While it was refreshing to watch a story that centered entirely around one of the BAU members, Reid, Criminal Minds featured an entirely heartbreaking ending this week.
This week's episode began with Reid's discovery that his love interest had been kidnapped, by virtue of a single word uttered by her captor: "Zugzwang." The word itself prophesied pretty much how the story would go:
Hotch: And what did he say to you?
Reid: Zugzwang. It's a chess term. Describes a point in the chess game when a player realizes he'll inevitably be checkmated. He has to decide whether to resign, or to play through to the bitter end. | permalink
We eventually learned that the stalker was not a man, but a woman, and that she was a former student whose thesis had been rejected by Dr. Maeve Donovan - Reid's love interest. The stalker, convincingly played by Michelle Trachtenberg, in turn wanted to take away everything of importance to Maeve, including Spencer Reid.
We're used to seeing the most appealing innocent captive get rescued by the BAU at the last minute. So it was a bit of a shock to see that it didn't happen this time. The ending - though awful - was very well done. Right after we heard the gunshot, the camera panned across the shocked faces of the team, finally landing on Reid, whose face began to crumple in stark agony.
Matthew Gray Gubler (as Dr. Reid) fairly shone with his complete vulnerability, first when he finally revealed his secret to Hotch, and then to the rest of the BAU:
Reid: He thinks he'll get away with this. And, he might. I have a wealth of knowledge I should be applying to this case: behavioral patterns of violent stalkers, tactical recovery strategies, victim survival odds, but right now I can't focus on anything for more than four seconds at a time. Which makes me the dumbest person in the room. So, please help me. Help me find her. | permalink
Procedurally as well, this show was well written: I had a hard time putting it all together, just as the team did all the way through. Trachtenberg's brilliant portrayal of the unsub was all sweetness at first when she was in the kitchen with her hubby (Maeve's former fiance), and then turned completely dark as she smashed him in the head with a wine bottle.
The only weak spot that I could see was the scene where Garcia offered to show Reid what Maeve looked like and he declined. Emotionally it makes sense, but when investigating her disappearance, it doesn't. He should at least know what the victim looks like before he goes searching for her.
It was so good to see the team pulling together for Reid and it was interesting to see Reid choose Blake to help him brainstorm through 100.5 days of his communication with Maeve. But it was all offset by the horrible ending: all through Criminal Minds Season 8 I was rooting for Reid, hoping he'd have a continual love interest after they met. So disappointing to see it all end. No doubt Blake and Morgan will try to bolster his spirits, but I'm guessing he'll be a little broken for a while.
And now over to you: did you foresee the unsub being a woman? What are your thoughts?
P.S. Don't forget to check out the other Criminal Minds quotes.
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.