Criminal Minds 8x13 “Magnum Opus” Recap.
For my Fandomverse Big Bang challenge, I decided to recap 8x13 “Magnum Opus” in order to try and work out some of my anger towards the show. Figured I might as well try and expend the energy doing something useful.
It’s insanely long, spoilery, and snarky. It’s also mostly negative. You’ve been warned.
I thought this episode was pretty stupid, even from a clinical view, but you’ll find out why quickly enough when you start reading the recap. ”Magnum Opus” means “Great Work”, which makes this episode nothing short of irony.
Previously on Criminal Minds (Hotch): An insanely white-washed version of what happened in the Maeve/Reid storyline. Holy crap. In case you missed it, Maeve - Reid’s secret phone girlfriend - died in the last episode in such a ridiculously over-the-top way it puts all Gilbert and Sullivan shows to shame. You’d never know that by watching this condensed previously. It actually manages to make the story arc seem decent. That’s saying something.
The previously also omits all of Reid’s backstory, which should by all rights also be adding on to the weight of Maeve’s death (like his dad leaving him, his never-ending angst storylines, etc), but hey. I understand a new episode needs more than two seconds to tell its story.
We open to a set of an alley. Really. It’s so fake looking you can practically imagine all the people on the camera side moving about to film it. There’s also a really stupid mural on the back wall that I noticed, but didn’t bother to originally recap because it’s so dumb. Twenty minutes in though, found out that was a mistake, so here’s the mention.
Random!Lady is on her cell, bitching to her friend because said friend has dumped her for some guy. I might suggest Random!Lady then dump said friend, but hey, this is the same chick who decided that being alone in a creepy alley was a good place to make a call. Not exactly Mensa material there.
Cue Creepy!Guy, who enters the alley just as Random!Lady hangs up. As would be expected of creepy guys, Creepy!Guy is wearing all dark clothes, has a hoodie over his head, and is totally in the dark - thereby completely hiding his face. In one of the better stupid ass scenes of this godforsaken episode, we get a much much too long she-looks-at-him-he-looks-creepy-she-looks-scared-he-looks-creepy back and forth.
Eventually, Creepy!Guy pulls something out of his jacket. I’m sure we’re meant to think this would be a knife or something (this entire scene is nothing but fake-out after fake-out), and therefore we should fear for Random!Lady’s life, but eh. Random!Lady’s wearing red.
But no, turns out it’s just a lighter, which Creepy!Guy duly lights his cigarette with, illuminating his Creepy!Face.
Random!Lady finally grows a brain, and tries to go back into whatever place she came out of, but uh oh! The door’s locked! Whatever. Of course Creepy!Guy now takes this as his cue to start his Creepy!Walk towards her. Random!Lady is a little desperate now, trying to get the door opened. Yet oddly, I’m still not caring about whether she lives or dies.
As she’s trying to get something out of her purse (hopefully mace - but then again, Not!Mensa), the door flies open and Creepy!Guy’s girlfriend comes out. “Hey, babe.” Creepy!Guy gives Random!Lady a knowing look, and he and Girlfriend walk off into the dark alley non-sunset.
Random!Lady lets out a sigh of relief, turns around, then sees a dead body in the trash. Cue screams of terror.
Cut to a pair of legs walking up a flight of stairs. Naturally, these Mrs. Robinson gams belong to JJ. I’m not quite sure what’s with Criminal Minds’ obsession with AJ Cook’s legs these last few years. She’s wearing a decent length skirt, but you’d never know it since her jacket is longer, making her look like a potential flasher. She’s walking up to the floor Reid’s apartment is on, and I will take the opportunity to point out the writers won’t even give him a break here either. So remember folks, when you’re watching Season Five where Reid’s on crutches or using a cane, keep in mind he’s going up and down at least one flight of stairs per day.
I’m also going to point out it actually looks like Reid lives more at a boarding house (and in a boarding room) than in an actual apartment. At most, perhaps a renovated private hotel (the interior actually reminds me of Edgefield McMenamins). I base this not only on the simplicity of the stairs (it looks like a staircase in a home), but also on the nearly complete lack of landing, no apparent elevator, the inside of his “apartment” (which I’ll describe in a moment), as well as the later insinuation his neighbor is elderly. This isn’t uncommon in DC, at least not for students. A great many former hotels and houses have been converted to apartment-type living spaces.
Anyway, back to Mrs. JJson. As she steps onto the landing, she notices a bunch of gift baskets in front of Reid’s door. It’s Apartment 23, which is weird, since it’s the second - and not the third - door on the landing. As she goes to knock, footsteps sound behind her. Turning around, it’s immediately revealed who’s leaving the gift baskets, as a guilty looking Garcia arrives. She’s carrying yet another gift basket, immediately proving that neither the prop department nor the director is paying attention to this scene. Despite a bevy of gift baskets obviously left over several days - to which Reid is ignoring - Garcia’s decided she needs to leave a living plant. I’m just gonna fanwank she’s doing this to tempt Reid to at least open his door and try to save the poor thing, but considering this issue is completely ignored by the ramble Garcia gives defending her gifts to JJ, I’m still in the eh category.
Both are checking on “Spence” before work, which is interesting, since I’m pretty sure neither live within easy distance of Reid’s place (presumably, according to “Coda” he lives somewhere in the Van Ness area), and lemme tell you traffic at that hour in DC s.u.c.k.s. I mean it. I’m not sure if there are any other places that actually have roads that change direction depending upon what time of the day it is. Reid’s place is also nowhere near Quantico, so literally, these two are going WELL out of their way to visit him - and clearly Garcia is doing this frequently.
As Garcia’s justifying her current basket, she babbles on about how she’s gone all Reid-like and researched foods that are natural mood lifters (nuts and seeds) - none of which explains the plant BTW - in order to try and make him feel better. Apparently they have magnesium and magnesium is blah blah fishcakes not really caring here.
