Criminal Minds 8×12 Zugzwang Recap and Review
Criminal Minds 8×12 Zugzwang Synopsis: Reid’s girlfriend is kidnapped by a stalker and the unit conducts a search to find her in time.
Criminal Minds 8×12, Zugzwang was probably the most surprising episode I have seen. A few months ago, I wrote about an episode that I thought was the hardest to watch because of the UNSUB, but this episode of Criminal Minds has beaten me. This is long because every instance of the show felt important, especially after seeing the ending. I still feel as if I left too much out.
Tonight’s episode of Criminal Minds was much anticipated because of the Winter break, the guest stars and the subject matter. Beth Riesgraf, best known for her role as Parker on Leverage, portrays Maeve Donovan, the woman with whom Reid has carried on a relationship for ten months although they have never met face to face. Michelle Trachtenberg, best known for her roles as Georgina Sparks on Gossip Girl, Celeste on Six Feet Under, and Dawn Summers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, portrays Diane. Jay Hayden of Hulu’s Battleground plays the role of Bobby Putnam.
Criminal Minds 8×12, Zugzwang did not have the amount of violence and bloodshed that we usually see in the crime drama, so I was perhaps led into a false sense of security. Without giving the whole episode away at the outset, let me just say that when I went to CBS.com for the photos, there were comments from viewers threatening to never watch the show again, and saying they hoped CBS was reading the comments. I love Criminal Minds, but this episode went too far, it was hurtful, to the fans and to a beloved character on the show.
Criminal Minds opened with “Previously on Criminal Minds” and a montage of scenes showing the development of Spencer Reid’s relationship with Maeve, in order to refresh regular viewers, and inform those who were tuning in for the first time. I hate to say that I encouraged many of my friends to watch this episode because of the guest stars.
Criminal Minds, Zugzwang begins with a dream sequence; there’s music playing and we can see the stained glass windows of a chapel. The camera pans down and there is Spencer Reid, standing at the front of the church with white folding chairs behind him. He turns and sees the BAU team taking up the front row; Rossi gives him two thumbs up. When he turns back around Penelope Garcia is asking him if he has the ring. Then she says “I now pronounce you smart and smarter” and tells him to get on with it and kiss her. He lifts his bride’s veil, but the face is blank.
Spencer Reid awakes from his dream and heads to a payphone to call Maeve. He punches in the number of the payphone and waits for the call back. It rings almost immediately with a collect call. A muffled voice mutters “Adam Worth” and Reid accepts the charges. He’s shaking as he deposits two dollars in coins. The voice on the phone says one word, which Spencer asks him to repeat: “Zugzwang” and then hangs up.
Reid meets with Hotch and quickly explains his relationship with Maeve, a woman he has never seen in person; he doesn’t even know her last name or where she lives or works. He says that Zugzwang is a chess term; you know you will be checkmated; do you continue to play or resign the game. He also tells Hotch that he and Maeve had code names for each other, because she was in hiding. She had been stalked for 10 months. Reid was Dr. Joseph Bell, the model for Sherlock Holmes. The caller identified himself as Adam Worth, the inspiration for Moriarty.
Agent Hotchner calls the BUA team together and Reid tells them that he should be using all of his faculties to figure out the UNSUB and find Maeve, but he can’t focus for more than four seconds. He needs them to solve the case for him. Hotch asks if anyone wants to go home; of course no one leaves.
Spencer Reid Quotes: “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Lao Tzu”
Penelope Garcia makes short work of finding out Maeve’s last name, Donovan; it’s not a common first name and knowing that she is a geneticist who left her job ten months ago helped. Dr. Maeve Donovan took a sabbatical from work and her parents just got a loft for her a few days ago. Now they have an address; as the team starts to leave, Garcia tells Reid that she has a picture of Maeve, and asks if he wants to see it. “No.” Reid answers, without hesitation.
Maeve’s loft shows signs of a struggle and she isn’t there. J.J. takes in the scene; it appears to have been a shove and then the UNSUB slammed her head, probably knocking her unconscious. Since there is no forced entry, and Maeve was on high alert because of being stalked, she must have known her assailant; she was caught off guard.
As the case unfolds, Hotch asks Reid to observe when Maeve’s parents are interviewed; he assures Reid that he is necessary to the investigation. As he listens, Reid finds out that Maeve did have a boyfriend before; she was engaged. The man is described as controlling, something Maeve learned after her engagement to the only boy she ever dated, Robert Putnam. Her father suspected him as the stalker because she broke up with him, but the police cleared him.
When they go to Putnam’s house, his girlfriend Diane answers the door and says he’s out back. Reid enters with the team, but as soon as Bobby enters the room he recognizes Reid immediately. Hotch rushes Reid outside and learns that he saw Bobby at the restaurant when he went to meet Maeve face to face. He was concerned because the man kept glancing at him over his shoulder; he thought Bobby was the stalker but then a friend came in and Reid thought he’d overreacted.
