'Law & Order: Criminal Intent' series finale: That's it?

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Image Credit: Will Hart/USA Network

Last night was the series finale of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, otherwise known as The Social Network Mad Libs. Just look at the set-up: A set of wealthy twins from [Princeton] file a lawsuit against an intelligent [woman] who created a [dating] website, claiming she stole their idea. Meanwhile, 1990s teen heartthrob [James Van Der Beek] plays a partner in the [dating]

website with a fondness for partying and drugs. A million dollars isn’t cool, but do you know what’s really not cool? Letting Law & Order: CI go out with such a lazy episode.

Back in February, after USA set the premiere date for the final season of the procedural, I pleaded for the series and its writers to let Vincent D’Onofrio’s Det. Goren die. As I wrote, I felt the most fitting end for the perpetually tortured detective was to allow him to go out with a bang, allowing him to finally be at peace. But watching the final season — during which Goren got police-ordered psychiatric help from Julia Ormond — I was willing to let that idea go. I would have been okay with an episode in which Goren found inner-peace without having to pass onto another world. In which he let go of his inner turmoil involving his incredibly flawed past and family life. In which he bested a CI recurring villain with nothing more than a chess board and philosophy book. But, instead, we got an episode which didn’t even play like a season finale, let alone a series finale.

I get what the writers were doing. Showing Goren ride off with Eames (Kathryn Erbe) after his last(?) psychiatric appointment — during which he was deemed capable of holding down his job without letting it drive him to the brink of insanity — set up Goren as a happy detective, going about business as usual. It’s a fitting end to a series finale that was also business as usual. The episode was normal. And, for once, the detective that led the case was normal. But I couldn’t help but want more. Why not give us an episode that revolved around Goren and his family life, past, and what he wanted for his future? One that tapped into his previous problems at his workplace? One that bolstered his relationship with longtime partner Eames? As EW’s Ken Tucker wrote before Sunday’s episode, “When it premiered ten years ago, Criminal Intent broke with the formula in a significant way: It was essentially a vehicle for one actor, rather than the ensemble piece that all the others were forced by Wolf to be. That’s because the outsize personality of Vincent D’Onofrio over-shadowed any actor with the temerity to squeeze into the TV screen with him.” Considering Goren’s outsize personality, it seemed a shame to watch the series end with an ellipses, rather than an exclamation point.

Anyone else find themselves disappointed?

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateWardEW

Read more:
The ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent’ era ends tonight

Comments (189 total) Add your comment
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  • shamonfrom the bx

    I was and now i think they should have ended after eames fires Goren, and quits the NYPD.

    • MiaS

      Yeah-what is up with that?
      Bring the show back but don’t mention ANY of that?? WTF?
      “Glad to have you back”-a one liner thrown by someone we don’t know in the 1st episode back.
      Was REALLY disappointed with that episode until this last one.
      SERIES FINALE?? WTF?
      They (and the audience) deserved better.

      • Darryl Mills

        Yea, I was glad to see the series return with Goren & Eames. They’ve tried it with others and it just doesn’t work. I was hoping this generations Coloumbo would be back for a few more seasons. Shame.

      • rick

        yeah, I’m with you guys…kind of let down. I didn’t realize I was even watching the finale until the last five minutes…I started to get a clue…then disbelief! Maybe we’ll get a made=for-TV movie….can Jeff Goldblum be in that one too???

      • LIGHTSANDSTROBES4LESS

        Im with you 150% I thought it was going to start from where it left off,not some person we don’t even know say welcome back I thought maybe like she would call him or he would she something and go back undercover and get his job back and at the end I think were suppose to think he has found some kind of love with his therapist by not wanting to see the other person by the day he looked at her,no matter what ever single episode sucked USA The lighting was bad to bright USA didn’t look like NBC not having the ADA There kinda sucked too,it just wasn’t right now please help me,WHY PUT IT ON USA TO RE-RUN IT ON NBC. I THINK IT WAS ALL ABOUT MONEY ALL I KNOW NBC IS STUPID THEY TOOK OFF BOTH L&O And then Chase they don’t know what there doing now here we go again something new 4 PILOT SHOWS IN LESS THAN A YR WTF IS RIGHT WHAT HAPPEN TO THE PEOPLE US. LET US DECIDE WE WATCH. .AHHH SOOO PISSED OFF NBC U STINK

