Criminal Minds Shrine

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This side will contain fun stuff and resources. Could be stuff I make or things I find.

“Nothing is easier than denouncing the evildoer. Nothing more difficult than understanding him.”
– – Dostoyevsky (S3.EP5)


Theme Song

About the Show

Criminal Minds is a 15 season CBS show that began in 2005. Following a team of investigators from the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI, each episode breaks down a uniquely dark case. As seasons progress, the characters become uniquely connected to their work in ways that change their lives forever.

Criminal Minds is a show that I watched frequently as a kid, and I've rewatched it more times than I can count. I became very invested in these characters; when the show first ended in 2020, I felt like I was saying goodbye to people I knew. That being said, it was created just to piggyback off the success of Law and Order, but I believe the involvement of the cast in the creation of each episode gave the show a certain passion that can be lacking from other procedurals(not L&O). Many of the procedural aspects and drug facts are just not accurate, but no one goes to a crime show for facts (right? RIGHT?). The 2022 reboot "CM:Evolution" is one that I watched a couple of episodes of, maybe I will go back and finish it eventually. I just felt the reboot was unnecessary. The show ended on a high note, any unanswered questions could be left up to the viewer. Everyone had to move on from the BAU, and they can't just completely replace the original cast (looking at you Grey's Anatomy). I felt "Evolution" was an awkward and, frankly, sloppy way to reunite the previous members and continue the story. But like I said, my opinion doesn't have much weight as I haven't completely finished CM:Evolution.

Top 10 Episodes

  1. S5.Ep12: Uncanny Valley: This is the first episode I ever remember watching. This case became complex very quickly, and the way the last woman was able to fight her way out is something that stood out to me. Not much character development happened in this episode, but it was great filler. It's number 1 for it's sentimental value.
  2. S2.E15: Revelations: This episode centers around Spencer Reid, as he had been abducted by the unsub. The story reveals the effects of religious abuse and drug addiction. It does also involve D.I.D (MPD as it was called back then), and it's obviously not the most accurate depiction of the disorder, but I thought they did pretty alright. The episode reveals some of Reid's backstory and his struggles with his schizophrenic mother (this is a huge plot point in later seasons and is one of his major character motivations). This episode is one of my favorites due to the later story-building it sets up, and I thought it was a beautifully directed episode.
  3. S14.E13: Chameleon: This episode sets up the main antagonist of the final season, and I thought the Chameleon was such an interesting case. The killer is a conman who uses a different alias with each victim, but he has a similar M.O. each time. He removes the victims face and burns their house down. He targeted single, older women and used his own daughter for his cons. This episode focuses on Agent David Rossi and his retelling of events. Rossi had been personally attacked by the Chameleon, who threatened to steal his face next. I found this episode interesting because it was the first time the team has had a killer literally in their grip, and they got away. Honestly the Chameleon isn't a particularly unique case as far as the show goes, but the way he was able to evade the BAU for so long was a great storyline.
  4. S4.E7: Memoriam: Memoriam is another Reid-centric episode, but oh man is it a good one. Reid had been having flashbacks to an event in his childhood in which he discovered the body of a young boy dead in a basement. His flashbacks allude to his father potentially being the murderer, and his lack of a relationship with his father furthers this belief. There are some pretty compelling flashbacks that point to Reid's father being at the very least involved. The conclusion was quite a twist and it was interesting to see more into the backstory of Spencer Reid. The overall theme of this episode is about the power of the Found Family, with JJ having her baby and naming Reid the godfather, and the team working together to support Reid in his personal troubles.
  5. S10.E21: Mr. Scratch: The Mr. Scratch arc is easily one of the most gripping in the entire show. The killer uses psychoactive drugs to control his victims and frame them for murder. He influences their beliefs while on drugs, making them believe their loved ones are demons. The episode focuses on Aaron Hotchner as he is abducted, drugged, and nearly convinced to kill his team. Mr. Scratch is apprehended at the end, but he returns in later seasons for a much more dramatic arc.
  6. S8.E10: The Lesson: This episode was a wild ride from start to finish. The killer in this episode was creating human marionette puppets to reenact a traumatic event in his childhood. This was one of the more gruesome episodes for sure, I remember some of the joint-dislocating scenes being pretty hard to watch. I like this one because the killer has a lot of layers despite having a relatively common backstory (in the CM universe that is). This episode ties in with the main antagonist of season 8, The Replicator, and I am a sucker for good callbacks.
  7. S8.E24: The Replicator: Obviously this one had to come next. The Replicator is the main antagonist of season 8 as I said, and really this takes place over 2 episodes for the season finale, but I'm talking about the second part because thats when it concludes. The Replicator was an ex-FBI agent who blamed the BAU for his career failing, naturally. This episode was interesting as it was Section Chief Erin Strauss that would be abducted this time. This episode reveals a lot about the history of the BAU and its time before the current crew. While I personally am beefing with Strauss to the end, she did have an incredible character arc, and her conclusion was a heavy one for sure.
  8. S1.E22: The Fisher King - Part 1: LOVED this episode and its cliffhanger. The unsub in this episode involves the BAU in a mindbending puzzle. Without giving too many spoilers, Reid's mother kind of started this whole thing off. The unsub, Randall Garner, was traumatized after losing his family in a house fire and institutionalized; surprise surprise, same institution of Mrs. Diana Reid. She introduced Randall to the Fisher King story, which set him on a path of completing his "quest". This episode sets up some crazy development for season 2 as well as introducing Diana.
  9. S5.E13: Risky Business: Reminiscent of urban legends like the Blue Whale Game, this episode explores the potential dangers of social media and viral trends. Though a bit outlandish and over-the-top, this episode has an interesting twist that kept me entertained. This episode was a bit silly to be honest, but it's a charmer.
  10. S3.E3: Scared to Death: This was a freaky episode. The unsub is a psychiatrist who believes in intense exposure therapy. He would subject his "patients" to extreme torture based on their greatest fears. The goal was for them to make it out alive and overcome their fear. This episode has a lot of flaws, and the team was still recovering from Gideon's sudden departure, but it is one of my favorite cases nonetheless.

