Criminal Minds Season 5 Finale Review & Discussion [Updated]

Criminal Minds Season 5 Finale Review & Discussion

Compared to other television series, Criminal Minds has certainly had one of the most eventful seasons. From the start of the fifth season, the long-running series has been on fire.

Picking up from last season's cliffhanger of Hotchner being attack by the Reaper, fans were left wondering if the BAU’s leader would make it out alive and after waiting out the summer, we finally got our answer. While Hotchner was badly hurt, he was purposefully left alive by the Reaper so that his pain could last much longer. At that point, fans did not yet know to what extent that pain would be, but as the series celebrated its 100th episode, it all become clear.

In one of the most shocking, emotionally disturbing and best episodes in the entire series, Hotchner’s wife and son were taken hostage by the Reaper. If that wasn’t bad enough, fans watched as Hotchner listened to his wife say her final goodbye before she was brutally murdered. With all this happening in the first 9 episodes of the season, one could only guess what’s to come as the series progressed.

As it turns out, nothing much. After a truly amazing 100th episode, the series more or less fell back into its old rhythm of the BAU solving a case per week. Sure, we got to catch a glimpse of the new Criminal Minds spin-off cast, but even that was somewhat uneventful compare to what we were exposed to in the first half of the fifth season.

Thankfully, it appears that all will change with tonight’s fifth season finale of Criminal Minds. In yet another cliffhanger episode that the series is known for delivering, the BAU will be on the hunt for a serial killer who focuses on murdering families while leaving one member left to remember. If that doesn’t sound exciting, maybe the fact that Tim Curry will be guest staring in it as well.


Through-out his career, Tim Curry has had the opportunity to plan many villains in television and on film, but his portrayal of a sadistic serial killer in the fifth season finale of Criminal Minds is easily his most terrifying. Gone are the endearing flourishes of his voice and charming nuances that have made him the go-to guy for casting directors looking for a sinister character.

Instead, we get a truly disturbed individual that revels in the murdering of families while leaving a lone survivor to forever remember the horrors that they were forced to witness. As the episode revealed, he was connected to the demise of more than two hundred families and becomes a truly great antagonist for the folks in the BAU. Unfortunately, that’s where the positives of the season finale end.

In all, the fifth season finale of Criminal Minds was an extremely weak entry in an otherwise strong season. For some reason, the powers-that-be decided to hinge the success of this episode on viewers caring about the local detective who was the first survivor of Curry’s twenty-year murder spree.

Sadly, the way in which his character is introduced and handled (before the reality of his past is unveiled) forces fans to draw their own conclusions about this so-called important piece of the puzzle. Caring, but extremely (extremely) annoying comes to mind.

Side note: (One thing I’ve never been fond of in the series is their use of memory regression. While it certainly adds more detail to the case at hand and helps to further the plot along, it always seems to take me out of what’s going on. For a show that’s based so much in reality, things like that have the tendency to appear cheap.)

For an episode that’s supposed to be a cliffhanger, viewers were left with anything but. While technically it is a cliffhanger because the entire story has yet to be told, all of the intrigue and anticipation that is supposed to be present in an episode such as this is almost non-existent. Blame it on poor writing, poor acting or poor planning, but this entire episode felt “off” from the beginning.

That being said, we now have to wait three months to see the conclusion of this terrible episode, in hopes of moving on to something better.  For five years, Criminal Minds has consistently delivered quality programming that’s consistently above all the other procedurals on television.

But, if this is where the series is heading in terms of quality, maybe it’s time to start thinking about ending it here.

Final Thoughts

The fifth season finale of Criminal Minds was terrible, at best. Even an amazing guest star like Tim Curry was unable to save this lack-luster “cliffhanger.”

What did you think of the fifth season finale of Criminal Minds? How does it compare to the season premiere and the 100th episode? Are you excited for the fall return?

Tune into the sixth season premiere of Criminal Minds this fall on CBS.

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