Criminal Minds

Season 1 Episode 2


Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Sep 28, 2005 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
634 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The team of investigators tries to capture a serial arsonist who has been terrorizing a college campus in Tempe, Arizona. Most of the evidence from the fires had been burned beyond recognition, so the BAU must rely on psychological analysis to identify the firestarter.

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# 6
  • Very good episode

    While pilots are meant to introduce comcepts and characters, second episodes are supposed to get people hooked. This episode certainly did just that. The manifestation of OCD was hidden throughout the episode, but so obvious when explained - just what a mystery should be like. Acting's not excellent yet, but we all know they get there in the end.

    The subplot with Gideon was a little confusing - I couldn't tell where it occured in the plotline when you take into account what he was teaching that class previous episode. But I liked it all the same.moreless
  • OCD causes a serial killer to kill every time they see a pattern of 333

    After the cliffhanger from the previous episode Gideon survives the encounter with the Footpath killer and is back to catch a serial arsonist.Throughout the episode Elle and Morgan try to find out what causes a stutter but they don't really know.They also find out that the serial arsonist has an OCD and that everytime they see a pattern of 3's they have to kill and it leads them to Clara Hayes and her reason to start killing is she survived a fire at her house and the number was 333.So far it has been a good start to the season and I am looking forward to more.moreless

    this one was completely out of the box! A way more exciting and shocking episode than the last one!

    it really gets you hooked to the show!

    the whole angle about who the unsub is and what 'HIS' profile may be, is really Misleading! when the real unsub is revealed it really does give you a shock!

    also, their was a lot of character development seen in this episode! As always Garcia is amazing....

    and Reid really does show his intelligence when he cracks the case!!

    i also loved the whole 'Footpath Killer' angle with Gideon and why he stammered!!

    i kind of liked Elle more in this episode! she and Morgan are great together! the cliffhanger in end is also filled with suspense!

    to conclude, this episode was pretty good! with all the Suspense on who the unsub is and then the search to find 'Him' ;)

    watch it!moreless
  • An arsonist is on the loose at a college in Arizona and Gideon and them team must try and stop them before more people die.

    A college in Tempe, Arizona is the setting for this episode when the BAU are asked to investigate arson activity on campus. When Gideon, Hotch and the team arrive, the build what they consider to be an accurate profile of the person they are seeking. The problem is that each of the fires set by the person they are seeking varies quite markedly from previous ones and also, the arsonist themself does not fit the classic profile as it doesn't appear as though they actually stay around to watch the result of their actions which is highly unusual.

    After a telephone call from the unsub which seems to hint that there might be a religious connection to the crimes, Reid finds himself remembering interviews with student and zeroing in on a girl who seemed to have a strange obsession with the number three. But is she the killer? If so, what does she plan to do next and how do they stop her in time?

    A great episode and some excellent additions to the main story as Gideon talks about 'The Footpath Killer' and asks new agent Elle Greenaway why she believes that the killer stuttered. why indeed?

    Just from watching these first two episodes, we can see that a class act has come onto our screens and it's going to be a pleasure to watch as it unfolds in the future.moreless
  • Einstein once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

    Compulsion is a great episode on the face of it – gripping opener carried over from the pilot, great plot, excellent character development, etc. But what I like best about it is the subtext. In the episode, Gideon, the mentor, is teaching Reid, the student. Reid is a genius – he knows so many facts and statistics that he is scary - but he can’t beat Gideon at chess. Why? Because all the statistics in the world cannot help you if you can’t think outside the box. As the second installment of what may be perceived as “yet another police show on television,” what are Ed Bernero and the CM writers saying to us, the viewers? The very same thing.

    “It’s like chess,” says Gideon. “Don’t look at just the next move; try to look three moves ahead.” The writers are still teaching us how to think about this show and its characters – this is not your usual cop show, these are not your usual characters. Try to forget about everything you’ve seen: all the procedurals, all the evidence collecting, the blood and hairs and fibers, everything that can build a court case. You’re not going to see that here. Just like Dr. Reid, Gideon is our teacher, too, our mentor about what to look for on Criminal Minds. It’s the subtleties that will give these profilers what they need to catch the unsubs – the water fountain that doesn’t work, the handle turning three times, the word needlessly repeated. We should stop looking for the kinds of clues we are used to seeing on every other show, and should “keep thinking.”

    “Don’t worry,” we’re encouraged throughout this episode. “You’re getting there.”moreless
A.J. Cook

A.J. Cook

SSA Jennifer "JJ" Jareau

Lola Glaudini

Lola Glaudini

SSA Elle Greenaway

Mandy Patinkin

Mandy Patinkin

Senior SSA Jason Gideon

Matthew Gray Gubler

Matthew Gray Gubler

SSA Dr. Spencer Reid

Shemar Moore

Shemar Moore

SSA Derek Morgan

Thomas Gibson

Thomas Gibson

Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner

Kristen Caldwell

Kristen Caldwell

2nd Student

Guest Star

Evan Lee Dahl

Evan Lee Dahl


Guest Star

Bob Jesser

Bob Jesser

Professor Wallace

Guest Star

Kirsten Vangsness

Kirsten Vangsness

Analyst Penelope Garcia

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • In the beginning of episode when Reid and Hotch are in the dorm, Reid pronounces Matthew's last name as Rowling. However, about 5 minutes later when the whole team is talking to each other it is pronounced similar to Rolling.

