Thursday, January 31, 2013

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 8 - 812. Zugzwang - Review

'Zugzwang', written by Breen Frazier, ends the arc of Reid's and Maeve's love story... and do so in an as tragic way as Hotch's and Rossi's ones.

Maeve's death makes nearly impossible to avoid drawing parallels with those previous tragedies, specially with the heartbreaking loss of Hotch's ex-wife, Haley, murdered too by an unsub (Rossi's Carolyn, we all know died by her own hand to escape the terrible consequences of the fatal illness she was affected with).

And the parallels found between 'Zugzwang' and '100' are fascinating, because of the similarities, but even more so, because of the well painted differences, that speak to us above all else of how different the characters of Hotch and Reid are.

What was similar? Two unsubs (Diane Turner and George Foyet) so hell bent in achieving their goals, that nothing that was said to them was able to change the outcome. Two profilers (Reid and Hotch) feeling utterly powerless when their negotiation tactics failed at the worst possible moment. Two men deeply in love with the victims had to witness (in person and through a phone call) the murder of their loved ones. And last but not least, our dear team doing their best to help their team mates, only to be remembered again that sometimes their best is not enough, no matter how important the case is in a personal level to them all. 

What was different? Foyet's goal was to outsmart and hurt Hotch using his loved ones as bait; Diane targeted Maeve, convinced she did her wrong by rejecting her work, and wanted to make her feel how it is when you lose everything you cared for. Haley had been Hotch's love for a good part of his life, had been his wife, and was the mother of his child; Maeve was the faceless love of Reid for around six months, who through phone calls had fallen in love with her brain and her kindness. Haley didn't fight for her life, but stalled her death as much as she could, knowing it was the only move available to her that would give Hotch the chance to arrive on time to save their child; Maeve did fight by refusing to commit suicide jumping from the rooftop first, refuting Diane's claims of her own genius, and later, acknowledging she had known Reid was lying when he was forced to deny how much he loved her. And last but no least, seeing the faces of each team member reacting to the gunshots that killed Haley felt like punches to the gut, while the despair in their faces after Maeve died mirrored our own.

Being shorter, Reid's and Maeve's love story was well set, with several episodes introducing her to us, showing us how their relationship developed and how deep it was becoming, and showing us too the existence of her stalker through bits of conversation, and the weird and misleading incident at the restaurant. The build up was great, and the final showdown was too. 

Still, the gut reaction this story generates isn't as strong as a whole, probably due to the fact that we had years to care for Haley (or in some cases, despise her), and a sweet kid lost his mother, but most of all, was the first time we were confronted with the soul wrenching pain of one of our beloved profilers. Maeve's death impacts all of us, but not specifically for her, and not even because she was the love of one of our dear profilers, but because nearly all of us think Reid has already suffered too much and a great opportunity for happiness has been again denied to him.

'Zugzwang' may not have been Criminal Minds best episode to date (the title still belongs to '100' for all the reasons already pointed to, and its brilliant and inventive storytelling too), but once again, thanks to Breen Frazier created characters (both, Maeve - played by Beth Riesgraf - and Diane - played by Michelle Trachtenberg - came from his “diabolical” mind), we have enjoyed an arc with interesting, powerful and well painted characters, forced to play with marked cards and little space to make good choices, that leaves us expectant to see how its happenings will impact future episodes and more importantly, how they will affect Reid.

We give this episode a 9/10

~~~~ Merlin and Sir Elyan The White

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