Dr. Spencer Reid, often called the “boy genius” by his colleagues, became a fan favorite not long after “Criminal Minds” first hit the air in 2005. Socially awkward, but endearingly so, Reid brought considerable brainpower to the Behavioral Analysis Unit. With an eidetic memory, incredible speed-reading skills, and an IQ of 187, he is in many ways a living encyclopedia, which comes in quite handy when a case involves the obscure and rare.
Even with his unofficial “part-time” status in later seasons, Reid had significant storylines over the course of the series. Various episodes focused on his relationship with his mother Diana (Jane Lynch) and his fears of inheriting her mental illness. Reid also had a couple of love interests, with his tragic relationship with Maeve Donovan (Beth Riesgraf) breaking viewers’ hearts. And who can forget his interactions with femme fatale Cat Adams (Aubrey Plaza)? Given his importance to the team, and to the series’ fans, his absences were noticed immediately.
Who’s in it? William Petersen, Marg Helgenberger, Gary Dourdan, George Eads, Jorja Fox, Laurence Fishburne
What’s it about? If you’re up for a lengthy binge, it’s time to get started on CSI, which has 15 seasons. The Emmy Award-winning show follows a team of forensic investigators who solve murders by examining evidence at the Las Vegas Police Department.
Tara and Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriquez) try to keep Gabriel calm while J.J. and Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) attempt to deactivate the device. Panicked, Gabriel begins to shake, trying to wriggle himself free. Just as the gun is about to fire, Tara jumps between it and her brother. Thankfully, the gun is not loaded, and the team manages to free Gabriel from the device before Scratch activates the real threat — a shower of large nails fired from above.
On Reddit, user u/bthubbin recently shared that they had tears in their eyes watching the “sweet and intense” scene when Tara reacts without hesitation to save her brother’s life. Granted, as another user points out, Tara is wearing a bulletproof vest when she risks her life. A third user, however, noted that even with a vest, Tara would have been seriously injured (or killed) if she’d been hit with a shotgun blast from only a few inches away.
While it’s likely Tara would have jumped into danger even if the victim had not been her brother, the way she completely wraps herself around him, essentially cocooning him in her arms, is entirely familial. Despite following different paths and not speaking for years, Tara’s love for her brother is undiminished. At this moment, she isn’t an FBI agent saving a captive. She’s a big sister protecting her little brother, and not even the notorious Mr. Scratch can break that bond.
Criminal Minds is a show unlike any other. With a focus on the members of the Behavioral Analysis Unit catching the unsubs all across the country, it’s become a go-to series to watch for fans. Viewers have been known to discuss the show on social media, including Reddit, where an interesting poll is highlighted here about which actor fans would “choose” to direct them for an episode of the show.
Actors from ‘Criminal Minds’ have also directed episodes too
It may come as a shock for some fans, but a few of the actors we’ve come to know from the show have also directed episodes of the series as well. Six actors who are regulars make up the list according to IMDb. Matthew Gray Gubler, who plays Dr. Spencer Reid, directed a whopping 12 episodes. Joe Mantegna, who plays SSA agent David Rossi, directed nine episodes himself. From there, Thomas Gibson, who plays Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner, called Hotch, directed six episodes. Aisha Tyler, who plays Dr. Tara Lewis, also directed two episodes. Likewise, Adam Rodriguez, who plays SSA Luke Alvez, directed two episodes himself. Finally, we have A.J. Cook, who plays SSA Jennifer Jareau, or JJ, who directed one episode.
‘Criminal Minds’ fans reveal which actor they’d ‘choose’ to direct them for an episode of the show
Those same members of the cast were brought up in a recent Reddit poll. On September 13, 2021, a fan posted a poll titled, “If you could star in a Criminal Minds episode directed by a cast member who would you choose?” They continued, “Further what type of episode and who would you be in the episode?” The options include the six actors who directed in the show as well as starred in it.