Hotch makes Reid stay outside and questions Bobby thoroughly. He admits going to the restaurant. He had a PI following Maeve after they broke up. He asks if he can give them something without getting shot. Bobby turns over photos from the stalker; he was being stalked too. He says that is why he and Maeve broke up, she wanted to protect him and vice versa. She told him to move on, and obviously she took her own advice.
Outside, Diane approaches Reid, “Excuse me Dr.” she says, “Can you tell me what’s going on in there?”
Reid explains that he can’t discuss the case with anyone. When Derek Morgan comes back outside he asks Spencer what he’s doing. Reid has been “Adding up,” he says. “2412, that’s the number of hours Maeve and I spent together if you count letters and phone calls.” Derek says that is 100 days. “100.5” Reid tells him, “What if that’s all I get?” When Morgan presses him further, asking what he would say to Maeve if he saw her again. “A couple of months ago she said bye, love you as we were hanging up.” Reid thought it was a slip. Morgan deduces that he never said it back. Reid has been waiting to say it to her face.
The case escalates quickly when Garcia and J.J. go through the photos that the stalker sent Bobby. One shows Maeve with her face blacked out and J.J. races to talk to Reid. He says he knows already; the stalker was trying to say I obliterate you. J.J. points out that he hasn’t looked at what was used to black out the face. It’s woman’s eyeliner. The stalker is a woman. As the team discusses the profiles that would cause a woman to stalk another woman. Reid asks Hotch he was identified to Diane, as Dr. or Agent; when he learns that no one told her anything, he realizes that she is the stalker.
Meanwhile, Diane is talking to Bobby but she looks different; frumpy, no make-up, glasses, a thick sweater. He asks her about her wardrobe change and she loses it. She says that he notices her now that she has debased herself. She asks if he recognizes the clothes. When it dawns on him hat they are Maeve’s clothes, Diane admits getting them from Maeve’s closet, right after she bashed her head in. “She finally saw me, jus t like you see me now; take a look Bobby, take a good look.” Diane says as she hits him over the head with a bottle and then busts the bottle over his head.
The team realizes that Bobby may be the next target and head to his house, finding evidence of the fight, but nobody is home. Reid says it’s just like at Maeve’s loft, they must have been talking normally and then Diane suddenly became violent.
Diane puts Bobby face to face with Maeve; both are tied to chairs. “She took something from me that I can’t get back, so I’m going to take her life. She demands that he ask Maeve about Reid. “After hunting her for ten months, after stealing her man, I follow you to the restaurant and I see him waiting for her. I want what they have. I want him. Get her to tell me about him.” When Bobby says he can’t do that she holds the gun to his head and says “That was not a request.”
Garcia finds out that Diane Huntington doesn’t exist and her phone was a burn phone. Hotch says that they need to reset the profile. They try to determine where Maeve and Diane would have crossed paths and what their relationship would have been. Reid vetoes a physical relationship. He thinks she may have a complex like Mark David Chapman when he shot John Lennon “All of my nobodyness and all of his somebodyness collided.” Diane was a nobody, and Maeve was a star in her field; they were in the same line of work.
Reid can no longer focus with the whole team and wants to be alone, but Hotch has him pick someone to go with him, so he has someone to bounce ideas off of. He chooses Alex, his only confidant who knew about Maeve. She takes Reid to a park to play chess and he describes his relationship in detail. He remembers every word of every conversation he has ever had or overheard, so as he describes her, Maeve appears at his side and “reminds him” of things they said. Reid says she always signed off with a quote from one of her favorite authors. At the restaurant she left him a book; inside was quote from Thomas Mertin; “Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone. We find it with another.”
Meanwhile, Diane has found the letters that Maeve and Spencer exchanged; she has one in particular that Maeve didn’t get a chance to mail. “I bought a blindfold today; I can’t wait to use it.” Bobby is hurt but Maeve says it’s not what they are thinking.
Back in the park, Alex says “So you two had your own code. Something links the two of you in her mind.” Reid talks about when he asked her about dating. She said she spent her Friday nights looking through a microscope. He thought he was the only one.
Diane tells Bobby that when men cheat it’s below the belt; when women cheat it’s above the neck. Maeve says she never slept with Reid, never cheated on Bobby.
Alex listens as Reid tells his stories. Reid told Maeve that when he was twelve a girl he liked gave him a note. She wanted to meet him, but she made him where a blindfold and she took his shirt off. He suddenly heard laughter and realized he was standing there in front of the whole class. Maeve appears as if from his memory and says “When we finally meet, I’ll make blindfolds fun again.”
Diane wants to know how Maeve got Reid’s attention and she says it was euclidean geometry. He told her that when he was eight, he tried to build a Penrose triangle. It’s an impossible object, Maeve explains. She later made a pun and he laughed “Every Penrose triangle has its thorns.”
Reid describes the awkwardness that Maeve felt working in the lab when all of her co-workers were men. Maeve again appears at his side, her face animated in the sunlight as she describes her job. Suddenly Reid asks Alex “What if it was an grad student?” Every research assistant worked with a different doctor. If Maeve rejected her thesis it could have become an obsession.