This scene is already starting to piss me off. Normally I love JJ’s “I’m humoring you” face, mostly because she does it during appropriate moments - like say when Reid’s rambling his ever-loving head off, or doing some weird shit that even Marilyn Manson would raise an eyebrow at. I bet it makes her an excellent mother to an energetic three year old. But here? It’s out of place, even if yes, Garcia is rambling on endearingly. The reason why JJ’s eyerolls work (and Rossi’s too for that matter - particularly his sarcastic quips) is because they’re pointing out that something that’s being taken too seriously is not really all that serious in reality.
But this IS serious, and her “I’m humoring you” expressions are completely making it feel like both Garcia and Reid are overreacting.
Garcia then rings the doorbell, and JJ tells “Spence” they just want to know that he’s all right. Garcia then tells him if he’s conscious, he should knock twice.
To which he knocks twice.
Okay, at this point I’m going to stop for a moment. I nearly gave up doing this recap right here, and what you don’t know is that I’ve already skipped several of the previously (and future) recapped scenes in this blowhardian essay trying to at least get something down for the Fandomverse challenge. I really wanted to do this to try and work out some of the anger I still feel over this whole debacle.
Except: My irritation levels are so inexplicably sky-high right now, this episode is far more excruciating to watch than even I anticipated.
And the problem with that? Mere anger at what happened to Maeve doesn’t begin to explain or cover it. Yes, I’m angry they killed Maeve in such an over-the-top way. Yes, I’m angry we have to watch Reid go through this crap. Yes, I’m angry there’s not a single original thing about this entire plotline.
But still, I’m pretty damn good at setting aside my biases and still being able to recap something. And yet, that’s not happening. It’s bugging the crap out of me. Lucky for me, I finally figured it out on the drive home the other night.
They’re fucking playing what happened as comedy.
I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to smile at Garcia rambling about how she’s trying to help Reid; at JJ’s rolled eyes; at the two knocks on the door; at all the gift-baskets; at Morgan’s later tricks to get Reid to talk to them; etc. etc.
They’re all acting as if this is no more important than Reid getting dumped. As if Reid’s overreacting for still hiding from the world a measly two weeks after the event.
I’m sorry, but this offends me, and not just because A) it’s a disservice to Reid, and B) it negates the importance of the entire Reid/Maeve plotline.
Mostly it offends me because I actually had to watch my family try to recover from the brutal murder of my cousin, in a death so violent it left six people dead and made headlines for months. As if I should have rolled my eyes because Judy was totally overreacting by refusing to ever return to her home - making it a complete loss BTW - after Angie and another cousin were murdered in it.
I once tweeted Janine Sherman Barrois about whether they interview families in order to get their perspective, and she said no. They try and respect their privacy. I responded that sometimes I think they get it right, and sometimes they get it wrong.
This whole thing reeks of wrong. Even Haley’s death got dignity and respect.
(BTW, coming to this epiphany actually made recapping this episode easier.)
Garcia then asks JJ if Reid will ever be all right (oh just wait for the end of this episode for that rant), to which JJ replies “Eventually” and then proceeds to snarkily remind Reid “We’re all here for you no matter what”. It’s no wonder Reid’s not calling any of them back, although I doubt that’s the conclusion the writer intended with this scene. The women then leave, weirdly with JJ linking her arm through Garcia’s like they’re dating.
Cut to Reid, in all his Woobie glory. He’s even dressed in Woobie clothes (pajamas and a child-like fleece robe). You can practically see the imaginary Teddy Bear he should be holding in his arms. He’s sitting on the floor, for some reason against his door. I’d say he looks like hell, but really he only looks like someone who suffered a mousse attack on his hair. Honestly, it’s been more greasy when he was happy. Plus, he never brushes his hair anyway, so it’s not like that’s making a difference. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here saying we’re probably supposed to believe he’s been dropping the ball on the whole personal hygiene thing. I’m going to fanwank he’s occasionally shaving, otherwise it’d mean that in two weeks Reid can’t even grow a beard that’s full enough to be more than stubble, which IMO would be sadder than this entire B plot.
What gets me about this scene though is that apparently, Reid at some point went into a violent rampage in his apartment - despite the fact that we’ve never ever seen Reid react physically violent at any other time. His books are thrown everywhere, and I mean everywhere. They’re all over the floor. None are flung open. Can’t hurt ‘em too much, y’know.
Riiiiight. Whatever, Criminal Minds. Personally, I think it’s more in character they’d gather dust, but I can see how that’d be hard to show in only two weeks. Besides, reality would only mess with the episode’s closing scenes.
I’ll also take a moment to describe Reid’s apartment. It pretty much looks like a main room, with a bedroom off to the side. I’m not even sure he’s got a kitchen and/or bathroom. It’s a wooden floor, and the walls are actually painted a rather nice dark green color. One wall has several bookcases (usually filled) and a painting, and in the corner by the door there’s an old-fashioned leather armchair and table lamp. Across the room is an old leather couch, facing a wall with two windows covered with shears and…well, not much. A small chess table. There’s no TV, so between that and not reading I’ll let you all fanwank what Reid’s been doing these last two weeks. On another wall, he’s got an old-fashioned record player WTEAIWHSH!BNIJPMO (Which Two Episodes Ago I Would Have Said Ha! But Now It Just Pisses Me Off). There’s a small stained glass window - and rather bitchin’ stained glass, I might add - in a corner niche. MGG once said he liked small spaces, they make him feel more creative. It looks like they applied that to Reid as well.
To be honest, the place is infinitely decorated better than what I’d expect of Reid. It almost looks like an interior designer was called. It’s all dark wood, dark colors, simplistic, and leather. It definitely screams “I took time, care, and money to make this place a home suited to my individual tastes”. MGG says he considers Reid to be an Atticus Finch type of character. So imagine that type of room, and you have Reid’s apartment. Only with more color.
Anyway, Reid gets up and slowly walks to his couch. He sits down, picks up the book Maeve gave him, and lays down while clutching the book sadly to his chest. Presumably he’s trying not to cry.