Character Analysis

Before you read please keep in mind that these are all opinions. I may have some timelines mixed up or be misremembering details, but I will try to correct things as I go.

Penelope Garcia

Penelope is one of the most relatable of the BAU team. She is eccentric and nerdy and overwhelmingly positive. She was my inspiration to mess with coding when I was younger (just drag and drop stuff cause I was like 9). She is the technical analyist for the BAU, and I thought she was the coolest. Prior to joining the FBI, she was a well-known vigilante hacker. They gave her the option of joining the team or facing prison time for her hacks. Penelope's personality is bubbly, optimistic, and generally outgoing. She gets along with just about everyone, yet her struggles to find a meaningful romantic relationship become a major character arc for her. Her skills make her uniquely valuable, and even when she slips up she's able to bounce back stronger. S3EP9 is a great episode centered around her. This episode spells out her traits clearly: she is deeply empathetic, but she trusts too easily; she is incredibly smart and her technical skills are unmatched; she is an incredibly human character.

Her relationship with Derek Morgan is something that I was rooting for for the longest time, but honestly I think it's sweet they never become more than flirty friends. Their friendship often results in the cringiest scenes, like all those "hey baby girl you're on speaker phone" with the entire team in the room. But overall it's a mostly harmless friendship and I think it adds a sense of relatability to the characters. Their scenes together often act as comedic relief, but several times the two have had really sincere and endearing moments that revealeld the depth of their relationship. After Penelope was shot outside her home, Derek stayed with her until she felt safe. The two were a truly dynamic duo.

Penelope unfortunately doesn't get many focused episodes, her backstory is often explained through short remarks or flashbacks in episodes. It was revealed that her parents were killed by a drunk driver when she was a teen, and she felt responsible because they were out looking for her when she came home past curfew. This event was referenced several times but was the focus of S13.E20 "All You Can Eat." In this, Penelope is on the Parole board deciding if her parent's killer should be released. This is a difficult decision for her; on one hand she hates this man for his selfish actions, but she also holds herself responsible. The unrelated case for this episode causes her to think about the Parole hearing in a more forgiving way, and she ends up advocating for his release. This was a huge step for Penelope, allowing her to move on and also solidifying her overarching desire to see the good in the world.

Garcia's motivations for leaving the BAU at the end of season 15 is befitting of her character, she wanted a less stressful job. Her character is the one with the weakest stomach by far; sometimes she can barely stand to be in the same room as the crime scene images. You'd think after so much time someone who spends all day online would become desensitized to the horror, but this shows how resilient Garcia's positivity is. In CM:Evolution, it is revealed that she has been developing a safer social media for minors. Her desire to have a positive impact on the world is something that motivates Garcia consistently from season 1 to the current times.

Aaron Hotchner

Aaron Hotchner (AKA Hotch) is one of the BEST characters in the entire show. He is the unit Chief and one of the strongest characters, in my opinion. Hotchner's character development seems slow at first; he is simply a stoic, hardworking family man. A no-bullshit kind of man. In the first three seasons, he is almost the glue holding the team together; despite all their flaws, the team knows they can fall-back on Hotch. He truly cares for each member of the team and makes sure their needs are met before his own. Despite his strong performance at work though, he struggles to balance his personal life with his career. His relationship with his wife, Haley, deteriorates over the course of season 3, resulting in a painful divorce.

