Criminal Minds 8×13 Magnum Opus Recap and Review
Overall I can give Criminal Minds “Magnum Opus” five stars for how the team and the writers dealt with Reid’s grieving process. The UNSUB, how he works, what he does and why, get three stars on the creepy scale, and zero stars for his back story. Normally the writers of Criminal Minds are savvy enough to at least give the killer a good reason to kill; not that there has to be a reason, but a catalyst at least. The catalyst isn’t even good enough. This guy was just a psychopath waiting for something to set him off, and I am used to better writing from the show. One fan commented that the reason Maeve had to die in episode 8×12 was to satisfy the Criminal Minds writers’ need for poetic symmetry, and they chose their writing and poetry over a good story. If that is the case, then in Magnum Opus they weren’t even going for poetry. Total: 4 stars. It’s only worth watching to see the scenes involving Reid’s evolution from isolation to inserting himself into the investigation and therefore back into the team. In case you missed it, here’s the play by play.
Criminal Minds 8×13, Magnum Opus begins with the recap of the previous episode, which opens up the old wound for me, as a huge fan of the show and of the character of Spencer Reid as well as the others.
In a darkened alley, ‘Kelly’ calls her friend and tells her she’s got ten minutes to call back or she’s going home. A man appears ahead of her in the alley, his face hidden by the hood of his jersey. His face is illuminated when he lights his cigarette. Kelly turns around and tries to get back into the club she just left; she knocks and rings the buzzer, but no one answers. She starts to shout for someone to let her in. The door suddenly opens and a woman comes out, greeting the man in the jersey with an embrace. A relieved Kelly turns away from the open door and crosses the alley, suddenly spying the open eyes of a corpse. Kelly screams.
J.J. and Garcia meet up outside of Reid’s apartment before work. J.J. notes the baskets lining the hallway, all gifts from Garcia. She did her research and chose items that stimulate the production of serotonin, to help Reid deal with his grief. When Reid doesn’t answer, the empathic Penelope Garcia wonders if he’s still alive. They ask him to knock twice if he’s conscious and he does. As the girls leave, we see the inside of Spencer’s apartment. There are books on every surface, including the floor. He is in a warn robe and shuffles over to the couch, picking up a book from the coffee table. “The Narrative of John Smith,” the book left for him by Maeve the night they were supposed to meet; he wraps his arms around it and curls up on the couch and closes his eyes.
At the BAU headquarters, Derek Morgan is on the phone listening to Reid’s voice mail prompt when Blake appears “We’re gathering…” In the hallway she wonders if she pushed Spencer too hard to meet Maeve. Derek tells her that she can’t blame herself for what happened. Well, I am here to tell you that yes she is partially responsible. She knew more about the relationship than anyone; and she did push; and it was that meeting that was the catalyst that turned a stalker into a killer… But I digress, and I will have to grieve on my own time, right?
Hotch and Rossi walk side by side, discussing Reid. It’s been two weeks, but he has been given all the time he needs. “I had a chance to say goodbye to Caroline,” Rossi comments, “I can’t imagine…” A single glance from Hotch, who did not get a chance to say goodbye when his wife was brutally slaughtered by a serial killer while the team was on their way to save her, makes Rossi eat his words before they are spoken. (Simple aside here, I was just as disgusted when Hotchner’s wife was murdered as I am over Maeve; I was not reviewing the series then.)
At the Round table, Penelope Garcia describes the crime scenes and the two victims, one male, one female; both were found in separate locations, wrapped in plastic. They have been exsanguinated.
The team throws ideas back and forth on the benefit of draining a victim while they’re still alive; the heart pumps the blood. (Dead, the blood flows more slowly which is why the victim would be decapitated and hung upside down, in that case gravity draws the blood, obviously.) Still, the fact that the victims are left with less than a pint in their bodies (a human heart usually stops before that much blood is gone, no pressure) begs the question; How did the UNSUB get so much of the victims’ blood? Garcia is sorry the question is asked; now she has to show them. There were large bore holes in the femoral arteries of both victims, Hotch explains as Garcia shows the photos on the screen.
Meanwhile, another victim is being drained; a tube runs from her thigh into a mason jar. The UNSUB lifts the tubing and shakes the last droplets into the jar before sealing the lid and carrying the jar to a shelf lined with more jars of blood.