Diane says “I have to show her, I can take everything she has, and then she’ll remember me.” Diane tells Bobby that he was always superfluous. She puts the gun against his head as Maeve watches and says “ don’t hurt him” over and over again before the shot is fired, right before her eyes.
Now that they have a place to look, Garcia quickly locates the disgruntled assistant, the junior college where she works and even gets a copy of her thesis.
Maeve pleads with Diane. She says she has tried and tried to remember her, but she can’t; she’s sorry that she can’t. Maeve asks Diane to just tell her who she is, what she did to her. She asks Diane what she wants.
Diane takes Maeve up on the roof at gun point and orders her to get up on the ledge. (Here I was wishing that Beth Riesgraf had her Parker skills, and her gear. I even tweeted Beth to that effect.) Now Diane is ready to tell her the theory that she researched and wrote her thesis on. “When you decide to give up, the cells in your body start to decay. It makes it easier to want to kill yourself. Go ahead and jump, prove my theory.”
Maeve turns to face her. “I remember you.”
The BAU team breaks into Diane’s apartment and notice a shrine to her parents. Her parents committed suicide and she wrote a thesis about the genetics behind suicide which explains her obsession with the subject. Rossi realizes that they are being watched and points out the CCTV camera in the apartment. Garcia is told to trace the signal.
“I turned you down because your research was flawed; it was biased. You included your parents.” Maeve explains to Diane. She comes down from the ledge. Diane says “I’m a genius” and maintains that her research wasn’t flawed.
“Do you know what a genius is?” Maeve asks. “Genius is work, thousands of hours of work. You didn’t do the work. That’s why you didn’t make it. You can though, I can help you.”
Diane orders Maeve to get back up on the ledge. “If you want me dead you’re going to have to kill me. I’m going to live long enough to see Reid arrest you.” Maeve says. Diane glances down and then looks Maeve in the eye, “Spencer has a better idea.” She says. Diane shows Maeve the live feed from her apartment. Spencer holds a sign up to the web cam: “Me for her.”
Spencer answers the phone and it’s Maeve. She says she’s okay but has a concussion. Diane wont talk to him on the phone. “She has a gift for you. She wants you to find it.” Maeve says. “She has a message she wants me to give you, she says it’s easy as pie.”
At the BAU command post, Reid makes a circle on the map. He says that Maeve made a similar pun, it’s PI, not pie. Diane is trying to prove she’s the smartest girl in the room. “She wants recognition; the kind of recognition Maeve gets. I can give her that.” Reid tells Hotch. He plans to tell Diane that he has fallen in love with her mind, that he loves her, not Maeve.
Outside of the building where Maeve is being kept, Reid finds a pink box; inside is a blindfold. Diane tells him to remove his vest and his gun before he comes in, alone. Inside the building, Diane holds a gun on Reid and tells him to put the blindfold on. She says she knew he would figure out her riddle. Reid says he had a hard time with it because he read her thesis and she’s right. He compliments her on her intelligence and says he’s fallen in love with her. Diane isn’t buying it, she says that as soon as she goes outside she’ll be arrested. She saw all of the agents. He tells her that she’s important, he’s arranged for her freedom. He says that it happens all the time with scientists and cites cases. “If what you have is valuable enough, they need you.”
“I’m here because I’m not going to leave you like the others did.” Reid tells Diane. “Me for her, that was the deal.”
“You’re choosing me over her.” Diane takes off his blindfold and says “Tell her that.” Reid sees Maeve for the first time and has to say the opposite of what he has wanted to say to her face for moths. “I don’t love you. I’m sorry.” Maeve looks at him and says “I understand.”
Diane decides she doesn’t need Maeve and holds the gun to her head, but Reid says “Kill her and she won’t have to live with the fact that you’re smarter. Let her live with her irrelevance.”
Diane starts to untie Maeve but suddenly changes her mind “I just want her to see one more thing” and crosses back to Reid. She kisses him passionately, then stops and says “Liar, liar!”
Diane has her arm around Maeve’s neck and the gun to her head as the BAU team comes in and Reid tells them to stop. “Me for her.” He still tries. “You would sacrifice your life for hers? Why would you do that?”
Maeve answers for Reid, “Thomas Mertin.” Diane screams “Who is Thomas Mertin?” “He’s the one thing you can never take from us.”
Diane raises the gun to her own head as Reid screams “Wait!” It’s too late, the gun is fired and we are forced to guess what the team is looking at by their horrified faces. Time seems to stop as I hold my breath, and each member of the team looks on in disbelief. Finally we see what they are looking at. The two women lay side by side on the floor, a bullet wound through their right temples. The bullet went through Diane’s head and Maeve’s. Reid’s hair covers his face as he cries.
I expected Maeve to live. The whole way through the episode I was sure the team would save her. Looking at the responses on Twitter and CBS, I am not the only one. The Criminal Minds writers have led us all on, made us believe that Reid would finally find love with a woman who understands him and won’t hurt him. Reid found a woman that could make him laugh, she was his equal, it was as if the relationship was meant to be. He’s been kissed twice; once by a woman who was being stalked that he was supposed to protect. This time by a sick stalker/killer who made sure that his problem with blindfolds and love would never go away.
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