Cut to Morgan’s office, where Shemar is awaiting his cue to start his lines. He’s on the phone pretending to listen to Reid’s rather pathetic pre-Zugzwang voicemail. “Hello! This is Spencer Reid. Please leave a message.” He’s leaving a message. Again. Because it must be drilled into our heads Reid’s not responding to anyone.
Blake interrupts, telling Morgan they’re ready for the meeting. Considering this is a meeting they’ve long since established happens at the same time everyday, it’s a mystery why this line is needed.
And now come some of the most awkward acting and writing of the entire episode. I kid you not. It’s got the attitude that it’s been two weeks, but it’s got the lines that it was just yesterday.
This is so clearly a Shemar and Jeanne acting as Morgan and Blake scene it’s ridiculous. Jeanne even puts her hands on her hips in the classic “I don’t know where else to put them” pose. These two really seem to have no clue how to deliver this particular dialogue, and the director seems to have no clue on how to block it. And did Morgan’s office just move downstairs? I thought it was upstairs.
Anyway, Blake is beating herself up for pushing Reid so hard towards Maeve. Which I’m like, uh…the fuck? As if that would make a difference in how hard he’s currently grieving??? The guy secretly dated Maeve for nearly a year. I’m pretty sure your pushing has nothing to do with how hard Reid is taking that fucking death scene. Morgan is all yo, don’t worry about it. What happened happened. Nothing we could have done to change it. Me: WTF. You better be agreeing with my previous statement, otherwise tell me what the point of “Zugzwang” was again if it was not you all working your asses off to change it??
But, hey! You know when pushing might have helped? HMMM. Maybe you all should have read the damn signs when you knew Reid was using a fucking payphone. That alone should have raised your alarm bells. Particularly when he ran off in the middle of a case to do it. Who uses a payphone, let alone for the secret girlfriend you suspect he has? It’s not even in character for Reid. You’re fucking profilers, for God’s sake. And hey Blake ~ let’s not forget when you found out he hadn’t even met her yet.
Even better, maybe you shouldn’t have ignored those signs when you actually DID see them. Maybe if you’d done your damn jobs - or at least, acted like his friend - and dragged the damn story out of him when you knew he was hiding something, because God knows when Reid’s hiding something that’s ALWAYS good news (NOT) - you all could have stepped in, told Reid what an idiot he’s been, and solved the case months ago.
Cut to Hotch and Rossi. Rossi’s asking when Reid will be back. Hotch told Reid to take as much time as he needed. That’s a rather generous plan, particularly with someone who has no family to take care of, not to mention is grieving for someone who wouldn’t qualify as family. (BTW, is Hotch requiring counseling for Reid? Presumably even if he has, Reid’s not going.)
Because seriously, we’ve entered the portion of the episode where we must be reminded of all the other times the writers have pulled this particular storyline. Because really, this is such an awesome thing for Reid to have in common with everyone. Maybe they should all get “I entered the BAU and all I got was my loved one killed” T-shirts or something.
So, Rossi mourns his ex. He mentions how he got to say good-bye. Technically, Hotch did too. We all know what Reid got.
And for the only time this episode, they correctly do the Empty Silence That Speaks Volumes that immediately reminds you of Haley. I now half expect Hotch’s phone to ring, with Gideon on the other end doing a count me in brutha. It’s probably not a good thing when the character who’s the biggest prima donna this show’s ever seen actually has the most realistic reaction when life does nothing but shit on him.
Cut to the conference room, where Garcia is giving her spiel. They’re going to California. Remember that, it’s important later. Garcia’s even got a map of the Golden Gate area up. Two victims have been found, drained of blood. Hotch turns the screw: “While they were alive.” The body needs to be alive to keep the blood flowing so it can be pumped out easier. JJ gets the duh! line of the week: “Our unsub could have medical knowledge.” Wheels up in 30 (why is it always 30?).
Cut to creepy crime scene photos. Cut to new victim, having her blood drained out. Cut to unsub taking the jar of blood and adding to it all the other jars of blood sitting in the fridge.
Opening quote (JJ): “My blood alone remains. Take it, but do not make me suffer long.” ~ Marie Antoinette. Which uh, is taken completely out of context and has all the air of a quote someone just googled last minute in order to try and find something that fits the literal plot of the episode. Truth is, it’s a metaphorical quote, given by Antoinette just before she was guillotined. 'I was a queen, and you took away my crown; a wife, and you killed my husband; a mother, and you deprived me of my children. My blood alone remains: take it, but do not make me suffer long.' Trust me, there are no martyrs in this episode (even with the “Magnum Opus” title), unless you count me for recapping it.
It’s also a wasted opportunity, since the lines would perfectly fit Reid, but the ending scenes blow that all to hell.
Obligatory Exposition Jet Scene. Nutshell: Victims have nothing in common, and Garcia beeps in to add a new one has just been found. Vampirism finally comes up, but the unsub’s draining from the femoral artery and not the jugular. Plus, there are no saliva traces. Since Reid’s not around, Blake gets his lines about past precedents and medical know-how instead and Jeanne doesn’t have nearly as much fun with them as MGG would. Morgan does point out that no saliva doesn’t necessarily mean the unsub isn’t drinking the blood. Hotch doles out assignments, and end scene.
California. Rossi and Blake go to the new crime scene. Note to Criminal Minds: when you have an episode set in San Francisco, it’s probably best not to film near a well-known iconic Los Angeles building (in this case, Mann’s Chinese Theater). Although I would like to know if they’re near Joe’s star.
New victim’s been posed on a bus bench. She’s drained of blood, but there’s something new: the unsub’s taken her eyelids (and is it bad of me to say it’s a really cool make-up effect? I’d totally see it becoming the new fad - not the lack of eyelids, just the red eyeliner around them). Rossi points out it was done pre-death, and Blake points out it means the unsub is becoming more sadistic. Somehow, Rossi seems to know the reasoning behind all this is more than psychological. I’m all how the heck did you get to that conclusion? What possible reason could there be to removing eyelids that isn’t some sort of self-satisfying emotional signature? Whatever. End scene.
