Does 'Date Night' with an Old Enemy Ruin Reid's New Romance on 'Criminal Minds'? (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 15, Episode 6 of Criminal Minds, "Date Night."]
Reid's (Matthew Gray Gubler) date doesn't go as he'd planned in the first of two episodes on Wednesday, with the return of a too-familiar foe in the final season of Criminal Minds.
Just as things seem to be progressing for Reid and Max (Rachael Leigh Cook) — she even sees his apartment for the first time when they meet up for their latest coffee date — work calls, and it's not just a run-of-the-mill case of the week.
Don (Michael Dempsey) and Eloise (Annamarie Kasper), father and daughter, have been kidnapped — after fliers accusing him of murdering a woman named Susan pop up — and the UnSub (Jamie Sara Slovon) only has one demand: release Cat Adams (Aubrey Plaza).
But they'd never do that ... right? But what's Cat's hidden agenda? (She always has one.)
A Good Ol' Fashioned Skating Date
Cat is delighted to see "Spencie" again, and she tells him that she had her lawyer plead guilty and request the death penalty. But don't think she suddenly has a conscience. "I'm bored," she explains. "Death has to be more interesting than this." In her final days, all she wants is to go on a date with Reid. He refuses, catching her when she slips up about knowing it's a father and daughter who have been taken, and insisting she won't win. But we see she's gotten to him when he retreats to an empty room, shakes out his hand, breathes, and swipes everything off a table.
The team learns of the Susan fliers when Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) discovers she has 80+ voicemails; the number on them is her direct line. But as they're scrambling to identify Susan, the UnSub records herself shooting Don.
The UnSub is Juliette, Cat's old cell mate, with a similar backstory (father killed the mother and fled). Cat manipulated her, and Juliette followed her around like a puppy. Though the team initially suspects Susan is Juliette's mother, they realize she's Cat's. Is Don her father? Whoever he is, Juliette only shot him with blanks, as a video she sends Garcia reveals. But they can't know she won't do that again, meaning Reid has to go on that date with Cat and they can only hope she slips up again. In return, she offers a clue: 23.
Rossi (Joe Mantegna) guesses she's referring to chromosomes, perhaps that she tested her DNA. Her lawyer eventually confirms he ran the test for her, but they also have to figure out Cat's hidden agenda. Everything just gets more complicated when they find Don — but Juliette has taken Eloise — and he reveals he has no idea who Cat is. He's not her father; the results of a DNA search on the table reveal Cat's father is dead. So why did Juliette take Don and Eloise?
Meanwhile, Cat becomes upset when she realizes that Reid's thinking of someone else on their date, and he admits he's seeing someone. "She's not you," he says. "There's some part of my brain, some part that you somehow inhabit and no woman — no matter how good, no matter how kind, no matter how sexy she is — can ever get you out." Once she hears that this woman has seen his apartment, she insists that be their next stop. There, she makes him kiss her ("make it good") or the hostages will die, and as he does, she opens the door to reveal Max waiting inside.
Reid's Not-Yet Girlfriend vs. the More Stabby Mean Girl
Don and Eloise are Max's father and younger sister. Juliette called her and sent her to Reid's. From what the team can gather, Juliette discovered Reid was seeing Max, and this is all Cat's reaction. And so continues Reid and Cat's cat-and-mouse game, this time with Max in the center of it. The others can only listen from outside his apartment via his phone.
Cat's decided to clue Max in on the truth about Reid, that he's not a "nice, bookish genius." She recalls Reid throwing her against the wall after she'd had his mother kidnapped. She was pregnant, and the next day, she miscarried, she reveals. Max says she thought he was decent. Cat just wants her to see that he's just like whoever hurt her in the past, and if Max tells her her story, she'll get her sister back.
Max hangs up Reid's phone, cutting off communication with the team, and tells Cat of the abusive boyfriend she killed. With that, Cat sends a text to Juliette and gets a photo of Eloise in return. Max runs out into the hall to show Prentiss (Paget Brewster). They trace the message, safely pick up Eloise, and arrest Juliette.
Reid brings Cat back to prison, and she tells him she did all this to make sure he'd never forget her. Though he suggests she could've just written a letter, she knows he wouldn't have written back.
But it's once Reid's back at the office that he gets the whole story. In order to outsmart Cat, the team had to keep him in the dark, and their plan started when the date did. That was when Prentiss realized it was all connected to Reid dating Max, and after they found Don, they picked up Max on her way to Reid's apartment. They quickly filled her in on all things Cat. ("She did what to him in Mexico?" Max asked, outraged.)
They arrived at Reid's before he did, and Prentiss was in contact with Max the entire time via an in-ear comm unit. She coached her to play into the way Cat sees the world, though Max did improvise. (The boyfriend? A complete lie. He wasn't the best guy, but he wasn't abusive.) They also informed her that Cat miscarried months later, meaning Reid wasn't responsible.
But where does this leave Reid and Max's relationship? Well, everyone won't be yelling that he's not her boyfriend after their conversation in the elevator. While she notes that he couldn't fake the kiss she saw with Cat, he tells her he's heard "with the right person, you can do even better" and assures her that his personal life is usually not that exciting. They may have had the worst third date ever, but she does know one thing that can salvage it, and he kisses her.
Criminal Minds, Wednesdays, 9/8c, CBS