Only Criminal Minds can take a twisted literary work and then twist it some more for a case. The nine circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno are bad enough, so why not make that worse by showing how an UnSub would act them out? After all, this is the show that constantly gives reasons to double check the locks on your windows and doors.

Meanwhile, “Burn” is very much Kirsten Vangsness’ episode, and she’s absolutely brilliant in it. It’s so easy to get used to seeing Garcia at her colorful desk while the rest of the team is out in the field, so when she leaves the office, you know it’s for something serious. This time, she leaves her desk and her comfort zone to face her worst nightmare, something Morgan thinks makes her beyond crazy.

Unfortunately, the second episode of the season doesn’t follow up on what happened at the end of the premiere (the introduction of the black market of the Internet, where men can buy women of their choosing), but I am okay with that because the only time they could have would be at the very end, and it has to end with Morgan there for Garcia after their separation throughout the hour.

Criminal Minds Season 10 Premiere Recap: Creeps Everywhere >>>

The Common Thread: Horrible Ways to Die

Kevin fills in for Garcia for this case, which sees the team travel to Seattle to investigate after two men are found killed. One was strangled, and the other was run over by a car, but both had similar mutilation around their mouths. A third victim is drowned before the jet is even in the air and found near the second victim’s abduction site. However, when Morgan and Reid go to the M.E., Reid discovers that what were thought to be slash marks in the victims’ mouths are actually roman numeral numbers (III and V), meaning they have the third, fourth and fifth victims, and there are two more bodies out there somewhere.

After JJ and Hotch talk to the family, they tentatively think that the UnSub is going after paternal figures who have a tough love mentality with teenage boys. Rossi and Kate figure out that the UnSub is employing a “bump and grab” maneuver on an empty stretch of road, so the UnSub is controlled.

The UnSub has his next victim while the BAU is still trying to figure it out, and this guy is put in a coffin (above ground) and burned alive as he begs and says he loves his family. He was just trying to teach him a lesson about right and wrong. Well, to the UnSub, that’s what he’s doing too, but this is a much more permanent lesson. It’s this victim that makes Reid realize what the UnSub is doing.

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here

Their UnSub is recreating the circles of hell, and he’s already killed through the sixth. The murders are symbolic of a father figure who hurt him in the past, but in the Inferno, Dante had Virgil. Who’s his Virgil? Kevin turns to the Internet to find who’s been ranting about the Inferno online (but ruling out students complaining about homework) and finds Nathan Chow’s blog, where he posted about killing people at his school just like in the Inferno. By the time they get to his dorm (a single, of course), he’s gone, but they find the explosives under his bed (and if he had had a roommate, that guy would be asking for a single ASAP) as Nathan returns. He tries to run, but Morgan easily catches up to him, and in the interrogation, he confesses to the murders and just keeps repeating “Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here.” The thing is, he thinks the first victim was a female, but he wasn’t. Oh, and he thinks he’s Dante. Sorry, kid.

But what’s Nathan’s connection to the UnSub? The UnSub was his high school AP English teacher, Justin Leu, and he gave him an early edition of the Inferno. Justin is known for being a tough teacher, and when a student commented to him that his dad would kill him if he got a B, he changed it to an A because he remembered what his father did to him and his brother for their B and B- grades. He was abusive and would lock them up in the shed. Justin’s brother, Todd, got the worst of it, and when Justin would bring him food, they’d repeat, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Todd killed himself. The profilers realize that Justin is metaphorically going on this journey with him, and his trigger was his father’s death.

By that point, Justin has his next victim, a father who slapped his son after finding out about his cavities, and he pushes him into the grave where he has waiting in the backyard. “Shut up, Dad,” he tells him. Justin sees his father spewing all the hateful words he used to say as he begins to bury him. “You think this is painful?” Justin asks. “Wait ’til you get to hell.” Morgan and JJ are able to stop him. “Don’t let your father destroy you more than he already has,” Morgan tells him, and Justin apologizes to his father as he’s cuffed.

[Video] Criminal Minds Sneak Peek: Is Garcia Visiting the Man she Shot a Good Idea? >>>

Facing Her Nightmare

We already know from the premiere that Garcia’s having nightmares, and the very first scene of “Burn” offers a look at one of them, and she’s the one in the execution chair while Morgan can only watch. After a nightmare like that, I can’t blame her for wanting to find some way to put a stop to them, and for Garcia, that means going to Texas to face the man she shot to tell him that she never wanted him to end up on Death Row. She just wanted him locked up for life because killing him doesn’t bring back anyone he killed (true) and it’s just bad karma (a very Garcia thing to say). She wants Morgan to have her back, but he doesn’t, and the only real light-hearted moment here is when Rossi wonders, “Where’s Garcia and Morgan? Are they finally having that love child?” when neither shows up for the roundtable. No, Rossi, and this is awkward because Morgan walks in as he’s asking.

Morgan is very clear about his feelings about what Garcia is doing, going so far as to comment, “that really depends on your definition of sick,” when Reid asks about her absence. Morgan does tell Reid where Garcia is once they’re alone, which leads to one of the best scenes of the episode, as Reid admits that he gets how Garcia is feeling because he felt the same way back when he shot the L.D.S.K. (Remember when Timothy Omundson guest starred back in season 1 as Phillip Dowd, Hotch had to kick Reid to get him his gun and Reid had to take the kill shot, all after failing his shooting qualifications?) At first, Reid felt nothing, and then he obsessed and looked at photos of Dowd as a ranger, studied his cases and his patients and tried to see if there was some way he could have been stopped before he came along. He moved on by putting the photos of those he killed on his wall. They had lives too, Reid explains. Such a great scene. Also, I love callbacks like this when they remember those one-off cases that did have an impact on these agents.

Garcia’s prison visit gets off to an awkward start when another woman visiting someone thinks she’s there to see her “boo” because of what she’s wearing and then tells her the entire story about the man she’s visiting. It gets worse when she comments that they’re frying someone tomorrow. Garcia runs into a problem when she’s turned away by the guard because Greg doesn’t want to see her, but she won’t be deterred and leaves him a note. “Chocolate Moose? It’s Baby Girl, hi. Clearly we’re both into S&M,” she leaves Morgan a voicemail as he continues to dodge her calls and she keeps calling. Even though Garcia had to do something she hasn’t done before by picking up that gun and she’s having those nightmares, she’s very much Garcia as she says on the message that Greg will be sorry because “he’s not hanging out with me.”

That continues when Greg calls and agrees to see her, and she rambles because she’s nervous. She tells him what she needs to say, that she knows he tried to hurt her and her friend but she never wanted him to end up on Death Row and she tried to stop it, but he wants to know why she’s really there. He says it’s for herself, and he’s done talking, done feeling guilty because he has hours to live and the last thing he needs is this. He’s a killer, and he can’t change that. So why did he agree to see her? Because no one else came to see him, no one called him. No friends, no family. He doesn’t want to die alone, and he wants someone there. When she protests that she can’t, he says he was right that she was there for herself and has the guard escort him out.

After leaving Morgan another voicemail admitting that she made things worse by coming and thinking she could bring her uplifting spirit to Death Row, she does go to Greg’s execution, and his final words are “Thank you.” When she gets home, Morgan is there waiting to hug her as she cries.

Criminal Minds Season 10 Burning Questions: Relationships, Reid’s Mother and a Long-Term UnSub>>>

Criminal Minds season 10 airs Wednesdays at 9pm on CBS.

Want to add Criminal Minds to your very own watch-list? Download BuddyTV Guide for free for your phone. 

(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.