Criminal Minds Season 8 Review “Zugzwang”

Criminal Minds returned tonight with their first episode of 2013; The peculiarly titled “Zugzwang”. Not only was this one of the best episodes of the season, but a powerful and gut-wrenching episode for everybody’s favorite character: Reid.

We kick off tonight’s episode with a very strange dream sequence involving Reid marrying his mystery woman, with the whole BAU team in attendance no less! It’s very rare for this show to have such different scenes visually, so it’s always nice when we have something that feels new. Well Spencer quickly wakes up and takes a nice walk to a nearby pay phone to talk to his mystery lady, and he finds out that she’s been kidnapped!

What follows is a riveting race against time as Reid tries to save Maeve from her deadly stalker. I didn’t really care that much about the wellbeing of Maeve at first, just because we didn’t know her too well from only seeing her once before, but I really did care after seeing how much it was tearing up Reid. We so rarely see Reid emotionally react to anything, so seeing him so invested in this case that he could barely think straight was very distressing.

The team quickly finds out that Maeve is being stalked by a woman, and it’s played by none other than Michelle Trachtenberg. Most people would recognize Trachtenberg from playing Dawn on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but now she’s playing a character that’s supposed to be hatable and frustrating! Maeve is again played by Beth Riesgraf from Leverage, and she did a great job, but it looks like we aren’t going to be enjoying her performances anymore. I was genuinely surprised that they made the choice to kill off Spencer’s love interest, and it was definitely a gut-wrenching shock to see it happen. I’m hoping that Reid can overcome this heartbreak quickly and that he finds happiness with some woman, as it seems like this guy always has had bad luck with the fairer sex.

It’s very daring for a show like Criminal Minds to dive so deeply into a serialized story line like this. The reason that Criminal Minds has done so well on CBS for the past eight years is that you don’t have to watch past episodes to enjoy a new one. It’s a great procedural, but it’s still just that: A procedural. So I give Criminal Minds a lot of credit for giving us a great resolution to an ongoing story from two previous episodes. I’m really hoping we see more of this as the show goes on, as it’s a great way to reward long-time viewers like us for keeping up with the show and their characters.

Random Thoughts:

– The director for tonight’s installment, Jesse Warn, also directed two other great Criminal Minds episodes: Season seven’s “Closing Time” and season six’s “Hanley Waters”.

– How is it that all of these criminal masterminds can afford these secondary dwellings to keep their victims? Somehow Michelle can afford a nice little apartment in DC and a loft to keep Maeve and Bobby?! I had the same complaint about Ray Speltzer in the last season of Dexter.

  • Ally M

    I think this ending was absolutely ridiculous. As a long time fan, I’m frankly a bit pissed off.

    • Giraffey

      I agree, it seems odd to have spent so long building up someone we hadn’t seen at all only to kill them off like that.

    • CapnFoo

      This is ridiculous. One of the reasons why I love Criminal Minds so much is that not every episode has a happy ending. It’s just not realistic to have them catch the bad guy in every episode or save the victims life every time. These characters need to go through heartbreak in order to develop. This is very similar to when they killed off Hotchner’s wife. That episode was fantastic and has added so much depth to that character. I expect the same to come for Reid.

      • beninabox

        How are they going to deal with Reid? It’s bad enough when extroverted socially skilled macho characters lose loves. Reid would be permanently scarred, become really withdrawn. And because of his own role in it, a guilt (reasonable or not) that won’t quit. Talk about PTSD!! I’m afraid the writers won’t really be able to cope with the effect on him and will either find a way to paper it over or write him out of the show, last scene being a padded cell.

        • CapnFoo

          I think you underestimate how strong of a character Reid is. In the show, he has already dealt with a bad drug addiction, and was raised by a schizophrenic. He sees death everyday and although this is a lot to deal with, I doubt they will paper over it or write him off the show.

  • Emma

    The ending made me angry. I love this show, but I think this was my least favorite episode that they’ve ever made

  • An excellent episode, I connected to it from beginning to end. It was very heartbreaking finish, but felt that this would be the conclusion months ago, and I have not lost hope that Reid happy with a woman, just spend some time.

    I do not believe in that kind of idyllic love story presented Maeve and Reid, I prefer a mature woman, unlike him, let him mature, and its complement is not a carbon copy of Reid.

