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Criminal Minds – Entropy – Review: “Date From Hell”

The latter half of 2015 was quite a dramatic one for the BAU. The eleventh season started with a bang, with the team learning of a dangerous group of hit men. They chose to focus their attention on this group at their own peril, leading to Garcia being targeted and even going so far as to force her into protective custody. As the first half of the season came to a close, the stakes were raised even higher with Hotch’s shocking revelation that there had been a major break in the team’s investigation of the case.

Now that we enter 2016, it’s clear that there’s no rest for the weary, as the second half of the season starts off with a dangerous dinner date, a bomb threat, and a general sense of unease and uncertainty. And who’s at the center of it all as we kick things off? None other than Spencer Reid.

When the details of this episode were first announced, it stirred up quite a large amount of buzz and speculation. Initially, some fans wondered, and feared, that this date of Reid’s might be a woman who seemed to him to be innocent, only for her to reveal, to his surprise, that she was actually an unsub.

Thing is, though, Reid’s a profiler, and a pretty sharp one at that. I would think he’d suspect ahead of time if someone he was dating had some shady and questionable aspects to them. So I wasn’t on board with that particular theory. Once it was revealed that this episode’s case would be part of an “elaborate ruse”, I’d personally hoped that this woman would turn out to be an undercover agent of some sort pretending to be an unsub, as a means of helping the BAU catch the hit man gang along the way.

Sadly, that theory didn’t pan out, either. Which is a shame, ‘cause I think that could’ve made for an interesting angle to work with, too, especially given that Reid already had some heavy duty personal issues weighing on his mind. It would’ve been nice to have the date portion of this storyline play out in a more positive direction for him.

Those personal hopes and wishes aside, however, fortunately, this episode still very much delivered all around, and is among the best episodes of the season thus far, if not the best. It was intense, gripping, heartfelt, and a perfect way to kick off Reid’s return to the show, and the team.

The Case:

The episode wastes absolutely no time in getting down to business. Reid arrives at a very fancy restaurant, looking handsome as can be, a red rose in his hand. He’s the first to arrive for this very special date he’s on, too. At this point, I can’t help but immediately flash back to memories of his attempted restaurant date with Maeve a couple seasons ago. The episode’s barely started, and it’s already got some bittersweet tinges to it, which seems true to form for Reid.

Unlike Maeve, however, the woman he’s waiting for here actually makes it inside the restaurant. Her name’s Cat Adams, and she’s cute and bubbly and seemingly friendly. At this point I’m really hoping that my theory about Cat being an undercover agent proves true, because honestly, she and Reid are being kind of incredibly adorable together. They talk about books, the anxiousness and nervousness that comes with preparing for a date, Reid’s being all cute and awkward, and they even discuss the Kardashians. Fear not, though, people – Reid’s knowledge of them extends only to Robert Kardashian, the man who got O.J. Simpson off.

Anywho, so the date seems to be going pretty well, and it’s really fun getting to see Reid in this kind of setting for a change (hint, hint, writers). Then things start to take a very weird, very bizarre turn. Cat soon asks Reid to talk about why they’re really here, and she and Reid begin discussing his…wife. Hm.

Now since I’m pretty sure Reid didn’t go by the motto, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” during his recent trip home, this mention of a wife clearly has to be part of whatever ruse he’s working with. The revelation that Reid’s been married for four years and that said wife is due with their child very soon only further proves that must be the case.

All of a sudden, Reid and Cat start talking about how much money he should pay her to off his wife and unborn child. Seems she does hired hit jobs for a living. Despite the fact that this is all a setup, it’s still really bizarre to hear Reid discussing such a horrible plot. But whatever, this scheme is working thus far…

…at least, until Cat asks to see his wedding ring. It’s in very pristine condition despite his claim of four years of marriage, and that’s enough to tip Cat off to the fact that this is a setup. At that point, she reveals she knows she’s being watched, she’s got a gun covertly pointed at Reid, and all hell’s about to break loose. Fantastic. And so begins one of the most tense and unusual dates in the series’ history.

Things get even more nervewracking with Cat’s next moves. She finds ways to send his teammates, discreetly stationed around the restaurant, away, is getting awfully handsy with him (shades of Diane Turner, anyone?) and she sets up a timer on Reid’s phone. Thirty minutes. Reid has thirty minutes to answer every single question she asks him, and answer them truthfully at that. She’ll agree to surrender if he cooperates, and if he lies to her, she goes free. Fortunately, we know Reid has a very tough time lying to people, and especially to unsubs (again, I'm thinking back to Diane Turner). This should be a cakewalk. Right?