Seasons 4 and 5 are when we see the most development with this character. The introduction of "the Reaper," George Foyet, meant big things for Hotch. Following the intial investigation of the misogynistic spree killer in season 4, George Foyet escaped from prison and began hunting those who were responsible for his capture. Aaron Hotchner becomes the prime target due to his leadership position and status as a father. S5.E1 is when we find out that Foyet not only found Hotch, but stabbed him 9 times. Hotchner was lucky to survive the encounter, but this could have been how Foyet was able to find information on Haley and Jack's location. S5.E9 is one that changed the show forever. I will never forget the feeling of shock and grief I felt seeing Haley Hotchner die. Despite their divorce, Hotch loved Haley more than anyone (except for his son of course), and I believe his actions towards Foyet were incredibly justified. Sure, he should have called for backup and properly taken the man down instead of beating him to death, but that was his wife for christ's sake! And of course, viewers everywhere worried about their son, Jack, who was in the house while all of this was going down. Finding out that Jack was okay, that his father had properly prepared him for the worst case scenario, and that Foyet could not harm him, was the sigh of relief we needed after the events before. This episode created a huge internal investigation, and surprisingly, Hotch was not punished at all for stepping out of line (a rare W for Erin Strauss). This character arc forced Hotch to take a step back from his work and learn how to balance being a good father with being a good chief. Ultimately, the power balance of the team was shifted and becomes more fluid through the remainder of the show, with Hotchner leaving/rejoining the cast at various times up to season 12. This time period for his character became moreso about protecting his family and building a stronger relationship with his son. However he still treated each case with the respect and attention that he is known for.

Hotch's character was eventually written out in season 12 due to Thomas Gibson being fired from the show. That whole drama is really messy and there is some conflicting facts floating around in forums about his firing. The most basic facts are that he was fired due to a physical altercation with a coproducer because Gibson did not like the direction his character was developing. Some people claimed he was defending a female coworker from a sexual predator in the directing crew, but I haven't been able to find anything to back this up. Gibson did later come forward and express regret for the encounter. It seems he had some anger issues and it ultimately resulted in him being removed from production. Here's some more info about that. As a result his departure is a bit sloppy, but they wrote him off as going into Witness Protection rather than killing him, and I think there's some dignity in that.

Emily Prentiss

Emily Prentiss joined the show in season 2, replacing Elle Greenaway. She has been a Supervisory Special Agent, Unit Chief, and has done investigative work in a plethora of countries. Prentiss is often much more put together than other members of the team, but she does have her weaknesses like everyone else. Her previous work in Russia, France, and Spain frequently come back to haunt her. This even made the team question her loyalty at times. Her introduction to the team was sudden, and they had every right to be wary in lue of the ongoing internal investigations (I swear #1 antagonist of the show is Erin Strauss). I do think the producers of Criminal Minds got pretty sloppy with her development at times, her character left the show twice and one of them was a TRAGIC fake death scene that ruined me when I first watched it. However, I do not think this hindered her development in later seasons and even calls back to the distrust the team felt towards her when she first joined.

Season 6 is when we learn a lot about Prentiss and her connections to Ian Doyle, an international terrorist and serial killer. Emily had gotten close with Doyle while working undercover in Russia, and when he was apprehended, he swore to get revenge. Emily believed she was safe, but of course not! Doyle escaped from his prison and was, obviously, hunting her down. S6E16 is when Prentiss begins working outside the BAU to track down Doyle before he can harm anyone on the team. She works with old members of her interpol task force, but Doyle's killing spree soon forces the BAU to get involved. At this point, the team does not know about her connection to Doyle or her international work; however episode 18 would reveal all this to them.

Episode 18 is also the episode where Emily "dies." I learned recently they removed her and JJ from the show due to budget cuts-- because they wanted to spend the money on a spin-off show that completely flopped! What a waste. However the death did kind of make sense given the way the season was progressing. Emily had been captured by Doyle and tortured because he believed she was responsible for the death of his son, Declan. I haven't mentioned Declan yet because he isn't relevant until right now. When Doyle was arrested, Emily faked Declan's death and hid him away so he could not be harmed/used as leverage by authorities. This of course reveals how skilled she is at faking deaths, and foreshadows her own. Following a bloody fight with Doyle, Prentiss is sent to a hospital where JJ reports she did not survive. Everyone is heartbroken and mournful at her "funeral," and it is pretty much immediately revealed to the audience that she's actually just hiding in France. So Emily was essentially given the Hotchner treatment and sent into hiding to protect everyone from a cop killer blah blah blah. I do think this story line was set up very well, but they could have done so much better with it. Emily's "death" felt more like an afterthought than something truly planned out. It's also incredibly unrealistic; in a room full of the top investigators in the country, only JJ and Hotch were in on it? She remains "dead" for the remainder of the season, but comes back about halfway through S7.Ep1. It takes the team some time to heal from this understandably so.