      • Vicky

        I really thought Goren and Eames should have hooked up at the end. This was the best L&O series they had. It is a shame that it had to come to an end. Even the original L&O were episodes “ripped from the headlines” as we all know there’s no shortage of horror stories on the news every day. I will really miss Criminal Intent and Vincent D’onofrio. He is a great actor maybe they can use him on CSI Miami he would be a huge asset.

    • nancy thomson

      I couldn’t agree more!! what a let down. through all these final series and this is what we end up with, crazy! yes they should have just ended it with Eames firing Goren. But a big NO to Jeff Goldblum he cannot not act, he’s dull! Vincent D’OnoFrio is a marvelous actor, stupid no talent writer for this one. Big thumbs down.

    • Sheryl

      It was a wonderful, fitting ending to a great series.

      Go rag on some other series. This one certainly didn’t deserve it.

      • deedeedragons

        I completely agree. Why some people need everything wrapped up in a neat little bow, i’ll never know.

      • William

        I agree with you, Sheryl ….

        The strength and allure of this show was the depth of the stories and the incredible analysis by Goren. It required the viewer to think, and to sometimes read between the lines. Little things, like the fact that Goren was wearing a sweater, instead of a suit, that Eames was waiting for him outside, and that he actually addressed her by her first name, to me were intriguing clues about where Goren is now “at” in his life.

        Indeed, I think that these were all subtle cues that Goren was starting to achieve the kind of closure that some of the complainants here were pining for.

        How’s that for some L&O CI irony: These folks got what they were seeking, and didn’t even realize it ….

      • Yolanda Brown

        Sorry this is almost a year late, but I felt that the show ended the way it should be. We can’t just wrap up Goren’s sessions saying that he’s cured, or for him and Eames to hook up. Life can’t be that way, and it can’t be solved withing 60 minutes, plus commercials. For Goren to be willing to see the shrink even after the sessions were over was a big step. I got teary eyed at the end. Goren and Eames, I’l miss you.

  • Grace Rickershauser

    Goren deserved a better send off!!

    • Mary H

      I agree at first I was disappointed in the ending but after thinking about it, I liked it. I don’t want to see some wild love scene between Goren and Eames. She is the only partner he ever felt comfortable with. They watched each other’s back for all those years. Their relationship went further than some love story. I sincerely this is NOT the end of CI but I am grateful they brought this much back.

      • pat

        I was very excited when it was announced that CI was coming back. I thought they were bringing it back to end it in a nice way. Now thinking back about the way it ended last night, I am hopeful that they left it open to actually come back again. I absolutely love the Goren & Eames partnership and was glad it went no further than “partners”. I sincerely hope it returns once again.

      • drella

        I really liked the ending, sweet and not over the top.

      • katie

        You make the best point. Donofrio is an outsized actor and Kathryn Erbe was the best counterpoint. Glad they didn’t muck it up with sentimentality; not in the characters’ style. Maybe “Goren” can find a relationship, maybe with “Eames”.. but best not to draw us pictures.. we can draw whatever we want.

    • Susan

      I can’t say I agree with all of you because any chance I get to see Vincent is a great show. I liked the smile – it was ohhhh so nice to see and well a girl could only wish a man as intelligent as Goren would smile at her like that. What I will say is why the end? I was starting to feel at home again and then the rug gets pulled out – ever so gently but still the warmth is gone. A small hug and maybe a kiss would have been nice. Oh well I’ll just have to imagine my ending and I have a vivid imagination.

    • nancy thomson

      yes he does, what a let down, unless this a tease and they will be back, hope so

    • jcosta

      I thought it was awesome. It showed that he was dealing with his demons and that his partner truly trusted him(which at one time she didn’t)He knows the road that he has to take and whether he gets there or not…we will never know. This is the true shame, the fact that the show is going off the air. The shrink was awesome. i think all of them gave us hope in some sort of odd way.

