Last week was a pretty good week for season premieres, especially for fans of long-running television programs. On September 27, CBS’s Criminal Minds aired its thirteenth season premiere, “Wheels Up.” The following night, on September 28, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy came back on screen to air their two-hour-long fourteenth season premiere, airing both episodes “Break Down the House” and “Get Off on the Pain.” Though I know that not everyone has the time and energy to invest in watching television shows with seasons hitting the double-digits, I’m banking on the fact that at least some of you are caught up with these shows and suffer happily from lack of sleep like I do.
Quick disclaimer: this recap will produce spoilers for the premieres of both Criminal Minds and Grey’s Anatomy, as well as subsequent spoilers from prior seasons.
“Wheels Up” picked up right where the season twelve finale left off.
Someone has deliberately ambushed two SUVs carrying the majority of the BAU team, sending them spiraling from the road with well-placed road spikes and then adding further injury by crashing a semi into one of them. Almost immediately, viewers are a witness to tragedy as it’s revealed that special supervisory Agent Stephen Walker (Damon Gupton), who had joined the team in season twelve, did not survive the attack.
This is the first time Criminal Minds purposefully killed off one of its leads this quickly and this is a show that is not known for having their main characters die anyway. The last time – also labeled as the first time it’s happened – a lead protagonist was killed on the show was back in season ten, when Jason Gideon (Mandy Patinkin) was killed by an UNSUB. Patinkin had not been on the show since the beginning of season three, but it was likely his death was to bring closure to what happened to his character in the years he’s been absent.
The show has experienced some major cast shake ups over the last couple of years. With the departure of Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) and the firing of Thomas Gibson, who played Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner, there was talk among the fandom of the show’s survival. However, the show has proven to prevail even amidst, beloved characters leaving with show ratings remaining steady and strong. New characters have since been introduced into the show as well, such as Tara Lewis (Aisha Tyler), Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriguez), and now Matthew Simmons (Daniel Henney), who was one of the leads of the spin-off show, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, before it was cancelled following its second season.
Viewers are also introduced to another death in the premiere: the “big bad” that the BAU was hunting and the one behind the attack, Mr. Scratch also known as Peter Lewis (Bodhi Elfman). After making his debut in season ten, Mr. Scratch became a compelling antagonist for the BAU in the seasons that followed. He became more relevant to the team through the entirety of the twelfth season as he attacks individual members of the BAU.
In the premiere, Mr. Scratch has kidnapped now Unit Chief Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster). His reason for holding her there was to have her reveal where Aaron Hotchner was, as Hotchner was the sole BAU member who had any sort of rapport – hostile rapport, but rapport nonetheless – with him. Following Gibson’s firing, the character of Hotchner had to be abruptly written off the show. The show’s way of doing this was to explain that Mr. Scratch had been stalking Hotchner’s son, forcing him to resign from the bureau and enter the Witness Protection Program. Intense. Prentiss refuses, of course, believing that Mr. Scratch will then perform his signature on her, dosing her with a combination of hallucinatory drugs to create a delusion to lose herself in and consequently revealing what he needs to know.
That’s not what ends up happening.
Rather than administer drugs, Mr. Scratch threatens to take away necessary ones. Prentiss was badly injured in the car accident and Mr. Scratch will withhold any form of pain medication until Prentiss gives up Hotchner’s location. Prentiss once again manages to refuse, even though she is literally sweating and shaking from the exertion of pain, Mr. Scratch stops her heart with medication and de-fib to terrify her with the threat of death. Fortunately, Prentiss realizes that her “death” and all the pain she was suffering was not real. She sees a bright light as she “dies” and we are reminded in a grim flashback that when Prentiss died back in season six, she did not have that comforting glow. Rather, she felt alone and cold. That’s when she realizes that her entire experience with Mr. Scratch was not real and instead was a delusion the whole time.
This, along with Spencer Reid’s (Matthew Gray Gubler) explosive behavior – he threw a book at a window, who does that? – which is agitation likely stemmed from his horrifying stint in prison back in season twelve, was the most disturbing part of the episode to witness. Eventually, the team finds out where Mr. Scratch is holding Prentiss and retrieves her safely while she’s on the run from Mr. Scratch, who she managed to disarm and escape moments prior to their arrival.
Mr. Scratch’s reign ends with him holding on to the edge of a building for dear life after trying to escape Alvez from apprehending him only to fall to his death. The end of a life of one of the most complex and interesting characters in Criminal Minds history and season thirteen has barely begun. This abrupt end right at the beginning of a season begs the question, where does it go from here? According to Prentiss, after the harrowing events of Mr. Scratch’s kidnapping and the death of Walker, the team will take a six-week hiatus to recuperate before returning to work, then it’s on to deal with some of the more “normal” UNSUBs. There was a slight hope about possibly having Hotchner reinstated into the bureau now that his nemesis and the sole reason for his departure was finally dead. That hope was quickly disputed by Prentiss, stating that Hotchner loved being a full-time father and that his son needed him. In a sweet homage to Hotchner’s character, Prentiss has each of them proclaim “Wheels up,” Hotchner’s signature phrase when it was time to go to work.
Criminal Minds will air it’s next episode on CBS at Wednesday, October 4, at 9:00PM.
