Criminal Minds

Season 2 Episode 19

Ashes and Dust

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Mar 21, 2007 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (18)

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out of 10
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  • A serial arsonist targets families.

    A serial arsonist targets families burning them and watching them die I don't see how a killer could kill the families how he did but he had his reasons because he they was linked to a corporate development company and they have been accused of building on contaminated land Things got personal for Hotch when a man killed himself to kill the serial arsonist by setting the place on fire when they was both in causing a deadly explosion Overall it was a decent episode but not one of my favorites of the season.
  • The real Hotch is revealed, and he's neither a narcissist, a bully nor a drill sergeant.

    Dark, brooding, tragic. From the initial scenes of the Cutler family succumbing to the fire, this episode grabbed the viewer and didn’t let go. We were appalled that anyone could stand there and watch a family burn to death, we were moved by Hotch and Prentiss’s reactions to the dying burn victim, and we were saddened by Evan Abby’s sacrifice and Hotch’s grief. Even the transitory moments of fun – Garcia’s comment and Reid’s clumsiness – only served as a counterpoint to the tragedy.

    Such an emotionally charged episode is painful to watch – the raw emotions shown by Hotch, the protectiveness of Gideon and Morgan and the hopelessness of Abby do something to viewers beyond just the horror of these crimes. It’s the characters’ reactions to the crimes that inform our own emotions. That’s why watching a well-written and produced drama like CM is more compelling than watching the same story on the evening news. And the character development continues. Prentiss has become enough of a member of the family to tease Reid about his statistics, and is emotionally drawn to Mrs. Cutler and to Hotch’s reactions. Gideon’s connection to Hotch is revealed to be deep and intense. And Hotch has many more layers than we might have suspected.
  • Hotchner's episode

    That was a good episode. I liked that it concentrated on someone else than Reid. Not that I have anything against that, oo no vice versa, but this is a team and they all need some focus now and then.

    The story was moving but somehow it feels like every episode is. They really have caught the level very high and that really makes it hard to score it: not as high as some previous ones we had, but good... quite good still.

    This time it is around fire and a man, who might be involved but as story envolves we learn much about him.. and on the process about Hotchner.

    I most say this episode really had powerful visual effects - the fire at the start.. the car fire..
  • In spite of the horror of this episode and the intensity of all that took place in it, how enlightening to see the 'real' Aaron Hotchner underneath the 'I am the boss' exterior. A excellent yet horrifying episode as we watch depravity at its worst.

    What kind of person could set fire to a house and then stand inside, fully protected in a fire suit and watch a family of three burn to death? A serial arsonist who also happens to be a sociopath, that's who.

    The BAU travel to San Francisco to assist in the identification and apprehension of an unsub who has set two deadly house fires in three weeks. The latest, the Cutler family home, left only Mrs. Cutler alive and as she nears death in the hospital, Hotch and Prentiss interview her and learn that the killer not only set the fire, but wedged the door so that they couldn't escape. The tender way in which Hotch in particular treats the dying woman will bring a tear to your eye. He and Prentiss lie to her and tell her that her husband and son have survived and are waiting in the hall to see her, an act of such warmth and tenderness from such a serious man that it will make you jolt.

    As the investigation leads the team towards a group called the 'Earth Defense Front' (EDF), Hotch comes into contact with Evan Abby, the group's leader who is terminally ill and estranged from his only child, a young son. Abby reluctantly agrees with Hotch that the killer, who has now changed his MO and is simply torching random strangers because of his anger at Abby for disbanding the EDF, must definitely be someone he knows. Once again, we see Aaron Hotchner, human being as he identifies with Abby, having lost his own father to lung cancer when he was still in high school.

    It is Abby himself who ultimately proves to be the hero when he lures the person identified as the arsonist to a place where people cannot be hurt and torches himself and the unsub, thereby ending his own pain and suffering and ending the career of the killer at the same time. When Hotch visits Abby's young son a few days after the funeral, he shows how clearly he understands the boy's pain and again, we see Hotch, the man, not just the SSA who is the upfront persona for most of the time.

    Great episode and some superb acting from everyone involved. The writing and the sensitivity shown within it was great too, so 'well done' to all involved.
  • Brilliant episode! It had hoorror, suspense and a perfect and fitting ending!

    Once again, I was highly eimpressed by this episode of Criminal Minds, because it had all the aspects of a great episode! The case was centered around a series of murders, with the MO of arson.

    The episode brings an ecco-terrorist group into the fray, as well as giving us a bit of indsight into Hotche's past.

    I thought the episode was a little frightening, an d I felt very sorry for the way those various people were kileed by the arsonist. It wasn't pleasant to see those secenes.

    The ending of the episode is definitely a great one, and it really put the cherry on top of a delicious sundae!

    Keep it going, Criminal Minds! The quality of this season remains very high, and I can't wait to see some more! Great work, and I'd highly recommend it!
  • A compulsive arsonist is actually part of the EDF movement.

