Criminal Minds

Season 3 Episode 19

Tabula Rasa

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM May 14, 2008 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
602 votes

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Episode Summary

After a suspected serial killer wakes up from a coma, the BAU reopens the case and uses brain fingerprinting to determine if he really doesn't remember the crimes that had been committed four years earlier in Roanoke, Virginia.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

# 6
  • A serial killer wakes up from a coma with no idea who he is.

    When a serial killer wakes up from a coma with no memory the team discuss whether he should go to prison because he is a new man like he has never killed anyone I liked the part in court where Hotch was questioned about profiling just being guess work and that it's not facts However Hotch impresses the jury by showing how accurate his profiling is and how it helped catch the killer I suspected that at one point the killer would get his memory back but when he did the BAU was able to put him away this time for good.moreless
  • A very interesting episode with an equally interesting twist as the team deals with a serial killer who wakes from a coma after four years with no memory of anything - including his crimes.moreless

    In 2004, the BAU arrested Brian Matloff, a suspected serial killer who had allegedly murdered several women. Unfortunately, during the arrest process, Matloff fell from a great height and suffered not only severe injuries but also ended up in a coma, which meant the case had to be put on the back burner.

    Four years later, Matloff wakes up, which SHOULD be good news for the team. Unfortunately, he has no memory whatsoever, he doesn't even know his own name and certainly has no recollection of killing anyone.

    Investigating Matloff's time in hospital, the BAU discover that he had only one visitor during that time, a middle-aged woman who sat with him regularly but the hospital staff did not know what her connection to the comatose man was. As investigations in Matloff's past continue, he is subjected to several images placed before him on a screen which chronicle the crimes he has supposedly committed. It is the hope of Hotch and the team that the images will somehow connect in his brain and he will regain his memory notonly of himself but of the killings they believe he is responsible for.

    Meanwhile, the 'mystery woman' who visited him in the hospital turns out to be his biological mother who gave him up for adoption as a baby. She is very reluctant to speak but finally reveals that Brian had initiated contact with her some years ago and wanted to be a part of her life. Although she did meet with him once, she made it very clear that his being in her life was not possible. He seemed to accept that, but regularly sent her gifts of jewellery, which she kept. The jewellery, it turns out, belonged to the murdered women, so the BAU know for certain that they have their unsub and when it is revealed that his memory is returning, they feel it is only a matter of time before he is found guilty of the crimes. Unfortunately, he escapes from custody and the chase is on again.moreless
  • Epic Profile.

    Aaron Hotchners profile of the defender was amazing. It was easily my favorite scene of the entire season without a shadow of a doubt. The defender called out everything that is seen as inaccurate about profiling and Hotchner basically was defending the show. These are the people that we have watched for years profile people and this was the first real time the person calling their job non-law enforcement lasted over a couple of seconds during the introduction stage of saying it. Easily the best scene of the episode. The rest of the episode was good too, with flashbacks to 4 years ago when Reid and Garcia were first coming into the BAU and we get to see the first time where Morgan calls Garcia baby girl. The flashbacks served a strictly profiling purpose, which I liked a lot. Rossi's position on the team has gone down significantly since joining it 13 episodes ago in 03x06. Either the writers view him as less of a Jason Gideon or simply are trying to give other characters (JJ / Garcia) a little more screen time. Overall though - very good episode that bumped Hotchner into my favorite profiler range.moreless
  • rejection takes an ugly turn...for somebody else

    rejection is always difficult to handle...and pouring your hatred upon other people, especially innocent strangers is just wrong.

    in this episode 2 scenes stand out for me : the questioning of Hotch and the way he puts the attorney in his place (gives a whole new meaning to the term "put a sock in it"),proving that the work of BAU is reliable, and the second vision Matloff has, with his victims moving and looking straight at him - a very eerie scene, yet loaded with psychological meaning.

    In the end, Reid is right - one event can't bring peace of mind, it's something you need to work through!moreless
  • A serial killer awakes from a coma with no memory. The team have to take him down by reopen the case.