Super short back and forth shots of Hotch and JJ interviewing family/friend. There’s literally nothing new here. It’s almost word-for-word what they said about the victims in the jet (one’s a hedge-fund manager and the other held several jobs trying desperately to eke out a living). Of course though, gotta have the human element - plus a chance to give aspiring actors their 10 seconds on film that they can show at their next acting audition to prove they can cry “why why why” with sufficient tears in their eyes.
Ultimately, the point of all that was to simply point out how JJ and Hotch can’t figure out how the unsub is obtaining his victims. So we cut to the unsub, obtaining a victim. Turns out, it looks like they come to him. In a clear fake-out, the woman (hereby titled Victim Number Four or VN4) enters the unsub’s “loft” and then proceeds to utter ridiculous dialogue so that you’ll think she’s a hooker (“I get paid by the hour” “I don’t know what position you want me in, but I’m pretty flexible”), when in reality it’s pretty damn obvious she’s a model (probably nude) and our unsub is an artist. This doesn’t explain hedge-fund guy though.
(BTW, what I really shook my head on during the Hotch/JJ scene is JJ actually speculated the unsub might have lured the hedge-fund guy with a lucrative money deal, yet mentions nothing about how this would mean the unsub would then have to know hedge-fund guy and that maybe they should check his T-Mobile Friends and Family Circle. But hey, can’t solve this case too quickly. Just wait 10 more minutes.)
Cut to Morgan, stepping out of his SUV and walking to the Medical Examiner’s office. He’s on the phone with Garcia, who’s worried about Reid. Which, BTW, doesn’t bother me at all. It did however, bother this moron at IMDb who tried to argue that Garcia’s a selfish bitch. No matter that several people tried to point out to him that uhhh, Reid apparently hasn’t really talked to anyone in two weeks, and it’s not a bad thing to worry about your friend. Mr. Moron though is all “She should respect his desire to be alone”. Me: “She should respect her friend enough to be sure he’s at least physically okay, including - but not limited to - making sure he’s at least eating, which knowing Reid, he probably isn’t.” Garcia then goes on that her worrying is affecting her job, at which point Mr. Moron is all “Hotch should have fired her on the spot for that. No one I know in law enforcement would put up with shit like that.” What. Ever. Mr. Moron. I tried to get him to tell exactly how she’s dropped the ball on her job due to her “worrying”, but shock of not shocks, Mr. Moron refused to let logic get in the way of his moronic rant about a subject that’s all in his head.
Anyway. Morgan is worried too, and in order to placate Garcia tells her “Lemme try something.” He then hangs up from her and calls Reid. His plan? Leave a message asking Reid a case-related question (the eyelids), and see if he bites. Since Reid has never met a question he didn’t want to jump up and answer repeatedly and with excruciatingly minute detail, of course this works. Within a minute, Reid calls back. And the reason you haven’t done that before, Morgan??? Oh right. Contrivance. Can’t have Reid getting over Maeve too early, now can we? Fuckers. Fuckers and your fucking end scene.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
In the lab now, Morgan answers with an ‘Oh, you’re so cute and I’m patiently putting up with you because of it” expression that pissed me off due to the JJ eyeroll issue I ranted about twenty billion pages ago but WTEAIWHSH!BNIJPMO. Reid (on his rotary phone WTEAIWHSH!BNIJPMO) immediately foregoes any niceties and asks if the corneas have been tampered with. Morgan says no. Reid says then line-of-sight is important to the unsub. The guy wants the victims to see what he’s doing. Which, BTW, totally contradicts Rossi’s statement it’s not really a psychological thing. Morgan then tries to get Reid to engage in some small talk, but Reid just hangs up.
But whatever. The seed’s been planted, so I’m sure more cutesy comical Interested Reid Is Interested scenes WTEAIWHSH!BNIJPMO are on their way. I will add I wonder if Reid is so old school, he’s even renting the rotary from the phone company. We found that out with my grandma when we finally moved her. She’d apparently been “renting” their phone for about 40 years. At that point, it was the most expensive telephone on the planet.
Back to the Medical Examiner. She’s all blah blah fishcakes they give me too many medical lines so let’s write a meta line about how complicated everything is. Morgan, of course, immediately knows what she’s talking about. What always gets me is how much medical info the BAU team knows. Rossi at times seems to have as much knowledge as Reid, let alone a medical physician.
Anyhoo, the exsanguination is what’s killing the victims, but the unsub’s also giving them drugs that elevate blood pressure to get the blood pumping faster. It rules out vampirism because if the unsub drank the blood, he’d be drugged too. So yay for correctly showing how Deductive Reasoning is used in profiling, in order to rule out incorrect theories so you can focus on finding the correct one. Yes, that’s a compliment to the writer, Jason Bernero. Yes, I know you’re shocked. So am I.
Cut to VN4 getting her blood drained. She wakes up. Unsub comforts her. Unsub brings out scalpel so he can cut out her eyelids.
They find VN4 on a park bench, doing a marvelous impersonation of a Marilyn Manson statue (and whoever thought I’d end up using that reference twice?).
And man are they finding these bodies fast. That trash guy in the beginning? Only dead four hours. This chick? Only placed an hour ago. Which to me indicates the guy wants his victims found, even if they’re in slightly out of the way places. Which also shows again how crappy the writing is, since trash hedge-fund guy pretty much bucks every single trend, but no one bothers to notice it.
Turns out, VN4 is a wealth of sparkly dead info. Garcia immediately finds she’s a model, and Blake (after looking at a nearby statue - presumably connecting the modelling dots) immediately figures out what the unsub’s doing with the blood. Except where Garcia’s happy to share her info, Blake’s must be done after yet another unsuspenseful fake out where we cut to the unsub taking a jar of blood out of the fridge, then start to raise it to his lips as if to drink it. As if. “Magnum Opus” this episode ain’t. Magnum Fake-Out would have been a better title.