Quote: “My blood alone remains: take it, but do not make me suffer long.” Marie Antoinette.
The team discusses possible profiles, including vampirism, on the plane. Garcia calls to interrupt; the police have found a third body. Hotch issues orders, dividing the team between the command post where he and J.J. will interview family members; the crime scene and the morgue. There are no connections between the victims and no enemies. The blood types of the three victims are different, so there is no connection there either. The crime scene where Rossi and Blake learn that this one’s eyelids were removed, ante-mortem Rossi observes. Not only is the UNSUB accelerating his time between killings, and his sadism is evolving. Morgan heads to the morgue.
Meanwhile, a young woman “Hi, I’m Amy,” enters the UNSUB’s apartment and says that she charges $75 an hour, any more than that, they can discuss it. She asks where she can change and says she’s used to different positions and flexible. (Ew; trying to get my mind out of the gutter) She asks if there’s a place where she can change and the UNSUB tells her.
Outside of the ME’s office, Morgan and Garcia talk about Reid. She says she can’t work until she hears his voice; it’s impairing her ability to work. Derek tells her to let him try something. He calls Reid and leaves a message requesting his help on profiling a killer who drains his victims’ blood and cuts off their eyelids. No sooner does he get the file from the ME than Reid calls to ask if the cornea or pupils have been harmed. If he’s taking care not to damage the eyes, then line of sight is what’s important to him. The ME tells him the toxicology turned up EDTA which thins the blood and Ketamine which sedates but also raises the blood pressure. If the killer drank the blood, he would dose himself, so that rules out vampirism; begging the question, what is he doing with the blood?
Amy Fortner is found sitting in a chair in a park. The body was dropped off just after sunrise. He’s familiar enough with the area and knew he wouldn’t be seen. Hotch calls Garcia to learn about Amy Fortner and finds out that she was a bartender and a model. Blake makes the final connection. Reid told Morgan that line of sight was important; they need to take a look at all the crime scenes. She thinks she knows what he’s doing with the blood.
At the San Francisco PD where the command post is set up, the team briefs the local detectives on the killer’s profile. He’s an artist and is using the blood in his paintings. The placement of the bodies indicates that he wants the neglected art around the area to be seen and that he feels like he is neglected and unnoticed. He may be trying to sell his work, so the detectives are directed to check out galleries that deal in “fringe” art.
Morgan receives another call from Reid and puts Garcia on a conference call with him; he had Anderson bring over some of the files. Garcia is told to focus on art galleries around the Mission District. Reid thanks Garcia for the baskets and says that nuts have a lot of magnesium which increases serotonin production, then hangs up.
Elsewhere in the city, the UNSUB goes into a gallery and talks to Ms. Reilly, the owner; an assistant asks if she wants her to get rid of him. She tells him that a great artist leaves a piece of himself on the canvas. He tells her that he works in blood. She says the medium doesn’t matter… Okay, rant time, if someone tells me that they paint with blood, big red flags are going up in my mind! Alarms are going off when I look at the size of the picture. Yeah, maybe she didn’t believe him, or maybe she thought he meant he added blood to the paint, I don’t know, but it’s just too creepy. She should have called the police, just in case he was telling the truth. She already knew he was a whack job.
Meanwhile, Hotch and J.J. find a gallery owner who refused to buy the “blood” art, but one of his patrons insisted on owning the work. Elsewhere, the UNSUB and a co-worker dressed in coveralls, discuss a painting. Paul hints that he could use a ride, and the UNSUB realizes they’re friends. He’s found his next victim.
Rossi and Blake locate the painting in a “clean, legal, adult fun” establishment, otherwise known as an S&M joint. He doesn’t seem to remember until he’s threatened with obstruction of justice; then he says he’ll have to take them to the “spanking room.” The tortured look on her face made him buy it. The artist wanted 1500, but he took $250 cash. Rossi and Blake identify it as the first victim, Pamela Heard; so he is painting them as they’re dying. (Ew; even creepier now!)
