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Criminal Minds Has Disturbed My Mind

So, I watched the season premier of Criminal Minds. And I have a few things to say about it. This episode had some very intense material in it, at least to me, and was rather disturbing on several levels. Lemme discuss further. (There will be copious spoilers for the CM premier.)

As a point, this post will contain topics about sexual abuse and assault that some might consider triggery. Everything is below the LJ cut.

I don’t write Criminal Minds fanfic. Mostly because, unlike Heroes or the other shows I write fanfic for, I don’t ship any of the characters. To me the CM characters exist in an extremely intellectual sphere. Oh sure, I could see the ship potential between any combination of the characters if I wanted to hunt for it, but generally I just don’t make the effort. I pretty much like them as they’re written. If I were to use them in a piece of fanfiction, I’d pretty much just be writing it like an episode of the show. (I have used Criminal Minds in one piece of mine, a crossover I did with Heroes, but even then the CM characters were just being themselves. Profilers. That’s it. That’s all I wanted or needed from them was to just be their awesome selves.)

Also, unlike the majority of my other shows, Criminal Minds is fairly self-contained. They have a new bad guy to catch each week, albeit with consistent character arcs between each episodes and the occasional recurring villain. Because the recurring villains are so rare, it makes episodes where they reappear very intense in terms of character involvement.

Take this season premier, with the Boston Reaper. Introduced in last season’s “Omnivore” and reappearing in the season finale “To Hell… and Back,” this killer is all about domination and control. Killing, for this person, has become almost secondary to controlling other people. He controlled the Boston police for ten years by making a deal with the detective that had been hunting him, and then tried to make a similar deal with SSA Aaron Hotchner. Hotchner didn’t bite, and the Reaper confronted him.

In the course of the premier, we learn that the Reaper stabbed Hotchner repeatedly and then threatened his ex-wife and son. Subsequently, Haley and Jack have to be sent into Witness Protection, and Hotchner won’t be able to talk to them.

What really shocked me was not this turn of events, which fit right into the Reaper’s M.O. What got me was the confrontation between the Reaper and Hotchner in his apartment. Because it is the most sexually charged, most controlling, dominating, fucking disturbing rape scene I’ve ever scene on television. And only one guy had their shirt off for the whole thing.

The reason no one suspected George Foyette (the Reaper’s real name) of being the Reaper before the BAU gang put it together, was because he actually stabbed himself to make it look like the Reaper attacked him some ten years ago. Subsequently, when the Reaper had disarmed and stunned Hotchner, he told Aaron that he knew enough about anatomy to stab himself, or Hotchner, without it being immediately fatal.

And then he stabs him. Very slowly. Takes off his shirt. Tells Hotchner he’ll look like him now, with the scars and all. Stabs him again. Slowly. Comments that the profile says guys that stab are impotent men who use the knife to substitute for sex. Tells Aaron he’ll have to change how he profiles now. Stabs him again. Very slowly. In close proximity, straddling his body, his face right in Hotchner’s. All the while Aaron is barely conscious and moaning in pain.

Most uncomfortably thing I’ve watched in a long time. And as I was watching it, I realized I was watching a rape scene. A slow, lingering rape scene where the victim has been battered into submission before the rapist starts in on him/her.

If you’ve knocked around my journal for a bit, you’ve probably seen I’m very liberal with my kinks. I’ve written knifeplay and bloodplay, fics that were very violent and bloody, and I’ve written noncon and dubcon. I don’t squick easily. This particular set of scenes? Had me in that peculiar “I’m watching a train wreck happen but I can’t look away,” kind of mindset. I know television has gotten a lot more liberal with what they’re willing to show, and this particular scene didn’t actually show a whole lot (the lighting was silver-edged, whited-out and desaturated, and the worse they actually showed was a bloody knife in terms of gore), but what was being said and implied was profoundly disturbing.

I don’t hunt for the subtext on Criminal Minds (unlike Heroes, where I have to fight tonot see it), but this was easily the most sexually charged scene I’ve ever seen on television. And no, I don’t watch a ton of shows, but I’ve seen several where characters hook up and there’s French kissing and divesting of clothes and hands running down naked backs and all that. Not nearly as intense as this scene where the clothes were basically on.

I don’t know what that says about me, other than the fact that mixing such a sexually charged scene with very heavy D/s overtones and personal stakes was… one of the most well-crafted scenes I’ve seen on that show, and one of the most disturbing. And that’s saying something.

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Timothy
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