Cut to profile. Yep. He’s a painter. In his 30s no less. Apparently all the victims were found by some sort of iconic, yet not well-known, art: the mural in the alley, the statue Blake looked at, and the I-Don’t-Give-A-Crap for the other victims.
Wow. Seriously. VN4 pretty much just gave them everything. That’s uh…rather convenient. Or contrivance. Your pick. Given that you now know what the unsub is, take a guess as to what he’s doing with the blood. If you said “painting” don’t bother to give yourself a gold star. Both you and the writer don’t deserve one for writing a story with what amounts to a paint-by-numbers plotline.
BTW, this will make him easy to find, because the guy’s probably trying to sell his paintings, even if no one will buy them because boy are they crappy. Man, this unsub’s pretty much just given up on trying to stay free.
Also, the statue was the Patron Saint of the Artist, and giving that epiphany to Blake seems…unsupported. What’s in her background that she’d know something so arcane? I think Rossi would have been a better choice.
Granted, there’s more to the profile, but it’s pretty much the usual blah blah fishcakes he feels neglected and he’s unknown whateverness (like the art he’s leaving the bodies next to). He takes the eyelids to force the victims to see what he sees: Art Rulz, and Neglected Art Rulz Hard.
And jeez, this is where I find out how happy I am I barely paid attention to this episode the first time. Morgan’s standing, looking at the Board O’Victims, when his cell rings. It’s Reid, who immediately (he’s still foregoing any type of pleasantries) launches into telling him the Mission District is important. Uhhh. Garcia already told us that, like back in the conference room at the BAU. Not to mention, so what. There can’t be so many blood art objects that it would make a difference if the geographical profile was known or not.
But as usual, whatever. Apparently the only way Jason Bernero can figure out how to get Reid involved in this episode is to pretty much ignore that the case has already also pretty much been solved. I know they apparently had to tell Jason he needed to rewrite his Reid scenes, since for some inexplicable reason he didn’t seem to know they were killing off Maeve in the episode before, but really. There’s only so much that can cover, and IMO, it’s not really covering any of this tripe.
Morgan tries to interrupt, asking how Reid got the info, which Reid just blows past with an “I had Anderson bring over some of the files”. WTEAIWHSH!BNIJPMO. Morgan calls Garcia, impressed his trick worked, and patches in Reid to the conversation. Garcia manages to get a Reid to talk about the personal (he’s feeling “better”), and he launches into his favorite past-time WTEAIWHSH!BNIJPMO: a ramble on magnesium (which Garcia says she knows) while thanking her for the gift baskets. This makes Garcia uber happy and proud, WTEAIWHSH!BNIJPMO. This whole episode just does nothing but minimize Reid’s distress. It’s ridiculous.
Garcia then finds all the galleries, and Reid states “focus on the Mission District” then abruptly hangs up. Morgan tells Garcia it’s better than nothing, and Garcia’s happy with what she got.
Cut to the unsub, entering an art gallery. And I’m sorry, but if you really want to know what happens here, rewatch this season’s earlier episode 8x06 “The Apprenticeship”. It’s the same plot. Boy wants recognition for his Not!Turin!Shroud! Super!Hot!Bitch!Boss won’t give it to him. Boy gets resentful of Super!Hot!Bitch!Boss but still begs for scraps. Boy tries to kill Super!Hot!Bitch!Boss by the end of the episode. The BAU break in at the last moment and save her. There. The A plot for the entire episode is done.
Sucks I still have to recap it. Sigh. Basically, Super!Hot!Bitch!Boss won’t show the art because it’s too simplistic, telling him “Every artist leaves a piece of himself on the canvas.” Yes, foreshadowing. I see you. You’re not that difficult to spot when you’re standing in the middle of the room. She even calls it his signature. Dun dun dun. Boy leaves, dejected, but still determined to improve his art so that Super!Hot!Bitch!Boss will finally show it.
BTW, I’d care that Super!Hot!Bitch!Boss doesn’t ever question where Boy gets the blood, but MoMA just had an exhibit where Tilda Swinton did nothing but sleep in a glass box. Art is weird yo. I also don’t care that after a while, blood stinks. So does this episode, so it’s not surprising that factoid gets ignored. It merely joins the pile already mountain high from the B plot.
Hotch and JJ enter a different set…er, art studio. Jeez, the set designers and location scouts really sucked this episode. Art!Man immediately recognizes who they’re talking about, but rejected the Other!Not!Turin!Shroud as well and therefore doesn’t know Boy’s name. Art!Man: “Could that be your guy?” while JJ gives her duh face. Luckily (or Contrivance - again, your pick), one of his customers bought Other!Not!Turin!Shroud anyway, so he goes off to get that name. Gonna say, when Boy’s arrested, Random!Customer is going to make a killing on that profit - assuming the police don’t take it from him permanently. Death art’s got quite the following.
Cut to Boy at his job moving art crates around. Coworker!Friend comes up and blah blah fishcakes Coworker!Friend doesn’t get abstract art whereas Boy is all Angst Central. Coworker!Friend then offers himself up on a silver platter by asking Boy to give him a ride home, as Boy is obviously contemplating what Super!Hot!Bitch!Boss said. At this point, Boy should just walk past the police station wearing a neon sign that screams “IT’S ME”.
Honestly. I get that some people are so into their whatevers that they don’t think of consequences, but this seems more willful ignorance, and not on the part of the unsub. More on the part of the writer who just doesn’t want to deal with it and hopes no one notices.
Except I did.
Boy also has the line “I guess that’s why they say art is in the eye of the beholder”. It goes without saying how I behold this art of an episode.
Rossi and Blake walk down some hallway that’s a cross between a basement and a cruise ship. Rossi: “The unsub sold a painting here?” Blake: “Reminds me of the 80s.” Me: “Uh, it totally does not.” Rossi: “Do I want to know?” Blake: “Probably.” Me: “Not unless I can photoshop my hair into a decent style in all my old pictures.”
