Criminal Minds – Season 9 Episode 12 – The Black Queen Review

The BAU team flashed back to 2004, where they arrested a guy called Sam Russell after confessing to a string of murders. They also recruited Garcia while they were in San Jose, and we got to see a little snapshot of who Garcia was before joining the FBI. She either went to jail, or took the job, and she wasn’t very happy about it.

ImageWe’ve seen a few other episodes that centered around other members of the team (BTK and Hotch, Morgan’s abuse case, Reed’s mother’s schizophrenia, Rossi’s ex-wife’s death, and Blake’s hometown killer), that have been hit and miss. While they have helped to give some back story to the characters we’ve grown to love, I don’t know if we necessarily need it. We’ve grown to love these characters through nine seasons of ups and downs, and at this stage the people they used to be aren’t all that relevant, what matters is who they are now.

They’re called back to San Jose to review Russell’s case as he’s soon to face the lethal injection, and claims to be innocent. A local group of hackers (that Garcia used to be a part of) called Starchamber are backing him, hacking into the Department of Justice website to flood it with innocent propaganda. It wouldn’t be an episode of Criminal Minds without a few murders, and when they come about the team decide Russell either had a partner or is innocent.

ImageGarcia suits up and becomes The Black Queen once again, to infiltrate Starchamber who had stolen Russell’s file from the police. Her ex Shane (the head of Starchamber) is not only pissed that she left to work for the FBI, but tells her there’s been an inside man forever. It was strange to see Paulo Costanzo as a hacker badguy; he always plays the good guy (like in Royal Pains), so it was different to see him play Shane. We then learn that he’s a creeper, I mean, he’s big time weird, and has followed Garcia and Morgan’s movements obsessively because he’s worried that they’re together.

ImageAnd decides to rub Shane up the wrong way…


Shane fills her in on the fact that Russell had a silent partner, another hacker, who duped him into confessing. The BAU goes up against Starchamber to find out who the killer is (which stressed me out because, AS IF!), and it wasn’t long before the killer revealed themself. Shane gets drugged by one of his colleagues, but don’t worry, the team is there and everyone’s alright after a little adrenaline injection to the heart.

ImageI wasn’t quite sure what the point of the episode was, apart from showing us some more of who Garcia used to be. During the episode I found myself wondering what the show could do next. In the nine and a half seasons that we’ve seen they’ve covered pretty much everything. I’m still going to tune in every week, when you’ve stuck by something for so long there’s no point in giving up. A decent couple of creepy episodes is what the show needs, because at the moment, it’s just a bit burned out.

Have a good day,

The Ninja


– Russell playing with his rosary beads staring excitedly at JJ’s hair cracked me up.

– Do we need to see more back story episodes like this?

– Keep Shane around!


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