In the season’s eighth episode, “The Wheels on the Bus,” the team investigates a mass-abduction near Washington DC. Read on to find out what the Criminal Minds writers have in-store for us this week.

Not Your Average School Day

During a seemingly normal afternoon, a school bus is flagged down on the road and two Unsubs board the bus, taking everyone on it prisoner. There are 24 students and two adults on the bus but the adults are killed shortly thereafter. The BAU and local law enforcement engage all their resources to find the victims and Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) eventually traces the bus to an abandoned barn. The now-empty bus and 14 of the students have been left behind, meaning 10 kids are still missing.

Game On

After piecing together information about the 10 missing kids as well as details on their abduction, Rossi (Joe Mantegna) realizes that the Unsubs are role-playing a video game called Gods of Combat. In the game, you take public transportation as a way to choose your players and the object of the game is to kill as many of your opponents as possible.

The others tease Rossi about his choice of games but his knowledge helps them profile the Unsubs. The Unsubs suffer from an extreme addiction to gaming and something made them blur the lines between fantasy violence and actual violence. The Unsubs also happen to be brothers.

The Unsubs force their hostages to play a real version of the game and one of the kids is forced to kill another in order to survive. The team finally tracks down the Unsubs’ location and they manage to arrive before any of the remaining hostages are murdered. During the take-down, one of the Unsubs is killed, making his brother the “winner” of their twisted game.

The level of violence in video games and its impact on impressionable youths has been a much-debated issue over the years. Society will continue debating the issue for years to come but the message in tonight’s Criminal Minds episode is pretty clear — killing someone in a video game is not the same as real-world murder, something that should never be taken lightly.

A Relaxing Evening for Two

In other news, Garcia’s former flame gets pulled in to help with the case and things get a bit awkward. At one point, Kevin helps Garcia figure out how to track the Unsubs and she rewards him with a kiss. Once the case is over, Garcia thanks Kevin for his help and invites him out for a drink. Unfortunately, Kevin already has plans with someone else, presumably female. (Are Kevin and Garcia headed for a reunion or in for more heartbreak?)

After Kevin leaves, Garcia tells Rossi that she wishes she could simply unplug everything for the night. Rossi gets Garcia to hand over her gadgets — two cell phones and a tablet — and invites her to his place so they can listen to Tony Bennett on vinyl and drink 18-year-old Scotch. Garcia agrees and thanks him for the offer, just as her third cell-phone rings. This is an oddly up-beat ending to a dark and violent episode but Garcia’s avoidance of all things tech-related makes sense with the theme of the episode.

Do you have any thoughts on tonight’s case or Garcia’s relationship with Kevin? If so, let us know in the comments section.

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(Image courtesy of CBS)

Megan Cole

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV