Criminal Minds

Season 6 Episode 13

The Thirteenth Step

Aired Wednesday Jan 26, 2011 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (16)

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out of 10
554 votes
  • Not the greatest, but not that bad

    This episode is not as bad as people say it is, and I'm confused why people are so upset about it. I thought this was a great episode, and the tension between the two lovers was intense. I don't see how it was poorly-acted; every time they were onscreen, I was wondering what would happen next.

    However, there are two big flaws here. It is a ripoff of Natural Born Killers, and the episode focused on the killers more than the BAU. The point of CM is to examine the BAU as well as the killer(s), and it shows that even the ones that want to help us have that dark urge in them. So, spending more time on the killers fucking each other rather than examine the BAU as well is frustrating.

    However, it still has the unsettling atmosphere and intense chemistry between the killers and their victims. "The Thirteenth Step" misses a few steps, but it's still worth a watch.
  • im sick of reading reviews! you guys ruin CM for me! garrr

    ffs seriously people you leave the worst reviews. So the only reason I actually read the reviews is to understand the episode better in case there was something i didn't get about the story, unsub or characters. In the season 6 episode Into the Woods I was so scarred by the reviews left that I did not want to watch that episode however I did and come on people, could your stomachs be weaker! Yes that episode was horrible because of the implied rape but the viewers don't see the kids being beaten or raped but you crazy reviewers made it seem like they showed it in detail. Seriously if you can't handle something that is implied don't watch it and don't rant and rave about it! I almost didn't watch the episode because of that!

    Now here I am again reading ridiculous reviews on a good episode!

    I have to admit that i'm not a fan of the changes but i've dealt with them but i don't want Prentiss to leave!!!! Have not been looking forward to that :(
  • Terrible

    What a terrible episode, I usually love this show but this episode was bad, it was badly written and badly acted by both the guest actors. I don't know what happened to the writers, they usually make the show seem a bit realistic but not here, I was very disappointed. Easily the worst episode of the entire series.
  • Poor imitation of Natural Born Killers

    I love Criminal Minds but this episode was terrible. It was a total ripoff of Natural Born Killers. What happened to the writers on this one? I kept waiting for it to get better but it got worse as the episode went on. The guest actors were terrible as well. Certaibly not the caliber of writing and acting that Crimial Minds usually has. Come on Criminal Minds, come up with something that hasn't already been done better if you want to keeo your fans watching. If this season continues like this episode, you are going to lose lots of viewers.
  • What happened to the writers?

    I saw enough reviews making comments about the writers that I decided to research it a bit. Indeed, there have been many changes on the CM writing team. This season has shown us 4 new writers (one of whom wrote this episode and had the unfortunate task of writing the first episode w/o JJ as her very first CM episode to write). One writer has been there since the middle of season 5, two since season 4 (Breen Frazier and Rick Dunkle, who generally seem to do good work), and only 3 have been there since the beginning (Ed Bernero - the executive producer, Simon Mirren, and Erica Messer). Deb Fisher - who used to be Erica Messer's writing partner - left after season 4, as did Andrew Wilder who wrote some of my favorites: Normal, Lucky, and Elephant's Memory. It appears that Oanh Ly, Jay Beattie and Dan Dworkin, and Chris Mundy also have not returned to the writing team for season 6 which is disappointing. Whatever the deal is with these new writers, they don't seem to understand the characters or the essence of the show as well as the former ones did. Episodes like this one are evidence of that, IMO, for many of the same reasons other reviewers have already stated.
  • A couple of killers go on a murder spree bringing with them smutty scenes, little of the BAU and overly gorey murders.

    This is the first episode I have rated below a rating of 8, so for me to rate it at a 4 means something definitely went wrong. The only good qualities I could grasp at were the little of the BAU we saw (and the lack of Seaver) and the glimpse of the season-story arc in the form of Prentiss' past.
    Far too little of our much-loved characters was seen. Don't get me wrong I welcome the occasional episode where the audience is allowed to concentration on the unsub and their series of events (Eg. 'Normal'). However I feel the writers got this balance very wrong in this episode.
    As other reviewers have stated they arrived at the profile very very quickly with little solid evidence to back it up. No plot line, the writers definitely had an off day, and it seemed they couldn't be bothered to put any method in how the BAU got to their conclusion.
    The scenes of the murders were very grotesque and violent, even by Criminal Minds standards. Didn't put me off but could see how it might other viewers. And the same goes for the intimate scenes between the killers, seemed over the top and most was unnessecary and just sleazy.
    This episode just lacked the cleverness of which I expect of Criminal Minds, seemed to contain no psychological side to it which is usually key to delivering the profile.