Eh. Sort of. Reid makes the interrogation tough for himself right off the bat by letting slip that he took time away from work recently to go home to Vegas. Naturally, Cat immediately wants to know why. Reid deflects on that front, and my antenna’s already up and my stomach’s sinking. If his visit with his mom had been a good one, surely he would’ve answered right away.

We flash back to three days prior, with Reid gazing longingly at a swing set and having memories of a child being pushed on a swing by their mom. For a moment it looks like we’re about to delve into a childhood flashback of his.

But no. He’s actually at…Morgan and Savannah’s place! And Savannah is being very chummy with him. Apparently she’s done a favor of some sort for Reid, but before we can learn what that favor was, Morgan and Reid are called in to discuss the Montolo case. At this point, Reid begins to reveal to Cat how he and his teammates came to find her and the rest of the gang.

Remember Director Cochran, from “Internal Affairs”? He was involved in a racketeering setup, and used the killing of undercover agents investigating the drug trade in Texas as a cover for his own crimes. Turns out he’s also got some information about Montolo’s gang. That “major break” Hotch told Garcia about turned out to involve Cochran being willing to spill what he did know about them to the BAU. The five major players are as follows:

1. The Sniper (Known for his VERY accurate shots)
2. The Chemist (Capable of poisoning his victims in ways that don’t leave a trace. Rossi’s utterly sarcastic “He sounds delightful” comment in regards to him made me laugh)
3. The Bomber (Specializes in dramatic bombings – the team referenced a rather newsworthy one that was credited to them)
4. The Snowman (Revealed to the team via their recovery of a flash drive Cochran owned. Turns out the Snowman is some high school kid who got roped into this and was the tech brains behind the whole operation. The scene where Garcia communicated with him online via cards was pretty entertaining.)
5. And finally, “Miss 45” herself: Cat Adams, Reid’s dinner date. The hired hit woman. Husbands hired her to kill their wives.

Hence why Reid came up with the “married man” ruse. He was closest to her age, he figured she’d relate to him better. It’s also revealed at one point that he’d been in communication with her for a short time via e-mails before they met. Talking with a woman he hadn’t yet seen in person via e-mail. Gee. Why does that sound eerily familiar? Awfully brave move on Reid’s part.

The thing about Cat, though, is that she’s got some pent up rage against men. Despite being hired by men to kill their wives, she kills them, too. But she knew full well Reid wasn’t married, or the kind of man who would make this kind of evil hire. By Reid’s logic, she should’ve ignored his ruse to lure her out. But she didn’t. And Reid knows why. Her anger at the man who hurt her is so strong that she lashes out at any male in her vicinity, whether they’re truly bad or not. And she knew full well this was a setup, yet she came anyway. Why?

The truth? She’s not alone. The gang member known as the Bomber is somewhere nearby. And much to the team’s dismay, they realize that the bomb is in the restaurant, and has been activated. Cat demands to be let go, or the restaurant explodes. Just when the team thought things couldn’t get any worse…

The only way out, Hotch sees, is to give in to Cat’s demands. Reid’s about to reluctantly agree to Hotch’s orders…only to go completely off-script at the last minute. How? He claims he found Cat’s father. Her father is the object of her rage, and he’s the one she’s most eager to confront. Reid’s found her weak spot. Cat stays, eager to learn more.

According to Reid, he’d sought her father out. Unfortunately, he’d fallen on severely hard times, winding up homeless and sleeping near dumpsters. To make matters worse, his years of drinking had caught up to him in the worst way. When Reid shows him a picture of his daughter, he has absolutely no clue as to who she is. This news crushes Cat, and Reid knows it.

It’s at this point when he lets his own guard down, as a means of trying to empathize with her, and finally opens up to her about just what happened when he went home. Confused about why his mom’s medication wasn’t working, he went to visit her to see what the deal was. When he saw her in person, however, for the briefest of moments…she didn’t remember him. After getting her tested, the reason why became devastatingly clear: she’s now in the early stages of dementia, and Alzheimer’s at that. Hoo, boy. Just when Reid thought he was out of the woods with schizophrenia, now he’s got this to worry about, as well as helplessly watching his mom’s memory slip away altogether.

Clearly, this was something he’d hoped to keep to himself. The fact that Cat’s aware she’s touched a nerve, and plays off his extreme vulnerability, and the fact that this is how his teammates have to learn this news, makes this scene deeply upsetting and uncomfortable.

That said, however, there is the fact that Reid’s playing a game with Cat. Maybe, just maybe, some of what he’s saying about his mom might not be true. She may well be suffering, but perhaps he’s exaggerating a little to get Cat to open up. Mind, it’s hard to imagine Reid using his mom’s illness in such a manipulative way, but Cat’s a unique and manipulative unsub. Perhaps he feels he has to match her point for point.