They then walk into their next set…er, uh…I’m actually not sure what this room is supposed to be. Poor Man’s Percy Weasley With Eyeliner (PMPWWE) sits at a reception desk, and there’s a couple making out not that far away. PMPWWE of course automatically assumes our duo is a couple. They correct him. He doesn’t care. “We cater to all kinds of relationships”. And yeah, still not quite sure what this place is even though it’s obviously some sort of sex thing.
Rossi pulls his badge, and PMPWWE sighs. They ask for the painting and he denies knowing about it. Yeah, you’re totally convincing there, PMPWWE. Rossi’s with me, and does the standard withholding evidence threat. PMPWWE says it’s in the Spanking Room. Aha. This place I gather is supposed to be a creepier version of those couples places, as evidenced by the fact PMPWWE buys paintings made from human blood.
They all go into the Spanking Room, where we get the shot of the obligatory Half-Nekkid People in Leather. I would have loved to have seen Reid in this place, as WTEAIWHSH!BNIJPMO. What a waste. Particularly given that they threw away a potential storyline where he might actually have an opportunity before he’s 40 to lose his probable virginity, and maybe gain some self-confidence in regards to his nearly non-existent self-esteem when it comes to personal matters.
And actually, this is one of the many, many, many issues that piss me off about the Maeve storyline, since I’m sure they’re going to use it as some sort of jumping off point where suddenly Reid “learns” from Maeve that he can love, and that he should open himself up more.
When in reality, a 31 year old who just had his first date (that ended up being canceled no less), has a history of people leaving him left and right (as well as all the pain that ensues, plus his inability to handle emotional issues), and then said date later gets her brains blown out right in front of him should actually react more towards the “Fuck this. I’m never making myself this vulnerable again” side of the spectrum.
BTW, I’m saying this as someone who in addition to having a murdered cousin, also has two other cousins who have lost their first loves tragically - including one who had a seizure and died in the car as Robbie was driving her home from the doctor’s office after the doctor had just pronounced her fine. Except they were in their very early 20s. Yes, Robbie found love again, but it took him a long time. Reid’s 31. A long time puts him near or past middle age. Certainly past Criminal Minds’ eventual cancellation date. Reid really should have been a youngish spouse and parent, like JJ; not an older one like Hotch. Particularly given how difficult the show has been clear about in regards to how hard it is for him to make friends and/or get dates.
That it takes ignoring all this in order to continue writing Reid is beyond stupid. And the writers are proud of it. Honestly. Given comments and interviews both before and after “Zugzwang”, much like the unsub in this episode, there appears to be either no thought - or more likely - willful ignorance in regards to what should be natural and obvious consequences of their decisions. Writers who just didn’t want to deal with it and hoped no one noticed.
Except I did.
And judging by the overwhelming outpour in the aftermath of “Zugzwang”, it looks like a ton of other people did too.
Blake takes out her cell and immediately identifies the person in PMPWWE’s painting as the first victim. They take the painting as PMPWWE finally has the decency to look appropriately disturbed.
Cut to Boy now draining Coworker!Friend’s blood to use as his signature. As if no one will notice when Coworker!Friend doesn’t show up for work again. And if you want a better version of this scene, watch 7x13 “Snake Eyes”. Blah blah the friend’s the missing personal thing he needs for his signature blah blah he’s insane blah blah every artist is a little crazy blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. At least Coworker!Friend has the energy to fight back and bites Boy on the hand as Boy is trying to scalpel out his eyelids. That is, until Boy responds by bringing a hammer down on Coworker!Friend’s head. End scene.
Blake’s looking at the painting that’s now up on the Board O’Victims. “Well, at least we have a painting. But we still don’t have enough to identify the unsub.” Really? You don’t think asking art gallery owners if they’ve had a guy try and get them to show paintings made of blood isn’t enough??? Man, Blake’s really been stuck with the crap lines tonight.
Boy’s even put a “B” as his signature on the painting (I swear it’s entirely coincidental I chose “Boy” as the unsub’s nickname). Morgan calls Garcia to search for artists with the letter “B” in their names. I’ve got a better idea: Pick up a phone book and start calling more art galleries. You’ve yet to reach Super!Hot!Bitch!Boss.
Cut to Boy, super upset at all the blood on Now!Dead!Coworker!Friend, as well as on his own hands. Turns out that bite is more important to the plot than it initially looked. Except no, this plot totally could have continued without this. But hey yo, gotta keep up the latest trend on Criminal Minds of adding some weird ass medical condition that requires Reid to suddenly announce he’s Figured Out The Weird Ass Condition That Ties Everything Together.
Anyhoo. Freaked!Out!Boy gives himself a shot of something, wraps his hand, then starts painting a portrait of Now!Dead!Coworker!Friend using the blood directly off the corpse’s head.
….which directly contradicts what we learn now in the exposition scene. The blood on the first victim’s painting has no plasma, which in turn means no DNA. Hotch notes doing this makes the blood thicker and more like paint, and Blake pipes up you can get centrifuges anywhere to do the trick. Again, I ask, how do they have such detailed medical knowledge?
Doesn’t matter, since Hotch gets the lead-in line: “What other reasons would he have to need a centrifuge?” Reid, off camera, answers for him: “It’s a habit.”
Everyone turns to see Reid, giving them a smile. They’re happy and relieved to see him. I, however, am once again pissed off. And this time, for a more pertinent reason: it’s an effing huge plothole.
Apparently, I’m supposed to believe one of the following:
1. Reid commandeered the BAU jet to fly from DC to San Francisco. Even better, without Hotch’s knowledge.
2. Reid took a commercial flight from DC to San Francisco. Still distressed, and still looking like he hasn’t had a bath. I feel sorry for his seatmate. It’s pretty sad though when the best way to make Reid look depressed is to simply not have MGG shave for a couple of days.
3. Jason Bernero and/or the editors just didn’t give a flying fig and decided to ignore this stupid inconsistency.
And all because Reid apparently couldn’t just pick up the damn phone and tell the team he figured out the unsub’s a hemophiliac. Which, BTW, is not a necessary plot point that’s even needed, let alone to help identify the suspect! He couldn’t even just go to Garcia’s office for this???
