Criminal Minds kicks off its 10th season with a case involving an UnSub who cuts off the limbs of his victims, leaves their torsos on display to revisit them and sells limbs to another guy, but the most disturbing part of the premiere, “X,” comes at the very end, as we get a look at the arc for the season.

The season premiere also introduces Jennifer Love Hewitt as the newest team member, Kate Callahan, and her work — both before joining the BAU, with Andi Swann’s unit, and during her first case — speaks for itself. It also helps that the team already knows her, and she even bonds a bit with Garcia over cute animals and JJ and Morgan over job-related injuries. For now, she seems to be fitting in quite nicely, and there’s something about her that I do find likable, though I will admit I was a bit skeptical about Hewitt’s casting.

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Welcome to the Team, Kate Callahan

When we first meet Kate, she’s undercover and luring in a creep until he says the magic words, in this case, commenting that she’d look 15 once he put her in one of his outfits. “Are you ready?” She asks, the cue for her team to come in and make the arrest. “You know what amazes me, Mark? It’s that total losers just like you, complete cowards who prey on children, they fall for this every single time.” It amazes me, too, Kate.

Kate runs into Reid on the elevator, and Reid being Reid, he remembers that she sang karaoke at the Benjamin the night it closed. It gets a bit awkward when she comments that the place that took over is all techno and twerking, he says that’s not his thing, and she jokes with him. She then heads to talk to Hotch while the rest of the team wonders if candidate number 10 is going to be the one since Prentiss passed on returning to the team. All Garcia cares about is that she’s nice. That’s what’s important, right?

Kate proceeds to have the easiest job interview ever considering the position she’s interviewing for, and even she’s surprised that it only takes two minutes for Hotch to give her the job. That’s what happens when you have an impressive résumé. Hotch might not have any questions for her — other than if she has a go-bag — but she does have one for him: “How do you not take it with you?” It’s a very valid question, considering the cases they take, and it’s not until the end of the episode that he gives her an answer, the only one he can actually give her: “When you solve it, let it go.” As Kate replies, “easier said than done.”

The premiere also reveals that there is someone waiting at home for Kate, but their relationship is unclear. When she gets home from the case, a teenage girl is sleeping on the couch, having presumably fallen asleep writing a paper, and she comments that she hasn’t seen Kate in two days, suggesting a close relationship. However, she calls her “Kate,” so who is she?

From Dawson’s Creek to Limb Collector

As “X” begins, a kid is walking alone when he finds a torso and goes running, I assume to his parents to ask them why they let him wander off alone because he’s never going to do it again because he’s too young to see something like that — especially since there’s no real reason for him to be out there. Can he not enjoy the outside in a more populated area? That’s not the first torso left out on display, and it takes the team some time to actually get to the bottom of the case.

In the team’s defense, Frank does look good for the murders, especially since he’s been seen spending some quality time caressing a severed leg in his garage, and after that, the last thing I want to see is him with a leg ever again. These Dawson’s Creek alums sure do know how to bring the creepy to Criminal Minds. (Remember James Van Der Beek?) Well done, Kerr Smith. A lead points the finger in Frank’s direction, and Rossi and Kate are the “lucky” ones who get to talk to him. Not only does he make himself look guilty when he refuses to let them look around without a warrant (though that does make sense considering he’s keeping a leg in his garage), he also remarks to Kate, “You must have worked extra hard to get that badge.” Oh, she has fun arresting him a few minutes later, as the agents find him sitting in his car caressing a leg. And there are two more legs in his trunk.

It turns out Frank isn’t their guy (and not just because it’s too early in the episode); he’s just an acromotophile, someone who collects legs. As JJ learns from talking to his wife, this goes way back, too. She caught him rubbing up against a mannequin missing its leg back when she used to work in a store and just ignored it because they were going to get married and didn’t know that could be a thing. As Frank reveals, he just buys the limbs. He found a guy in a chat room, pays him in cash and picks them up in different places. He never met the guy.

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Drawing out the Fantasy

With Frank just another creep (and this episode is full of those), the focus turns to finding the real UnSub. It would be so much easier for them if they could identify torsos (and Rossi wonders why they can’t do that yet), but what they do know is that the UnSub gagged them with something leather because of particulates found in their stomachs. When Rossi and Kate visit the latest dump site, they realize that he’s leaving the torsos out on display so he can revisit them, and they’re right, because we then get a shot of the UnSub watching with a sketchbook.

According to their profile, they’re looking for a man who lives in isolation, is from an abusive home, and is deranged, but has learned from others’ mistakes. He was rejected, so he gets rid of everything that symbolizes intimacy. But why kill one male and two females? There has to be a connection to him. The clues seem to lead to an anatomy professor on sabbatical, and when they search his house, they do find sketches of the dump sites. However, there are also photos of him with friends and family, which doesn’t fit their profile, and they realize that he’s actually the first victim, whose tattoo the UnSub cut out so they couldn’t identify him. He was dating a Christine Locke, who just so happens to be missing — and who took out a restraining order on Steven Parkett, the real UnSub, who very much fits the profile: mother died in childbirth, father was a violent schizophrenic and an alcoholic.

Meanwhile, Parkett has another victim, but she’s actually smart and manages to be clear-headed enough, even after he cuts off her arm, to help herself. She introduces herself and plays nice, commenting it must get lonely and he should let her stay with him. She even thanks him for a blanket, but as soon as he unties her and helps her up to “go for a walk,” she’s reaching for his blade and running. Fortunately for her, that’s when the FBI arrives on scene.

You Can Buy Anything Online

Before heading home after the case, Kate stops in Hotch’s office and remarks that she’s surprised that Parkett went all the way to San Diego to get his latest victim, and while he argues that nothing in Parkett’s behavior points to a partner, Hotch does seem to be thinking about it. And he’s right to wonder.

A girl out jogging — just like that last victim had been when she was captured — stops to give a seemingly nice woman in a van directions, only for a man to grab her and pull her into the back. Men sit at their computers, looking at a site that auctions off people, and the jogger is added to the site, with her gender/age/hair color/body type/build/area/condition (“excellent”/”fair”/etc.) listed. Just when you think it can’t get worse… Well, now we know what the long-term arc is going to be.

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Still Feeling the Finale

Don’t think that Criminal Minds has forgotten about what happened in the season 9 finale. Garcia’s not sleeping so she doesn’t have nightmares, while Morgan catches Reid rubbing at his neck, though Reid says he’s okay.  

Who do you think is creepier: Frank, collecting the legs, or Parkett, the UnSub? What do you think of the set up for the season’s arc?

Criminal Minds season 10 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.