929 people took part in the poll, and Matthew Gray Gubler is the clear winner with 736 votes. He’s actually the only choice to top over 100 let alone break 700 votes. From there, we have Thomas Gibson with 71 votes, A.J. Cook with 50 votes, Joe Mantegna with 43 votes, Aisha Tyler with 23 votes, and Adam Rodriguez with six votes.
Paget Brewster, who plays Emily Prentiss and who becomes Unit Chief, was also mentioned once. JJ was named as well. But Gubler was commented on by far the most in the comments as well, which isn’t surprising when you look at the votes.
“There’s no denying MGG directed the weirdest and best episodes,” a fan weighed in.
A fan chose Gubler, and we can understand why. The episodes he directed definitely stick with the viewer.
“I chose MGG ‘cause his episodes were so spooky, but they also gave me nightmares so idk how it’d be to actually star in one lol,” they said.
One fan isn’t “surprised” that “most of the votes” were for Gubler. He directed the most episodes out of all the other actors, and he seems to be a fan favorite in general.
“Why am I not surprised most of the votes were towards MGG 😭 (including me),” they said.
A fan calls Gubler “very talented,” and that’s definitely saying something. “I’m not surprised MGG is the most voted for LOL. Not to suck up to him, but he is very talented and knows exactly what he’s doing in terms of writing/directing. His eps are always suspenseful and keep you on the edge, good for him!”
Fans seem to truly appreciate Matthew Gray Gubler as both a director and an actor. Fans chose him in a Reddit poll about which actor they’d want directing them in Criminal Minds.
Not only did the plot twist of “victim as killer” make for a strong episode, it set in motion a multi-episode story arc that played out over two seasons. George Foyet — who, at the end of “Omnivore,” managed to escape from custody — would soon return, this time with his sights fixed solely on Hotch.
Foyet’s threats are so severe that Hotch’s son, Jack, and ex-wife, Haley, are forced into protective custody while the BAU hunts him. Tragically, as dedicated fans know, Foyet goes on to murder Haley while Hotch listens on the phone in an incredibly poignant scene. Foyet finally meets his end when Hotch beats him to death, seeking vengeance over Haley’s murder.
Above all, after Foyet’s reign comes to its final end, Hotch and the entire BAU are irrevocably changed … and it all began with that plot twist in “Omnivore.”
Given the impact of “Omnivore” on the series’ storyline, it’s no wonder that it ranks high with fans. On IMDb, the episode’s rating ties it at 7th place, making it one of the best reviewed on the website. Screen Rant ranks “Omnivore” as one of the best episodes featuring an unsub based on a real-life killer. The episode also remains popular because it introduced George Foyet, a fan-favorite unsub. TV Guide named the Reaper as the series’ most memorable unsub. On Reddit, there are entire threads dedicated to discussing both the Reaper and his debut episode. In fact, some on Reddit have admitted that during “Omnivore” re-watches, they find themselves shouting at the screen, in a futile attempt to warn Hotch about Foyet. With high critical praise and strong fan support, it’s clear that the plot twist in “Omnivore” stands above the rest.
Once Cate was deemed an unsuitable mate for their son, the mother and father struck again, killing another couple in their sleep and kidnapping their daughter, Lynn (Sierra McCormick). Knowing law enforcement is closing in, the family burns their trailer along with all their possessions. The precaution, while criminally smart, proved futile since by that point the BAU had already made a major break in the case. The mother was once known as Kathy Gray, a young girl abducted by a similar family after her parents were murdered in 1971.
As the BAU points out, Kathy, who was given the name Sylvia by her kidnappers, has a classic example of Stockholm syndrome. According to Healthline, Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response in which abuse victims and abducted individuals develop a bond with their abuser or kidnapper. That bond can become so strong that the victim defends the abuser and may even participate in their crimes.
