Mastermind has an issue that I find common to a lot of contemporary storytelling (and a significant portion of Midnights), and that is the fact that it really heavily leans into overexplaining and unnecessary wordiness, as if the audience wouldn't understand if there was actually some nuance to it. And let's ignore the fact that no one in their right mind would ever call Taylor "cryptic" (even the song kinda makes the point against this lmao), but that bridge is literally a verbal diarrhoea. I can imagine her red™ in the studio trying to spit all those words out, and while the bridge does give the sleepy song a bit of punch, I don't think it's enough to save it. When I compare it to how subtly and elegantly the ideas of destiny and butterfly effect are explored in invisible string or It's Nice to Have a Friend, where you have whole relationships and characters condensed in colors of the park, small actions and seemingly meaningless visual signifiers, that's masterclass in songwriting. Mastermind avoids this art of condensation in favor of laying absolutely everything on the table, and it ends up sounding crude and painfully obvious.
I agree that Mastermind is let down by its lyricism, as she's shown in the past that she can do so much better and so much more nuanced. She tries a smidge too much and it ultimately ends in that chorus that falls flat as hell. Which is in high contrast to The Great War, which is lyrically one of the highlights of Midnights, yet still fails to give me anything to hang onto, so it exiting leaves me kinda indifferent.
"Labyrinth" is one of the most calming songs in the rate. I just find the production to be so comforting and lush. While I think Taylor has done this synth-pop sound a lot by now, I still think there's ways to use it that she hasn't tapped into before yet. This song is an example of those. I guess she has used these breathy moments to be vulnerable before, but not quite about the anxiety of a new love.
I love the way she sounds when she's singing "Breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out" and then repeats it with "Break up, break free, break through, break down". It's such a simple way of mixing both verses together, without simply repeating the same refrain. It's just a really well crafted moment of songwriting.
As far as how it fits on Midnights, it makes total sense. People were dragging her for describing the album at first as something completely different to what we got. I'm not sure I entirely agree with that. I do think she sold it as a really sad album - which is not what we got - but there are definitely moments of these introspective thoughts. Midnights was an album sold about the overthinking that sometimes ensues late at night, when you can't sleep. This song fits that description entirely.
The song hasn't been performed live, so here's one of my favourite songs as of late.
Labyrinth is actually one of the better songs on Midnights, but on the other hand I totally get why it's been thrown out. When you listen to Mastermind, The Great War and Labyrinth in succession they kinda blend into one another.