  • lili

    I don’t believe she’s dead. I can’t believe it! Reid deserves love! Besides, I don’t think they would bring in an actress from another show just to kill her off after a few appearances. Also, she told Reid something at the end and we never understood what that meant. I think she survived!!!

    • Jamiem

      The quote was referring to the Thomas Merton quote she had written in The Narrative of John Smith book she gave to Reid. The quote was: “Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone. We find it with another.”I don’t know if she lived or not, but I sure hope so. Either way, the ending was great, if gut-wrenching, and whether she survived or not, it certainly makes for good TV, so I see why they did that.

      • TISA


  • Ya know, there wasn’t an end quote. Therefore it can’t be the end!

    • That’s because everyone was so devastated that they were at a loss for words.

      • Ola

        When hotch’s wife died and the whole series finally called ” to hell and back” both of those episodes were horribly tragic and yet there was always an ending quote. I hated this episode with a passion, why build up to something just for to kill her in the end? So you get a lot of views and critics for this episode but what are you going to do next? Reid isn’t hotch, at least hotch and his wife were separated they tried and had some time together but Reid didn’t. All he got was one look at her before she died. The writers screwed up big time with this. if Reid doesn’t end up going psychotic, or a twisted character in the show i have no clue anymore. but i do agree that she is dead because in caption for the next episode is that the BAU go another crime scene while Reid deals with the loss of his girlfriend.

  • If there had been ANY hope of Maeve’s surviving, Morgan would have been radioing frantically: “I need a medic up here!”…or…”I need an ambulance here.” And maybe an ambulance or EMTs should have been at the tail end of the BAU convoy, seeing as they knew it was a hostage situation. Anyway, the unseen damage to Maeve’s head must have been so severe that no one even bent down to check her pulse.

    Once again, Breen Frazier delivered superlative writing.

  • Sheila Frenchman

    I’ve been watching this show for the 8 seasons it’s been on and each one is better than the last, too bad about Maeve but this is what keeps you watching, what will happen next…

  • I thought the episode was awful. It is getting tiresome how that everyone in the team has to either be shot or have someone they love get killed or their child kidnapped or an ex-wife killing herself. I think the actor has already told them he’s leaving and this is the only way they can think of to give him an exit.

  • Rockhound0508

    I thought it was one of the best EPs of CM. Painful and so emotionally charged!

  • Jenna

    Let hope the writers’ write a better storyline for Reid than they did for Hotch. It seemed like Hotch picked himself up the next week after Haley death as though she had no baring on his life. Not to mention bring up a child on his own made no impact on his work schedule.

  • TISA


  • Debbie

    I set my alarm so I don’t miss the new episodes. I watch the reruns just about every evening. I have each season’s DVDs. And I don’t know if I’ll watch next weeks episode. I thought this would be a great season with Spencer and now I’m just angry.

  • Ola

    This episode was amazing….until the last 30 seconds. They ruined the series for me with this stupid excuse of an ending!!! Why? Reid is an amazing character but up until now he had no relation ship in the series, and when he does everyone is happy for him. A finally was common among Criminal minds fans, we wanted to see him with a girl at his level and she fit the part perfectly. So again i ask you why? He barely even got to meet her left alone only seeing her for the first time before she died. I’m really hoping that she isn’t dead, and that’s why their was no ending quote as per usual… but i think it’s a lost cause. The second episode hints at her death and reid taking time to try and sort through it but can he? I think reid character is going to change dramatically, i though he was leaving but he isn’t so either he become mentally unhinged or he’s going to be a darker character from now on. The writers really fu*ked up with this episode, they would have done better had they left her alive. One crazy ending isn’t going to increase the shows notoriety instead if you kept the love interest alive, that would have kept the views higher as fans would keep coming back to see what happened with reid and his girlfriend. They were the fresh air this show desperately needed but now i’m afraid it’s going to be the sore in it’s feet. You serious ruined the show for me in this episode and now i’m scared for what reid will become. If my predictions become true i won’t watch this who again and simply believe that it ended the episode before this. You shouldn’t have screwed up so badly, either fix it and make her still alive or don’t fuck up reids character!! he’s my favourite and now u ruined him! 🙁

  • beninabox

    Aside from it being a pretty cruel ending, have the writers though about how they’re going to deal with the aftermath? Reid is going to be a total basket case for a long long long time. Definite permanent damage. They can’t un-ring this bell unless they do something really cheap.

  • alabama

    worst ever episode why in the world would they do that?????