Once the BAU discovered the burnt remains of the trailer, the team knew the unsubs would need to replace their possessions. To that end, they distribute flyers featuring a digitally aged photo of Kathy/Sylvia to the local shopping mall. While shopping, the boy finds a flyer and brings it to his mother, who then allows herself to get arrested so that the father and son can escape to wherever they are holding Lynn.
The episode opens with a flashback to 1988, when Floyd Feylinn Ferell was a minor being held at the Florida-located Hazelwood Hospital for the Criminally Insane. He’s about to turn 18, so the doctors by law must discharge him, although they’re scared that his sadistic sexual fantasies will start becoming murderous realities once he’s released. Before we the audience even see the BAU, we already learn about his proclivity for violence — and his worship of the Christian Devil, which he uses to justify his homicidal urges.
Flashforward to present day, when the 19-year-old Abby Kelton is found dead in her town of Bridgewater, Florida, her body totally brutalized. Only her upper half was found, her throat slit. A pentagram was carved into her chest, and she was forced to eat 10 severed fingers, none of them her own — yikes. The BAU deals with a lot of corpses, but the bodies Ferell leaves behind are some of the most disturbingly butchered. Even though there’s only one body at this point, the BAU knows they’ve got a sadistic serial killer on their hands.
Particularly tragic is that when Garcia runs the prints on the fingers found at the scene of the crime, her database easily finds matches for each finger, as all the victims had criminal records for sex work. It was only once a respectable college girl went missing that the local police cared enough to investigate. From the start, it’s clear that Floyd Feylinn Ferell is a cold and calculated killer targeting society’s low-hanging fruit.
As watchers of the series know, the first few seasons of “Criminal Minds” address the marital struggles of Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) and his wife Haley (Meredith Monroe). Hotch repeatedly chooses his work over his family, which means Haley is essentially a single mom to their infant son, Jack. In Season 3, Hotch makes the decision to transfer out of the BAU and take a position that will allow him to be more present in his family’s life. Just when it seems like the Hotchners have found their happiness, however, Garcia intervenes and brings it all crashing down.
Using her impressive computer skills, Garcia gums up the works, slowing and stalling Hotch’s transfer request. When the BAU catches a new case, the higher-ups tell Hotch he needs to work the case with the team because his transfer request hasn’t been processed; in fact, it wasn’t even in the system. With no recourse, Hotch agrees to lead the BAU on the case, a decision that infuriates Haley. Through the course of the investigation, Hotch begins to second-guess his transfer request. By the end of the case, Hotch has completely changed his mind, and opts to remain with the BAU. When he heads home, he finds that Haley and their son have moved out. Had Garcia not interfered, Hotch would have transferred out of the BAU, which would likely have saved his marriage — and prevented Haley’s murder in Season 5.
Erica Messer, executive producer of Criminal Minds.
Just 25 years ago Erica Messer, 48, graduated Salisbury University in the winter of 1995. Today, Messer is known for her work on a variety of TV shows such as Alias, Charmed, The O.C. and Criminal Minds.
Messer attended SU shortly after transferring from Florida State University.
Over the next two years, Messer appreciated the intimate experience SU provided.
“When your class size is smaller, the professors are gonna know who you are, if you’re there or not; all that stuff really mattered to me,” Messer said.
While at SU, Messer majored in communications, double minoring in psychology and sociology, all of which contributed to her success today.
Messer felt SU’s various communications courses allowed her to narrow down her career interests.
“Everything that the [SU] communications department offered, I just gobbled it up.”
Messer particularly enjoyed communication courses offered by the late Dr. Frances Kendall, whom Messer considered a mentor.
“She [Frances Kendall] was so excited to be teaching, and she was extra excited if you were a really curious learner because she was too. She was always learning things. She absolutely inspired me to keep going and all that. She was great.”
During a winter term, Messer interned for FOX 5 in D.C., studying public relations at WTTG.
Although Messer did not pursue PR further, the opportunity allowed her to determine exactly what she wanted to do with her career.
