Joe Mantegna starts his 'Criminal Minds' duty

Joemantegna2_criminalminds_240_2On Wednesday (Oct. 31) night's very special Halloween Criminal Minds, a white, male serial killer terrorized female victims, with a sexual element to his crimes. Oh wait. That's every episode of Criminal Minds. This week, though, introduced new leading man Joe Mantegna to the hit drama's cast.

[If you haven't seen the episode, stop reading, because this recap'll will leave things as spoiled as a weighted down, water-logged corpse.]

Although Thomas Gibson's Hotch has taken over since Jason Gideon (Mandy Patinkin) drove off into the sunset, many viewers have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Mantegna's ostensible fill-in for a couple weeks.

Introduced duck hunting, Mantegna's David Rossi has been retired for nearly a decade, becoming something of a literary and media superstar in the interim. In not time flat, we learned that Rossi is meticulous, gruff and that he's a bit of a rock star, drawing giddy admiration from JJ, Emily and particularly Spencer. We got a strong hint that he has a past of some sort with Jayne Atkinson's Erin.

We also learned that he's got his own way of working, a way that doesn't jibe with the way Hotch and Gideon run the BAU.

"Sharing is a learned skill," he explained to Hotch. "You know, when this all started, there were only a few of us. We'd go out on the road alone. We didn't group think."

The lone wolf Rossi didn't share his ideas, preferring to take his own private notes and to operate outside of the purview of both the FBI team and the local law enforcement (represented by everybody's favorite West Wing body guard Michael O'Neill) to lure out this week's unsub.

What with all the time given to establishing Rossi's motives, the unsub was sold a bit short. His M.O. -- putting up "Have You Seen Me?" pictures on his victims doors in advance, kidnapping them, leaving masks and removing their faces -- was plenty creepy, but there wasn't any real mystery. Penelope found an obvious connection between the two victims with led them right to the unsub in no time flat.

The case was such a breeze that Rossi managed to request a file in a different case, a 20-year-old murder involving Diana and Richard Galen and their three children. This unsolved crime appears to be what has brought Rossi back to the FBI.

Joey Mants is a pro and it's no surprise that his stern and authoritative presence instantly fits in with the established cast, nor that his age and experience set up all sorts of generational conflicts for future episodes. Part of me figures that if Joey Mants had to do one CBS procedural, he ought to be chewing on the Mamet and Mamet-esque dialogue on The Unit. I was also distracted by his waxing and waning facial hair within the episode, as if somebody decided the character needed a goatee half-way through the episode shoot and didn't consider that things weren't being shot in sequence, producing several continuity gaffes. Oh and was it just me or was Mantegna doing more than his usual amount of Fat Tony for this character?

Anyway, if the addition of Paget Brewster last season wasn't enough to make me more than a sporadic Criminal Minds viewer, Joey Mants won't make me a regular either, but the latest shift to its ensemble appears to have been smooth.

What'd you think of Mantegna's first appearance? Are you interested in the character or will you continue to miss Mandy?