Fans of the popular CBS programme Criminal Minds fell in love with Dr. Spencer Reid over the course of its 15 seasons (Matthew Gray Gubler). Due to his neurotic and socially awkward demeanour, he may seem like an unexpected fan favourite, but no other character underwent as much deep and all-around growth. Of all the primary characters, his metamorphosis from a charming but awkward genius to a self-assured leader is the most noticeable. Reid is the focus of numerous episodes due to his difficult upbringing and the numerous horrific experiences he has throughout the series.
While all of the series’ key characters have their own distinctive traits, Reid was the most complicated and human, overcoming hardship and demonstrating genuine progress over the course of the 15 years. After 324 episodes, Criminal Minds concluded its run in 2020. A relaunch will (hopefully) air on Paramount+ later this year. Matthew Gray Gubler, who recently made it known he was eager to move on from the role, is noticeably absent. In light of this, now is the ideal time to revisit the top Spencer Reid-focused episodes.
Table Of Content
- 1 “300” (Season 14, Episode 1)
- 2 “Entropy” (Season 11, Episode 1)
- 3 “LDSK” (Season 1, Episode 6)
- 4 “Memoriam” (Season 4, Episode 7)
- 5 “Minimal Loss” (Season 4, Episode 3)
- 6 “Revelations” (Season 2, Episode 15)
- 7 “Saturday” (Season 15, Episode 4)
- 8 “Somebody’s Watching” (Season 1, Episode 18)
- 9 “The Fisher King Part 1 and 2” (Season 1, Episode 22, Season 2, Episode 1)
- 10 “True Genius” (Season 7, Episode 11)
- 11 “Zugzwang” (Season 8, Episode 12)
“300” (Season 14, Episode 1)
After Reid and Penelope Garcia (Kristen Vangsness) were abducted by Benjamin Merva’s followers—members of the same cult that Reid encountered in “Minimal Loss”—season 14 began. Ironically, it was the trust that Reid and Benjamin developed that resulted in Benjamin’s kidnapping as t heir 300th victim ten years later. In addition to making Reid deceive his kidnappers, the 300th episode of the series demonstrates how far he has gone as a character by showcasing his fortitude and courage in coming up with an escape strategy and saving others throughout his captivity. The team’s touching reunion at the end of the episode, which demonstrates how much of a family they are, is the episode’s high point. Even the events of JJ (A.J. Cook) and Reid’s “date” are ultimately revealed!
“Entropy” (Season 11, Episode 1)
“Entropy” was the only episode that could top the charts. Reid and the infamous Cat Adams (Aubrey Plaza), who would later put Reid in jail and further torture his life, are engaged in a titanic intellectual duel when Cat Adams shows there. Reid is both impressed and disturbed by Cat’s intelligence and tact, which makes for excellent chemistry. She is more than just a talkative killer; she is almost as smart as Reid. Reid is equally surprised by and manipulated by Cat as they engage in mind games and confess unpleasant secrets. This is the main—and maybe the only—recurring unsub who has pushed Reid intellectually. Although his deception ultimately leads to her capture, her campaign to eliminate him was far from over. “Entropy” is entertaining, quick-witted, and helps Reid learn to recognise and respond to other subscribers who have his talent.
“LDSK” (Season 1, Episode 6)
Reid’s early career high point is when he saves the lives of Hotch (Thomas Gibson) and other hostages. Reid feels humiliated, like a “teacher’s helper,” and beneath his coworkers after having his gun taken away because he failed his certification early in the episode. But when he and Hotch are taken hostage by the unsub, he finds atonement. Reid complies with Hotch’s degrading taunts and even kicks him to gain access to his second gun. Reid kills the unsub just in time with a flawless headshot once the unsub learns of the plan (even though he was aiming for his leg). This is the first time we witness Reid overcoming his insecurities and anxiety of using a weapon while also rescuing his teammates and hostages. He ultimately has more faith in his skills outside of intellect by the end of the episode.
“Memoriam” (Season 4, Episode 7)
Reid launches his own investigation into Riley Jenkins’ murder in Las Vegas during his childhood, along by David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) and Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore). Reid looks into his past and even engages in hypnotherapy because he has a personal connection to the youngster and thinks his father was the murderer. Spencer’s father, William (Taylor Nichols), who abandoned Spencer and his mother, Diana, appears in the episode for the first and only time in a direct role (Jane Lynch). It is revealed that their marriage broke down following Gary Michaels’ murder, which Diana saw happen and who was actually responsible for Riley Jenkins’ murder and Spencer’s childhood stalking. In this episode, Reid confronts his father in an effort to put the circumstances of his leaving to rest and to learn more about his mother’s protection and affection.