    • Reid controls the play, pause, rewind and zoom-in buttons with the return button.

    • When he was near the elevator at the end of this episode, Hotchner was shown from behind reaching for his gun in his holster on his right side with his right hand. However, Hotchner (as is Thomas Gibson) is left-handed.

    • The Bradshaw College in Tempe, Arizona, part of the episode location, is actually the California State University Northridge campus.

    • In the end scene with the Footpath Killer and Gideon, Gideon provokes him into stuttering. The Footpath Killer racks his shotgun, yet he'd already done that when he first confronted Gideon outside the convenience store before he had fired a shot. A shotgun must be fired before it can be reracked.

  • QUOTES (11)

    • Student: Is this building on fire?
      Clara: Not yet.

    • Elle: Chemical accelerant could mean chemistry student.
      : Could also mean chemistry professor.
      Elle: Mmm, I say student. You need self-confidence to lecture in front of a oom full of 30 college kids. Arsonists are socially incompetent. This guy doesn't go on dates. He doesn't go to parties. He doesn't feel comfortable in front of groups.
      (Reid stops and looks at Elle and she looks back)
      Elle: And, of course, he's a total psychopath.
      Reid: 'course.

    • Campus Patroller: You're one of those FBI guys. Um, like a profiler, right? Like, one look at a crime scene, you can tell what kind of shampoo a killer uses?
      Gideon: You sound skeptical.
      Campus Patroller: (smiling) Uh, maybe a little.
      Gideon: Your girlfriend thinks you're gonna break up with her.
      Campus Patroller: (stops smiling) You're kidding, right?
      Gideon: Well, you keep adjusting your necklace. That tells me you're not used to wearing one or somebody else probably bought it for you, bought it recently, and the Chinese symbol on it means "forever yours."

    • Morgan: Look, we need as close to the real voice as you can get and anything that might be in the background. Can you do it?
      Garcia: OK, you know how on Star Trek when Captain Kirk asks McCoy to do something totally impossible, and McCoy says, "Damn it, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a miracle worker?"
      Morgan: Hey, what are you telling me, not to expect a miracle?
      Garcia: No, I'm saying I'm not a doctor.
      Morgan: (laughing) That's my girl.

    • Elle: What... what is the most sinful place on campus?
      Morgan: Come on, Elle, when I was in college, it was everywhere.

    • Morgan: You know there's got to be a faster way to do this. How about we just change the first question to 'have you recently dated a homicidal pyromaniac?'

    • Gideon: No badges. I don't want to satisfy the unsub's need for attention by letting him know the FBI is here. Try not to look official. (looks at the team) Try to look less official.

    • Gideon: You rely too much on precedent, you never allow for the unexpected.

    • Gideon: James Reese once said, "There are certain clues at a crime scene which by their very nature do not lend themselves to being collected or examined. How's one collect love, rage, hatred, fear...? These are things that we're trained to look for."

    • Gideon: Faulkner once said, "Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself."

    • Gideon: Einstein once said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."

  • NOTES (1)


    • Reid: When asked about his motives, Peter Dinsdale said "I am devoted to fire. Fire is my master."

      Peter Dinsdale, from Manchester, England, began setting fires at age 9 and started over 30 known fires during his teenage years. In prison, he seemed obsessed by certain Bible verses, including Matthew 6:24 "No man can serve two masters." Dinsdale, small and physically handicapped, felt compelled to set fires and to serve his true master. In two known cases, Dinsdale poured kerosene through the mail slots of homes and then ignited it. He killed at least 26 people with his fires over the years before being caught and convicted.

    • Elle: Charon was the Greek ferryman of the dead.

      Clara has a picture of Charon in her room and also leaves a creepy phone message about him. In Greek mythology, Charon steers the ferry on the river Styx, which takes the dead to the underworld of Hades. The old tradition of putting coins over a dead person's eyes is supposed to have originated with this myth. The coins were meant to pay the ferryman.

    • Morgan: A god of human sacrifice and parents' tears.

      This line about the ancient god Moloch is from Book I of John Milton's epic Paradise Lost. As Morgan mentions, Moloch was associated with the sacrifice of children.

    • Elle: Yeah… I've seen Backdraft.

      Backdraft was a movie about a firefighter who sets fires so he can put them out – a serial arsonist.

    • Gideon: Berkowitz was caught because of a parking ticket.

      David Berkowitz was a serial killer who was nicknamed the "Son of Sam" because he used that name in taunting letters that he sent to the police. Berkowitz currently serving a life sentence.