    Great episode. A serial killer ho killed some women in 2004 awakes from a coma without his memory. The team reopens the case to prrof that he is the killer. Hotch and Reid really were great in this one. Reid has to deal with the father of one of the victims. He kinda was the only one who was left for the father. So Reid told him out off killing the murderer and in the end he gave him the watch back, the killer took from his daughter. It really was emotionnal but Reid did a great job. Also Hotch did. In the court he proofed that a profiler really can giva any information about another person with just some tiny evidences. I also liked how the killer was that nice and likable guy at the beginning when he didn't remember a thing. I understand the doubts Prentiss and JJ had about he's a new and harmless guy without his memory and his past. I also loved the flashbacks!!! Like the scene in the beginning where Derek jumps from roof to roof. Oh and how Derek called Garcia baby girl for the first time - so sweet. And of course the photo of Emily. All in all the episode really rocked.moreless
Joe Mantegna

Joe Mantegna

Senior SSA David Rossi

A.J. Cook

A.J. Cook

SSA Jennifer "JJ" Jareau

Paget Brewster

Paget Brewster

SSA Emily Prentiss

Matthew Gray Gubler

Matthew Gray Gubler

SSA Dr. Spencer Reid

Thomas Gibson

Thomas Gibson

Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner

Shemar Moore

Shemar Moore

SSA Derek Morgan

Eric Lange

Eric Lange

Brian Matloff

Guest Star

Jon Barton

Jon Barton

SWAT Officer

Guest Star

James Sharpe

James Sharpe

Detective Jarvis

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • It is revealed in this episode that Prentiss was graduated from high school in 1989.

    • When Reid and the team are at the original crime scene, Reid is wearing the same clothes he wore in the pilot ("Extreme Aggressor").

    • It is revealed in this episode that Reid and Garcia joined the BAU in 2004.

    • When he sees Mr. Corbett approaching his daughter's body, Det. Jarvis asks the BAU agents if they want to "Rochambeau" for the privilege of speaking to him. "Rochambeau" is another word for the game rock-paper-scissors.

    • Garcia was the new girl in 2004 and Reid thought her name was "Gomez." This was the first time Morgan called her "Baby Girl."

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Reid: (talking about Mr. Corbett) He was looking for closure.
      Hotchner: You think he'll get some now?
      Reid: I don't really think so, I mean, people's emotional lives aren't linear like that. To say that a killer's conviction - one single event - can just suddenly bring peace to a man? I don't, I just don't think it's possible.
      Hotchner: I guess he has to try. I mean, when it comes right down to it what choice does he have?

    • Brian Matloff: (to guard) Today when my mother talked about having to choose one life, do you believe that's true?
      Lidia: I don't know what you mean.
      Brian Matloff: Don't you think you'd have to choose?

    • Morgan: Hey, what's that new tech girl's name?
      Reid: Ahh...Gomez, I think.
      Morgan: (to Garcia) Excuse me, Gomez... (she doesn't respond)
      Morgan: Hey, baby girl!
      Garcia: (looks at him over her shoulder) Baby girl?
      Morgan: Forgive me, I just didn't know the real...
      Garcia: I've been called worse. What can I do for you?

    • Det. Jarvis: A little young, aren't ya? No offense.
      Reid: None taken. In fact neuroprocessing speeds reach their maximum at around age 15, so when it comes to being affected by crime scenes and other graphic visual input we're all really the same age.

    • Hotchner: So, what's your plan?
      Cece Hillenbrand: Plan? Try him and fry him.

    • Garcia: (on the phone) Yes, I know what a closed adoption means. Do you know what a court order means?

    • Reid: (examining Prentiss' high school yearbook picture) It's remarkable. Something like this makes you question everything you thought you knew.
      Garcia: Yeah. It's like the monolith in 2001.
      Reid: So there was actually a time when something like this was socially acceptable?
      Garcia: Oh, you're young. The eighties left a lot of people confused. This is, uh, especially sad, though.

    • Mr. Corbett: It's Wordsworth. "What though the radiance that was once so bright be now forever taken from thy sight, though nothing can bring back… " (he can't continue) Thanks.
      Reid: (voiceover as he walks away) " …Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower; we will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind."

    • Hotchner: "All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another." Anatole France

  • NOTES (1)

    • After the deputy is attacked by Brian Matloff, Hotch hurries down the hallway to check on her. In one shot, a second deputy is holding a compress on the injured deputy's head. In a subsequent shot, the deputy is holding her own head.


    • Reid: Perhaps your lack of recognition stems from a dissociative fugue suffered in adolescence...say at a Siouxsie & the Banshees concert?
      Formed in 1976, Siouxsie & the Banshees was a British punk band made up of avid Sex Pistols fans Siouxsie Sioux and Steven Severin and a variety of other performers. Later dubbed "goth rock" by critics, the band spanned two decades but never strayed far from their punk roots.

    • Garcia: Like the monolith in 2001.
      Garcia refers to the cryptic black monolith that is at the center of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The meaning of the film, directed and conceived by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and the black monolith in particular, have been discussed and debated since the movie's premiere in 1968.

    • The title of this episode is derived from Latin and means "The mind before it receives the impressions gained from experience." Tabula rasa (literally "blank slate") was first advocated by John Locke, who believed the mind of the individual was born blank, and he also emphasized the individual's freedom to author his own soul.