I’m not even going to get into how Reid figured that out considering that info should have come in while he was taking an entire day to fly across the country (I know, I used to live in DC and fly to the West Coast frequently), and wouldn’t have had access to it.
But for the umpteenth time this episode, whatever.
Someone pointed out the sweater he’s wearing looks like it’s Maeve’s, which I at first thought awww, but then realized: It was last worn by Diane. Maeve’s killer. Which isn’t creepy at all. Not in the slightest.
And now that sanity has returned: OMG at this point! Where is the common sense in this episode??????? Did NO one realize this??? (I will say it also looks like the sweater Reid wore after “Revelations”, which neither impresses me with the “continuity” nor gets them off the hook for using a sweater that looks like the one Diane wore.)
So then JJ goes to give him a hug, and everyone crowds around. Hotch: “I didn’t expect you back this soon. Are you sure you’re ready?”
And get this: Reid says no, then Matthew looks Thomas straight in the eyes and holds his gaze.
Uhhh….what? Whether you accept Reid has Asperger’s or not, the show’s been clear he struggles with eye contact, especially when he’s distressed. USUALLY Matthew does a damn good job of remembering this. Particularly since he just spent the majority of the very last episode avoiding everyone’s eyes.
They’ve also just spent the entirety of THIS episode reminding us Reid is so damn damaged, he hasn’t spoken to anyone in two weeks. They’re tricking him into talking for Criminey’s sake.
So I’m supposed to believe a simple case suddenly overcomes all that? To the point where he can now fly across the country, join the team on a case, and look everyone in the eye?
Sorry, no. This is a poor choice from Matthew, the writers, and the director. It fits, however, with the final scenes of this crappy, crappy episode. Which right there should be a clue as to what’s going to happen, if you haven’t already picked up on my other not-so-subtle foreshadowing snide comments about it.
Cut to Super!Hot!Bitch!Boss (channeling the William Shatner Acting Method of Excessively Pausing Your Lines BTW) finally outright telling Boy his art sucks. Boy is upset, because he “made it personal” just like she said. At which point Super!Hot!Bitch!Boss then has the most awesome smackdown line of the night: “Splashing something onto a canvas doesn’t make it art.” Much like how splashing words onto a page doesn’t make it worth reading. Or watching, when you translate it into an episode.
Boy is not so shockingly upset by this. Congrats, Super!Hot!Bitch!Boss, on earning your new title: Final!Target. Boy leaves in a huff. Something tells me his first stop is a store where he can buy some very special brushes.
Reid’s acting like a boss now himself, explaining to everyone about the hemophilia theory. I’d pay attention, but the rage is making everything all red again. Apparently they’re using it to explain the obsession with (and knowledge of) blood. You’re shocked, I know.
Reid then tells Garcia exactly how to find the unsub. Because apparently it’s more efficient to have your grieving genius fly all the way across the country and give you information you don’t really need, than it is to just have him either give Garcia a call from his home, or have the team go around to the rest of the whopping dozen art galleries who’d probably know everything you need about the guy you’re looking for. Particularly if they went to Final!Target’s place.
Get this: apparently San Francisco’s Mission District is such a hotbed of hemophilia, Garcia whines Reid needs to be more specific. I’m pretty sure at this point Jason has given up all pretenses at logic, and is just trying to get this episode done. I know the feeling. Alas, I still have nine more minutes to recap.
I’m not going to recap all the criteria they use to narrow down the list of 15 people to three to one. Normally I don’t have a problem with these scenes, but this one is too ridiculous. It’s like they’re all suddenly experts on blood and hemophilia. Whatever.
But narrow it down they do, as Boy’s picture shows up on Garcia’s monitor. I’d bother to tell you his name, but I’ve long since stopped caring. So should you. I don’t even care if it’s a B name or not.
As everyone leaves to go get the unsub, Hotch tells Reid he doesn’t have to come back to work if he’s not ready. Seriously. With no TV and no books to read, what else is he doing??? Hotch: “It’s going to take time.” And in the scene that makes MY blood boil, Supposedly Emotionally Fragile Reid looks Hotch straight in the eye AGAIN and asks “How much time?” To which Hotch responds, ”It’s hard to say, but we’re all here for you.” The ghost of Haley just coughs in the background.
BTW, Dear Reid: You don’t have to take everything so literally. When they told you it’s a good idea to follow in the footsteps of your mentors, I’m pretty sure this is not what they meant.
Cut to Boy taking Final!Target by surprising her and punching her out. Had to be proactive there, since this one’s finally too smart to come to him. It also completely ignores the fact punching usually leaves bruises, and Boy’s a hemophiliac.
Boy watches as Final!Target’s blood drains. Cops rush to his place.
And oh, here comes Garcia to input the final color into our paint by numbers plotline: the trigger. Blah blah recent car accident he survived without a scratch making him feel invincible and turned on by watching the blood drain out of the other driver, who died because he didn’t bother to mention her when he called it in blah blah blah. Of course. A scenario that happens every day, several times a day, all over the world, which instead of traumatizes suddenly triggers a thirst for blood instead. You’d better be careful out there on the roads. You never know which fender bender could trigger the next unsub.
And now I’m convinced the writer’s totally given up on trying to make any sense at this point.
Reid calls to tell them that Final!Target’s gone missing. And here blood boils again as Reid compares Boy to quote: “Maeve’s stalker.” And he does it with ease.
Again, no. No no no no no no no no no no no. Sorry, but THIS is where they SHOULD have done Empty Silence That Speaks Volumes that immediately reminds you of both Maeve and her stalker. Because totally, we called Angie’s killer “Angie’s killer” instead of just HIM. It was hard enough to say Angie’s name after the shock of losing her. If you think her fucking killer was gonna be referred to as anything remotely civil - assuming you could bring him up in conversation to begin with - you’re joking yourselves. As are the Criminal Minds writers.