      • katie

        me too jcosta.. great series.. shows a more realistic view of a partnership.. we all have luggage; some in new condition and some pretty battered.. but it gets us thru

    • Judith

      Yes, I agree,Bobby definitely deserved a better send off…but HE WAS the show,and maybe that gives a glimpse of hope that maybe,maybe they will be back

      Vincent D’onofrio you are the greatest and I hope I can see you in other things

  • babs

    I had to watch the episode twice to be OK with it. Though I agree it was lazy, I think Goren had far too much going on to try to wrap it all up in one episode. I got a sense of continuity, with him agreeing to continue to Ormond; and especially with the sweet, intimate moment of meeting Eames at the end. There was discussion earlier of whether he was in love with her, and I think that moment solidified that; for me, anyway. I had hope that he might be able to finally pursue an intimate relationship. Or maybe that’s me projecting because I’ll miss the hell out of this show.

    • daviddavid

      I couldn’t agree with this comment more … yes,I’ll miss the show and it was a sweet, intimate moment at the end. I don’t remember him calling her ‘Alex’ the entire 10 years; I do believe the show will be back, so to have something out of the ordinary happen with them would have been awkward. Better, for sure … but, this was real, real good!!! D’Onofrio …amazing actor!

  • Patricia

    I wasn’t disappointed. I thought it was perfect. And you weren’t paying attention if you thought that was Goren’s last therapy session. Did you miss Ormand’s character’s assent to Goren’s “same time next week?” And, at the end, the two lead characters were clearly playing with the audience members who were hoping to get some sort of romantic declaration between the partners. Heck, the actors were practically laughing out loud at the spots that seemed ripe for some sort of move in that direction, instead brining it right back to business as usual. I’m terribly sorry to see this end, and I hope it won’t be the last we see of these characters. But, all things considered, it was a satisfying sign off.

    • rick

      You nailed it bud, good comment.

  • David

    Well it certainly seems obvious that this episode was designed to “not” be a finale if the series get’s a save perhaps by the fans.Also to me maybe the series didn’t need a wrap up finale because it never really was positioned to have a real end,business as usual might be the best finale as if the detectives keep working just not on TV.I have always wondered what the two main character’s relationship away from work was like as well as the actors themselves.We got a quick glimpse,enough to see the respect and friendship,so maybe it could have been more but I’m not all that upset.

  • Terry

    Would have rather seen Goren and Eames finally find come to know the true feelings they had for each other. (Love).

    • K Walker

      I was a little disappointed. However when I thought about it, I think that they wanted to leave the ending open. No dying off of characters. What this does ia leave a possibility for a return or maybe even a spin-off. I have always loved Criminal Intent and even though the final episode left me a little let down, it also left me panting for more. Maybe that was the intention of the writers and producers.

  • PN

    Maybe the producers and writers ran out of things to write and decided to end the show. It’s hard to find something new or creative for long running TV shows, thus leading to the laziness of that final show. I could tell that Cosby and Golden Girls were running out of ideas in their final seasons in 1992 on NBC. I watched them less. That happens a lot with those 5- to 10-year old TV shows.

  • heather42

    i’m tossed up…i know we all wanted to see Goren get with Eames,but at the same time,they are too close as friends to mess it all up with getting intimate with each other…this is one point i liked with the show,showing that a male and female can be friends,thru many ups and downs,without having to get frisky with each other…

  • Wordchick

    I thought this one was lazy as well. And, Goren has never been in love with Eames. Nicole Wallace got him going. Too bad they didn’t have her pop back up like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. She would have made for an interesting close to this series.

    • Jane

      Isn’t she dead? That would have made coming back hard.

      • Abby

        No, she’s not dead. In her last episode, she drove her ex-fiancee’s daughter to safety w relatives in AZ, and disappeared into the sunset.

      • Ames6254

        With her, there’s always the possibility that she faked it.

      • bob

        she’s dead- she died in the episode “Frame”. goren’s mentor killed her.