“… and [I] learned through that [FOX 5 internship], that wasn’t really where I wanted to spend my time either — that I was definitely a content provider,” Messer said. “I wanted to be writing. I wanted to be editing. I wanted to be directing and providing that content — that was my happy place.”
Messer’s minors also influenced her success, allowing her to acquire skills she still uses today.
“I double minored in psychology and sociology, and I had some amazing professors in that world as well. Dr. Sepola was one of my favorites. I think his classes always provided really interesting, simulating conversations … I think it was the conversations and the comradery, all those things that … cemented for me that I made the right choice in going to Salisbury.”
“I would argue I probably use those two [psychology and sociology] more than I use my communications skills because I have that [communications-related writing] down now … The thing I use constantly is psychology. Because as a leader and a manager of people, it’s really incredibly helpful to know what makes them tick — all of the behavior you can’t really predict but you might see patterns in.”
Just one year after her graduation, Messer headed to Los Angeles.
Messer felt this was the best way to branch out and truly explore her career options.
“It’s funny, when you’re in it [the moment], and you know you wanna do something like that, it doesn’t feel big to you in the moment. If I look back on it now, I say ‘Oh my gosh, at 23 we [Messer and her husband] just filled up our Ford Taurus Station Wagon and drove across the country, that’s crazy.’ But when you’re in it, it feels like it would be crazy not to do it.”
After one month in L.A, Messer interviewed for a temp position on the 20th Century Fox lot.
Erica Messer (younger).
Messer worked at the lot for a year, allowing her to network and connect with TV assistants. These connections eventually led to Messer’s next job on the TV show, Party Five.
“It felt very much worth the weight, worth the struggle, saving a lot of money to come out but not working at the Gap. My first job was on the Fox Lot.”
Five years later, Messer became a screenwriter for the TV show, Alias after meeting J.J Abrahams, the show’s creator, in 2001.
“At that point, we’d been here since 1996, so, five years later, I’m saying, ‘okay I’m just getting started’ cause now I’m being hired as a writer, my job is to create content, this is exactly what I was hoping for, but it was five years between doing the move and sitting down with J.J”.
“I was really excited. I had gotten some training via osmosis on Party Five, so I knew the protocols in a writers’ room. I knew that I was one of three women on the show [Alias] that was about a woman at its core, so that — there was a value I had — there were a lot of guys in that room — that they didn’t have. I felt like I was really supported in that environment. Relationships happen quickly in a writers’ room because it’s really intense and you’re all together all day long and you’re coming up with all these incredible stories for characters.”
Messer’s thirst for success remained unquenched with each coming project, contributing to her strong sense of motivation.
“And every time there would be another show or another opportunity, I’d always feel like ‘okay now I’m just getting started, now I’m just getting started’. Next thing you know you’re here ten years…”
It was this sense of motivation that eventually led Messer to becoming the executive producer of Criminal Minds, a widely known crime drama. In addition to her motivation and stamina, Messer’s own personal experiences inspired her work on television.
“Yeah, I think if you just end up paying attention to what’s going on around you and being inspired by those things, then it leads to creativity. Sometimes that’s all you need, you just need a little bit of inspiration and you turn it into whatever ride you want it to be.”
That said, it may come as no surprise that a few Criminal Minds episodes are based off nearby towns such as Salisbury, Ocean City and Berlin.
“Yeah, I think that there’s something really incredible about dissecting sort of All-American towns, and Salisbury, Berlin, Maryland, wherever my old high school was, all of those feel so siege in history and they’re like the cross section of America in a lot of ways. One of the things with Criminal Minds was we always wanted to feel like ‘this could happen to you…’. I was always drawn to those communities versus the big city stories, which still have incredible value, but I was more drawn to the county sheriff versus the big city detective.”
Messer’s inspiration also draws from emotion.
According to Messer, personal fears played a significant role in the writers’ room of Criminal Minds.
