The lesson that Criminal Minds season 11 premiere presents is simple: Don’t hire a hit man. If you do hire a hit man, don’t then hire a cheap hit man to take out the first hit man.

In “The Job,” the BAU has a bizarre case on its hands, with two victims found across the country from each other, killed in the same way but with no apparent connection between them. Meanwhile, with the team down to five for the time being as JJ is on maternity leave, Hotch interviews potential replacements, and Dr. Lewis easily wins the spot when she shows what she can do in the middle of a highly stressful situation.

Though JJ is on maternity leave, she does briefly appear. On a call with Hotch, she admits that she does want to come back, just not quite yet. He understands and tells her that while they do need her, her family needs her more. Her job will be there when she’s ready to return.

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Just Let the BAU Handle This

In Seattle, Washington, a detective thinks that he and his rookie partner just have a regular drug case on their hands, but there’s a dead body in the apartment and his face is painted just like a victim found in Albany. Rossi and Morgan basically take control of the scene and school the local cops in profiling (no, this guy doesn’t have any mommy issues) and syringes (the one Morgan finds is too big to shoot up with). They may be down two profilers, but Rossi’s money is still on the five of them versus the one UnSub.

The first look at the UnSub raises even more questions than I already had after seeing what he does to his victims. His face is covered up to his eyes, and he has a briefcase full of weapons, including grenades. He’s in the basement of a house, and the woman upstairs is terrified of him. She can’t wait to escape back to the safety of the first floor.  Basically, he’s not someone anyone would want to ever mess with.

According to Reid, the face paint traces back to the precursor to today’s clown, a trickster character, because he couldn’t speak. Does that mean his victims tricked him and he’s remaking them in death? It’s one possibility. They get another clue from the ME, who discovers that what caused the victims to go into cardiac arrest was the UnSub injecting a nutritional supplement that is usually used by those who can’t eat solid foods into their systems. Cue Reid’s “Oh!” moment.

Their UnSub has a feeding port in his stomach and likely sustained an injury to his jaw making speech impossible. The skills needed to kill his victims and paint their faces like he does, can only mean one thing: he’s a contract killer.

The Profile

Meanwhile, the UnSub has moved on to his next victim: Brian Taylor in Charlottesville, Virginia. After confirming that he’s not responsible for the injury to his jaw, he kills him anyway. When Garcia looks at Brian’s finances, Hotch realizes what’s going on … the victims all hired a hit man. With that, it’s time to give the profile to the agents who want to join the BAU since their UnSub isn’t sticking to one area.

The UnSub is a contract killer doubling back to kill his former customers. He’s highly skilled and well trained. The payment system is escrow-based (half paid as a deposit, the other half when the job is done). Because the UnSub’s defect would attract attention, he has deep pockets and a network of resources. Their best bet is to try to figure out who else hired him in order to find his next victim.

About That Fiancee You Had Killed

Garcia’s frustrated because the Silk Road bust just means that guys like him just get better at hiding. Morgan calms her down, and next thing they know, they’ve identified “Al” as the UnSub’s next victim, but the UnSub has already found him.

It seems that Al may get a reprieve as the FBI and police are on their way, but the UnSub gets a text just as he is about to kill Al and changes tactics instead. When Rossi, Morgan and Reid join the Baltimore SWAT team on the scene, they find that the UnSub has removed a pin from a grenade and has secured it to Al’s hands using industrial acrylic, which holds car parts together. Reid thinks fast and comes up with a solution that is going to hurt Al, but will save all their lives by using the acid in the car’s battery in the garage. It works. Rossi catches the grenade as it slides out of Al’s hands, but there’s one problem: the acid starts eating at the grenade. Rossi throws the grenade as they all run out of the garage to safety.

Meanwhile, the SWAT team has set up a perimeter, and the woman in the beginning with the UnSub manages to talk her way through before picking him up a few moments later. 

Morgan gets Al talking in an interrogation room. While the guy doesn’t know who the hit man is, where he is or who his next victim will be, he does prove to be somewhat useful. See, a month after Al hired him to kill his fiancee, he started getting weird Facetime calls, and he reached out to someone to take care of it, but since he had spent a lot of money on the first hit man, he had to go cheap. Yes, he hired a cheap hit man to kill the hit man he hired to kill his fiancee. Oh, the stupidity. Al pretended to be a new customer to lure him in in Atlantic City.

They Have a Mole

That Atlantic City detail is what leads to the team identifying the UnSub as Giuseppe Montolo, who had stumbled into an ER after being shot in the jaw. Since Morgan took Al’s confession, he walks them through it like he’s the UnSub, and it’s the text message he received that is the next big clue. Someone tipped him off, meaning, they have a mole. Furthermore, it appears to be someone from the local law enforcement due to the timing of it. According to Al, Montolo left five minutes before they showed up. Captain Phil Wilson of SWAT had been quick to suggest setting up a perimeter once they found Al with the grenade, and it just so happens that his wife’s license plate is one of the ones recorded as being let through. Yes, the woman helping the UnSub is Betty, Phil’s wife. 

By the time Phil gets home, Betty thinks Montolo is gone, but then the UnSub comes up behind Phil, takes his gun and has him drive him somewhere. But there’s a gun in the car next to the driver’s seat … which will obviously come into play later on.

Hotch has Garcia spoof the caller ID so Phil’s phone shows Home is calling so he can talk to the SWAT captain and inform him that he’s Montolo’s intended target. Fortunately, Phil put the destination into his map app, so the team can be there waiting. Elsewhere at the Wilsons’, Rossi gets the whole story out of Betty. She’s the one who hired Montolo. Three years ago, she had two miscarriages back to back, and she started taking the painkillers prescribed to her just to feel normal. When her dealer wouldn’t leave her alone, she hired the hit man.

On the Job Interview

With the team busy with a case, Hotch interviewing applicants for the open spot on the team takes a back seat, as he only briefly speaks to Dr. Tara Lewis, a forensic psychologist whose skill set is not quite what they’re looking for in the BAU. Interviewing serial killers is one thing; hunting them is another. That’s why she’s there; she wants to catch them instead of just studying them.

Tara gets a chance to prove herself when Montolo calls Home on Phil’s phone once they arrive at their destination (which is everything a killer would want it to be: abandoned and very creepy) and Hotch has her pretend to be Betty. She tries to relay the message that he needs to get his head down so they can get a shot on Montolo, but instead, Phil grabs his gun and turns to shoot the UnSub.

Montolo runs, but Morgan chases after him and, after a brief struggle, arrests him. Meanwhile, Phil turns his gun on himself, but Reid is able to talk him down. Betty’s only hope for leniency is for him to testify on his behalf, he says, and it works.

After Tara’s work on the call, it’s no surprise that she gets the job. Garcia describes her as “marvelous,” and 36 hours after Hotch paused their interview, it’s time to send the other applicants home.

It’s Not Quite Over

Morgan goes to see Montolo in the hospital to let him know that the BAU is going to find the rest of the men out there like him, and he’s going to help, whether he wants to or not. Montolo writes down “The Dirty Dozen,” and Morgan wonders if that’s what he and the men like him call themselves before realizing, “That’s who you’re going to kill next.” Montolo then tears the stitches in his mouth just so he can taunt Morgan with, “You’ll never stop us.” And with that, we have a tease for an arc this season. I have to admit, I’m intrigued.

Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays at 9pm on CBS.

(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.