Anywho, his story seems to hit a nerve with Cat…but only slightly. She’s still threatening to blow the place up. Thing is, though, she’s not the bomber, so the team has to figure out who is. During this entire dinner conversation, Morgan and Tara have been covertly chilling in a booth nearby, and luck is on their side, since it’s completely escaped Cat’s notice that they’re FBI agents. Thanks to Morgan’s bomb expertise and knowledge, he’s able to suss out who the bomber in question is. And it’s not a he, it’s a she. Tara and Morgan make to casually leave, only for Tara to knock the woman out with a pretty impressive move and slap the cuffs on her, while Morgan disarms the bomb.

Unfortunately, this spooks Cat, and she pulls her gun on Reid, leading to a very tense faceoff between her, Morgan…and Reid. Reid’s warning Morgan not to antagonize the situation further, but Morgan keeps pushing, revealing that Cat’s father is actually right outside. Reid seems utterly angry with him for letting that information slip – who knows what Cat will do now that she knows that? It’s always intriguing when the team is at odds over how to let a case play out, and I’m anxious to see where this goes.

There is an upside, though. The team knows that Cat’s dad killed her mom years ago, and her identifying him as the killer will allow him to finally be punished for his crime. This seems to placate Cat, and she agrees to be escorted out to confront her dad at long last. She’s taken out in cuffs, led to the police vehicle waiting for her…

…and it’s completely empty. She’s been played. Her dad wasn’t waiting outside. Reid had never even found him. For someone who’s normally struggled with lying in the past, Reid pulled off one hell of a whopper on Cat, with a little help from Morgan, and she fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

Well, for the most part. Reid actually did try and look for her dad, and his sympathy for her rough upbringing was genuine. Cat’s pretty sure, though, that Reid’s story about his mom wasn’t a lie, either, and because she got Reid to reveal his own Achilles’ heel, she views this as a victory for herself. Her parting explanation as to why she’s not at all worried about the idea of Reid coming after her if she goes free is cutting, and made me seriously wince.

“In twenty years, I’ll remember your name. But you won’t remember mine.”

That is cold. I would be flat out lying if I said I didn’t feel a strong urge to slap the ever-loving crap out of her at that very moment. Reid, as always, takes the high road, letting her have the last word.

So! Got all that? Let’s break this craziness down.

First things first, the tension in this episode was brilliantly crafted. Every aspect of the situation was coiled so tightly, to where one was just waiting for some aspect of this case to snap and break at any moment.

The unpredictability of the case worked in its favor, too. This was not set up like most episodes typically are. They jumped right into the action from the start, and that allowed us to get sucked into the storyline much more quickly. The reveal of who the bomber was, and where they were, was very unexpected, and a clever eleventh hour surprise. And the fact that Reid and Cat’s conversation took so many twists and turns, and Reid went off-script as he did, only upped the stakes and the uncertainty of just how this would all play out.

The best aspect of the episode, however, was far and away Reid and Cat’s interaction. Gubler and Plaza played off each other seamlessly and had me glued to the screen throughout the entire episode. Their back and forth played almost like a tennis match. They went snark for snark, vulnerability for vulnerability, strength for strength. Plaza portrayed quite the femme fatale as well – I could easily picture her in some sort of 1940s style detective noir, and now I’m kind of wishing the episode had been filmed that way. That could’ve been particularly fun. And yet, in another universe where she wasn’t an unsub, but the sweet, friendly girl we first see, I could’ve easily seen Reid with that version of her. I would’ve been all for that.

It was fantastic to see Reid pulled out all his strengths here, too. Despite lying to Cat about finding her father, he was still able to use his ability to be honest to his advantage. I had a feeling Cat’s father wouldn’t be outside at the end, but I honestly believed Reid had found him.

His sweet, empathetic demeanor worked in his favor as well, as it allowed Cat to let her guard down a little in turn. He’s always had a particular knack at knowing how to sympathize with unsubs over the years – Owen Savage, Amanda, Tobias Hankel – and his interaction with Cat here was no exception.

Despite his kind personality, however, I also love that he didn’t back down. It was quite a thrill to see him so forceful, so intimidating. Reid may be a normally mild-mannered person, but he’s made it quite clear in the past that he’s not someone one would want to cross and upset, either. I always enjoy the moments when Reid stands his ground on something, and it was great to see him do that here.

It was also very interesting to see him not following the team’s playbook. There’ve been other moments involving Reid going WAY off script in the past, and I suspect that’s why, despite Hotch’s concerns, he was willing to let Reid allow this plan of his to play out.

If I have one issue with the case, it’s that it seems to wrap up this whole Dirty Dozen plot awfully neatly and easily. I’m thrilled for Garcia’s sake, of course, and shared in her immense relief when Hotch asked if she was ready to go home (loved that moment, by the way). If this is indeed the end of her being targeted, then good.

