Criminal Minds Episodes

2005, TV Show

Criminal Minds Episode: "25 to Life"

Season 6, Episode 11
Episode Synopsis: Morgan regrets his decision to help a prisoner get paroled when the man murders someone the day after he's released.
Original Air Date: Dec 15, 2010
Guest Cast Megan Kathleen Duffy: Carrie Sanderson Edita Brychta: Mrs. Stanworth Philip Casnoff: James Stanworth Joy Darash: Young Mary Rutka Kyle Secor: Don Sanderson Greg Collins: Bill Codwin
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Season 6, Episode 11
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Length: 17:55:12
Aired: 12/15/2010
Also available on Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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Criminal Minds Episode Recap: "25 to Life" Season 6, Episode 11

On this week's Criminal Minds, a man whom Morgan helps get paroled is arrested days after his release.

Ready for a Morgan-centric episode (without creepy Ellie)? It's, unfortunately, at the expense of Hotch. Our fearless leader is taking some time off to be with Jack since it's been a year since Haley's murder, and so Rossi is acting unit chief. But Seaver's still around. She has requested her remedial training be at the BAU because she wants to prove herself after her screw-up last week. Prentiss — rocking a horrendous haircut — says she'll be Seaver's training agent (training her own replacement?) Strauss interrupts to give Rossi a case file on Don Sanderson, who's up for parole after 25 years in prison. He was convicted of murdering his wife and daughter, but has always claimed that his family was attacked. His son, Joshua, is still alive. He needs a risk assessment, so Rossi assigns it to Morgan.

Morgan visits Sanderson in his cell. Sanderson's been a model prisoner after seeing a vision of his son and deciding to live his life in prison the way he would've lived out of it. He taught men how to read, started a mentor program, and helped 41 inmates get their GED. Morgan vouches for him and he's out. But 51 hours later, Sanderson's arrested for the murder of Tom Wittman. Morgan's angry, of course. But Sanderson is claiming self-defense. He also called paramedics after Wittman was stabbed and didn't flee the scene. Prentiss says it wasn't a random act of violence. Morgan and Rossi take Sanderson into their custody, but he's not forthcoming with anything yet.

At the BAU HQ, the team looks at the night of the Sanderson family murders, March 10, 1985 (hey, March 10 is Paget's birthday!). Sanderson has always maintained that he was asleep on the couch downstairs before running upstairs to find his wife and kids being attacked. He had said a man was stabbing his wife and he was bludgeoned on the head from behind. Because of his medical background, prosecutors said Sanderson's wounds were self-inflicted. During his trial, Sanderson said a third person was there — a woman.

Morgan goes hard on Sanderson in the interrogation room. Sanderson says that Wittman didn't kill his family but was going to lead him to the man who did. He says he remembered Wittman years later when he heard his voice from the night of the murders saying, "That's enough." Wittman, then 18, had been a grocery delivery boy who had a crush on Sanderson's wife. Morgan and Rossi take Sanderson back to his house to do a cognitive interview. Sanderson remembers that a guy in a hood stabbed his wife, while his daughter, Abby, cried in the corner. The woman held Joshua and wanted to keep him against the wishes of Wittman and the other guy, he says.

Because Wittman has a juvie record in credit card scams and retail robbery, Garcia cross-references for women who were arrested for the same on the days of his arrests. Up comes Mary Rutka. Prentiss and Morgan break into her apartment, where they find her injured, but still alive. Morgan chases a guy down the fire escape, but loses him. In that time, Mary dies and Prentiss does her best "Out, damned spot!" impression. Real subtle, guys. She finds a dusty VHS on top of the kitchen cabinet. It starts off with her eating breakfast in bed with a little girl and Joshua before turning into footage of the night of the murder. Rutka and the guy in the hood are walking upstairs. "Let's do this," hooded guy sinisterly says.

The team brainstorms on hooded guy and determine he must be a big-wig control freak who wants to continue to do damage in the city and has been blackmailed by Rutka with the tape. Since Sanderson claimed the murderers broke through the bars in his basement, Garcia looks up old owners of the home. James Stanworth lost the house in 1982 and is now running for Congress. His slogan? "Let's do this." Strauss, however, says they have no evidence that Stanworth is the guy in the hood, but Morgan and Rossi persist. "You don't understand politics," she tells Rossi. "I do," he says. "I just don't care." The BAU is apparently above the law.

It turns out Stanworth is hosting a fundraiser at his house that night, so they bust in on him. Morgan basically pulls a Goren (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) and wears Stanworth down with a rant about his inner psychopath until Stanworth loses it, incriminates himself and gets arrested. Really?

So Sanderson is exonerated and finally sees Joshua after all these years.

This was an odd and poorly constructed episode. On the one hand, I appreciated the mystery factor since we've gotten so many episodes as of late where we see the unsub plotting and killing before the opening credits roll. But this one doesn't even come close to "Seven Seconds" (the standard for the "whodunit" episodes). Everything was so over-the-top and dramatic, especially with the endless foreshadowing of Prentiss' breakdown and the confrontation scene with Stanworth. It was also so lazy to have the team finally get to him because he was hosting event and then to have Morgan chew the scenery with his accusatory remarks. Whatever happened to profiling and actually getting evidence? Also, what was the motive for the three of them to kill Sanderson's family? Wittman had a crush on Mrs. Sanderson and then ropes his buddies into killing her, but isn't even the one who did the killing? There was also no reason for Seaver to be in this episode — she barely even registered — and yet we get no Hotch. (Not to get too inside baseball, but a scene was probably cut since the actor who plays Jack was listed in a press release.)

What did you think of the episode? Should the guys have barged into Stanworth's place like that? Did you miss Hotch? Was Seaver useless? Is Prentiss so over her job? 

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On this week's Criminal Minds, a man whom Morgan helps get paroled is arrested days after his release.

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Premiered: September 22, 2005, on CBS
Rating: TV-14
User Rating: (7,077 ratings)
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Premise: A procedural thriller about the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, which profiles criminals to solve crimes. The ensemble drama relies on the diversity of the team, which includes a young genius and a seasoned leader tortured by a past case. Unlike other crime dramas that focus on science, this series is very cerebral and almost Holmesian in its deductive analysis of the crimes and their perpetrators.

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