    I am looking forward to delving deeper into Emily's past yet wonder if it too will be a let down like the disappearance of Reid's hallucinations? I really do hope the writer's deliver more next time!
  • Wow - killing for the fun of it. That's just awful...

    I really enjoed this episode, as I though t it was much better than its predecessor 'Corazon'. This was defintely a very evil storyline, with a couple on a killing spree just for the fun of things!

    I thought the case was very interesting. It might have lacked some good old-fashioned profiling, but it still had its strengths, including a very evil unsub(s).

    Also, the ending to the episode is quite interesting, seeing something interesting begin to develop in Emily Prentiss' life. Hope they build well on this!

    All up, a great episode, which I would highly recommend! I enjoyed the ending, and I can't wait till next week! Keep it up, guys!
  • When there are several reviews for an episode, I like to quickly look through them - mainly to see if everyone feels the same way. Seems that people either loved or hated this episode.

    I admit to not watching this show regularly; I felt it lost its' heart and soul when Agent Gideon left. But this, in my opinion, was not a bad episode. I have a fascination with crime dramas, particularly those featuring serial killers. It was one of the reasons I began watching Criminal Minds. The spree killers depicted in this episode, were particularly revolting, regardless of the reasons why they became who they were. But the program peaked and maintained my interest. As is sometimes the case, the criminals were more interesting than their captors. The strategies and methods used to catch the unsubs is usually secondary to whatever crimes are being committed. How realistic those methods are is immaterial, so long as they are not too far-fetched. So again, not a bad episode, and I liked the ending and its' portent of things to come.
  • A couple of spree killers are shooting their way across Montana, hitting gas stations. They leave a trail of bodies in their wake and Hotch and the team, sans Agent Seaver, must stop them before more deaths occur.

    My first impression of this episode was the massive amount of screen time wasted on unnecessary sex scenes. We got the general idea pretty quickly that the two young lovers were out for fun, games and revenge and that the killings gave them a high which lead to lots of physical enjoyment. Shades of Bonnie and Clyde and Starkweather and Fugate swam across my field of vision as I watched and I wasn't overly impressed.

    For a start, one of the reasons I watch the show is to see the regular characters doing what they do best. It almost seemed as though they were barely visible as the plot stayed firmly fixed on the killers and how much fun they were having driving across the state killing total strangers and then a relative or two. The profiling, such as it was, annoyed me, because the team seemed to be jumping to conclusions with very little evidence. Rice in the aisle of a supermarket doesn't necessarily mean somebody just got married. Maybe throwing rice around was just a part of their MO? Also, it was an extraordinary leap to say that the pair must have met at an AA meeting or something similar, just because they happened to kill several people while Ray was attending one. There was no actual basis for the supposition.

    One thing I did like was that Garcia was behaving like Garcia and not like a cross between herself, JJ and a third alter-ego. It was refreshing given how her character has been written for the last several episodes.

    The scene of the final shoot out at the gas station owned by Sydney's father bothered me because of the presence of the little girl. I don't like to see young actors being put in a situation where they have to act out violence or fear or anything which is not the norm for them. Yes, they are actors, but they are still children and roles which involve being a part of or witnessing violence unsettle me. Remember Linda Blair and Drew Barrymore, just to name two? Both have admitted that some of the scenes they acted in and witnessed profoundly affected them.

    I felt as though everytime the team came up with a theory, the unsubs did or said exactly what they (the team) had predicted within minutes, sometimes within seconds. This is not realistic. If it were that easy to catch killers, the BAU would have a much easier task than they do. Also, it's worth mentioning that not ever person who becomes a killer has been molested or beaten or ill-treated as a child. Many have, absolutely, but not all. History is full of evil murderers who have come from perfectly happy homes and yet that fact is rarely mentioned on crime shows. Perhaps audiences find it more interesting the other way.