“For Criminal Minds, for example, what worked so well with that show was there’s usually about eight to ten writers on that staff, and everybody needs to bring what scares them to the table. Because what scares them might not scare you, but it might scare a million people who are watching. And the show from the beginning was really supportive of your voice and finding the things that fascinated you. Because if you’re passionate about what you’re writing, the audience will be passionate about watching it.”
One of Messer’s storylines was based on “losing her kids” at a museum, not realizing they were standing to side with their mother in-law.
“It came from a real-life moment of me being incredibly freaked out as a mom,” Messer said.
Messer’s experience in television also taught her characters needed to be just as believable and relatable as experiences themselves, when creating a fictional reality.
“If you don’t have characters that people wanna watch every week, then you don’t have a show,” Messer said.
Messer believes these aspects are what made the show a success — a success that eventually turned into a spin-off called Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.
When producing the spin-off, Messer wanted to ensure the show was not a duplicate of its predecessor.
Messer focused on introducing a new perspective — one that put an emphasis on travel.
“The question’s the same, which is, ‘Why do we need this show? Why do we need it right now? Why are you passionate to tell this show?’ Those questions and answers are important the whole time whether it’s a spin off or an original piece.”
Who could have guessed what Messer would surmount to just after moving to L.A. at the age of 23?
For students pursuing a career in the television or film, Messer gives this advice:
“I say go for it. I think that there’s more opportunities now on the East Coast then there were 25 years ago. Atlanta’s really a hot spot for television and in film. I think if you feel like you might want to try that, try it because you might regret it if you don’t.”
And, to those graduating and pursuing their careers, as Messer once did, “Be open because every opportunity could lead to something even greater.”
For 15 seasons, Criminal Minds told stories about the most shocking and twisted serial murder cases. It followed the lives of a group of people working for the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). Besides the captivating stories, the show also remained fully invested in the characters’ personal development, making it a joy to watch. While it came to an end in February 2020, there are numerous Criminal Minds episodes one can always rewatch.
What are the best episodes of Criminal Minds, and what made them stand out?
The best Criminal Minds episodes
Here is a look at the 30 best Criminal Minds episodes ever.
30. Amplification (Season 4, Episode 24)
Amplification features a serial killer and terrorist by the name of Chad Brown. The villain is only interested in one thing; showing Americans how vulnerable their country is to a terrorist attack.
Three female students are found dead in a college in Arizona. Upon examination, it is found that the girls were stabbed. While the BAU believes the case is solved when a guard fits the killer’s profile, things get interesting when a similar murder happens while the suspect is in custody.
28. Red Light (Season 12, Episode 22)
Reid goes on a psychological game of cat-and-mouse with Cat Adams. The only difference from one of his previous similar encounters is that Diana’s life is on the line this time.
27. 100 (Season 5, Episode 9)
A serial killer known as the reaper reemerges after 11 years in the dark. He is one of the most dangerous villains in Criminal Minds. Before disappearing, the killer was responsible for killing Aaron’s ex-wife.
Reid is caught by an executioner known as Tobias, who has a split personality problem. The team attempts to locate Reid after watching a video showing Tobias manhandling him.
25. Zugzwang (Season 8, Episode 12)
Zugzwang features Reid heavily since a stalker abducts his girlfriend. The BAU must then find and save the girl before it is too late.
24. The Fisher King (Season 1, Episode 22)
The Fisher King follows Randall Garner, a man who lost his family in a house fire. The man survived but was severely scarred and became mentally ill. Upon his release from the mental facility, he decides to target and torment members of the BAU.
23. Date Night (Season 15, Episode 6)
Cat Adams returns, ready to wreak havoc. She demands one more date with Reid before she dies. To get the date, she abducts Reid’s girlfriend’s father and his sister.
Believer features an unsub known as The Strang*er. A former member of the BAU believes the team never found The Strang*er when he previously struck. The former profiler has been tracking the unsub since leaving the FBI.
