Criminal Minds

Season 3 Episode 4

Children of the Dark

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Oct 17, 2007 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
508 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

When home invasions involve the murder of entire families, the BAU is called to Denver to identify the killers who possibly have been abused while in foster care.

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# 6
  • Wow...very emotional & well-written episode

    I must say Children of the Dark redeemed my complete interest in Criminal Minds. The first three episodes of the season were mediocre and less interesting than the episodes of seasons 1 & 2. This episode was so sad & in a way, very disturbing because I found myself feeling sympathy for the killers, especially Ervin. It was so sad when he euthanized the cat, you could understand why he killed the kids by administrated a lethal dose of drugs so they wouldn't have to suffer in foster care. This episode also showed some insight into the character's lives - we now learn that Prentiss isn't as ice cold as she appeared to be when we were first introduced to her last season. She really did want to help Carrie. Definitely the best episode this season and probably the most emotional of the series yet.moreless
  • good episode...

    The team is called in to investigate the murders of whole families and it leads them to believe it was two people that were abused in foster care. They catch the murderes in the end, but not before one of the murderers influences a young boy in foster care to kill the foster parent, but he doesn't. Overall, it was a pretty interesting case. I liked the whole foster care stuff. I was getting a little annoying with the girl in the family that lived. They spent too much time on her and her problems. I loved the end when Hotch was calling his son. Overall, good episode with a good case and a little character development.moreless
  • Criminal Minds is back with another great episode with criminals worthy of the shows shock value. Two criminals who invade homes and beat to death the parents in front of

    Criminal Minds is back with another great episode with criminals worthy of the shows shock value. Two criminals who invade homes and beat to death the parents in front of the kids and then the children are killed by lethal injection. The show has gotten low scores for showing the identity of the perpetrators from the start of the show. I too am tired of the lack of mystery in this approach but for this episode the nature of the crime made up for it. On another note it's interesting to see Prentiss crack up. I'm wondering if their just character building or preparing her for an exit from the show. All the elements were in place with each of the team contributing to the show another good example of what makes the show good.moreless
  • The writers of this show never let us down, and this is a fine example.

    The team, without Gideon, is still a team. In this episode they seem to be really pulling together. The writers took advantage of the story line to show us a rarely seen softer side of Prentiss. The unsubs, using a ruse to gain entry into the homes of unsuspecting families, then go on to brutally murder the parents, and use a lethal injection to do away with the kids. We discover the reason behind these murders is the abuse suffered by the unsubs while in the care of a foster family.

    After one of the unsubs is captured, the second, cornered, also gives himself up, but not before passing his gun on to a foster child still in the care of this horrible woman. Morgan and Prentiss reluctantly return this poor boy to her care, pending an investigation. As you are still feeling bad about the boy, gun shots erupt, and you are sure the boy has killed the foster mother. Morgan and Prentiss rush in to find that she is unharmed, and the boy is shooting pictures of happy children hanging on the wall. They are lies, he tells Morgan, and Morgan, understanding, talks the boy into giving him the gun. Morgan once more reaching out to save a boy in a terrible situation, not of his making.

    A powerful episode that speaks volumes about our foster care system and it's flaws.moreless
  • This episode shows why Criminal Minds is a fantastic show.

    I LOVED this episode. It had everything I could ever ask and hope for in an episode of Criminal Minds. There was drama and tension, but they threw some creative curveballs into it as well.

    I like how they ventured out to Denver to start off with. The drama was soo great in this episode. Where the last episode, Scared to Death, flopped since we knew the killer's identity right off the bat, this episode succeeded. It helped in a way kind of build an "understanding" of the killers and the cause of the damage they caused. It was nice to have one of the victims survive to in a way help with the investigation.

    The acting was once again superb by everyone!

    What made the episode really great for me was the end. I love how they did the creative twist with the guy giving the kid the gun. The scenes with Prentiss and Morgan hearing the shots and running to the house were phenomenal.

    I also like the friendly interaction Prentiss and JJ had at the end.moreless
Shemar Moore

Shemar Moore

SSA Derek Morgan

Thomas Gibson

Thomas Gibson

Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner

Kirsten Vangsness

Kirsten Vangsness

Analyst Penelope Garcia

Paget Brewster

Paget Brewster

SSA Emily Prentiss

A.J. Cook

A.J. Cook

SSA Jennifer "JJ" Jareau

Matthew Gray Gubler

Matthew Gray Gubler

SSA Dr. Spencer Reid

Stephanie Erb

Stephanie Erb

Dina Halbert

Guest Star

Mark Doerr

Mark Doerr

Tom Halbert

Guest Star

Garrett Ryan

Garrett Ryan

Hayden Halbert

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Reid mentions serial killer Derrick Todd Lee using a recording of a baby crying to lure his victims. In reality, this is an urban legend.

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Gary: I've always wanted to die in a donut shop.

    • Carrie Ortiz: I've earned some capital here, I should be able to spend it however I want.
      Mr. Ortiz: Who are you, George Bush?

    • JJ: She's a kid. I...what is she trying to prove here?
      : That she can be a good daughter.

    • JJ: Oh, you can buy a hand-held jammer online for what… a hundred bucks?
      Lt. Nellis: I could use one of those the next time I go to the movies.

    • Hotchner: Prentiss, this is the job, and I need to know that you can be objective.
      Prentiss: And I need to know that I can be human.