    Decent episode that gets inside the mind of an arsonist. Although, despite what Morgan said arsonists don't normally get a sexual high from these fires. For arsonists it's more about causing destruction. It's almost like a serial killer as they enjoying seeing the damage they've caused. David Berkowitz, famous serial killer was also a famous arsonist. Likewise as well, arsonists don't normally start fires from inside the house they usually start them from outside.

    That's what made this arsonist unique from the rest and more malicious: "I'll show you a deranged coward!!!".

    They added the plot about the leader of the EDF, Evan Abby, being in cahoots with the arsonists. They added character death here as Hotch took the case personally since the leader was dying and had a son.

    That scene where the arsonist sets a pedestrian was really scare because it's true that these deranged individuals in cowardly fashion would do something like that.
  • Wow, this episode was really good.

    This episode was painful to watch. In a good way. Or not so good way. In the beginning when the house was on fire and they played Enyas song, I almost couldn't stand to watch it. The scene was so tragic and deep, and even if I knew that the family were going to die, (wouldn't be a case otherwise) I HOPED that they would manage to get outside without burning up. And when Hotch lied to that poor woman, when they were t the hospital, the tears wasn't so far away. The only thing negative I have to say about this episode is that they were so cryptic about Reids drug problem. Has Gideon put him on rehab? (You know what scene I mean)Or is Reid still lying and this was just his way to give a hint that he needed help? Well, I hope we find out in the next episode. Or else...
  • For the first time in a long time, an ep of Criminal Minds actually caught my interest.

    I'm not really a Hotchner fan, but I like his character. He is quite stoic and nothing can ruffle his feathers. I like how Thomas Gibson plays this character: soft spoken, no expression at all, always collected. Quite an interesting portrayal.

    I also loved how Reid's addiction was mentioned, the look he exchanged with Gideon. And the worried look Morgan gave him. Yes, I love the Big Brother relationship Morgan has with Reid. It's quite cute :)

    The plot was interesting, even if rather cruel - well, every mass murderer slash psychopath is a cruel monster but this one really got me. Maybe because I consider burning alive the worst possible death *shudders*

    But it was not the plot that interested me, but the bits and pieces we learned about Hotchner. That he thought that his father had an affair and in reality he was going to doctors and lawyers etc. because he had lung cancer. That's quite sad.

    Emily Prentiss still leaves me cold. I don't like the actress, I don't like the character. Period :( Though Garcia is still love! :D
  • One of the first episodes of Criminal Minds where I had to squeeze my eyes shut. Very effective episode!

    The opening scene was well done. It perfectly set the tone for an intense episode. The scene where Hotch was talking to the dying mother was equally effective. I was glad to finally see Hotch open up and expose some of his past. We all know he is a very stern, no games, mono-toned character, but it was nice to finally get some imput as to why. I was also glad to see that the heat was taken off Reid, but what about JJ? She clearly showed signs of trauma after the attack. I hoped we would see that go somewhere. The ending of this episode aws fantastic!! One of the better episodes of the season. Hope things keep going up hill.
  • Review

    Fantastic episode with a nice change it up killer who sets fires instead of killing people with the more conventional methods we are used to seeing on the show. Loved the opening four minutes of the show from an acting perspective. It must be very hard to get a scene like that all planned out on paper. Much respect to the team and the actors involved who put that scene together. Some people might look at that scene and don't recognize its importance, resorting to saying "Its just one man killing someone to set up the story", but there is no way setting all of that up could have been easy for them. The rest of the story kind of took off though, loved the comedy in the beginning between Prentiss and Morgan going back and forth on the statistics. Learning about Hotchners past was interesting as the man they were going after for a while turned out to be dying in a similar mannner as his dad. The ending was unexpected but I did like it nonetheless. Sometimes it feels as if you didn't get the most out of the episode if the bad guy isn't arrested, but the writing was supurb to pull together everything int he endgame. Great episode overall.
  • This is a fine example of why this series is as good as it is. It has one of the best opening sequences seen on the series but one of the hardest as well.

    This is a fine example of why this series is as good as it is. It has one of the best opening sequences seen on the series but one of the hardest as well. It is impossible to avoid thinking about that poor family which appears in that sequence and which is going to die because of the insane mind of a crazy arsonist.

    I have to say that if that sequence was hard to watch, the scene when another family dies inside a car was hard as well. The story is well-written and it is clearly explained why the arsonist does what he does and why Evan Abby acts as he acts. Besides, this episode shows the viewer the humanity of both Hotchner and Prentiss and how bad does Hotch feel about Abby. A very good one to watch.
  • A serial arsonist that does more than burn buildings...but murders with fire.