Somehow, I’ve mustered up the emotional energy to watch the entirety of Grey’s Anatomy and all of its ridiculous – I say this with love – work and relationship drama. After thirteen seasons worth of this, you’d think Grey’s Anatomy would be running on fumes on how to continue the story in a way that would keep its viewers at the edges of the seats in thrilling suspense. Oh no. If anything, the fourteenth season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy was chock-full of brand new, medical-and-relationship drama, especially since it was not a one-episode premiere, but rather a two-episode premiere.
Since ABC’s website doesn’t really let me watch the episodes until a week after they air, I’m forced to rely on my memory of the first viewing, so bear with me.
We left off on Grey’s Anatomy with the season thirteenth finale in which part of the hospital is in flames following an explosion, with resident Stephanie Edwards (Jerrika Hinton) extremely close to where it occurred. Owen Hunt’s (Kevin McKidd) sister Megan (Abigail Spencer), who was long-believed to be dead, is also found alive. So now Megan Hunt is back and in the process of being treated at Grey Sloan Memorial and it’s revealed that Stephanie Edwards was airlifted to a Texas burn center. In addition, Eliza Minnick (Marika Dominczyk) is fired by Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and she makes her leave from the hospital and from her relationship with Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw). Honestly, based on my personal reaction and the fanbase’s reaction to Minnick’s character and what she brought to the show, there is no love lost there.
On top of all of that, the hospital is suffering from the effects of the explosion. A large portion of the OR floor is burnt and charred, with four OR rooms and the neuro wing non-operational. This bodes more than bad news for doctors and patients alike at Grey Sloan Memorial, as is its reputation. There are a variety of love triangles that are introduced within the premiere, the first being between Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Nathan Riggs (Martin Henderson), and Megan Hunt.
Riggs and Megan were together prior to her disappearance. While Grey is certainly candid about putting a halt to her relationship with Riggs so that he could rekindle what he had with Megan, it doesn’t make their interactions any less awkward or unprofessional. That last part is exceedingly apparent when it comes into light that Grey is set on operating on Megan. In hospitals, there is no operating on family members and exes of your current fling, apparently.
Megan tells Riggs and Meredith that she was planning on returning back to Iraq following treatment because she has a child waiting for her, a Syrian refugee that cannot come into the U.S. This appears to abruptly end the possibility of a love triangle between her, Riggs, and Grey, at least until Grey discovers as she is operating on Megan that she cannot close due to lack of tissue. This introduces the problem of Megan not recovering quickly enough, and therefore her stay at Grey Sloan Memorial would be extended indefinitely. Compelling medical/relationship drama! However, Grey decides to perform an abdominal wall transplant, which is in typical Grey’s Anatomy fashion, a somewhat untested procedure that could totally earn her brownie points within her field of general surgery. Meanwhile, there is more relationship issues at hand.
April Kepner (Sarah Drew) and Jackson Avery (Jessie Williams) have been having huge difficulties in their relationship for the last couple of seasons and it all seems to come to a head as Kepner tells cardio chief Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary) that Avery likes her. Seeing as how Kepner and Avery have a child together and have marital history with one another, you’d think that Avery wouldn’t stray. However, when he is confronted, he is pretty much on-board with the idea of getting together with Pierce rather than working things out with Kepner. There goes that relationship. Also, Owen Hunt, Amelia Shephard (Caterina Scorsone), and the newly-returned Teddy Altman (Kim Raver) have got a love triangle all to themselves as well! Viewers have already gone through the plot details concerning Hunt and Altman’s missed chance at being together.
Once Hunt got into a relationship with Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), and Altman married her now-deceased husband Henry Burton (Scott Foley), it seemed that whatever chance Hunt and Altman had at sparking a relationship diminished, especially after Altman’s initial departure from the show. With Yang out of the picture since season ten and Altman’s long-awaited return to the show, it seems that there is nothing standing in the way between them getting together. Except maybe for Amelia Shephard.
Oi vei, these kids being in relationships and then falling for other people; what a mess. The drama doesn’t stop there, because it never does with this show.
The episode ends with Riggs proposing to Megan, only to be rejected. Shephard, in a grim twist of irony since she is the head of neurology, discovering that she has a brain tumor. Also, Ben Warren (Jason George) seems to be making his way out of the hospital and out of Grey’s Anatomy as he states the rush he felt during the hostage situation with Edwards from last season. This is a pretty heavy hint at George’s decision to depart from the parent show of Grey’s Anatomy in order to pursue a role with the Grey’s Anatomy fire and rescue spinoff.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I foolishly believed the public claims that the fourteenth season of Grey’s Anatomy would be a much happier and lighter season than what was previously shown in earlier seasons. Judging solely based on the brand-new problems that these doctors are facing, with broken trust and shattered relationships and heart-wrenching diagnoses, I’m not entirely sure how the show is going to deliver on that “happier season” claim.
So, a short recap: Megan is back, Altman is back, but we’ve lost Edwards, we got rid of Minnick, and we are likely losing Warren. Shephard has a massive brain tumor, Hunt and Altman are dancing around each other with Shephard looking in, and Kepner and Avery appear to be over for good this time. Is there any good news at all in this premiere? Actually, yes there is. The premiere has managed to save Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) and Jo Wilson’s (Camilla Luddington) relationship after a hitting a rocky path and they are now back together. Huzzah! Also, is there a new love interest in Carine DeLuca () for Robbins? Or is it just a passing fling that will come back to bite them in the rear?
As all Grey’s Anatomy’s fans now, things can never get too chummy in this hospital. There will certainly be more trouble soon enough for us to devour.
Grey’s Anatomy’s third episode will air on ABC on Thursday, October 5, at 7:00PM.