Criminal Minds

Season 1 Episode 14

Riding the Lightning

10
Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Jan 25, 2006 on CBS
8.9
out of 10
User Rating
525 votes
43

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
After interviewing a married couple sitting on death row at Florida State Penitentiary for serial murder, Gideon suspects the woman is actually innocent. Since she's set to be executed in two days; however, it's a race against time to prove it.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Inspired by...

    3.0
    This is based on Rosemary and Fred West. The series Appropriate Adult gives a more in depth and true telling of the story.
  • RIDE THE LIGHTNING

    9.0
    I do absoloutly love this episode. But watching it again today something I realised was very obvios about it, was that it is PLAINLY based off the murderers, 'Rosemary and Fred West'. Although not completely following their storyline, the similarity was uncannny. I loved that I picked that up, although i'm not sure how many other people actually know who these people are.
  • Why do I feel so satisfied when the BAU is ultimately unsuccessful with both Jacob and Sarah Jean Dawes?

    9.2
    The BAU is trying to determine if the Dawes killed more young women than bodies have been found in order to give closure to Florida families. Certainly the concept of “death-bed interviews” is sound – much of the information our guys have about serial killers comes from the mouths of the killers themselves after they are convicted. Although these interviews have got to be stressful and extremely difficult (as is shown in Hotch’s interviews with Jacob), there is that slim possibility that the FBI might get some answers. So Hotch takes on the very, very evil Jacob, and comes away empty. One more body, one more identification, but no real answers.



    Gideon’s interviews with Sarah Jean end up going down a whole ‘nother road. Once we learn that Sarah Jean is innocent and Riley is alive, Gideon's goal becomes finding enough evidence to keep Sarah Jean from the electric chair. Even though she doesn’t cooperate, he manages to get the information he needs. But Sarah Jean isn’t saved.



    So why is this episode so satisfying? Maybe it’s the contentment that Sarah Jean expresses as she sacrifices her life so her son can grow up without the taint of serial killer parents. Maybe it’s the knowledge that Riley has become a talented and, above all, normal young man in his adoptive home. Or, maybe it’s that final moment when Jacob is in the electric chair and Hotch shows him that his son is alive. Yeah, I think that’s it. You lost, Jacob.moreless
  • It is very compelling to find an episode that talks about a mother's love - how she's willing to sacrifice her life just to give her son a good future.

    10
    one of the most moving episodes of the season...



    I find it very fascinating that this episode is able to portray that not all convicts are guilty. Strange enough, Sarah Jean, the unfortunate wife who was said to take part in assaulting and mutilating teenage girls, willingly let herself be convicted of the crime she didn't commit. She admitted to killing her son in order to protect him. I initially thought that she was protecting her son against her serial killer huband, only to find out near the end that her motivation is deeper; she wants to give her son a new life, away from the complications of being known as the son of a serial killer couple. Jason Gideon showed tears as he was watching the son perform. Touching, his demeanor almost looked maternal. Nice to see him personally affected by the case...moreless
  • Possibly one of the best episodes of any TV show.

    10
    I will readily admit, the fact that Gideon lets Sarah Jean die is probably incredibly unrealistic. Other concerns raised about inaccuracy, however, seem to be based as much on guesswork as to how things "should" be as anything else. The BAU are interviewing the husband and wife because that is one of their side projects, as is mentioned in many episodes both prior and after this one. Sarah Jean was charged with "Accessory to Murder" for at least some of her husband's victims as well as with the murder of her son. And as for whether a mother would actually sacrifice herself for her child... well, I actually feel sorry for the reviewers who felt that it was completely unrealistic.



    As I mentioned, Gideon letting Sarah Jean die seemed to me to be the biggest flaw in accuracy for this episode. That being said, it was absolutely necessary for the story to have its full emotional impact. The scene where they lower the hood on Sarah Jean has made me cry every time I watch this episode. It made my boyfriend cry. I don't actually know anyone who didn't cry. And that scene is just the climax, not the only effective scene. The entire story is well-woven throughout the episode and I think you'd have to actively be trying to resist it to not be pulled in by it. The acting is beautifully done both by the guest stars and the regular cast. Overall, a fantastic episode.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

Constance Towers

Constance Towers

Deb Mason

Guest Star

Roger Aaron Brown

Roger Aaron Brown

Warden Charles Diehl

Guest Star

Michael Massee

Michael Massee

Jacob Dawes

Guest Star

Kirsten Vangsness

Kirsten Vangsness

Analyst Penelope Garcia

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (2)

  • QUOTES (12)

  • NOTES (2)

  • ALLUSIONS (3)

    • Hotchner: Aces and eights. Two pair. (lays down his cards)
      Jacob Dawes: Dead Man's Hand.

      The current accepted Dead Man's Hand consists of two black aces, two black eights, and the jack of diamonds or spades. It is called such because Wild Bill Hickok was purportedly holding those cards when he was shot in the back of the head during a poker game, although there are several "official" versions of the hand. The shooting took place at Nuttall & Mann's No. 10 saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota, on August 2, 1876. Hotch's hand, however, appears not to be any of the contested versions of the Dead Man's Hand: eight of diamonds, eight of clubs, ace of hearts, ace of clubs, and the ace of diamonds.

    • Morgan: Well, she doesn't talk now, she's gonna take that story with her to "Old Sparky."

      The electric chair in this episode is called "Old Sparky." This was the name officially given to the electric chair in at least seven states: Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Texas and West Virginia. Florida's chair was said to have been built from an old gallows; in its latter years it was notorious for setting its victims on fire. "Old Sparky" is sometimes also used to refer to electric chairs in general and not any specific one.

    • The title of this episode "Riding the Lightning" refers to an execution by the electric chair. The condemned would be summarily electrocuted in the chair, hence he or she would "ride" the electric current.

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