On tonight’s episode of Criminal Minds, the first in the New Year, the team may be dealing with the return of an infamous serial killer, and Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) questions his life choices as he celebrates a milestone.

Version 2.0

The UnSub in this episode is staging his or her crimes in a similar manner to those of the Zodiac Killer, who was never caught. The team wonders if it could be the very same serial killer, especially when there are so many similarities to the original murders.

However, the Zodiac would have to be at least 60 years old and the team doubts that anyone could kill and not be caught for 40 years. While evidence continues to support the Zodiac theory, Reid is convinced it cannot be the same killer.

Mind Games for a Genius

During the investigation, Reid discovers what he believes is a clue from the UnSub and the team follows that lead, assuming it will point them to the UnSub’s next target. Unfortunately, the UnSub is just messing with them and sends a message instead.

The message says, “You’re not as smart as you think you are,” and Reid wonders if the message is for him. As it turns out, the message is not for Reid at all, but once Reid translates the real code, he realizes that the UnSub must be a genius. And that means Reid is the only one who can figure out the UnSub’s game.

Obsessive Love

Unsurprisingly, the UnSub turns out to be a Zodiac copycat and his message is directed to his best friend, the person he believes is his soul mate. The UnSub’s friend is about to get married, so the UnSub commits the murders to impress his friend and “save” him from the normal life he has fallen into.

The UnSub kidnaps his friend’s fiancée and tells his friend to kill her in order to complete their story. As Reid figures out, the two friends killed a little boy when they were kids and that incident made the UnSub think they had an unbreakable bond. But once the UnSub realizes that his friend does not feel the same way, he tells Reid where they can find the boy’s body and the team arrests him.

The Big 3-0

Thanks to the case and his recent 30th birthday, Reid starts to question if he is doing enough with his life, given his genius IQ. Reid tells Emily (Paget Brewster) that he fears he has not lived up to the expectations he had for himself, but Emily tells Reid that he is making a difference just by doing what he does.

At the episode’s conclusion, Reid realizes that he has stayed with the team all this time because, somehow, he knows it is where he belongs. His realization comes at the perfect moment, as his friends have just thrown him a surprise birthday party.

This is a very Reid-centric episode and Gubler does a terrific job with the material he is given. I love Reid’s scenes with Emily in this episode, as well as that final team moment. (And the case of the week is pretty interesting, as well.) I think “True Genius” is an excellent episode that kicks off the second half of season 7 with a bang. But what do you think? Were you impressed with the first episode of 2012? Did you like that the UnSub was a Zodiac copycat or did you think that was an unnecessary addition to the case? Were you pleased to see Reid step into the spotlight in this episode? Which character would you like to see the show focus on next?

Best Tweets about the Episode

Megan Cole
Contributing Writer

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Megan Cole

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV