I've been reading the reviews of this episode, and a lot of things about it in forums. I have to say, I really liked the entire premise and how things have been set up for the future.
Reid is a genius, yes, but he is also a person who had a lack of emotional support growing up. To add to that, he knows he has a risk of developing a mental illness, and sees in his work every day how such issues can play out in the worst way. I've always seen him as a caring and sensitive person, but awkward with his emotions. In this episode, I feel like we see this played out beautifully.
The build up regarding the headaches and Reid's thought process was really wonderful. He never mentions the headaches to the team, and remember he managed to hide his Dilaudid addiction for quite some time, so although people notice he is "off" at some points, he has masked things well enough to have them ignored. His "visions" are all, from what I could see, his brain reviewing what he has seen and attempting to make connections as usual... but with the pain and all, it seems like things are sluggish and odd to him, and he cannot really process anything in the way he is used to.
His mistake is in not talking about what he is experiencing. His fear that he might be considered "crazy" overshadows his intellect, which must tell him he should let others know he may be at risk or a risk to the team. Herein lies the fatal flaw of our hero... this episode illustrated Reid's belief that he is only worth something if he is perfect, and that he would be worthless if he showed a weakness. Considering that Hotch flew and worked in the field with a very painful inner ear injury, it's not surprising in many ways. But there is also the build up from Reid's story, showing that he is lost when coping with his own emotions, and is accustomed to being perfect and caring for himself, for fear of being thought inadequate or that it may be a sign of a worsening condition. In the end, he makes the connection and solves the case... but at what cost? His pain and difficulty lead him to make incredibly poor decisions. (Walking out of the house without telling anybody he thinks the house across the street has something to do with the case? Bad career move to say the least.) By denying his problems he is putting himself at risk, and also potentially his team members and the cases they work on. I agree his reaction to the doctor is upsetting and disturbing. But it was very well written and completely accurate. Many people would react with denial and panic if some sort of mental health issue is suggested as a cause for their problems. Reid has experience that shows him how frightening that can be, and a belief that he cannot allow his mind to show any "weakness." I worked in the mental health system for many years, and have seen psychologists and psychiatrists who have been unable to admit they have issues because of similar reasons. So, from here, what may happen? Do we wind up with another "plot hole" like Reid's addiction, where it is alluded to but never really seen through? Or will we see how Reid is called on his stuff, and forced to confront his own inner demons so he can finally cope with them and grow? Or, will he refuse to hear that call, and wind up in a situation like Elle, compromising himself so much that the boy genius becomes a very real liability to the team?
The mind boggles...