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» » Criminal Minds 25 to Life (2005– )

Short summary

Hotch is off on leave, leaving Rossi in charge. Hotch has provided an electronic OK for Ashley Seaver to complete her remedial training at the BAU, she who wants to atone for the mistake she made in the strangled women case in New Mexico. With support from Prentiss who would act as Seaver's agent supervisor, Rossi provides his reluctant OK. Meanwhile, the parole board has asked the BAU to do a risk assessment on Don Sanderson, who has served his minimum twenty-five years of a life sentence for killing his wife and daughter. A former medical resident, Sanderson has always professed his innocence, telling a story of two men and a woman who he saw commit the murders. Rossi delegates the task of the risk assessment to Morgan, who sees in Sanderson a man who has lived solely for the sake of his now grown son, Joshua, and being able to tell him what he knows to be the truth. Morgan provides his approval for Sanderson's parole. Two days after his release, Sanderson is charged with the murder...

Intro is 10:23 long, more than twice the usual 4:30.

The song played near the end is "Far From Home" sung by "Five Finger Death Punch".

The first episode of the series without Hotch's appearance.

User reviews


  • comment
    • Author: Zololmaran
    For a huge Criminal Minds fan this was a huge disappointment. An episode almost not worth watching.

    It is bizarre how Agent Seaver is suddenly a part of the team - it is never explained how or why this has happened. I'm beginning to feel it's only because of character development for Reid. Who is she? Why does she want to be a part of the BAU? How can she just jump in; what was her training/education like? Granted, she was only introduced in the previous episode, but still it strikes as a little odd. That, however, is only a small part of all the things wrong with this episode.

    The major problem with this episode is how the plot is played out. I am usually able to look past the small improbabilities concerning e.g. Garcia's work but here even those bothered me. The way they found the UnSub seemed very unlikely and random. Finally, the fundraiser scene was just plain ridiculous. Slow claps, really? I understand the small breaches to reality for the sake of drama, but these things are both out of character and unrealistic.
  • comment
    • Author: Tantil
    This is a good episode. It could have been a classic, though. The main plot is solid, and while it isn't revolutionary (an man is out to prove he committed no murder), it is told in more confidence and without almost any of the usual stylistic problems that plague Criminal Minds (for once, the flashback at the crime scene doesn't come off as clumsy), and the guest actors perform really well. The best bit is that until the second kill after the man's release from prison happens, the viewer can't be absolutely certain that Morgan was right when he recommended to the parole board that the man be released back into society. From that point onwards, the main plot offers no surprises for anyone whose watched hundreds of episodes of crime procedurals. Though the way the BAU compare serial killers to power mad businessmen is borderline genius. They are, of course, completely right.

    So, the lack of surprises in the second half is the first problem. Were it the only one, this would have been an *excellent* episode. But there is another problem: the way-overlong pre-credits sequence is, at 10½ minutes, simply a textbook example of a structural car-wreck and quite probably the longest pre-credits sequence on TV ever, anywhere. The *function* of the pre-credits sequence is to give a *taste* of what's to come, not to be a complete act in a four-act episode. Luckily, *this* time, it isn't that damaging to the overall dramatic structure.

    But the most pressing problem is the character of Strauss. For a moment it seemed, that since Hotch is absent, we would be able to pretend his problematic character did not exist in the show, but then Struss walks into Rossi's office and delivers exposition with all the subtlety of a crowbar. How Hotch is *now* taking time off since it's *almost* a year since his wife was killed (actually, if the original air dates are to be taken as *approximate* dates when each episode takes place in the show's world, it's been 10 days shy of 13 months since she died). Anyway, the problem is Strauss was OK when Hotch *did* beat an unarmed, defenseless man to death with his bare hands, but when she learns that Morgan *may* have made an error in his profiling, thus leading to a killer being released, she goes all kinds of crazy, especially when she starts to want to play it safe near the end. There is *no* consistency in her character. She should have said, "You made a mistake, just like Hotch. And if that politician is the killer, go bust him. Beat him if you want to." This is sarcasm, just in case someone didn't notice - after all, the writers of Criminal Minds treat their audience like dullards most of the time, unlike, say, the writers of The Closer or the late, great, possibly never-to-be-beaten The Wire.