21. Entropy (Season 11, Episode 22)
In Entropy, Reid tries to outsmart an assassin known as Cat and bring her down. The rest of the team works on a plan to track a hitman syndicate associated with Cat.
20. LDSK (Season 1, Episode 6)
The BAU tried to capture a notorious sharpshooter who guns down individuals during the day. The initials in this thriller stand for Long Distance Serial Killer.
19. Mr Scratch (Season 10, Episode 21)
Mr Scratch explores the mindset and psychology of a serial killer. Unfortunately, the villain escapes and takes other serial killers with him. He later begins targeting members of the FBI.
This was undoubtedly one of the saddest Criminal Minds episodes. Its plot revolved around a group of kidnapped children being nurtured as a family by their abductor. It was a story about hope for the families of those who had gone missing.
17. Penelope (Season 3, Episode 9)
This one features Penelope Garcia battling for her life after being shot right outside her house. As the team tries to solve the case surrounding her shooter, they find secrets about the time Penelope left the office.
16. Profiling 202 (Season 9, Episode 12)
When Rossi is teaching a profiling class with Stephen and Prentiss, he receives a call that makes him believe someone from his past might have returned.
15. The Tall (Season 14, Episode 5)
When two victims go missing in the woods, the BAU starts to investigate an unlikely small-town ghost story.
This one tells the captivating story of a murder in Texas. Upon investigation, the team learns that corruption might be the key motive behind the murder. They then stumble upon an organization with sinister motives.
13. Lauren (Season 6, Episode 18)
When Prentiss goes missing, the BAU must look for information about her. Little did the team know that Prentiss has been chasing a deadly enemy from her time as an undercover agent named Lauren.
12. Hit (Season 7, Episode 23)
The BAU encounters a group of serial killers who have robbed a bank. Everything turns ugly when one of the BAU’s members is taken hostage while trying to negotiate with the killers.
11. Sex, Birth, Death (Season 2, Episode 11)
Sex, Birth, Death starts with Washington’s red-light area, where several prostitutes are found dead. Reid suspects the killer to be a school student with a brutal motive.
Years after the BAU brought down a cult chief known as Benjamin Cyrus, the faction returns seeking vengeance on the FBI.
5. Surface Tension (Season 12, Episode 11)
Reid returns after visiting his mother, who is on an experimental drug program. Unfortunately, the team later learns that Reid’s mother is no longer at the hospital, a fact that might endanger her and Reid’s safety.
4. Hamelin (Season 14, Episode 12)
Hamelin is an unexpected retaliation story in which a man attempts to take revenge against those who wronged him by kidnapping their children and torturing them. Three children in Iowa are abducted on the same night.
3. Hashtag (Season 10, Episode 7)
The killer targets social media influencers and photoshops pictures of his prey on other people’s Twitter pages. All the crime scenes have a hashtag symbol that suggests the similarities between the murders.
Reid finds himself in the emergency room, some of his colleagues resign, and he must find a way to deal with the goings-on in his mind. This is one of the good Criminal Minds episodes without too much action and serial killings.
1. Masterpiece (Season 4, Episode 8)
Masterpiece is amazingly well-written, which perhaps explains why it is top among the best rated Criminal Minds episodes. It follows a self-absorbed sociopath who confesses to killing seven people. He then challenges the BAU to find and stop him before he kills them.
What is the lowest rated Criminal Minds episode?
According to IMDb, Two of a Kindis the lowest rated episode in the entire 15 seasons of the show. It is currently rated 7.1 stars after 282 votes. This was the premiere of the show’s first season.
According to Ranker, the third season of Criminal Minds is the best. The season premiered in September 2007 and is best known for the introduction of David Rossi to the show.
The best Criminal Minds episodes were filled with twists and suspense. Their gripping storylines transported viewers into the shocking minds of serial killers and the thrill of the BAU trying to outsmart the criminals.
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