“Minimal Loss” (Season 4, Episode 3)
To look into allegations of child abuse at a compound belonging to an underground cult, Reid and Prentiss go undercover. They are held hostage by Benjamin Merva, the leader of the cult, when a state police raid on the castle goes wrong (Luke Perry). The cult leader is duped by Reid’s charm and manipulation into understanding his strategy and seeing Reid as a friend. This ultimately enables the compound’s numerous women and children to leave safely before it explodes. The episode emphasises Reid’s intelligence as well as his growth as a communicator and people person, showing that, unlike previous seasons, he can use his profiling abilities to connect with and control the unsub. Reid’s persona undergoes a change at this time when he is given additional fieldwork responsibilities and successfully fulfils them.
“Revelations” (Season 2, Episode 15)
Reid undergoes actual anguish for the first time in this episode as a result of Tobias Hankle’s kidnapping and torture of him (James Van Der Beek). We can clearly see the full impact of each character’s expression as they see the suffering that the defenceless Reid is going through thanks to the way that his physical and emotional torture is being transmitted to his colleagues. Ultimately, Reid is able to manipulate Hankle and kill him just as his crew is about to come to save him. The episode is flawless because it demonstrates Reid’s growing capacity to overcome his emotions under trying circumstances. This eventually earned the number 2 slot because, despite setting up a very intriguing story line about Reid’s addiction to Dilaudid, it is sadly only briefly acknowledged throughout the season.
“Saturday” (Season 15, Episode 4)
Even though Reid didn’t have as much screen time as the other characters in this episode, his growth must be taken into consideration. Reid’s psychotherapist gives him the assignment to speak with a regular person on his free Saturday in order to get his mind off of murder and crime. Reid strikes up a chat with the boys’ Aunt Maxine after being approached by a little boy who looks a lot like him (Rachael Leigh Cook). Reid and Maxine converse and spend the day together as a result of Maxine understanding and relating to Reid’s fragmented soul, which brings out Reid’s long-ignored fun side. After losing his partner, Reid finally makes a connection with someone outside of the BAU and widens his love life in this hilarious episode. Reid’s ultimate love interest is Maxine, and by the end of the series, he is content and dating.
“Somebody’s Watching” (Season 1, Episode 18)
Reid defends a young movie actress named Lila Archer (Amber Heard) from her stalker in a lighter Criminal Minds episode (if you can call one that!). This is the first (and one of the few) episodes when Reid has a romantic interest that she returns. Lila is protected by Reid, who also saves her life and develops a relationship with her. Reid’s empathy, treating Lila like a person rather than a star, and her comment that she thought he was different since he didn’t want anything from her, are what tie the two together. In the pool, Reid and the other person share their first and only on-screen kiss (up until Season 15). Reid experiences a lot of firsts in this episode, including becoming the hero and falling in love with a different character for the first time. Reid’s social ineptitude does not prevent them from connecting, even though their relationship does not develop further in the series.
“The Fisher King Part 1 and 2” (Season 1, Episode 22, Season 2, Episode 1)
This two-part episode, which wraps up Season 1 and sets the stage for Season 2, is not one to be missed. The gang embarks on a quest to find a kidnapped girl after being sent on a treasure hunt-like expedition by a man who knows Reid’s mother. This episode reveals a lot about Reid, including his mother’s illness, her incarceration in a sanatorium, and his aptitude for solving challenging puzzles. After failing to coax the unsub off the verge of suicide, Reid solves the problems and finally saves the girl’s life. The episodes demonstrate Reid’s brilliance while also providing insight into his personal life and upbringing. The solving of puzzles and riddles is certainly a fun variation on the programme!
“True Genius” (Season 7, Episode 11)
The crew takes on a case in this episode that curiously resembles the infamous Zodiac deaths. Reid wonders if he should be using his powers more while using his superior intelligence to decode the unsubs letters. Reid (Paget Brewster), who recently turned 30, has a touching talk with Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster) about struggling to live up to his own standards. Reid’s new weakness and insecurity, which he has never previously displayed, are caused by his worry that he hasn’t used his brilliant gift to achieve enough. The staff presents Reid with gifts and gives him embraces as they celebrate his 30th birthday in the episode’s heartwarming finale.
“Zugzwang” (Season 8, Episode 12)
One of the most emotional episodes of the series, and by far the most upsetting for Reid, features the murder of Reid’s lover Maeve (Beth Jean Riesgraf) by her stalker. Reid begins to cry and reveal his genuine love and weakness after pleading with the team to assist him in finding a kidnapped Maeve. Maeve is killed at the end of the episode in Reid’s presence, which makes it all the more tragic because it was their first time actually meeting. The next episodes show him in deep sorrow and loneliness as a result of the experience, which is completely heartbreaking for him. Nothing in the series had affected him as much, and even the audience found it upsetting to watch a love be cruelly taken away from them. This episode is difficult to watch even if it brilliantly performed and projects Reid towards deeper character growth. Be sure to stock up on plenty of tissues!
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