Criminal Minds Review: Reconstructing Reid

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The takeaway from this episode of Criminal Minds is that having an eidetic memory can be gruesome.

Especially when, as in Reid's case, there is little ability to wipe away the pain of remembering every single word shared between him and Maeve.

Grand Rapids

This week's case served more as an addendum to the story of Reid's gradual descent into depression and Rossi's compassionate friendship and advice to help him out of it.

In "Alchemy," the BAU (Reid, really) identified two murders that shared similar characteristics: both involving men with similar features, whose bodies had been dismembered and scattered in native American territory. The only reason the local authorities hadn't connected the pair was because of friction between the native police force and the FBI.

The team eventually figured out that the murdered men were surrogates for a man whose wife - Tess - suffered from "Black Widow Maternal Desire," a mental condition involving her need to have a child to replace one of her own who had died. 

She blamed her then-husband and so then searched for other men who looked similar to him, bedded them and then killed them in revenge for the death of her son. It took even longer for the team to figure out that she had a dominant accomplice (husband Raoul) who manipulated her emotions and wanted to watch as she killed her victims. Her methodology involved meeting them at bars, convincing them to stay at the hotel she was running, having sex with them in order to conceive a child, lacing their food with solanine and then offing them. 

After discovering the identify of the husband and wife Unsubs, the unit moved in and prevented them from killing yet another man.

I found the case to be only mildly interesting. It kept my attention only in that I wasn't able to immediately identify Raoul as the true sociopath who was pulling Tess' strings.  Until the team figured it out, there was no clue that he was anything other than a mild-mannered helper who wanted to keep his head down, do his work and pick up a paycheck every week. But then, that's what sociopaths do, isn't it? They study emotions and provide an appearance designed to fool almost everyone into thinking they're normal.  

Tess' sudden realization that Raoul had manipulated her and had turned her into a monster rang only partially believable. Her epiphany happened when she discovered that he had killed Amber, the hotel's young cleaning woman. I suppose anything's possible, given the fact that the mind has not yet been entirely mapped out and there is still much discussion about triggers and the like. (Which is my way of saying "here's a way to suspend disbelief") 

Still, that sudden 180-degree turn by her took me out of the story at least for a few minutes.

The more compelling story involved poor Reid who was afraid to sleep at night because of a recurring dream in which he saw Maeve and she asked him to dance with her. As soon as she asked, he would wake himself up. He's lucky to have such an observant and compassionate friend in Rossi, who saw what was going on, realized he wasn't getting any sleep and took steps to help him out. I thought the show's writer gave him some wise advice to give to Reid:

Rossi: Spencer, if you want to feel better, you can't control the process. You have to let yourself grieve   | permalink

Or as someone else pointed out: "sometimes the only way out is through."

Rossi's later advice in the episode was just as wise, referencing the title of the episode:

Rossi: Alchemy turns common metals into precious ones. Dreams work the same way, turning something awful into something better. | permalink

And that set us up with the beautiful ending, where Reid got to see Maeve once more in his dreams and this time when she asked him to dance with her, he did. That was such a bittersweet scene:

Maeve: Dance with me.
Reid: Why?
Maeve: I want to hold you once before I'm a ghost of a memory. | permalink

Some final notes:

  • This episode was directed by Matthew Gray Gubler.  Thanks to some of our commenters for pointing it out.  (Don't know how I missed that)
  • There was no mention of The Replicator in this episode. Don't worry, though: he is going to show up soon.
  • Kudos to Sharon Lee Watson who wrote this episode, especially for including the reference to Leonard Peltier, the native American who was convicted of killing two FBI agents back in 1975. The long-simmering discord between the FBI and the native band over that action (a controversy which continues today as Peltier remains in prison) was used to show why two police agencies hadn't connected the two murders in this episode.
  • The weird dude who was sitting outside of the hotel with Chad provided a nice bit of misdirection. "Creepy" doesn't begin to cover it. 
  • The name of the song to which Reid and Maeve danced is "Sleepwalk" by Santo & Johnny
  • Rossi had a bit of fun in this episode, which included a reference to acid and "the fourth Mrs. Rossi". (Check our Criminal Minds quotes for the references on those.) Oh, and a hint to Rossi here: it's 2013, dude - you don't really have to marry every woman you date.  

What did you think of the episode? Did you have any problems with it? Do you think Reid will be able to come out of his funk now that he's let himself feel the pain of dancing with Maeve, even if only in his dreams?


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (76 Votes)

Douglas Wolfe is a staff writer for TV Fanatic Follow him on Twitter



"The ghost in the library." That ending is so Dr. Who.


I thought the first victim looked a lot like a young Giovanni Ribisi.


Joker, you are correct. That is Beth who acted on Leverage, and yes, she is the same girl that played his girlfriend earlier. She looks very different in dark hair, and I think you may not have recognized her before. I didn't at first until I had decided to re-watch some scenes with her. I enjoyed the episode. Of course for dramatic effect they had to let Tess die face up, so we'd be sure with her. No problem with taking license for that, Jeff. Went on youtube to check out the closing song. A lot of people seemed to have done that because of Reid too. lol


Excuse my ignorance but was Maeve played by Beth Riesgraf, late of Leverage? I believe she was there with dark hair? I don't recognize her as the actress who played in the original episode as Reid's love interest.


Love the show, and kudos to Dr. Spencer Reid for his directing ability. The choice of 'Sleepwalk' for that final scene was superb.


I have been a fan of Criminal Minds from the first episode. It has been a lot of fun watching Reid develop, regress, and start to grow again. He and the other long time core members of the cast have kept it interesting and even though you know they are actors playing a part, the characters become more than just actors performing before the camera, you actually form an attachment to the characters, especially Reid. It was great to see the last scene when he was dancing with Maeve and their embrace at the end. I hope the writers will bring in another emotional interest for Reid, of all the characters on the show, his deserves some happiness for a change. Writers, are you listening to the fans of the show?


Good episode. I wasnt that into the case I new the girl was the killer the whole time and then I stated thinking her partner was the other dude who seemed to not care about anything and seemed completely normal. Everything Rossi said to Reid was sweet and showed how good of a friend he is. I loved the ending Reid finally saying yes and dancing with Maeve instead of forcing himself to wake up was so sweet and just a beautiful moment I really hate that she's dead they made a very cute couple. Can't wait till the next episode.


A other good one I have to say I guess my one big complaint is Hotch was barly seen


hi folks
I agree with the reviewer. this episode (my words) to me was on the lame and cardboard side. no one character was very believable. lots of good quotes and soothing words for reid, but that's about it. too bad because matthew (reid) is a good director. and tess's body would have been face down in the water from drowning. too angelic/martyr a scene.


The greatest love instrumental ever.

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Criminal Minds Season 8 Episode 20 Quotes

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote "I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are an evil".


Maeve: Dance with me.
Reid: Why?
Maeve: I want to hold you once before I'm a ghost of a memory.