It’s pretty damn sad when they can write more accurate grieving tertiary characters than they can one of their own main ones.
Whatever. Again. In fact, To Infinity and Beyond.
Reid’s point BTW, is that Boy may be suicidal. A point we’ve seen neither hide nor hair of, and is obviously just a way for Jason to remind the audience yet again about what happened in “Zugzwang”. But I’m gonna seize it anyway to use as a fanwank as to why Boy doesn’t seem to give a damn that he’s leading a trail of effing boulders for the BAU team to use in order to find him that they should be able to spot even from their jet. Last, but not least, we get a shot of the non-awkward awkward pause in the SUV as supposedly they’re all thinking of what happened to Maeve.
FYI, Reid’s been hugging his satchel since the moment he arrived to join the team. If you all haven’t figured out the book Maeve gave him is in it, then shaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame.
Cut to Boy bitching to Final!Victim about how he put his heart and soul into his paintings. Well, that’s his problem right there then, since he has neither. He says he loves creating, then promptly picks up the scalpel to destroy Final!Target’s eyelids.
And oh look. <insert sarcastic tone here> Here enters Hotch. I wonder if Final!Target will be saved. Oh look. Hotch uses the same tactic Reid used on Diane. Oh look. It doesn’t work. Oh look. Hotch, Morgan, and JJ know this immediately as they continue to try talking him out of Suicide by Cop. Oh look. Hotch shoots him the very instant he moves to kill Final!Target. Oh look. Final!Target lives. <end sarcastic tone here>
Ten bucks says Breen Frazier thinks this is an earned and justified ending.
Cut to the wrap-up jet scene, where Reid’s feeling pretty damn fine as he jokes with JJ over how many gift baskets there were (JJ: “Well, I counted five”; Reid: “Seven, but I think Mrs. Cavanaugh next door took a couple”). We then watch three actors portray a scene where one apologizes for ignoring them, and the other two act like “Pshaw, it was nothing.” It’s light-hearted, even in the minute moment when Matthew inadvertently remembered Reid’s supposed to be mourning.
So yeah, I’m already tuning out. I already know what happens next. Although I am wondering why Blake, Rossi, and Hotch aren’t in on this conversation.
Morgan tells him if there’s anything they can do to help, to just ask. So Reid asks.
Cut to Reid’s apartment, and cue the sad music. Garcia, JJ, and Morgan are picking up all the books and filing them back on the shelves. And at IMDb, several people are wondering what the fuck. I’m wondering what Jason was thinking about when he wrote this scene, as it certainly wasn’t Reid. Reid, who most definitely would have a filing system for the books (probably Dewey Decimal, which he wouldn’t have to write as he has it all memorized - remember, he reads mostly technical books). Reid, who’s so anal retentive he won’t even shake hands. Yet he’s letting his friends put the books away. There’s absolutely no indication Reid’s given them directions. Someone suggested maybe he’ll just refile them later. I pointed out that pretty much defeats the purpose of asking for help.
In the end, the consensus was Eh, Whatever, Criminal Minds. Particularly since most were awww’ing over the hugs the team gives Reid in order to comfort him. Ergo, little things like the writers ignoring canon are okay for the audience to ignore too. I wasn’t awww’ed, so I didn’t feel like ignoring it.
I know. This time you’re not shocked.
The trio leaves, leaving Reid alone. He pulls out the book Maeve gave him, reads the Thomas Merton quote (”Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone. We find it with another”), then heads sadly to bed, clutching the only memento he has of the woman he once dreamed of marrying. The End.
Oh wait. What’s that you say? That’s not how it ended? Oh right. I forgot. This is a Reid storyline, so of course it’s not going to have a natural and realistic conclusion. After all, this is the guy who’s been shot twice, been set on fire, got Anthrax, blah blah fishcakes.
Okay, so here’s what happened: Reid got out the book, but also a bottle of Dilaudid. After all, if watching a complete stranger get his head blown off made him struggle, then surely watching the same thing happen to the woman he loved would as well. Particularly since he also recently struggled when he was trying to deal with Prentiss’ “death”. He doesn’t take the drugs, but we are left to wonder. The End.
What? That’s still not right? Ah. Yeah, this is Criminal Minds, where following up on a character’s story arc is verboten.
How about this ending: Reid pulls out the book, but also his gun. Suicide rates for law enforcement officers are above the norm, and Reid’s certainly been through enough in life in order to warrant such a depressive state. He doesn’t shoot himself, but we are left to wonder if he’s planning on joining Maeve in the afterlife - especially since he’s seen it, and is on record as saying it’s peaceful. It would also tie-in with this episode’s opening quote, not to mention Beth Reisgraf’s quote that Maeve loves Reid so much she doesn’t want to live in a world without him. Considering their “epic” love story, it stands to reason Reid would feel the same. The End.
Except no, that’s not what happened either. Again, this is Criminal Minds, and the writers are clearly allergic to doing something new. Hence all the repetition this season, to the point where we can call it The Year of Copy and Paste.
So here’s what actually happened: Reid pulls the book out of the satchel, reads the quote, then goes and files the book away. AFTER ONLY TWO WEEKS. End quote: “Sometimes the hardest part isn’t letting go, but rather learning to start over.” ~ Nicole Sobon. AFTER ONLY TWO WEEKS.
The End. For real this time.
And people wonder why I’m so pissed. From what I gather, they don’t bother to do much after this either. One episode he changes how he does his job, and another he struggles to sleep. Big whoop. Erica’s already confirmed there will be no drug storyline, and Shemar’s confirmed Reid will be back to his happy self by the season finale.
IMO, Criminal Minds died at “Zugzwang”. It’s like when my dad had his stroke. The Before and After. I’ve never seen a show voluntarily sabotage itself like this before. Everything is tainted now, even earlier episodes (gif one and gif two for example). Shark: meet your Jump.
I’m thinking I might recap some other episodes to continue to work out the anger, but who knows. My previous recap of “Zugzwang” is here.
Current word count of recap: 10101 (need at least 7000 for full points).