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Criminal Minds, “Elephant’s Memory”: There’ll Be A Golden Moment Reaching Down.

All that’s sacred comes from youth
Dedication, naive and true
With no power, nothing to do
I still remember, why don’t you?

It’s much easier to pick the Golden Moments when we’re talking about Colbert and his ongoing battle with that dastardly Rain or the high drama of Gossip Girl (xoxo). It’s a little harder trying to explain what we find “golden” about a television episode that takes place almost entirely at Dachau or an episode centered on a teen spree killer, like the Criminal Minds episode, “Elephant’s Memory.” I have a simple grading system, though. To quote Chris Rock (on an entirely different subject), I want somebody to move me. Whether it’s to move me to laugh hysterically or to sob like a child is up to the somebody.

In this episode of Criminal Minds, we meet young Owen Savage. Owen almost certainly has an undiagnosed learning disability that although mild, was significant enough to destroy any chance of academic success. He’s likely the smartest kid in his class, but he can’t prove it. His problems with spatial relations spill over into his sporting attempts and much to his father’s chagrin, he’s not a star athlete. When he tries to join the wrestling team, he’s sexually humiliated. And it’s on tape. And it’s uploaded to the web. His mother died in a drunk driving-related car accident. She was the drunk.

All of these factors are so horrendous that it’s curious that Hotch dismisses Reid’s comment that Owen’s murderous rampage is understandable. No one is saying that Owen’s actions are excusable or laudable. But understandable? Look, most of us reading this have been teenagers. Maybe some of you ARE teenagers. It really sucks sometimes, doesn’t it? Everyone tells you that you need to be more responsible, more grownup but they don’t actually give you a voice or any more power. Or maybe it’s the kids you go to school with. Maybe the worst part of your day is waking up to know you’ve got to go face them again. Well, gather around the campfire because your cool aunt Salomé is about to drop some science.

Okay. You ready? Here it goes: You will live through it. I know it seems like it will never end and every day is excruciating, but the good news is, you’re gonna make it. Every second you get through it is another second you don’t have to go through again. Then, you’ll be off to college or the military or other work or porn–hey, I don’t judge–and every year, you’ll laugh more about how much high school sucked. Sure, it’ll be a bitter laugh but that’s okay. You made it through. Then maybe one day, you’ll be confronted with a younger version of yourself and you’ll be able to tell them exactly what I’m telling you.

And that brings us back to our clip. At the episode’s beginning, we saw Reid at his first NA meeting. He ends up having to leave early after being paged to come in and work Owen’s case. Before he leaves, though, an older agent who recognizes him encourages him to stick with the program, even giving Reid his one year medallion as a sort of talisman. Reid takes it and buries himself in the case, perhaps becoming too emotionally involved.

Around the time our golden moment clip begins, Reid has figured out where Owen is planning to go and he’s so nervous about the boy being hurt that he takes a lot of crazy risks. Reid is being so secretive, you see, because he can relate. When he said Owen’s actions were understandable, he meant that HE could understand them. As we’ve seen in past episodes, Reid didn’t exactly have the best childhood experiences. You may be able to guess that those translated into not exactly the best high school experiences, either. So it all boils down to this: Reid sees himself in Owen. He can relate. But can Owen relate to him? Reid tries to convince him to give himself up, just after Reid ditches his flak jacket and weapon. Take an emotional moment, add some Johnny Cash–especially something like the elegant and devastating “Hurt”–and I’m a weeping mess. Top it off with a such a solid performance as the one Matthew Gray Gubler gives and I’ll just be over here in the fetal position, if you need me.

So without further ado, our newest Golden Moment.

And here’s the video for “Hurt,” because if you’re like me, you’ll be in the mood to hear it after that clip.

And if you need someone to talk to, your cool aunt Salomé is available at AIM ID: La Madone du Roc.


About Salome G

Raised by werewolves.

3 responses »

  1. I really liked this clip, I just wish they’d kept playing Hurt instead of the “tense, dramatic music of drama for a drama-filled moment of tension” score they had going on there.

  2. Yeah, I thought the same thing when I was clipping it. I know when I feel tense, show. I don’t need a protip. They were doing so well with the Cash, too–using “The Man Comes Around” in two key scenes.

  3. Jeez, that kid is the go to for disturbed characters. Still, looks like it was an awesome episode and Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt is the best there is.


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