Criminal Minds introduced fans to Mr. Scratch back in season 10, and while he may have only been in six episodes, his presence has been felt for many more episodes than that. Was the resolution of his storyline in the season 13 premiere worth the wait?
In some aspects, yes, it was satisfying to wrap it up. But it was lacking in others. Instead, we’re left to think about his impact on the team when he’s not there, when he is there and now when he’s gone and if that is enough.
Scratch’s Reign of Terror on the Team
Since his introduction, Scratch has gotten into the team’s heads (and system) — who could forget him making Hotch see his team dying? — and that remains true up until his final moments in “Wheels Up.” And since this is a team that analyzes criminals’ minds, that made what he did all the more terrifying. They’re supposed to be the ones who get into the serial killers’ heads, not the other way around. And in that regard, that makes Scratch a successful story.
He got into Hotch’s head from the beginning and, through his stalking of Jack, got into his head again, leading to him entering Witness Protection. He tried to get into Tara’s head through her brother. As Prentiss admitted in the last scene of the premiere, he got into her head more than she liked. And in his final moments, he got into Luke’s head in a way that should hopefully be explored this season.
Scratch Took Prentiss, But Did He Think His Plan Through?
Here’s where I expected more from Scratch. He’d clearly done his research on the team. While Prentiss was the right team member for him to kidnap — she and Stephen had set up those texts to lure him out and if anyone had known where Hotch was, it would have been her — he should have realized that she would eventually see through his delusion because, as she even said in this episode, she’s died before. Was it his hubris that drove him to ignore that? Was it because he was so interested in making his vision of seeing Jack grow up without a father starting at the “right” age in his mind become reality?
Scratch Got What He Deserved
It was quite satisfying to see the team continue to trap Scratch in that final confrontation, from the moment that Prentiss escaped him, much like he trapped his victims in his delusions. After it kept feeling like the team couldn’t do anything to catch him as he continued to elude them, as he hacked their phones to listen in, as he targeted and tormented the team, it was good to see them finally getting ahead of him, to see Garcia do her own profiling of radio frequencies, to see Reid figure out what lured him out at this time, to see the team corner him and Prentiss turn the tables on him in the building where he thought he was in control, and to see him caged like an animal on that fire escape in his attempt to escape.
Was Luke the Right Person to Face off Against Scratch at the End?
On the one hand, it was a bit disappointing to have Luke be the team member facing off with Scratch at the end. Sure, “The Crimson King” last season made catching him personal for Luke, but it never quite felt like he had the same incentive as the rest of the team.
However, of the team members on site at the time, he was probably the best choice. Prentiss wasn’t in the right frame of mind, and neither was Reid. And there was no way Simmons was going to be the one. Plus, take into account Luke’s earlier conversation with Reid, during which Reid admitted he couldn’t arrest Scratch and that the second he saw his face, he’d kill him. Would anyone else have done what Luke did and stood there, rather than immediately pulling Scratch to safety, instead letting him fall to his death?
In his current frame of mind, maybe Reid would have, but considering he’s suffering from PTSS, there was no way that was a position he should have had to face, a decision he should have had to make.
Scratch Was Used to Make It Clear Hotch’s Exit Is Permanent
Last season, Hotch was written out after Thomas Gibson was fired by having him and his son enter Witness Protection. And while the end of Scratch meant that they no longer needed to be in the program, it also meant permanently writing out Hotch from the show, with Prentiss and Rossi explaining to the team that he’s chosen to continue to be a full-time father because there’s always going to be “another Scratch.” And Criminal Minds has shown this to be true over the years. There’s always going to be another serial killer who could set his or her sights on a member of the team and go after his or her loved ones. And since we knew Gibson wouldn’t be returning, this was just a formality.
But it was fitting to do it this way, since it was another serial killer that also changed Hotch’s life, when Foyet killed Haley. With his son now threatened by a current foe, why risk his family again?
How Will the Team Move on After Scratch?
This is the question now, and this could also contribute to how he is remembered. As stated above, he got into their heads. And while they may not have been permanently injured physically due to that car crash, it’s their mental states that are important right now. It’s why they need that time off they’ve been given. Prentiss had to remember when she died in order to see through his delusions. Luke has to deal with his actions in that final confrontation with Scratch. The team has to cope with what they’ve lost because of him and knowing that he’s the reason Stephen is no longer alive.
So Scratch will have a lasting impact on the team, one that will hopefully be explored this season. How that’s done could make up for some of the aspects that were lacking in his last episode.
What did you think of the end of the Scratch storyline? What do you want to see explored in the rest of the season? Let us know in the comments.
Criminal Minds season 13 airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Criminal Minds Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of CBS)