Thomas Gibson, Mandy Patinkin, and guest star Stacy Edwards all starred in Chicago Hope, although at different times.
It is revealed in this episode that Hotch's father had had lung cancer.
During the cold opening, the house is engulfed in fire, but no one inside the house has a cloth covering for their nose and mouth like a wash cloth. In fact, they are shown breathing without covering their mouths.
Vincent Stiles: What are you doing?
Evan Abby: The right thing.
Vincent Stiles: Why? You didn't know any of those people.
Evan Abby: Neither did you!
Garcia: Brace yourselves. I'm going to teach you the meaning of L.U.S.T.
Gideon: Did she say lust?
Garcia: I cross-referenced every known fact on the victims and I just found a website that links both Dennis Cutler and Mathew Jarvis' companies on a list of businesses guilty of L.U.S.T.
Hotchner: I'm missing something.
Garcia: Leaking Underground Storage Tanks.
Gideon: When he arrives, bring the fake bodies right past us nice and slow. I want him to get a good look.
Lt. Vega: Remind me never to play poker with you guys.
Prentiss: The EDF? The ecoterrorist group?
Reid: They aren't ecoterrorists. They're environmental activists.
Gideon: For them, fire's just a substitute for sexual release.
Garcia: Oh, great. So if these guys don't get laid, they start fires?
Gideon: Or in this case, burn entire families to death.
Prentiss: (to Reid) No statistic?
Gideon: No, they don't have statistics on this guy; one of a kind.
Garcia: Thank God.
Det. Castro: I'll issue an APB for a resentful six-foot white guy.
Det. Castro: (as JJ introduces Reid to him and Reid clumsily drops everything he's carrying) A genius you said?
JJ: Yeah, uh, his coordination drops off when he's thinking.
Reid: Statistically, 94% of all serial arsonists are male, 75% are white and few, if any, are ever caught.
Prentiss: Few? You don't have a percentage?
Reid: 16%. Those 16% set 30 plus fires before they're ever apprehended. I'm trying to be more conversational.
Prentiss: Oh. It's not working.
Hotchner: I catch killers, I save lives, I'm a hero until my key hits my front door and then I'm just the father and the husband who is never there.
Gideon: Yeah, I got that one.
Hotchner: Here's the thing, when I'm home, I'm in this silent panic because I know that I have to be as good as I can as fast as I can. Because any minute the phone is going to ring and my time is up. And that panic is exactly what I saw in Abby.
Vincent Stiles: How do you plan to get out?
Evan Abby: (holding a cigarette lighter in his hand) I don't.
Prentiss: All those people, no booze or music. That's either a very lame going away party, or an EDF meeting.
Reid: He's like a drug addict, only fire's his drug. Each time an addict needs a fix, they need more of the drug to get off, so his crimes will most likely get much worse. It'd be almost impossible for him to quit without help.
Doctor: (of Charlotte Cutler) I'm giving her as much painkiller as I can. She asked about her husband and son. She passed out again before I had to answer.
Prentiss: She doesn't know?
Doctor: Whatever you tell her, she won't live long enough to know different. I'll be right back.
Prentiss: Did she just tell us to lie to a material witness?
Hotchner: No, she told us that we could.
Hotchner: Gandhi said, "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."
Hotchner: "The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul." John Calvin.
Location confusion: The first house we see torched is identified as South San Francisco, however, the BAU consult with SFFD (San Francisco Fire Department). South San Francisco is a separate city from San Francisco and would have it's own Fire Department (SSFFD).
The music playing at the start of the episode, during the fire, is "Boadicea" by Enya. The music at the end of this episode was "Grey Room" by Damien Rice.
The name of the character "Evan Abby" is an homage to nature writer Edward Abbey, who is the patron saint of the guerrilla eco-activist movement represented in "Ashes and Dust" by the fictional E.D.F. Abbey's novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang, tells of a group of radical conservationists who protect trees by sabotaging logging equipment. Although Edward Abbey (unlike Evan Abby) was never an admitted eco-guerrilla himself, his novel was a direct inspiration to the founders of Earthfirst!, a real-life group known to interfere with timber operations via tactics it called "monkey-wrenching" in Abbey's honor.
The title "Ashes and Dust" may refer to a quote attributed to Jack London: "I would rather be ashes than dust. I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."
This sentiment seems to sum up Evan Abby's feelings about his life, and his death - his reasons for ending his life the way he did.
Lt. Vega and Hotchner discuss serial arsonist Paul Kenneth Keller, who pleaded guilty to setting 32 fires in 1992-93 in Seattle. Police believe he may have been responsible for over 40 more during the same period. Only three people were killed in his fires, which was miraculous as he targeted churches, retirement homes, unfinished homes, garages and stores.
Gideon: You're Abby. You're a dead man walking.
The phrase "dead man walking" originally referred to a condemned prisoner on death row. It was popularized by the 1995 film Dead Man Walking, starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon. This expression can be used to describe anyone who is facing imminent death. It can also be used facetiously to describe someone who is about to get into trouble.
The Earth Defense Front (EDF) in this episode has a similar name to the real-life group Earth Liberation Front (ELF). The ELF are radical environmentalists who have been involved in arson and other property damage. The FBI considers them to be "eco-terrorists."
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