Criminal Minds season 12 episode 17 review: Luke Alvez plays dirty to protect Spencer

Criminal Minds Luke AlvezOn tonight’s Criminal Minds season 12 episode all we want to know is that Spencer Reid is okay. When we last saw him, some of the other inmates were beating him to a pulp in his cell and we were worried that they were going to kill him. More then anything we are worried that if Spencer does ever make it out of prison, that he will never be the same Spencer we’ve grown to love over the years. He will certainly be a changed man and it probably won’t be for the better. Needless to say this has been a VERY long week waiting to know what happened to our poor sweet Spencer.

Garcia and Luke have never been close to say the least (in fact Garcia has been straight up hostile towards him), but when Luke sees her crying he tries to comfort her. She tries to tell him to go away, but he can’t leave her in this state and pushes the issue. Why is she crying? She went to visit Spencer in prison and saw the aftermath of his beating. He’s not dead, but he’s not doing well. After pushing her for more information, Luke learns that a man named Calvin Shaw has been helping him, so Luke offers to find a way to get him into protective custody. Garcia is worried that it will only make things worse for Spencer since he was already beaten up for being a “snitch”, but Luke has some friends that he thinks can help Spencer get through this until he’s released.

Luke’s help couldn’t be coming at a better time since now these inmates are going to the next level – they will be coming to Spencer with demands and if he doesn’t comply they won’t be sending him to the infirmary… he will be headed to the morgue. Luke heads to the prison and talks to Calvin, who’s not that open to talking. We learn that the CI Calvin murdered was pregnant with his child when he killed her and he was fearful that it would ruin his marriage. Six months later his wife gives birth to his son and he is overwhelmed with guilt over what he did. Calvin decided to turn himself a full year after he killed his CI and Luke knows all about it. Luke tells him that if he doesn’t protect Spencer in prison that he will make his life a misery and that includes taking away his son. We never thought that Luke was the type of agent to play dirty like he was Hank Voight on Chicago PD, but here we are… and we kinda like it. The agents on Criminal Minds are fairly straight laced for the most part, so to have someone like Luke on the team willing to go to this level is something we didn’t expect. We also like that he’s willing to go to these lengths for this team, because it’s making him feel like he’s becoming part of the family. We hope that Garcia’s icy welcome to Luke will start to melt after she learns what level Luke is willing to go to for this group. The squeaky cat toy he brought her back might help too, even though she claims that she will always give him crap.

Spencer learns through Fiona that she can’t get him into protective custody, but she has gotten his trial moved up! She also mentions to him that Luke was by the prison and suggests that he stick close to Calvin and he’s confused as to why Luke didn’t see him. Spencer asks Calvin what they talked about and he tells Spencer that he’s protected now. This is not good enough for Spencer, because he wants to help protect another inmate that is getting the same treatment Spencer did. Calvin says he won’t help any further (no surprise there), so Spencer wants to give up his cell to this inmate and put himself back into gen pop since he’s now protected. Even in jail, Spencer can’t stop helping – one of the many reasons we love him.

Fans of Criminal Minds have been very polarized over the Spencer arc this season and we understand it. Mostly, we think it’s just incredibly uncomfortable to watch, but that’s what makes it such a good story. Of course we want Spencer to be okay, but seeing him in this kind of situation gives Matthew Gray Gubler some really meaty material reminding us once again how good of an actor he really is. While Mr. Scratch has done some horrible things to our team, this is easily the hardest story to watch. Episode grade: A-

What did you think of Criminal Minds season 12 episode 17? Leave us a comment in the box below with your thoughts. If you want more scoop on Criminal Minds then head on over to the link here where you can check out a preview for the next new episode. (Photo: CBS)

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