Category Archives: Lindsey Fratz

Criminal Minds Recap – “The Gathering”

After a two week hiatus, Criminal Minds returned with a new episode this week. The team was still set on investigating their own stalker, who made his return appearance last episode. However, Behavioral Analysis Unit Section Chief Erin Strauss set the team straight, suggesting that they give their investigation a break and focus on other cases. So their attention was diverted to St. Paul, Minnesota, where the bodies of two women were discovered with their tongues ripped out.

At first, it seemed that there was no connecting link between the victims. Usually the victims will have something in common: physical features, workplace or some other link. Eventually, though, it was discovered that each of the victims had a big online presence, from blogging to social media to online dating. The Unsub was able to keep track of their every action simply from their online lives, which probably hit home to many viewers as most people today constantly update Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and numerous other social media sites.

Just when you thought the Unsub couldn’t get any more creepy, the BAU team discovers that he has been using the information from the victims’ online lives to write psychotic fantasies. Ultimately, it turned out that it wasn’t the author of the psychotic fantasies that was committing the murders, but instead the instructor from his writing group.

Character development this episode focused on Penelope Garcia and her ex-boyfriend Kevin Lynch. In season seven, Kevin asked Penelope to marry him, but she declined his offer. While there was speculation that the two would end up getting back together, this episode proved that that isn’t the case. The two have remained separated and have even been dating other people, though they are trying to remain friends. Kevin has been a recurring character on the show since season three, but it will be interesting to see what the show’s writers will do with his character now that he is no longer romantically linked to Garcia.

Criminal Minds will be taking another short hiatus, retuning April 3 with the episode “Restoration,” which it seems will be a Morgan-centric episode. The CBS press release for the episode gives this description, “The BAU goes to Morgan’s old neighborhood in urban Chicago in search of an UnSub targeting middle-aged men, and a clue leads Morgan to believe that they are after someone connected to the man who molested him as a child.”

Also, keep an eye out for the second Matthew Gray Gubler-directed episode this season on May 1, titled “Alchemy.” You can find some set photos here, courtesy of matthewgraygublerfans.org.

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Welcome to Storybrooke – “Once Upon a Time” Recap

With both “Criminal Minds” and “Suits” on hiatus, this week the blog will be covering “Once Upon a Time,” which airs Sunday nights on ABC at 8 p.m. If you haven’t yet seen this seasons episodes, take caution because the following summary has many spoilers.

In the aftermath of Cora’s death, Regina plans to seek revenge against Mary Margaret and to get Henry back. She finds a spell in one of Cora’s dresses which will allow her to do both those things.

Meanwhile, the show flashes back to when Regina’s curse first took hold. The first scenes of the episode show a father and son camping in the woods when the storm of magic overtakes the land. They discover the new town, which wasn’t on their map, and end up meeting Regina. She quickly takes to them and invites them over for dinner.

Despite the fact that she has complete control over the town and that she’s split up Snow and Prince Charming, she still isn’t happy. She realizes that having them under her power because she forced them to be isn’t the same as them obeying her because they want to. So when two people from outside of Storybrooke enter the picture, she realizes she has a chance for a real relationship with people who aren’t being forced to stay there, but that might want to stay because they want to.

Regina talks to the young boy, Owen, and finds that his mother had passed away six months ago. The two of them bond as Regina can relate to the pain of having lost a loved-one. Later, she asks Owen and his father if they would like to stay in town, offering the father a job. Unfortunately, Owen’s father declines the offer, which upsets Regina. She has Graham, the sheriff, to arrest the father. As Owen is running away, she tries to explain that she thought they could be happy together, to which he replies, “Not like this.” So she let’s him go.

In present day Storybrooke, Henry decides to fix things by finding a way to destroy magic altogether. This way, Regina can’t kill Snow and he won’t be forced under a curse. As he is stealing dynamite from the dwarves’ mines to blow up the wishing well, he runs into Regina, Emma, Baelfire, Charming, and Rumplestiltskin. Henry doesn’t end up destroying the town’s magic, but Regina ends up destroying the potion she was going to use.