    Fire is terrifying. Being caught in a burning home with no means of escape has to be the ultimate bete noire. Enter an arsonist who makes these nightmares a reality.
    I would have liked a bit more of an exploration into this unsub's reality--he seemed a bit over the top and unreal as he was revealed to us, accelerating so rapidly as he did in his actions. How, for example, did he know so much about fire, and about bunker gear's safety levels--was he a former firefighter? I like the character of Aaron Hotchner, although he does certainly come across as one angsty human being. The scene where he expressed how he was in a state of panic even when off duty was quite remarkable, and echoed with geniune emotion. I expect to see his marriage unravel before much longer, as his wife always seems to be disappointed in him for having to do his job. Nice to see the former paramedic from Third Watch in this episode; a much more likeable character than he ever was then.
  • All those people, no booze or music. That’s either a very lame going away party, or an EDF meeting.

    Another great episode,
    Poor Hotchner is finding it harder and harder having to choose between his family and his job.

    There was a small reference to Reid’s possible drug problem where he compared the arsonists “addiction” to fire to a drug addiction.
    Both Gideon and Hotchner were eying him for a while and he seemed pretty uncomfortable. (Although I am not sure he ever used? There was some hinting at it in the New Orleans episode but all we saw was Reid not using.) The arsonist case itself was very interesting, the environmentalists setting fire to places sounded familiar, and I read online that there indeed was/is a similar thing going on. The arsonist case Hotchner/Reid was referring to in Seattle is real too. Unexpected outcome though, Abby turning out to be terminally ill and desperately wanting (and ending up doing) what was right.

    As always Garcia rocked ;)
    And now Prentiss too is growing a funny side, really nice, albeit a bit of a blunt one. Det. Castro had some funny remarks as well.
  • Finally Hotchs past starts to be revealed in a brilliant episode.

    Finally a Hotch centric episode! And what a good one it was. We found out so much about Hotch without him dominating the episode. There was still plenty of time for a strong storyline to be developing.

    Being burnt alive has to be many peoples biggest fear, some victims are lucky in that smoke will get them first but this episode shows just how unlucky you can get. Imagine just walking down the street minding your own business and someone throws a petrol bomb at you?! He didn't do anything wrong, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, any of us could find ourselves in that position.

    It was good to see Reid back to his normal self. A bit geeky and with some of his genius best on display. I hope this signals an end to the Reid storyline.

    I've always liked the interaction between Hotch and Gideon. Gideon is the only one Hotch will open up to, and Gideon knew exactly how to get Hotch to use his personal experiences to help with the case.

    It was a shame that Evan Abby had to make the ultimate sacrifice, but then he was dying and he got the chance to undo some of the mistakes from his past. He could die with a clearer concious.

    All in all a brillaint epsiode!
  • Hotch remembers some painful past memories while the team hunts down a serial arsonist.

    As a whole, good episode, with some very fine acting especially by Gibson as Hotch remembers his father's death, due to similarites in the bahavior of a suspect. Best moments of the episode are the climax, and also a neat scene when the profile are being recited, and Reid talks about arsonists needing to light fires like addicts need drugs, and Gideon just looks at him. It was subtle, it was perfect, and I'm so glad they are continuing the storyline without forcing it to the front week after week after week. I can't wait for that to finally be continued. My one and only complaint, that kept this episode from being 10 out of 10, was that if Hotch knew the unsub was at the meeting, why didn't he look for the car they knew he was driving? It could have prevented the final death, not to mention the climax and those two deaths as well. Just seemed like bad policework to me.
  • The team races to locate a serial arsonist who delights in watching families burn to death, but little do they know that one person is trying to take down the unsub as well.

    This ep was amazing, because it had a great central theme with Hotch. We got to see the more fatherly part of him, how he worries about his own family and son. Tonights ep was right up there with the top 5. It was great learning more about Hotch because he is usually so businesslike and professional becuase he's the boss, and he feels that his emotions might get in the way.

    I really like the Abby character. Sacrificing his own life at the end so that the unsub would be unable to kill other innocent families was absolutely amazing. I just knew that when the unsub asked, "How do you plan to get out?" that he'd say, "I don't." He is an amazing character, because he was going to die of leukemia anyways, so he decided to make his life meaningful. My only regret is that they didn't show his death being commemerated at the end, by letting people know that he gave up his life to save others. Oh well.
  • Interesting but it could have been a little more than what it is.

    That was very good. Whenever we see Hotch we think of him as the kind of calm, levelheaded, somewhat emotionless on the job kind of man. But in this episode we really see a caring side to him. He showed remorse, fear and even empathy. It was good in many ways but I was a bit disappointed with some of it. When Ried talked about how a fire was a drug to the arsonist, everyone looked at him in that way when they find something out about another. They didn't play on that even just a little bit. It does make you wonder about Ried though doesn't it? I hope he's okay.
  • Excellent Script.

    The writers did an excellent job with this plot and script. Murder via arson scary thought. Hodges was the one frazzled one with the focus for a change. It's been long overdue. Emily is definitely one of the team, coming into her own. Sean O'Bryan he was excellent as the arsonist. Very psychotic and very believable. Reid's issues were again acknowledged but not the a focus. I appreciated that Evan Abby wanted to make things better for his son and the public - ultimately sacrificing himself for what he thought was the greater cause, putting an arsonist where he belongs. My one complaint about this episode was not enough interaction between Garcia & Morgan.