      • big daddy

        Yes, Nicole Wallace was killed by Bobby’s mentor. He told Bobby that her last words were something like “Tell Bobby he’s the only man that I truly loved”.

    • Venus

      I agree…never thought he and Ames were a fit or acted “in love”. Nicole pushed his buttons a few seasons ago. Even though Nicole’s dead, should have brought something from the past involving their relationship. Also even though we know his mom was crazy, could have given us more background on his life. It was a lazy ending. I’ll miss you Goren!

    • D.Adair

      I don’t think so. Fascinated, yes, but he was never “in love” with Nicole. I think you’ve been watching too much Dexter.

    • Alix

      Not only dead, but excoriated. Goren was fascinated by her but repulsed at the same time. She was in love with him, though, as we know from her dying words (shared, helpfully, by her killer).

  • lily

    I was a bit diappointed as well. I wanted more of Goren’s pysch appointment. I did like that when he walked out of the building he seemed to see Eames in some sort of a new light or if anything we got to see the affection he feels for her and her meaning in his life. It’s obvious already after so many pivotal moments that she’d do anything for him (including quit her job) etc. So the friendship and ‘love’ is there. In my mind, it’s only a matter of time for Goren to start to heal and trust people before he and Eames get closer. I hope the show comes back.

    • Darryl Mills

      I hope it comes back too, but I bet there’s a conflict with Vincent D’Onofrio. Ten years is a long time to do a series.

  • Sue

    with the commercials i saw for it (“the episode you’ll be talking about…”), i expected much more.

    • MiaS

      Yeah-me too. But I guess I am talking about it-just not the way I thought.

    • Cydney

      LOL.. Aren’t you all still talking about it now?

  • Judi

    How about a movie????

  • John

    It’s been a long time since I’ve been so horribly sad to see a series end. I wish Vincent D’Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe all the best in their pursuits now that the series has come to a close. If they decide to do some kind of sequel, or movie, or even continue on that would be real good.

    • Alix

      Oh please no. It gets to be like a pro athlete who retires but keeps coming back, over and over again. After a while, it just gets pathetic.

  • Nick

    I was hoping for an episode that talked more about what they did in between – how did Eames come back to NYPD? What did Bobby do when he was with the Feds during his CI hiatus, and did that help him come back to NYPD on a conditional basis? Did I miss this in the 2nd episode?

  • Linda L

    I liked it. I thought the ending was kind of subtle and made me go “hmmmmmm” about Goren and Eames. It also left open for a mini-series or something like it.

    • tracy bluth

      I did actually like how they ended the relationship between Goren and Eames…maybe I’m more torn than I thought…

      • nancy

        I loved the show from the first time I saw it. Iam very sorry that they decided to end it again. The greatest part of the show was the respect that Goren & Eames showed each other. You see that so seldom on TV show today. I also hope they bring it back in a mini series of like the Jesse Stone stories a movie two or three times a year. That would be great. Good Luck to Goren & Eames whatever they decide to do. You two provided some great memories.

      • Donna

        I, too, hope for TV movies, like the Jesse Stone series. Alas, I really think this is an hope that will be in vain. However, I liked the ending. Open, yet somehow final.

    • Carole

      Oh come on now dont let this the last of law and order ci youall took off law and orde .Please dont take off ci .You know lots of people look foward to see what Bobby is going to solve next .Eams is gona be nissed .come on now bring them back . Have them interacting with their fellings for each other . Worke it out with Bobbys shrink and have Eames seeing one and her talking to hers . If you have good writers you could do it big . Law and order ci is one of the few shows on tv thats worth a pinch of any thing.

      • arlene

        L&O CI is my one “never miss” show, because of the fascinating charcater of Goren and the Ames spot on dialoque. I hope I see those characters again because the reruns aren’t enough. The ending was from the less is more philospophy. The most significant thing about it was how Bobby called her Alex. The fact that she was waiting for him spoke volumes about how much she cared for him. She was there to support him no matter waht the shrink’s decision turned out to be and he saw it in an instant for what it was , unconditional love and that answered one of his questions he put to the shrink.

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