Plus, I rather like the idea of Reid winding up being the one to basically save Garcia. It’s unexpected, for one thing, given the setup with Morgan thus far. I certainly wouldn’t have complained about Morgan doing what he needed to do to protect Garcia, of course, but Reid playing a significant role just fit particularly well with the unpredictable nature of the episode. For another, I just really love Reid and Garcia’s friendship in general, and like the idea of him doing his part to keep her safe. Almost like he’s repaying her for saving his life in “Demons” a couple seasons ago.

But after such a dramatic setup in “The Job”, and the steady buildup of the case, and Morgan being SO determined to take these people down, this resolution just seems so…abrupt. So tidy. That leads me to wonder if this is going to be some sort of fake out where the team only thinks this Dirty Dozen business is over. Perhaps some aspect of Montolo’s gang will rear its ugly head again. On the one hand I kind of want that, ‘cause I think this sort of storyline deserves that kind of ending.

But on the other hand, I don’t, ‘cause, well, I’m not really keen on the idea of anyone else’s lives being put in danger over it. Considering we’ve got the 250th episode coming up, though, and all the rumors swirling about someone leaving this season, I have an unsettling feeling that we’re in for quite a rollercoaster ride down the line. Time will tell, I suppose.

Meanwhile, on the personal front:

We’ll start with the good news first. Obviously, since this hit man group has now (hopefully) been defeated, this means Garcia can go back home! Woo! Before she does that, though, she celebrates her freedom by coming to Morgan and Savannah’s place and getting drunk as a skunk. When she finds that Morgan, Reid, and Savannah are all outside, she joins them and so begins a hilarious scene with her babbling away happily. She’s full of love for Morgan and Reid (and oh, the smile on Reid’s face when she tells him she loves him – after all he went through this episode, that smile was sorely welcome), and informs Savannah that she thinks she’s hot. Okay, then! And speaking of Savannah, as is clearly evident, she and Morgan are still going strong, so that’s cool.

“Everything eventually falls apart. The trick is accepting when it’s over.”

Now on to the bad news. Everything about Reid’s mom? Sadly, it is indeed all true, every last utterly heart-wrenching bit of it. So that sucks. The only saving grace is that his mom’s still alive. My biggest fear was that she would pass away from something when he went to visit her, and I’m at least thankful that’s not the case. This isn’t much better, though, of course.

As for the favor Savannah did for him? Turns out she was using her medical know-how to help him do some research on dementia and its likelihood of being passed on. Unfortunately, Reid’s too young to be tested, so he won’t know for some time if he has the genetic marker for it. It’s sweet to know he can lean on Savannah for help, though, if need be.

Morgan, on the other hand, has a more immediate means of comfort and reassurance in mind. Before they part for the night, he pulls Reid in for a big, strong hug, and while he doesn’t actually say, “I love you”, he implies the hell out of it. The two of them are getting all emotional at this point, and I’m totally not biting my lip to hold back the tears here, nope. I’ve always loved the friendship between these two, and this scene is just so lovely and touching.

To make things even more bittersweet, we end the episode with Reid taking a late night stroll to collect those constantly running thoughts of his. Where does he end up? A park.

More specifically, a swing set. Memories of a child on a swing, being pushed by their mom, come back, and we’re left with the heartbreaking final image of Reid, sad and reflective, sitting on a swing.

All alone.

…tissues, anyone?

Certainly not the note I expected this episode to end on! Obviously I wish Reid had some better news to share about his mom, and I’m sad that we’re not getting that. The guy has been through so much pain and sadness in recent years already, it would’ve been really nice to see him actually get a break in that regard.

The optimist in me is rearing its head, though. With medicine and research being what it is nowadays, who knows what the future could hold in regards to the issues of dementia and Alzheimer’s, or schizophrenia? It’s enough to keep hope alive.

In the meantime, I will hope that in the more immediate future, something good finally happens to or for Reid. He certainly deserves it.

What did you think of this episode? Did the case keep you on the edge of your seat? Did you enjoy the interplay between Reid and Cat? Are you satisfied with how this Dirty Dozen arc wrapped up, or do you believe it’s not quite over yet? Do you think there’s still hope for Reid’s mom? Did the ending get you all choked up? Share your thoughts in the comments!

About the Author - Angela
Angela resides in the state of Iowa, in the town that was the inspiration for the Music Man. She is a bookseller at a local bookstore, loves to read and write, and enjoys a wide variety of music. She also enjoys various TV shows, including Criminal Minds, Community, Sleepy Hollow, Bates Motel, How to Get Away with Murder, as well as older series like Frasier and The Twilight Zone. She will be reviewing Criminal Minds for SpoilerTV.
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