Holy CRAP. Oh my GOD. This is another show I'm 100% in the dark for, spoiler-wise, so the moment Reid stepped through the cabin door my eyes doubled in size and my jaw dropped and I started freaking out. On the inside. On the outside I was trying to remain very, very calm, because of course this couldn't be what it looked like. We were "clearly" starting in media res, for one, and for another, that's just Not How Television Works. Nobody is that...
...well, okay, that does sound kind of definite with the whole team there and all, and no one waking up from a dream sequence or flashing back to hours earlier as we move into the first act after the theme song, but still it can't...
OH MY GOD. YOU MURDERED GIDEON. YOU LITERALLY REACHED BACK SEVEN YEARS AND VIOLATED THE UNSPOKEN OFF-SCREEN PEACE TREATY TO DESTROY A MAIN AND POSSIBLY VERY BELOVED CHARACTER IN THE MOST GRUESOME AND EVIL WAY POSSIBLE. Who does that? Who DOES THAT?!?!?! That is sick and horrible and takes Guinness World Record-sized balls to do (which for the record I am sort of impressed by as a result but) and I cannot BELIEVE you went there.
Was it not just a few months ago that you were saying, "Oh, maybe we went too far in killing Maeve; now we're sad we did that," and yet somehow you thought the appropriate next step was doubling down on irreparable and long-term-damaging devastation? Wow. WOW. I could probably go on exclaiming for at least six more paragraphs and still not get the incredulity/general shock out!
Now, as anyone reading this blog knows, I am only a recent convert to the show so Patinkin's departure had no effect on me at the time, except that I remember it happening and being shocked that the central lead could drop out like that. I've never been a super big Gideon fan, and have a tendency to actually avoid his seasons because he's just too Intense and it creeps me out; I far prefer Rossi's affable charm. I never really got or appreciated Reid's devotion to him on anything more than a supportive "poor baby/I'm glad you have someone there for you" level.
But I'm trying to imagine CSI doing something like this to Grissom, since Gideon pretty much followed the retirement path that Grissom described for himself in season 1, and even though they've been pretty horrible, this is worse than that. I don't know exactly how fandom felt about him -- I haven't checked online reactions yet as I want to get my take out unsullied -- but if you loved him, I have to imagine you're pissed to have such gutting canon forced upon you, and for what?
This show does better than some but still isn't great at making their Deep Impact episodes ripple out more than the length of a season or two, while the hurt is forever. This feels more like an idea that should have been conceived in a fanfic, where you can wash its unreality away when you're done.
Aaaand with all that said, much like when Zugzwang initially struck me as a Really Good Episode before it turned me into an emotional wreck, this was a really good episode. No, I mean really good. Top 10% Of All Episodes good, at minimum. Except for having the actor I hate so much that I can't even stand him in roles where he's supposed to be creepy and unlikable as the unsub, this was amazing from start to finish. A list of things I loved:
+ REID. Reid, Reid, every second so much. His face in the car (btw GREAT DIRECTION, first non-Gubler director I have noticed! Take a bow, Glen Kershaw), running out of the cabin, zombie-like general distance from the main plot action, tears in the morgue, and hugging his quasi-foster brother at the end. DID I MENTION THE TEARS IN THE MORGUE, because my fingers curled, and are still curling, in delight.
+ There was so much blank space to fill in with all the things he didn't say. During Rossi clumsily trying to talk about the aftermath of grief, for instance. Remember the last time you talked to him about grieving? Because I do. And I'm trying hard not to make this all about Maeve, because it isn't and this is a separate grief, but at the same time, it's impossible not to think of her in some capacity when something like this happens. I am not a fanfic writer and do not posess the necessary tools to articulate this properly, but I'm grabbing at the vague sense that the emotions are there, and they are delicious.
+ Unlike the majority of their cases this year, that was a wonderfully creepy case that could have held my interest all on its own, without the personal angle. The birds, the recluse, the string of murders and their dead-bird signature, the 30-year-imprisonment (holy hell), the nests, the room full of birdcages...
+ Super impressed by the "devil's in the details" warning shot that Gideon fired. (edit: best quote from Tumblr on that comes from agentsstarkandbanner: "Oh, he shot the bird painting? Must be about that bird murderer back in 1978.” And from the same person: “I’m gonna write a book and make tons of money”, “You can buy us a jet”, “let’s call it a signature!”, “Let’s call ourselves profilers!” Stop it right now.)
+ That trap the UnSub set was basically custom designed for me. It's an RS Trap. If I ever go missing, this is probably what happened. Even though normally I am wildly leery of vans, and also strangers unless there are witnesses around, if I saw some harmless-looking old guy in a wheelchair with a sick dog for whom he was trying to call an emergency vet? And I could actually see the dog lying there, looking all sad? Even as a viewer watching this episode, the automatic VAN DANGER warning was muted under my instinct of "aww, cute doggy, go pet!" And like that wasn't enough, it was right outside a LIBRARY. Yeah, this is definitely how I die.
My mom may or may not have given me a reminder lecture that I should not approach cars to pet dogs, even if it's a man and a woman together.
+ AND THEN THE FLASHBACKS. YOU GOT BEN SAVAGE and I honestly don't know what is better, watching that gifted man work (I've only seen scattered episdoes of Boy Meets World, but that guy has so much charisma it's nuts), or the fact that he genuinely looks a lot like Mandy Patinkin. And was totally believable in his mannerisms as a younger Gideon, from what little I have seen of him. Dude looks way older than his current age of 34, though. The forehead wrinkles have not been kind to him. He's still handsome in a distinguished way, I just mistook him for someone in his early to mid-40s.
Anyway, amazing flashbacks. Loved the origins of the "BS Unit," which seemed way less BSed than the time CSI: Miami tried to show us the origins of its crime lab, and all the 70s flavor. Did not know Rossi knew him way back. Turns out I love all of Rossi's incarnations. Little sad that Ben Savage Gideon, with all his passion for other people's kids, turned into an emotionally distant dad, so I'm just going to pretend it worked out differently and he and Stephen had a super great relationship.
+ JJ staying back to keep an eye on Garcia, and their sharing of the premium mint chocolate ice cream scavenged from the freezer for dinner.
+ Rossi getting his bullet-y revenge in the trickiest way.
+“When a good man is hurt, all who would be called good must suffer with him."
Minus two points: never has Callahan felt more awkward or tacked-on than she did in this episode, trying to respectfully handle her team's grief while facilitating explication. God bless her, but JLH is just not gellin' organically with this cast or as a profiler in her own right, no matter how much I want her to. Blake would have been so much better to have on hand for this.
tl;dr SO GOOD IN ALL THE WAYS. Especially in the Reid department. ♥
Also, I peeked into Tumblr and apparently that tag is 50% Reid fangirls and 50% people who hate Reid fangirls, so that's...fun. At least it's less slashy than LJ was when this show started. And eventually, I even found two more really good posts:
crazyness-overpowers, a pretty good overall reaction
freakingdork, on how people idealize the dead
Stalker was a bit more bland after that, since Stalker Perry took the week off. I was most impressed by the cruelty of immolating the sweet fiance by the second half, after we'd already been forced to fall in love with him, and most aggrieved by Jackass Jack breaking up his ex's relationship, literally just by existing. That's how awful he is. Reason #45 not to let him into your kid's life: it ruins yours! (I will listen to no suggestions that perhaps it's for the best and her detective boyfriend is not the greatest guy or boyfriend if he's going to flounce when things get hard.)
Also I just saw a promo for Fifty Shades of Grey on TV, and I hope those stop soon, because I found myself dry heaving.