Snow is still reeling with guilt over being partially responsible for Cora’s death, and in the end she goes to Regina and asks to be killed. Regina rips out her heart, only to discover a black spot forming in the center. She tells Snow that she won’t put her out of her misery and that it’s Snow’s own fault that her heart is turning black.

But the real surprise? The man who mysteriously drove his car into town, crashing it as Hook shot Belle at the edge of the town, is actually the little boy Owen now all grown up. He’s still looking for his father, and he’s gotten plenty of evidence of the town’s magic recorded on his cell phone. Not only will there be trouble in Snow’s future, but the entire town is at risk of being exposed.

 

 

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The Popularity of Parody TV News Programming

When a person thinks of television news, what probably comes to mind is the local nightly news or 24-hour cable news stations such as CNN, MSNBC or FOX News. Increasingly, however, audiences are tuning into satirical news programs like “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” for current events information as well as entertainment. It seems that this is especially true for younger generations of TV watchers.

According to the PEW Research Center, 43 percent of viewers of The Colbert Report and 39 percent of viewers of The Daily show are ages 18 to 29. This is a big difference from 19 percent that watch FOX News or the 13 percent that watch NPR. So, what does this mean, and is parody news seen as a legitimate news source for younger audiences?

While, Jon Stewart would argue, and has, that “The Daily Show” isn’t meant to be taken seriously, the show continues to grow in popularity while cable news networks viewership is in decline. Another PEW Research Center study from 2007 found that viewers of parody news programs, such as those previously mentioned, reported the highest knowledge of national and international affairs.

A study by Indiana University found that “The Daily Show” is just about as substantive as network news programming. Indiana University’s assistant professor of telecommunications Julia R. Fox, said this about “The Daily Show,” “You have real newsmakers coming on, and yes, sometimes the banter and questions get a little silly, but there is also substantive dialogue going on … It’s a legitimate source of news.” As an example, recent guests on “The Daily Show” have included Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson. “The Colbert Report” has also featured prominent figures, such as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Bill Gates.

So, what is it that makes news programs like “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” so popular? Perhaps it’s the fact that these programs air on Comedy Central, a television station well known for inducing laughter among the 18-35 age bracket. These two programs in particular are short 30-minute segments of what’s been going on in the country and the world that day. While they do present news and factual information, they do so in an entertaining way. Short clips are shown, typically followed by comedic commentary. Fake news anchors parody real-life events, such as the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. It’s very different than the much more serious 24-hour news circuit.

One thing that people love about these types of parody news programs like Jon Stewarts’ is that they call out hypocrisy and make a point to show how real reporters and new agencies just aren’t doing their jobs properly sometimes. Stewart sure does like to make an example of FOX News, though every journalist and every news agency (regardless of policial affiliation) is fair game.

In 2004, Jon Stewart was a guest on FOX News’ program “Crossfire.” During his interview, Stewart criticized television journalism and called for “Crossfire”‘s Tucker Carlson to “stop hurting America.” He has also been a guest on other news programs, such as the “The O’Reilly Factor.”

This isn’t to say that viewers should get their information solely from comedic news sources, but it is interesting to see the differences in how younger generations are getting their news compared to older generations.

Though, to be fair, “The Daily Show” isn’t all fun and games. It may be a comedy, first and foremost, but Stewart does a good job at pointing out some important issues regarding the United States’ journalism industry. When he’s not making jokes, he’s serious about issues such as journalistic integrity and politics. This summer, Stewart is taking a break from ‘The Daily Show” to direct “Rosewater,” an adaptation of a book written by a BBC journalist who was captured and held for 118 days during the Iranian presidential elections in 2009.

A professor of international affairs and comparative literature at Penn State University, Sophia McClennen, did research on how satire is shaping the younger generations of America. She notes that more and more young people are turning to parody news programs because they are seeking more engaging sources of news and information. On a more important note, she also points out that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, while entertaining these younger audiences, are also raising awareness about important issues. McClennen surmises that after young people watch these parody news programs, they are then seeking out more information on the issues that were presented in the program.

Leading up to the most recent election, Super PACs–committees that can raise unlimited funds to advocate for or against a political candidate–played a large role. Stephen Colbert created his own Super PAC, which was approved by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). While Colbert’s PAC didn’t actual do very much, it was a good vehicle for informing the public about what a Super PAC actually is and can do. On the Colbert Nation website, viewers can see clips from the show’s episodes that focused on Super PACs, a definition of what a Super PAC is and even a copy of the FEC Advisory Opinion granting Colbert permission to create a Super PAC.

The FEC Advisory Opinion on Colbert’s Super PAC also points out how “The Colbert Report” provides “commentary on political discourse in the United States.” In 2008, Colbert ran in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary election, which was covered on his show.

Later on in 2010, Colbert and Stewart hosted a “Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear.” While it was meant to be satire, Colbert and Stewart did mean for the event to bring awareness to issues with the media and propaganda involved with politics. In a moment of sincerity, Stewart said at the rally, “his was not a rally to ridicule people of faith, or people of activism, or look down our noses at the heartland, or passionate argument, or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are, and we do.” Stewart and Colbert also used the event to raise money for two different charities: Donorschoose.org and Trust for the National Mall.

Satirical or parody TV news keeps young audiences entertained, but there’s also a more serious aspect. These shows highlight some important issues within journalism and politics in the United States. Though audiences are laughing, they are also still becoming informed and thinking critically about what they’ve seen on the show.

Let us know what you think of parody news television programs. If you watch these kinds of television news programs, is it for the entertainment or do you rely on it to get the facts? What do you think of the PEW research data?

Younger generations prefer news programs that are much different than that which traditional nightly news or 24-hour cable news present. It will be interesting to see how these types of programs and presentations of the news continue to change and evolve as time goes on.

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“Once Upon a Time” – How do the show’s characters compare to their Disney counterparts?

If you haven’t seen “Once Upon a Time,” which is currently in its second season, then I highly recommend it. The show takes classic fairytale characters and puts them in modern-day Maine in a town called Storybrooke. The series starts off with a young boy, Henry,  leaving town to find his birth mother. He carries around a storybook full of fairytales and is convinced that everyone in the town is actually one of the characters from the book’s stories. It turns out that his birth mother, Emma Swan, is Snow White and Prince Charming’s daughter. Henry’s stepmother? The evil queen, of course!

Throughout the series, other well-known fairytale characters are introduced: Rumplestiltskin, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jiminy Cricket, Pinnochio and many other fairytale favorites. The first season of the show dealt with the curse that the evil queen placed upon the land and how the curse is broken. The second season, so far, is about the aftermath, now that all of the Storybrooke residents remember their lives from the fairytale world.

The following slideshow takes a look at some of the show’s characters. “Once Upon a Time” airs on ABC (which is owned by the Disney corporation), so here’s a look at how the characters compare to their Disney counterparts.

If you haven’t seen the show then be prepared for some spoilers; the slideshow does reveal some of the characters alternate identities.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Credit for the photos goes to Disney and ABC.

Watch “Once Upon a Time” Sunday nights at 8/9c on ABC.

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Criminal Minds – “Carbon Copy” Recap

Tonight’s episode of Criminal Minds found the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) in Philadelphia investigating a series of murdered nurses who died of exsanguination. Of course, the team recognizes this MO from their previous case in San Francisco, where it turned out that the UnSub was a hemophiliac who was draining the victims’ blood to use the platelets. The UnSub also removed the victims’ eyelids to make them “see,” because he wasn’t successful in selling his art. It appears that the BAU’s stalker has made a comeback.

In the beginning of the episode, JJ receives a bouquet of white Lilies. JJ is married, so Reid and Garcia assumed that the flowers had been sent from her husband Will. Upon opening the card, however, it’s discovered that that is not the case. Just one word is printed on the card: Zugzwang. This is the infamous word that Reid heard over the phone in episode where his girlfriend, Maeve, is kidnapped. Zugzwang is a chess term that describes the situation when a player realizes he is in Checkmate and cannot make a move that does not worsen his situation.

Garcia uses her quick computer search skills to figure out that the bouquet was bought with a stolen credit card from a florist in Philadelphia, which is how the team discovers the recent murders that are a “carbon copy” of the ones they investigated in San Francisco.

The BAU end up identifying a man who was previously involved with a series of murders of nurses in Pittsburgh, Pa., a case that a previous BAU team worked on. The man was wrongly accused and held by police for weeks before another suspect was eventually arrested and charged. He was innocent, but the media attention from when he was held ended up ruining his relationship with his wife and daughters. He was unable to find stable work, and his health took a toll when he was beat up after being recognized. The attack left him with epileptic-like symptoms.

After the man finally admits to the recent murders in Philadelphia, JJ brings up the other copy-cat murders that they’ve been dealing with throughout this season so far. Hotchner and Reid, who were investigating the man’s home, found evidence that pointed to this man being “The Replicator,” the team’s stalker: photographs of Hotchner and eyelids from past victims.

An unfortunate turn of events sees this suspect purposely overdose on his seizure medication after making a phone call to an unknown number. Garcia works her magic again and traces the call to a cell phone in Pittsburgh. The team hops on the jet to hunt try to catch their stalker. As the team realizes that the cell phone is still in the same location, they begin to suspect a trap. They are headed right where the Replicator wants them to go.

After arriving in Pittsburgh, the agents–along with a SWAT team from the Pittsburgh police–discover what the Replicator has waiting for them. Inside an abandoned building sits a stereo playing “Just in Time” by Dean Martin, the cell phone that lead them there, and boards filled with pictures of the various BAU agents with the word zugzwang written around them. The Replicator has also left them with another body and a bloodied hammer. As the agents take in the scene, the episode ends and leaves viewers wondering what is going to happen next.

CRM2320-promos_thumb_640x360Screencap – Credit CBS

Unfortunately, there is no new episode of Criminal Minds next week. The show returns on March 20th with the episode “The Gathering.”

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Awards Shows – How Do They Compare?

Last night had millions captivated by the airing of the 85th Academy Awards, which is also known as the Oscars. Winter is the time of year when we look to see if our favorite actors, actresses, movies, tv shows and musical acts have come out on top. In the past two months alone there have been nine awards ceremonies; see a list from Yahoo here.

Take a look below to see some of the most popular and well-known awards ceremonies, ranging from the Academy Awards to the People’s Choice Awards. As expected, the Academy Awards and the Grammys came out on top with the highest average number of viewers in 2011 and 2012. Though the Tony Awards, which focuses on excellence in Broadway theatre, is the third oldest ceremony, it ended up with the fewest number of viewers with just around 5 million. It isn’t surprising that more popular industries, such as film and music, came out on top. Let us know in the comments what you thought of last night’s Academy Awards and which awards ceremony is your favorite.

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*Statistics were gathered from the Nielsen television ratings.

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Suits Season Finale – Recap

The season finale of USA network’s “Suits” aired last Thursday, making a dramatic end to the second half of the show’s second season. If you didn’t get a chance to watch, you can watch the promo below, then catch up OnDemand or online before reading below the video.

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Last episode, Jessica Pearson finally took Daniel Hardman’s name off the wall, leaving viewers to wonder who’s name would make the replacement. Jessica previously turned down Harvey’s plea for the spot and was contemplating a merger with the British firm they have been working with during the past couple of episodes. Though at the end of the finale it is still unclear what name will join Jessica’s, it will certainly not be Harvey’s. What we do know is that Harvey is determined to keep the firm from merging with the British firm run by Edward Darby and which his ex-love interest Scottie works for.

It turns out that Jessica wants the merger to happen. She ends up putting an end to Mike and Harvey’s plans to end the merger by threatening to turn Mike in if he files the suit. Mike caves, but he knows Harvey will be upset – and he is. The promo for the finale showed Harvey firing Mike, but fortunately that didn’t come to pass. Surprisingly, it’s Jessica that ends up defending Mike and then berating Harvey. Basically, she wants to put him in his place. Harvey isn’t her partner, so she doesn’t want him making decisions for her firm. She’s forcing Harvey to stay with the firm, to sign a non-compete claus and to have to earn his way to being partner.

