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‘Criminal Minds’ Recap: Reid Remembers Who Framed Him After a Big Surprise

Criminal Minds is putting the pieces in place for the end of the season, and with only two episodes to go after this one, they can’t draw it out any longer: the person who framed Reid has to be revealed. And she is.

Also in “Unforgettable,” the team investigates after Stephen’s friend is admitted to the hospital, but he’s not the only victim as they soon find out, and it has nothing to do with his past work.

From Heartbreaking to Shocking

After Tara informs the others that a woman framed Reid (and she’s certain this isn’t another false memory), the questions begin. Is Scratch manipulating another victim suffering from DID? Is he working with a full-fledged accomplice for the first time? If so, what woman would willingly associate herself with Scratch and why would he risk taking on a partner?

Prentiss sends everyone home to clear their heads for the night, but Rossi finds her working in her office. What’s he still doing there? “Same as you,” he tells her.

Stephen does go home and vents his frustrations to his wife, Monica. Yes, he knows Scratch plays games, “but they brought me in to catch him,” he explains. “I’m further away from it now than when I started. I work with Scratch’s victims every day. They’re my colleagues, my friends.” But that doesn’t mean he’s planning to go back to the BAP. He just wants to catch Scratch.

Reid’s trial is pushed back — a delay because the arresting office has limited availability and the price they’re paying for moving the case to the U.S. — but as Fiona tells him, this could be good news. It gives the BAU time to track down the woman he remembered and gives him time to remember more. Their best hope is exonerating him before the verdict.

In the meantime, Fiona also pushes to get him extra visiting privileges, which allows his mother to come see him. As Reid learns, Diana fired Cassie, but she has a new girl, a real sweetheart. She wants them to escape, but Reid stops her and explains that she’s not the one locked in. He is. Because of Mexico, she realizes. “This is all my fault.”

He did what he did because he wanted to, Reid assures his mother, and she would’ve run out of her meds eventually and Scratch would have been waiting. But she can’t believe she’s losing him to his after she had started to make peace with losing him because of her Alzheimer’s. The BAU will clear his name, he promises, but she knows that soon, she won’t even remember he’s her son or loving him.

“Love isn’t a memory,” he tells her. “It’s so much more than that.” He reminds her that when she first started having her schizophrenic episodes, she’d tell him sometimes she got confused but she never stopped loving him because that type of love is bigger than disease of the brain. “Love is a world its own that lives in the heart, not in the head,” she’d say. Even if she forgets, he never will. And when their time is up, she just wants to hug her son, but the guard won’t let her. (Scenes like this one prove that 42 minutes of just Reid and his mother would make a fantastic episode.)

The big surprise comes when her nurse comes to collect her, and it’s Lindsey Vaughn. Have they met? Reid wonders. No, she says, introducing herself as Carol Atkinson. But this is Reid, so of course he remembers her and remembers her begging her father to kill her kidnapper. His mother’s an angel, Lindsey tells him, and she’s so glad they had this time together. But it’s “time to go” for Diana, and that’s when Reid remembers her telling him that exact phrase in Mexico. But there’s nothing Reid can do except yell as Diana leaves with her.

To Kill One …

Though Stephen’s friend from the BAP, Sam, is admitted to the hospital following a “cardiac incident,” Stephen doesn’t buy it. The guy just ran a marathon in October and had none of the symptoms of a heart attack. The only thing he felt was a pinch in his lower back. Stephen has his friend roll over and finds the puncture mark; he was dosed with an irradiated poison.

By the time Stephen’s cleared and the BAU is on the case, Sam’s showing signs of radiation sickness. Because Sam worked primarily in Russia when he was in the field and this is a classic Russian espionage MO, they look into his previous work, but that’s a dead end. Sure, one of his assets from Moscow is in the area, but not only does he have an alibi and no motive, he points out that he wouldn’t risk what he has here or would already be in Russia, not waiting to be arrested.

When Garcia checks to see if anyone in the area has had similar symptoms, she comes up with two names, both admitted a week before Sam. He’s the third victim. They’re looking for a serial killer. The other two victims were federal employees, as is the fourth, a janitor at the IRS.

Their UnSub is masking his or her true motive with the poisoning, and the UnSub falls into three possible categories: a federal employee who was fired or forced to retire, someone who’s going to profit off the antidote or someone with a personal grudge that’s unrelated to the federal government. They don’t care about collateral victims as long as they obscure their true targets.

And for Sam, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, something his ex-wife will get a kick out of, he knows. But that doesn’t mean that he wants Stephen to call her. As flashbacks to Moscow in 2013 show, their marriage wasn’t working even then, with Sam offering to let Stephen put in his transfer request first knowing that would likely mean his wouldn’t be approved. As for Sam’s son, Zach sided with his mother and is angry, and Sam doesn’t want him to “get over it” because of what’s happened. All Stephen can do is be there for his friend.

It’s when a fifth victim is admitted that the team is able to identify their UnSub. Alex wasn’t injected and instead, ingested the poison. He would have recognized the UnSub if he turned around, whereas that’s not true for the other victims. His wife, Sarah, packs his lunch for him every day (for 12 years), and when they search their house, they find lead-lined radioactive cases that hospitals use and radiation in the refrigerator, on the counters and in the sink.

Sarah gained access to the radioactive materials through her work in nuclear medical departments at 15 hospitals over the last nine years. She took a life insurance policy out on Alex six years ago. Not only is it about the money, but she’s willing to kill others to kill him, and that lack of empathy is a sign of an antisocial personality disorder. He won’t be her last victim either, because that would put her under too much scrutiny.

When Prentiss, J.J., Rossi and Luke get eyes on her and Prentiss approaches her, Sarah takes a hostage. She has a syringe in her hand, but Rossi takes the shot before she can use it.

With Sam running out of time, he admits that he wants to see his son, and while he thinks it’s too late, especially since Zach is in Atlanta, Stephen has a jet. Monica joins Stephen outside Sam’s room in the ICU as father and son are reunited.

Did you expect to see Lindsey as Diana’s nurse? Did you like getting to know a bit more about Stephen and seeing him before he joined the BAU?

Criminal Minds season 12 airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on CBS

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