Meanwhile, Paul awakens from his slumber to tell the UNSUB that he’s insane. Every artist is a little crazy, he concedes. Paul reminds him that they’re friends; the UNSUB says that’s what he needs to make it more personal. The UNSUB tries to get Paul to hold still so he can cut off his eyelids, but Paul fights back, eventually biting the hand of his killer/friend and drawing blood. (Okay, next to impossible to do that, he is sedated; have you ever tried to bite through human flesh? It is not easy! Please, do not ask how I know that…) In his rage over being bitten, the killer grabs a hammer and hits Paul in the head.
At the BAU command post, the team tries to make out the name on the confiscated painting, but all they get is a B, which is all that Garcia will have to go on in her search for weird artists. Meanwhile, the killer takes a jar of blood and an icky opaque liquid from the refrigerator; he injects himself with the icky looking stuff, and starts painting angrily, using blood straight from the wound in Paul’s forehead.
Back at the command center, a detective reports that they couldn’t get any DNA from the blood on the painting because the plasma had been removed. As the team tries to determine why the UNSUB would remove the plasma, Reid shows up; he says it could be a habit. Meanwhile, the “artist” shows up at the gallery to talk to Ms. Reilly again. She decides she’s been too nice to him and tells him what she really thinks of his art, that he has no talent. (In this moment, I believe that she’ll be his next victim, and I understand why. He’s clearly hurt because he used his only friend and his own blood in the painting. I guess that would make any serial killer angry.)
Reid tells the team that he believes the killer is a hemophiliac. He says that although it’s an antiquated practice, some hemophiliac’s can inject plasma into their wounds to kick start the clotting process. Morgan calls Garcia and she searches for hemophiliacs. Reid tells her to search for Tybe B Christmas Disease. Out of the fifteen they narrow it down to three, based on profile alone; the Blake comes up with the fact that if he was using plasma from victims with different blood types, he must be a universal recipient: Type AB Positive. Garcia’s magic fingers and research computer kick out Bryan Hughes who works as a janitor at the Bay Area Museum of Art; she sends his address to their phones. (I do still like how the team works together; but I think the writers are trying too hard to get the fans to like Blake while they clearly see her as inferior to the ever felt but absent and irreplaceable, Emily Prentiss.)
Hotch sends Dave Rossi and Blake to the Museum while the rest of the team heads to the residence. Elsewhere, Bryan chooses his next victim and decks the supreme b**ch who lead him on. Madison Reilly gets decked as she carries a painting into the gallery. (Everybody watching says yeah, she asked for it.) Garcia calls to let him know that 3 weeks before he started killing, Hughes was in an accident; he wasn’t hurt but he watched the other woman bleed to death before the EMT’s arrived. Reid calls Morgan and reports Madison Reilly missing; he says he’s been thinking about the Hughes and it made him think of Maeve’s stalker’s desire for approval. There may be only one way to get that approval; “suicide,” Morgan finishes his thought.
In his apartment, Hughes gets ready to cut Madison Reilly’s eyelids off without even hooking her up. He tells her unconscious body that he put his heart and soul into those paintings. When the team enters, he says he’s got to make her see. Hotch instructs him to put down the knife. He promises that if Bryan puts down the knife people will see his work and no one will be able to ignore it. Bryan asks if they know how many paintings Van Gogh sold before he died. Morgan and J.J. both ask him not to make them do this. He raises the scalpel over the woman’s body and two shots are fired; Hotch calls for the EMT’s but Bryan is a hemophiliac. J.J. finds the body of Paul in the corner.
On the plane home, J.J. and Morgan make small talk with Reid, if he needs anything at all… Reid says that he could actually use help with something. The team goes to Reid’s apartment and puts his books back on the shelves; they clean up the crime scene photos and the map he used to help locate the killer’s target area. They all hug him before they leave. Finally he picks up “The Narrative of John Smith” and opens the cover to see the Thomas Mertin Quote inside, handwritten by Maeve. Reid closes the book and takes it over to the bookcase, to put it away.
Reid Quote’s “Sometimes the hardest part isn’t letting go but rather learning to start over.” Nicole Sobon.
As I said, the Reid stuff was rather satisfying; the UNSUB and his reason for killing, the catalyst, none of it made any sense. As one killer in a different crime drama said recently, it doesn’t have to make sense; it’s not supposed to make sense. Unfortunately, Criminal Minds writers have spoiled us into thinking that it will, in the end, but it hasn’t very often this season.
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