    The shoot-out with Ray was amusing in the sense that they sprayed at least 200 plus bullets at the car before any of them actually hit him. I think it was former SWAT agent Hotch who did the trick but surely, given that these people are highly trained and must undergo weapons testing on a regular basis, it's fair to assume that they can actually hit a barely moving target when there are so many of them aiming at him. I think this scene was written to look impressive as everybody stood around firing their weapons.

    It was good to see Hotch taking the lead again to some extent but I don't think he is actually stamping his former authority on the group as a whole and that doesn't feel right. The end scene where Prentiss meets up with McCallister was, to say the least, extremely predictable and given that this Ian Doyle person has escaped from a Russian prison, I think it's a fair bet that he will come after her. The question of "Am I in danger?" and the answer, "We all are." was, I believe to keep us guessing as we know that something is going to happen with Emily and it will be connected to her past. Whether Paget Brewster leaves the show still remains to be seen so it will be interesting to see how the writers deal with this angle if Paget has yet to make her decision re staying or leaving.

    And then there is Reid. Good to see him actually getting some lines for a change but where in the world are the blinding headaches and hallucinations? Have they gone, never to be seen or heard of again? Were they just written to include in "Corazon" and, therefore, were nothing more than a red herring, or will they come back to haunt him at a later date? He looked pretty healthy in this episode and that's a good thing, but some passing mention of them, even by Reid himself, would have been nice.

    No doubt Prentiss's story arc will continue soon. We shall just have to wait now and see where that leads us.
  • Interesting plot, bad unsub discovery, bad action scenes, and major plot holes.

    I'm not going into detail on this review, but there are a few major plot holes etc that I would like to point out that make this a very mediocre episode overall.

    To start with, how the heck did they figure out who the ubsubs were, it seemed to take them about 2 minutes to do so. Also, how did they figure out they were going to get married in the middle of the killing spree.

    Secondly, why did they try and bargain for a car, when there was already one in the garage at the Gas Station????

    Thirdly, If the agents had any field training whatsoever, none of them would have opened fire on the car as it left the gas-station. Can anybody guess why???? Maybe because they were standing directly opposite from Morgan and the rescued girl, and any of there Dozens of bullets could have missed and hit him. He's not innocent of it either though, as he indiscriminantly opened fire on the car as well, whilst facing the rest of the team.
  • A common-enough storyline, not the least bit intriguing unsubs, pointlessly abundant shooting scenes, too many dead bodies even for a CM episode, and lackluster profiling - the episode didn't give me any reason to continue watching the show.

    The pointless and highly disturbing abundance of shooting and smut scenes, coupled with last week's just as pointlessly gory episode, has got me thinking wistfully back to the Season 3 episode, Lucky. CM has dealt with some extremely disturbing content over the years, but there was always a point to it: it was the psychological basis beneath it all. The delving into the psycosis of the unsubs made them intriguing, and actually got me thinking about the nature of mankind, good vs. evil, etc. I keep remembering 'Lucky' because that remained by far the most disturbing and nauseating CM episode for me, and yet it was still a very good, very solid episode because there was a point to it, there was an explanation which justified the making of the episode.

    The Thirteenth Step, on the other hand, lacks that justification for its poorly executed content. I wonder whether the 'sexual distraction' was written in for the submissive partner or for the audience. A distasteful ringing is left in my ears after all the loud shooting; thankfully I do not enjoy watching massacres. Inconsistency with character plotlines continues to disappoint.

    There is, unlike many of the past episodes, some reasonable profiling, which is refreshing. The characters are actually 'speaking' instead of mechanically reading singular lines. Hotch taking over the lead and Garcia reverting to her technical analyst self are relieving to see. Agent Seaver is, apparently, 'taking a test at the academy', which I personally found ridiculous since it points all the more to the absurdity of her presence in the team in the past three episodes. Morgan's taking the lead in the 'negotiations' with the unsubs is also a nice move as it stresses Morgan's ability to take charge. Reid's contribution to the profiling and the confident attitude is pleasant to watch; it reminds the viewer of season-one-or-two-Reid and makes them think how his character has developed over the years. He seems like a professional in this episode.

    Unfortunately, the complete lack of reference to Reid's headaches in the last episode is yet another indicator of poor planning on the writers' part. For many people the reason behind the headaches and visions is still question mark; if the plotline is cast aside for future reference, the very least that could be done is to have him continue wearing the sun glasses; if the plotline is completely dropped, my personal belief is that the headaches had got to do with the episode-specific content of Corazon (the religious aspect); they tried to make it look like a mysterious link with the rituals, but the poor writing and bad exectuion has left all the question marks and led us to expect the continuation of the storyline.