    • Carrie Ortiz: Why did they do it? I mean, there has to be a reason, right?
      Prentiss: Oh, you'll drive yourself crazy trying to figure out the reason.
      Carrie Ortiz: I go crazy every time I close my eyes.

    • Hotchner: I teach crisis negotiation, I co-wrote the textbook, and in 12 years I've never talked anybody off a ledge so fast.
      Gary: Oh, bit of a milestone then.
      Hotchner: Why'd you walk out that door, Gary?
      Gary: Sugar crash.

    • Gary: (answering the phone) Who's this?
      Hotchner: I'm the only thing standing between you and a bullet.

    • Hotchner: You answer your door and the next thing you know, everyone you care about is gone.
      Morgan: If it was me, I'd want to be gone, too.

    • Morgan: (on phone) Hey, girl, you're on speaker - behave!
      Garcia: Or what? You'll spank me?

    • Prentiss: These guys are killing the Cleavers.
      Reid: Strange.
      Hotchner: The pattern?
      Reid: No, the Cleavers. Of all the names for a 1950s idyllic TV family. I mean it's rife with violent implication. Kind of makes you wonder how the writers really felt about suburbia, huh?
      Hotchner: Focus, please.

    • Hotchner: (in the Ortiz's home) At least they left the flowers alive, right?

    • Prentiss: "In the city, crime is taken as emblematic of class and race. In the suburbs, though, it's intimate and psychological, resistant to generalization, a mystery of the individual soul." Barbara Ehrenreich

  • NOTES (1)

    • The song played at the end of the episode was "To Build a Home" by The Cinematic Orchestra.

      Other music was "Hope There's Someone" by Antony & The Johnsons, "NA" by Antony & The Johnsons, "Show Me" by John Legend, and "When the Music's Not Forgotten" by Deadman.


    • Hotchner: You know it's bad if they're inviting us back.
      Hotchner mentions how surprised he is to find that the BAU has been consulted on a Colorado case because of the JonBenet Ramsey investigation. In December 1996, 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was reported missing from her Boulder, Colorado home. JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy, found a ransom demand and called in local police. Law enforcement was accused of making many major mistakes immediately – including neglecting to search the home, but instead sending Mr. Ramsey and a friend to do so. When the two men searched the basement hours later they found the body of the little girl. Leaks to the local press from various sources in local law enforcement and the DA's office led to a media circus focusing all suspicion on JonBenet's parents. Boulder authorities focused on John and Patsy Ramsey as suspects in their daughter's death. Later, the Ramseys hired John E. Douglas, former head of the FBI's BSU (Behavioral Sciences Unit) to go over the evidence. He concluded that the Ramseys had nothing to do with JonBenet's death, and published a book on the subject, making the claim that the case would not be solved. Colorado law enforcement was not happy with Douglas' conclusions. No indictments have ever been made concerning this crime.

    • Reid: It's not uncommon for duos to be related.
      The Hillside Stranglers were cousins, the Carr brothers perpetrated the Wichita Massacre. Reginald and Jonathan Carr, two brothers with criminal records, went on a killing spree in the city of Wichita, Kansas in the winter of 2000. They started with armed robbery and quickly advanced to murder. Two out of seven victims survived. The case was dubbed The Wichita Massacre, and is also known as The Wichita Horror. Both brothers were sentenced to death in 2002, with additional life sentences for other crimes. Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi, two psychopathic cousins, were collectively named the Hillside Strangler. The crimes took place in late 1977 to early 1978 in the hills above Los Angeles leaving at least ten dead. They used fake police badges to lure their female victims into their car, after which they took them home and abused, tortured and strangled them. Bianchi is serving a life sentence in Washington. Buono died of a heart attack in Calipatria State Prison in 2002 where he was serving a life sentence.

    • Morgan: Think of the family annihilators John List and Mark Barton.
      Mark Barton was a spree killer from Stockbridge, Georgia, who in 1999 shot and killed nine people and injured 13 more. At his home, police found that Barton's second wife and two children had been murdered by hammer blows a few days before. The children had then been placed in bed, as if sleeping. He said he forced himself to do it to keep them from suffering so much later. Barton committed suicide on the day of the killing spree when he was spotted by the police. John List murdered his mother, his wife and three children in Westfield, New Jersey, in 1971. He disappeared and lived under a pseudonym until he was apprehended in 1989. List wrote a letter to his pastor explaining that he was sending his family directly to heaven by killing them before they could renounce their religion. He was sentenced to five life terms in prison.

    • Supervisor: …he's kinda the on-site Kevorkian.
      Known by the nickname "Dr. Death," Dr. Jack Kevorkian claims to have assisted more than 130 people, some of whom were terminally ill, to commit suicide. Kevorkian was tried and convicted of the second-degree murder of Thomas Youk in 1999, after which he served eight of his 15-year sentence.

    • Reid: Derrick Todd Lee used the tape of a baby crying to get women to open their doors in Baton Rouge.
      Although the crying-baby ruse is an urban legend, Derrick Todd Lee, a career criminal, was convicted of the rape and murder of several women in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was sentenced to death by lethal injection in 2004.

    • Prentiss: PTA moms, gray flannel dads – these guys are killing the Cleavers.
      The team compares the murdered family with the Cleavers, the idealized suburban family from the 1957-63 series Leave It To Beaver. This was a program about a happy American family, but Reid thinks the name Cleaver has "violent implications" and wonders how the show's writers really felt about suburbia.