    So, two points off, and we end up with a 7/10. Which is still good. Just not great.
  • comment
    • Author: Kekinos
    As far as Season 6 episodes of 'Criminal Minds' goes, "25 to Life" is better than "Today I Do" and especially "The Thirteenth Step", and there are worse episodes of 'Criminal Minds' overall.

    This said, while a long way from a low-point episode it is a rather ho-hum one that started off well but lost its way after the third crime and got more and more ridiculous. While there are worse episodes in Season 6, and of the show, "25 to Life" is to me a lesser episode of a show that is a personal favourite, especially in the first five seasons (from Season 6 onwards 'Criminal Minds' did become hit and miss, with an especially underwhelming Season 11, the little seen of Season 12 has not made me jump out of my chair with excitement).

    "25 to Life" started promisingly. Morgan's compassion for Sanderson, his belief in his innocence and his going to great lengths to securing him parole sees a lovely and more sympathetic side to Morgan. Sure he is empathetic with victims and like at times a big brother figure to Reid, but he's tough as nails with the criminals, whether talked about, apprehended or convicted so this compassionate side to a convicted soon to be paroled criminal understandably strikes some fans as odd. That side to him was incredibly effective and beautifully played by Shemar Moore. Kyle Secor also does a great job as Sanderson, so much so that you are convinced that it isn't him and want the real person to be found. The rapport being Moore and Secor comes across really well.

    In fact, all the acting is very good, with exception of Rachel Nichols who plays Seaver with her usual blandness. "25 to Life" is a very well-made episode, shot with style and love and an atmospheric but audacious look. The music is haunting and melancholic, never being intrusive or inappropriately melodramatic. Some of the writing in the first half is thought-provoking, intelligent and with enough to keep one gripped, while the concluding reunion was very moving.

    However, "25 to Life" does lose its way significantly after the third crime and unfortunately never recovers. The episode by all means wasn't perfect up to then anyway, Seaver again is useless, out-of-place, annoying and with a personality and range of a broomstick and there's too much of her and not enough of much more interesting and likable characters like Reid. Strauss is as cold and dictatorial in leadership as ever, and while Hotch's absence doesn't bring the episode down single-handedly he is missed. The episode did drag at times, and was pretty formulaic where you do become too convinced too early on that it was the doing of somebody else, the one time in the episode where that is questioned is when the second crime is committed where one does temporarily does question whether he is innocent or not.

    It is once the real unsub's identity is revealed where the episode falls apart. The way they found out did feel random and tacked on, and there just wasn't much to the unsub himself, nothing to make one feel anything for him, not even hate, in fact the character and his position came over as far-fetched. The reason for the family murder is not made properly clear, even if it was explained it wasn't clear enough and it needed to be elaborated upon much more.

    Particularly bad however was regarding the team confrontation and arrest, the scene has to be down there in the top 5 of the most badly written, unrealistic and intelligence-insultingly ridiculous scenes of Season 6, with the self-righteous writing, the team acting out of character when accusing without proper proof in front of people and that painful slow clapping. Am amazed that anybody, especially Morgan, kept their jobs after that. The script showed good potential in the first half, but Garcia's flippant remarks in the profiling and the whole writing for the confrontation stuck out as sloppy.

    Overall, rather ho-hum, started off well but lost its way after the third crime and crashed and burned after the revelation of the real unsub. 5/10 Bethany Cox
  • Episode cast overview, first billed only:
    Joe Mantegna Joe Mantegna - David Rossi
    Paget Brewster Paget Brewster - Emily Prentiss
    Shemar Moore Shemar Moore - Derek Morgan
    Matthew Gray Gubler Matthew Gray Gubler - Dr. Spencer Reid
    Kirsten Vangsness Kirsten Vangsness - Penelope Garcia
    Thomas Gibson Thomas Gibson - Aaron Hotchner (credit only)
    Rachel Nichols Rachel Nichols - Ashley Seaver
    Kyle Secor Kyle Secor - Don Sanderson
    Philip Casnoff Philip Casnoff - James Stanworth
    Jayne Atkinson Jayne Atkinson - Erin Strauss
    Greg Collins Greg Collins - Bill Codwin
    Edita Brychta Edita Brychta - Mrs. Stanworth
    Joy Darash Joy Darash - Young Mary Rutka
    Mike Hoagland Mike Hoagland - Young James Stanworth
    Phil Levesque Phil Levesque - Tom Wittman
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