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8x12 Zugzwang - Why did Criminal Minds do it?


Criminal Minds | This is what my emailbox looked like this morning: A huge stack of “Is Reid’s girlfriend really dead?!” I for one didn’t think that was in doubt, and it isn’t — and here’s the tale behind the tragic twist. “We pitched a story where we’d introduce a unique love interest for Dr. Reid and it would end in tragedy,” showrunner Erica Messer explains. And make no mistake, the dark wrinkle had Matthew Gray Gubler’s blessing. “Matthew agreed the only way to tell this story was if she died in the saddest way possible,” Messer says. And while Maeve’s murder — in front of the beau she’d only just set eyes on — abruptly ended this week’s hour, Reid’s reaction/mourning “will be the emotional anchor of episode 813 and it’s the arc for Reid’s character for the rest of the season.”

cutenessandgoodvocals asked: I know people are probably asking this a lot already, but why did you kill Maeve and do you like to watch us suffer?

Breen Frazier: I think this show is known for some of the most painful losses on a procedural drama. Those losses define our team as much as (if not more than) the wins.

Telling a story in which we see a different, more emotionally vulnerable side of Reid through these phone calls got us excited.

Then, seeing that vulnerable side of him get crushed in the form of Maeve’s death is a compelling story.

As a writer I wanted to tell that story. I know what Reid’s life is like when he wins. I wrote a version of that in “Uncanny Valley.” I’m proud of that episode. There will be more episodes where he, or Hotch, or Morgan or Rossi will save the day at the last minute.

But what happens if he loses? I don’t know. I never explored that. Other writers have, but I haven’t.

What happens in the moment? What is the look on his face? How does he grieve in the moment?

What happens in the next episode? What happens for the rest of the season?

That’s why we felt it was the right move to kill her. You may not agree. I understand. I respect your anger, your grief. I hope you’re not offended when I say that those emotions tell me that I think I did a good job. Put a different way, if we killed her and you shrugged, then I failed.

But I will say this, I think right now there’s a negative reaction for two inter-connected reasons:

ONE. I took the structure of the show and I turned it 180 degrees in the wrong direction. This was by design.

I wanted to take the traditional climatic moment (the “talkdown”) and turn it on its head.

What happens when the “It’s not your fault… We can make a deal… Put the knife/gun/battle-axe down” fails?

What happens when that’s not enough to stop a mentally ill person from doing the wrong thing?

If Maeve was going to die, it had to be in a way where you felt, “Oh, this is the moment when the heroes save the day.” And then they don’t.

TWO. Because of that, Maeve’s death became SUCH a complete loss that it felt like a sucker punch. It felt like an ending that was almost nihilistic or sadistic in what we asked you to go through.

There’s no silver lining like there was in “100.” Haley’s death was such a powerful moment, it made the Emmy clip package that year. I’m not sure we’ll ever top that in terms of sheer emotional onslaught. But Hotch still killed the Reaper and saved his son.

There’s no win here. And that’s tough. Because a lot of us tune in to see this team win.

But our losses, our defeats define us. This loss will define Reid. We have a plan to deal with this story in future episodes.

It is NOT a nihilistic ending. It is a nihilistic point in a bigger story.

How does Reid cope from this point on? That’s why we told this story.

Source: 1&2

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