There was also a lot of character tension this episode beyond that between Jessica and Harvey. Louis found himself a rival in the British firm’s Nigel Alexander Nesbitt. The two banter about everything from who has the better education to the ridiculous who had mud-bathed at the most exotic or esteemed locales. After bonding over the theatre, or rather over being annoyed by other theatre patrons, it seems that the two will get along. However, Louis’s inability to trust leaves him to make a mistake that leads him to, most likely (it wasn’t shown on screen), losing his new found friendship.

Though Louis can’t salvage that relationship, he does try to right his misdoing with paralegal Rachel Zane. Last episode he lied to Rachel, who was denied admission to Harvard, about why she wasn’t let in. Instead of telling her the truth, that she just wasn’t accepted because other applicants were better, Louis said that his relationship with one of the admissions officers lead to her not being accepted. Unfortunately, Rachel wouldn’t accept this and attempted to get Mike to write a letter to Harvard explaining the situation and hopefully granting her acceptance. This, of course, lead to the issue that Mike never actually graduated from Harvard — or any law school for that matter. By the end of the episode, Louis finally tells Rachel the real reason she won’t be going to Harvard, and Rachel confronts Mike about not sending the letter on her behalf. The truth is out; now Rachel knows Mike’s secret, too. Though, she took the news surprisingly well.

To cause some more drama, it turns out that Scottie is in love with Harvey, which is why she ended up not marrying her fiance after all. All of the friendly competition she starts with him is just her way of trying to get his attention, but now Harvey won’t trust her. Donna convinces Scottie to sacrifice everything to let Harvey win so that maybe Harvey will she that she isn’t as conniving as he thinks. The whole plan ends up backfiring: Scottie gets fired and Jessica calls out Mike and Harvey on their scheme. Though it’s uncertain if Harvey and Scottie will end up together, he does manage to convince Edward Darby to give Scottie her job back.

This episode certainly set up for what will surely be a dramatic third series. Will Pearson Hardman become Pearson Darby? What will become of Mike and Harvey’s relationship now that they are on the outs?

Don’t worry, the show has already been renewed and will return again this summer. Keep following @Suits_USA and the Suits Facebook page for the latest news and announcements during the hiatus.

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Suits – “He’s Back,” Daniel Hardman Returns!

In the first half of the season we saw Daniel Hardman challege Jessica Pearson over the position of Managing Partner. Hardman was ousted from the firm five years prior after his wife, Alicia, was diagnosed with cancer and he was caught embezelling escrow funds from the firm to finance his affair with another woman. His wife now deceased, Hardman hoped to make a return to the firm and his previous position. After promoting Louis Litt to Senior Partner, Hardman ultimately wins the position, though not for long as Harvey Spector and Mike Ross discovered Hardman had been the one who planted the evidence incriminating Harvey and Donna.

At the start of the second half of season two it appeared that Daniel Hardman was beaten and gone for good, but this weeks episode showed us that was far from the case. After last week’s episode, “Zane vs. Zane,” the firm discovers Daniel is the new opposing council in the Folsom Foods case. He’s brought back Monica Eaton, the woman Daniel was having an affair with and former lawyer at the firm, in a case of wrongful termination against Jessica. Monica has it out for Jessica after being fired with no apparent cause, no notice and no letter of recommendation. Hardman, however, is using the case to bleed the firm of it’s resources and to take away their credibility in the 45 cases against Folsom Foods for wrongfully termination by gender discrimination.

Unfortunately, Jessica signed a nondisclosure form to get Daniel to leave the firm. Her rash decision has come back to cause them all trouble. She can’t reveal that Hardman was having an affair with Eaton or that he was embezzling from the firm. Daniel plans to make the case appear as though Pearson fired Monica because she is younger and wasn’t married to her work the way Pearson is. Towards the end of the episode, Mike takes the case files of the woman in the Folsom Foods cases to Monica in attempt to get her to drop the case, but we’ll have to wait till next week to see how that plays out.

Even with all of the drama going on, this week did have some brighter moments. Jessica finally got her revenge on Hardman for incriminating her, slapping him in the face… twice! Louis also had his own little chat with Hardman, trapping him the elevator and threatening to kill him if Hardman even so much as tells him the incorrect time.

LouisDonnaSuitsUSAPhoto from the official Suits Facebook page.

Another one of the episodes memorable moments was when Louis and Harvey finally talk as friends after the incident where Harvey ripped up Louis’s letter of resignation, his sign of apology. Louis feels terrible for having been used by Daniel and responsible for getting the firm into the position it is now it. He wants to help on the case and Harvey appears to appreciate that, but what Louis doesn’t know is that Daniel is still using him. This time, Daniel had Monica fabricate a story of sexual harassment against Louis, who admittedly did previously have a crush on her.

Another one of the episodes memorable moments was when Louis and Harvey finally talk as friends after the incident where Harvey ripped up Louis’s letter of resignation, his sign of apology. Louis feels terrible for having been used by Daniel and responsible for getting the firm into the position it is now it. He wants to help on the case and Harvey appears to appreciate that, but what Louis doesn’t know is that Daniel is still using him. This time, Daniel had Monica fabricate a story of sexual harassment against Louis, who admittedly did previously have a crush on her.

This episode also saw Mike and Rachel getting back on friendly terms; Mike admitted his feelings for Rachel, but they didn’t end up taking things to the next level. He ended up sleeping with an ex who happened to be currently married. These actions appeared to be forgotten as Mike gave Rachel advice on writing her application essay to Harvard law school.

With two episodes left this season, it will be interesting to see how all of these story lines play out. Watch the video below for a preview of next Thursday’s episode:

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Criminal Minds – Thomas Gibson’s Directorial Debut “Magnus Opum”

Thomas Gibson, the actor who plays “Criminal Minds” BAU team leader SSA Aaron Hotchner, will be making his directorial debut this week in the episode “All That Remains.” The official press release statement gives us a hint of what to expect: “After a man’s daughters vanish on the anniversary of his wife’s disappearance, the BAU is called in to investigate him as a potential suspect.”

When the show left off two weeks ago, the BAU was still dealing with the aftermath of Reid’s girlfriend Maeve’s death. While the team was investigating a series of murders where the victim’s bodies had been nearly completely drained of their blood, Reid had yet to leave his apartment. The opening scene saw Garcia and JJ checking up on him, Garcia having left several ‘Get Well’ gift baskets that were still outside the apartment door. As the episode continues, Garcia and Morgan use the case to get Reid to open up. It starts with Morgan leaving a question about the case on Reid’s answering machine, which ends up working. By the end of the episode Reid had flown out to California to work the case with the team, figuring out that the UnSub was a hemophiliac and had been using the blood plasma to clot his own blood. The UnSub had also been using the blood in his artwork, trying to give meaning to his work so that he would be noticed.

Criminal Minds topped it’s time slot with 11.84 million viewers for the episode “Magnum Opus” two weeks ago, but fans were slightly disappointed with Reid’s storyline. Erica Messer, the show’s producer, promised that Maeve’s death would “be the emotional anchor of episode 813 and it’s the arc for Reid’s character for the rest of the season.” Given from what we saw at the end of “Magnum Opus” it seems that Reid had mourned and is ready to move on. One episode is a far cry from “the rest of the season.” Given Reid’s tragic past — his mother’s schizophrenia, his being held hostage in season two by Tobias Hankel and subsequent addiction to Dilaudid, the Anthrax scare, his eidetic memory — fans expected Maeve’s death to affect him more than it appeared to have.

Hopefully the writers haven’t completely wrapped up Reid’s character development for this season now that his main storyline has aired. And don’t forget that there is another stalker still after the team, seen at the end of the first episode of this season, “The Silencer,” and the end of the sixth episode, “The Apprenticeship.” There are still 11 episodes left until the end of the season, so it will be interesting to see how these storylines wrap up.

The promo for “All That Remains” only gives us a peek at what and who the team will be investigating this week, so we will have to wait until Wednesday night to see if there is any main character development this week. Thomas Gibson is the second actor of the show to take a hand at directing; Matthew Gray Gubler, who plays Spencer Reid, has directed four episodes so far: “Mosley Lane,” “Lauren,” “Heathridge Manor” and “The Lesson.” Thomas Gibson will also be directing another episode later this season, titled “Over Kill.”

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