say that it’s not a good episode, but maybe it’s because there are all these shows that seem to go big for mid-season finales that when a show doesn’t, it’s noticeable.

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The BAU identifies the UnSub much earlier than other episodes, and so it becomes a matter of figuring out what he wants and where he’s going and putting together the pieces before someone else ends up dead. Given how Travis Caldwell plays Benton, the UnSub, I’m not at all surprised when they figure out what’s really going on.

Why Kill a Security Guard and a Couple?

The UnSub stabs a security guard and takes his gun and kills a couple, leaving the profilers to worry that he could go on a spree. What they don’t know is that he has two kids, Andy and Rebecca, with him. Andy tries to keep the UnSub calm and even offers up a friend’s family’s cabin as a hideout, all while also making sure that he knows that Rebecca needs food and water if he doesn’t want another body on his hands.

When Reid and Kate check out the couple’s house, they find holes dug in the backyard, and knowing that the couple returned home early from a trip, they realize that they must have surprised the UnSub, which is why they were killed. (The guard was killed for his weapon.) Did the UnSub used to live there? Garcia does some digging and finds that notorious killer Amelia Porter is a former resident. She and her much younger lover, Benton (the UnSub), got high and raped and killed his sister. Amelia fled, and Benton served time. He was released two days ago. Andy and Rebecca are his sister’s kids.

What Did Benton Do When He Got Out of Jail?

Benton only served 12 years because he was willing to testify and he was young, but since she fled, there have only been two sightings, in Canada, of Amelia. When the team checks out his father’s house, they find his father dead, and it’s easy for them to figure out what happened based on the scene left behind. Benton went home because he had nowhere else to go, and while Andy let him in, his father, Oren, wasn’t happy to see him again — and made it clear. Over dinner, things reached the boiling point, Oren went to attack and Benton killed him. He knew that the police would never believe him and so he took the kids as his insurance policy.

According to the profile, Benton believes that his only choice is fight or flight. He’s armed and dangerous, and this is a very volatile situation. One wrong move could result in more deaths.

Andy visited Benton twice in prison and wrote him three letters, so he may be empathetic. While Andy may be helping Benton out enough to keep his sister safe, when he gets the chance, he takes it. Once he knows that Rebecca’s seatbelt is buckled, he crashes the car, but unfortunately, Benton comes to and shoots him. He then shoots a good Samaritan who stops to see what happened and drives off in her car with Rebecca. It’s the car he burns at the beginning of the episode.

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Why Is Benton Holding Rebecca?

When Rebecca brings up Benton putting her on his shoulders when she was a kid, he tells her to stop trying to bond like her brother did, and that’s when she realizes that he shot him and he didn’t die in the accident like he said he did. As Benton explains, he tried to kill him, so he had to pay him back. “I always get my payback,” he promises. The way he looks at her creeps me out, and I’m about 95% sure why he’s keeping her and his plans once he gets to where he’s going.  

Andy survives being shot and tells Morgan and Kate that he was only pretending to help Benton to protect his sister, but when they check out the cabin he told him about, there’s no one there. Instead, they take a closer look at the area near where Benton set fire to the car. Fortunately, hikers that crossed Benton and Rebecca’s paths call it in, so they can narrow down their search.

The warden at the prison reports that Benton stayed a loner, which is odd. He didn’t need any new social connections because he had one: Amelia. And it’s to Amelia that Benton takes Rebecca. Benton just followed Amelia’s old plan, which he isn’t supposed to be part of, and she realizes that he kidnapped Rebecca. So what does he want? Exactly what I feared. That’s when, on their way to Benton, the profilers realize that Amelia wasn’t the dominant partner everyone thought she was; Benton is. He was obsessed with his sister after their mother died, and that fantasy played out when he raped and killed her. He wants to do the same thing with Rebecca.

Benton tells Amelia that he wants to relive the “most exciting moment” in their lives, but it’s a moment she just wants to forget because she was high and he made her last time. When Rossi, Reid and Kate burst into the house, Benton takes Rebecca hostage. Amelia tells them that she ran because no one would believe her over a 17-year-old boy. Rossi and Reid try to talk Benton down, tell him that he led them to her and they just want Amelia, but as Amelia goes to run and Reid grabs at her, Rebecca turns, a gun goes off and Benton goes down. Rebecca and Andy are reunited, and that’s just another trauma to add to their lives.

New Romances for Hotch and Rossi

Hotch and Beth may be able to win the award for the quietest breakup on TV because it’s been long enough since it happened off-screen that Hotch has taken Jack to Orlando on vacation to be distracted and is ready to meet someone new. But what happened to Beth? Well, she had to go be the First Lady — I mean, she moved to Hong Kong to run a major gallery.

Rossi briefly suggests Hotch turn to online dating but then agrees that’s a bad idea. (Anyone else wondering about the online black market of people introduced at the end of the premiere and teased with Meg? Any time the Internet is even mentioned on Criminal Minds now, I want to see something mentioned about it. This wait for more of that is killing me.)

Instead, he takes Hotch as his wingman to go see the jazz singer who “intrigues” him, and after he sends over a bottle of champagne, she introduces herself and her friend. The women do a little profiling of their own and deduce they work for the FBI, and Rossi can’t be more obvious when he leaves Audrey, who’s new in town, to talk to Aaron “Tour Guide” Hotchner. It’s playful enough that it seems to be just what Hotch needs right now.

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Criminal Minds season 10 airs Wednesdays at 9pm on CBS. It returns January 14.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Meredith Jacobs

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

If it’s on TV — especially if it’s a procedural or superhero show — chances are Meredith watches it. She has a love for all things fiction, starting from a young age with ER and The X-Files on the small screen and the Nancy Drew books. Arrow kicked off the Arrowverse and her true passion for all things heroes. She’s enjoyed getting into the minds of serial killers since Criminal Minds, so it should be no surprise that her latest obsession is Prodigal Son.