Say what you will about how much you hate the “To Be Continued…” end of an episode (trust me, I know how you feel), but at least we knew it was coming. We knew that the Criminal Minds season finale was a two-parter going into “Angels,” but, you know what? It doesn’t make it any easier.

The only part of the episode that’s not about the case is the very beginning, as the team laments on what they’re missing out – Blake’s husband flew in, JJ and Will were finally getting “adult time” – since Hotch called them in. The BAU then heads to Texas after Sheriff Coleman, who had worked with Cruz before, calls him about murdered prostitutes, the biggest case his town had ever seen, but things get a lot more complicated than the team is prepared for as the pieces come together.

Why Mess With Success?

That’s what Cruz has to say about Hotch’s team as he thanks him for taking the case and comments on their streak. As we see in the opening, the UnSub has a woman in the backseat of his truck, and after he throws her onto the ground, he shoots her in the back of the head. She’s Abigail, the third victim, and there are rope burns on her wrists and cuts on her back as well. Another prostitute, Hannah, was killed six months ago, and months before her, the first victim, Lucas, who had been arrested for soliciting prostitutes. The UnSub is escalating the torture with each victim: 5 cuts on Lucas, 9 on Hannah and 12 on Abigail, and they’re deeper with each victim. While the BAU is on its way, the girls in Texas are getting nervous, but Dinah is all, “Momma’s gotta eat,” so don’t worry about your dead friends, just bring her the money to make the man upstairs happy.

Reid and Morgan check out the bar (a.k.a., the only place to find working girls), and while Dinah claims that Abigail was “always off.” Tabitha, the girl Dinah had threatened the night before, makes a comment about Mack the Knife. Morgan tries to talk to her, even coaches her into making it look like nothing to Dinah while he passes her his card, but Dinah takes notice. JJ talks to Abigail’s sister, Carrie, who tells her Abigail had called her the night before she was killed and apologized for everything, saying it was her last chance to make things right because “they were coming to get her,” but she doesn’t know anything about a Mack the Knife.

That’s when Preacher Mills comes in with information about Lucas. After giving his spiel about how he doesn’t judge and embraces his flock, he reveals that Lucas was a male prostitute to help pay the bills after his father lost his job and his mother got sick. “We walk through life, pretending to be one thing when we’re really the other,” he says. He asks about the wounds, cementing himself as the local creepy preacher, just one of several strange characters in this town. Another has to be the local M.E., who declares that a “sharp” knife was used, didn’t run a rape kit because “she was a hooker,” didn’t test for drugs he thinks the killer used because “C.O.D. was a gunshot wound to the head” and isn’t even a doctor. Wait, what? He was elected to this position, and I can’t help but wonder if there was no one else at all available. With the news that Lucas was also a prostitute, there’s a new theory: no torture, but consensual S&M that ended with a gunshot instead.

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Two Leads Are Shot Down

That theory doesn’t last long once Tabitha’s body is found. Am I the only one who thinks that waiting for the obvious next victim to get attacked in their home is just the worst? The UnSub ties Tabitha’s body to a tree, and as Reid notes after he stops the Deputy from cutting her free (What, he took photos!), the cuts were postmortem. He also smells lavender around her legs, and Rossi asks him to look into it since the coroner is, well, that guy.

Carrie turns to Preacher Mills for answers, but his nice little speech about Abigail still being among them is interrupted when Belinda bursts in declaring that “they” are coming for her and asking if it’s Armageddon. No offense to Belinda, but her vision of Armageddon is pretty weak. Preacher Mills tells her he’ll keep her safe and go talk to the police about the “monster” out there.

The team gives the profile: white male, early 30s, a wound collector. He uses a lifetime of grievances as justification for violence, and he’s submissive in public. His display of Tabitha was a message. He knows the FBI is there, and he thinks he’s showing them that he’s smarter than they are. There’s also part of him that wants them to stop him and punish him. The profilers think they’ve found their guy when they identify Mack the Knife, thanks to Garcia digging through Tabitha’s records, but he’s a local school principal who did have contact with the victims (“Just assume we know everything,” Blake tells him when he’s surprised they know about the men), only he didn’t cut them. They cut him. He’s the opposite of their profile. So much for that.

What’s Preacher Mills Hiding?
Carrie shows up at the sheriff’s station and asks if Preacher Mills talked to them, and that’s when Reid figures out the significance of the lavender: spikenard. It’s religious, and now the finger is pointing at Preacher Mills, who’s busy confronting Dinah about the terrible job she’s doing keeping the girls safe. He wants his property clean, and he wants names of the men who like to get rough with the girls. Dinah tells him about Travis, a druggie who cut Belinda once, and about what she heard about the investigation and the cuts. They’re looking for someone who wants to clean up the streets. Mills goes to Travis, threatens him a bit (smashes a bottle over his head, pins him to a wall, you know, the usual) and tells him to “work a miracle” and find the guy framing him.

Yes, framing him. Preacher Mills may not have killed these prostitutes, but he’s not a good guy. Before he was Preacher Mills, he was Gordon Borrel, and he was arrested for cutting one of the girls who worked for him on the back, “marking his property,” as he called it, just like these victims. However, he’s not their guy. He was just cutting his girls as a punishment; he wanted them right back on the street working. Basically, he’s the exact kind of preacher I expect to find in this town. The UnSub wanted them to catch him, but he chose Preacher Mills for a reason. He can lead them to the UnSub.

The Real UnSub Is Revealed

Travis calls Preacher Mills back and tells him that he found the guy, but after he hangs up, the UnSub kills him and carries him out to his truck. Hello, Michael Trucco. (Guys, the drama of One Tree Hill finally got to Uncle Cooper.) So when Preacher Mills shows up to meet Travis, he finds his body and the bodies of two more girls inside the empty diner. Oh, and a table is set with guns. Because that’s how this UnSub works.

One of the deputies sees Preacher Mills enter the diner, and Reid tries to call him to tell him that they know he’s not the UnSub, but it’s not his call he answers. It’s the UnSub’s, and he’s calling to inform him that the FBI is on the way and they won’t believe a pimp – oh, he means a preacher – like him. Their deal changed, but hey, the UnSub at least left him guns to give him a fighting chance. “The hour of reckoning is upon you,” he says and wishes him luck.

Just as Reid finishes talking about establishing a perimeter, Mills shoots and all hell breaks loose. Reid goes down, and Morgan drags him back. When Morgan enters the diner, he too gets shot and goes down. Honestly, I’m more worried about Reid. It looks like Morgan only got hit in the vest. Sure, it’ll hurt, but just look at the photo above of Reid and try to tell me you’re not worried. (Also, spoiler alert! Check out the photos from the finale slideshow below.) And after that come those three words every TV fan dreads: “To Be Continued…”

Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays at 9pm on CBS.

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(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.