I could write an entire essay about Emily Prentiss, there is so much to her character. I will add more to this from the later seasons

Spencer Reid

Spencer Reid is a genius. Just canonically he is. He’s an incredibly fleshed out character in the show, maybe due to Matthew Gray Gubler’s involvement in the production process. There’s a LOT of ground to cover with Reid.

To avoid writing a novel about Mr. BoyGenius, I’ll break down some of his most notable character arcs and relationships. For starters, he is an awkward, dorky, yet complex character. He thinks logically about most things in his life and seems to lack some social skills; in Season 3 Episode 16 he reveals that he was relentlessly bullied in high school, and in Season 1 Episode 18 he said he graduated at 12 years old. This would probably explain the lack of social skills.

The main conflict in Reid’s life throughout the show is his struggles with caring for his mother. Diana Reid is a diagnosed schizophrenic, and she often refuses to get treatment. This caused Spencer to have an unstable home environment growing up, but he cared about his mother and never gave up on her. He received his bachelor’s degree at 16 and had 3 PhDs by the time he was 21. During the time he was in college until season 12, Diana was institutionalized, and Reid wrote letters to her every day. During season 12, we learn that Diana has Alzheimer’s and is resistant to medication. Despite Reid’s growing issues in other areas of his life (we will get into this later) he moved his mother into his Apartment in Virginia. This leads to more problems, namely when Reid is in prison, as his mother's condition worsens, and he cannot ensure her safety. The Diana-Alzheimers storyline gets mixed up with the Cat Adams storyline at this point, after which she is sent back to a facility.

The Cat Adams arc takes place from season 11 to loosely season 15. She is introduced in S11.EP11 when the team is tracking a network of hitmen. I could and probably will make a whole analysis of Cat at some point, there’s a lot to unpack. But essentially she’s a hitman that really, really likes killing men. This episode makes Reid the target of Cat’s obsession, and focuses on their tense encounter in a diner. In the end, Cat is arrested and that’s when she swears to get revenge. Reid reveals the current state of his mother, the experimental medicine doesn’t seem to be working, and she is on the decline. Sometime during Cat’s imprisonment she somehow teams up with Lindsey Vaughn, a serial killer/hitman from season 3 who I haven’t mentioned because she literally has no relevance until now. S12.E13, titled “Spencer,” is about Reid's trip to Mexico. He had been going there frequently to get medicine for his mother; Cat and Lindsey found out about this and decided to attack him there. Lindsey murdered the doctor Reid had been visiting, making it look like a drug deal gone wrong. Reid was apprehended because Lindsey left him drugged nearby. The prison arc takes place over 10 episodes, and I will discuss it more next paragraph, but for now I want to finish the Cat Adams arc. Post-imprisonment, Reid still has to deal with Cat as she convinces Lindsey to kidnap Diana. S12.E22 follows the abduction and introduces a new side of Spencer Reid. Cat pretends to be pregnant with Reid’s child, even if this is impossible, but she tries to convince him it happened, nonetheless. She also insults Diana, saying “You want the truth? Your mother is an Alzheimer's ridden moron, who's getting dumber day by day and if she's dead, it's all your fault!” This prompts Reid to jump across the table and start to strangle her. This level of violence has never been seen from Reid before, but it shows how far he is willing to go for his mother. It also reveals how far his mental state had been unravelling; the stress of the last two seasons was taking a toll on his ability to think clearly. Diana is okay, and Cat is defeated once again; Lindsey is also imprisoned. Cat is not seen again until S15.E6. This episode is an important one for Reid as it and the previous follows him developing a relatively normal relationship with a relatively normal woman, an incredibly rare experience. This is also the episode in which Cat is scheduled for execution and plans to mess with Reid one last time. She gets a man outside to kidnap the father and sister of the woman Reid is dating. This is all an attempt to get Cat released, which is unsuccessful. And that is the end of Cat Adams.

I will add more soon

Derek Morgan

Character Analysis soon to come

Jason Gideon

Character Analysis soon to come

David Rossi

Character Analysis soon to come

Jennifer Jareau

Character Analysis soon to come

Elle Greenaway

Character Analysis soon to come

Luke Alvez

Character Analysis soon to come

Dr. Tara Lewis

Character Analysis soon to come

Fan Art