    We're left to wonder about what's going to happen to Emily. The sad thing is that with such recurring examples of sad, pointless episodes, I wonder why I should be looking forward to next week's episode just to see how a favorite character's fate will turn out like.

    As a last comment, I have to say that I hope not to watch more of such episodes for 'entertainment'. This just isn't entertainment.
  • What an intense episode!! I can't believe the poor reviews it's gotten, good storyline for the unsubs, lots of action!! The Thirteenth Step delivers!! The people who gave it poor reviews obviously weren't watching Criminal Minds!!

    What an intense and insanely heart pounding adrenaline rush of an episode!! With the unsubs being alcoholics and meeting in AA, and the wife killing the husband's ex girlfriend, before the husband and wife got together!! As the two now go on a killing spree across Montana!! And, the couple only completed the sixth step. The people who have wronged the pair in the past are the ones that have to complete the 7th, 8th, 9th step, which is reversed for AA steps!! And, how the unsubs come to an untimely end in a gas starion with the husband finding out his wife killed his ex girlfriend, so he kills his wife and then goes crazy!! The thirteenth Step in AA is a term used for men that stay in AA just to hit on new women coming into AA. Gives a little insight on AA for people who have never been there. And, at the end we see that Prentiss has something going on in her personal life that could affect her very deeply!! I'm sure we'll see it later on as the season still unfolds.
  • Emily

    i really liked this episode and i can't wait to see what happens with Emily.... i don't want her to die or anything just she is my favorite character and i like to see more story lines with her in it. Out of 4 season with Prentiss in them they only have like 1 about Emily's life.... if theres more let me know people! it pisses me off that they are getting rid of the females on the show except Garcia! love Garcia. once they et rid of Prentiss, i'm prob going to stop watch the show and catch the funny parts on YouTube.... criminal minds is going to me nothing with out JJ and Emily!!
  • An alcoholic psychotic couple go on a killing rampage. Mass murder gives them their sexual high and maybe revenge against their fathers - both of them having been sexually abused by their respective daddies. Not much of the BAU team in this episode.

    I find it hard to believe that this was an episode of an otherwise excellent show - an hour of graphic violence interspersed with a few incidents of sleazy sex. What happened to the BAU team? They weren't even a real part of the story. There was virtually no plot line showing their investigation and what there was really wasn't credible. Did all the show's writers take a simultaneous vacation leaving this episode to be thrown in as a fill-in? Criminal Minds was my favorite show but if the rest of the episodes are going to be like this, I won't bother to watch.
  • Two psychotic killers go on a murder spree and get off on it.

    I can't add much more than what most people said, I thought it was a bad episode. At first I thought I was watching another channel, it was all violence and no BAU. It got so bad, I had to walk away for a few minutes. The BAU seemed tired and it was like the actors all had a half day and they decided to fill it with gore and have it sewn up in a bow at the end, bad guys die, plane leaves.

    I started watching Criminal Minds a couple of years in, and caught up with DVD's. I loved Gideon and the episodes they had then. The episode with the terrorist and Gideon talking to him tricking him into telling him where the attack would be, the episode with the veteran who had a psychotic break and thought he was back in Somalia was excellent. There were so many excellent shows but lately they have been worse. The violence is up with no purpose for it, the story lines seem tired...did they get new writers? I know Mandy didn't leave just because the scripts were getting too gory, but I do agree with him, less is more.
  • Bonnie and Clyde type modernized to current day. Unsubs are on a killing spree where they use the 9th step as their instrument of killing.

    Two unsubs on a killing spree and they are both in a physcotic break. Bonnie and Clyde type story which CM modernized to current day with current day issues (sexual abuse). Both unsubs have previously been abused and instead of getting past their own issues, they force their attachers to make ammends for their actions. I liked this episode very much. It was fresh and new for CM. Some did not like the violence, but that is the world we live in. Instead of CM focusing primarily on one team member (other than the secret about Prentis), it was more about the actual unsubs and how far a broken mind, or minds can go. Loved it! As always, Shemar Moore was awesome.
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