SPOILER ALERT: Plot details for Criminal Minds’ Season 14 Premiere, “300,” will be discussed in the following recap. Read at your own risk!
Wheels up, Criminal Minds fans: the hit CBS drama is back for its fourteenth season for a brand-new year of taking down criminals! The premiere, which aired on Oct. 3, was a landmark episode for another celebration, the airing of Criminal Minds’ 300th episode. This is a remarkable accomplishment for a television series, and what a way to kickstart this milestone than premiering its fourteenth season?
The premiere episode, appropriately named “300,” followed the events of the massive cliffhanger dropped on fans during last year’s season finale, where Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) were abducted by the Cult of Messiah, Benjamin Merva (Michael Hogan).
Right off the bat, witnessing this crime and its choice in victims was a horrible way to leave off the thirteenth season. Reid and Garcia, veterans of the show since its first season, are easily two of the top fan favorite characters in the show’s fanbase; while they are FBI agents, their lovable and gentle personalities onscreen make it extremely difficult to believe that anyone would want to harm them. Reid, at least, has often proven himself able to handle dire situations such as this one, and has been depicted as ruthless to overcome his enemies. Garcia, on the other hand, while in possession of a sharp mind, is certainly no field agent, and has hardly had any need to protect herself when confronted with dangerous situations.
Plus, Reid has already undergone so much personal trauma throughout the show’s run, more than what any person would consider fair. Most recently, he was wrongly sent to prison while his mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s grew progressively worse. That’s not counting everything else he’s gone through in past seasons.
The BAU, now missing two of their family members, have to try and find them before it’s too late, and that takes on a different emotional toll not only on the characters, but on the show’s fans. Just watching JJ (AJ Cook) break down in the bathroom and being consoled by Prentiss (Paget Brewster) was enough to get me bawling.
Can’t this team catch a break, and haven’t they suffered enough already?
During this episode, fans are given a massive mental whiplash and a flash to the past with a surprising revelation: we have seen this cult before, all the way back in the show’s fourth season.
Does the name Benjamin Cyrus ring a bell for fans?
That’s right: this cult known as the Believers is a revived group, having originated from the initial cult formed by Cyrus (Luke Perry) in the episode “Minimal Loss.”
It was fascinating to see how an case from nearly a decade ago still comes back to haunt the BAU, especially with the editing work that was done to link these two cases together effectively. The flashbacks sequences to Liberty Ranch were obvious inclusions, but new scenes were filmed so that it looks as though they included the newer characters of Meadows (Karen David) and Merva. They did not appear within “Minimal Loss,” but the editing was done and captured in such a way that it looked incredibly authentic. Plus, it was a huge throwback to see younger Reid and Prentiss onscreen.
It’s portrayed that this new cult, while they captured and abducted both Reid and Garcia, were primarily focused on having Reid as their victim due to his tie to Cyrus back on Liberty Ranch. It was due to Reid’s undercover position as a social worker within Cyrus’ church that led to his gaining of Cyrus’ trust, which ultimately led to Cyrus’ downfall. Reid’s history with this old case may have been the fuel needed to light the fire of revenge within the new cult, and presented the perfect Victim #300 — another appropriate titular event.
However, through commendable teamwork and power that only the BAU could display, Reid is able to relay information to Garcia that comes in handy when he eventually finds an escape for her, and she, upon her return to the FBI headquarters, is able to dispatch the team to Reid’s location. Fortunately, it all ends happily; Reid and Garcia are reunited with their team, Meadows is arrested, and the cult members were either killed or arrested.
“300” thrusts forward a recurring theme of Criminal Minds: the past, no matter how far back, can still come back to haunt you. We saw that with Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) and the criminals The Reaper and Mr. Scratch, with Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) and his abuser Carl Buford (Julius Tennon), and Reid with Cat Adams (Aubrey Plaza) and Lindsey Vaughn (Gia Mantegna), just to name a few.
Yet, this premiere also exemplifies another huge theme of the show that hopefully will remain strong throughout the season: the BAU is family, and family will do whatever it takes for one another.
Criminal Minds returns on CBS on Oct. 10 at 9 p.m. CT.