Criminal Minds Episodes

2005, TV Show

Criminal Minds Episode: "Into the Woods"

Season 6, Episode 9
Episode Synopsis: The team hunts for a killer who is targeting children on the Appalachian Trail.
Original Air Date: Nov 17, 2010
Guest Cast David Meunier: Joseph Lanham John Laughlin: Walter Turner Brad Carter: Charlie Gattlin Griffith: Robert Brooks Jon Briddell: Michael Walker Nan McNamara: Violet Brooks Emily Alyn Lind: Ana Brooks
Full Episode
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Season 6, Episode 9
Paid | iTunes
Length: 42:21
Aired: 11/17/2010
Also available on Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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Criminal Minds Episode Recap: "Into the Woods" Season 6, Episode 9

On this week's Criminal Minds, the BAU heads to the Appalachian Trail in search of a child abductor.

We open on Pennylvania's Harwood State Park at night, where the Walkers find a skeleton wrapped in plastic. It turns out to have been Daniel Lanham, a 10-year-old who was reported missing last November during a camping trip. Police considered Daniel's dad, Joseph, a suspect. At the ranger station, Hotch talks to Joseph, who went back to the same spot Daniel went missing from November until mid-March. According to the M.E. report, Daniel died mid-March. Joseph said he stopped looking because he had a feeling that Daniel was gone. He tells Hotch that he went back to sleep when Daniel had left the tent to go the bathroom the night he was abducted. He says he knows everyone suspects him, but he doesn't care because he was Daniel's hero and he failed him. That's got to hit close to home for Hotch since Jack just dressed up as his superhero pop for Halloween.

Reid and Rossi tell Cop of the Week, Agent Turner, that this unsub most likely had other victims since child abductors usually dispose kids immediately. Sure enough, Prentiss and Morgan find the body of Tyler Stoltz in the woods after noticing scratches on trees to mark disposal sites. Tyler was abducted 23 months ago, which was before the Lanhams moved to the area, clearing Joseph. The unsub's M.O. is to abduct in the fall and keep the kids all winter. Reid went back 10 years and estimates that the unsub may have taken 12 victims. The unsub walks the entire trail from the south to the northeast, and each way takes about six months, which is why no one saw a pattern. He slowed down two years ago, which could be a sign of immobility. The past two winters, he's returned to the same 30-mile radius in Pennsylvania.

That night, 10-year-old Robert Brooks and his younger sister, Ana, get abducted by the pedophilic unsub. He locks them in a cage in a cave, which is littered with toys in there from his past victims. The unsub tells Robert that he wants to show him something. We all know what that means. Robert doesn't want to leave Ana, but the unsub tells her that he will bring her a flashlight. Robert does come back with a flashlight, but also crying, shattered and most likely scarred for life. He tells Ana to run the next time the unsub comes to get him. Great acting by the kiddies here. The next day, the team arrives at the Brooks' camping site. They wonder how long the unsub will keep Ana alive since girls aren't his preference. Joseph shows up to help, but Hotch tells him to leave. He heads to the station, where he tells Reid that he was holed up in a cave when he was out there. During the profile, the team says the unsub forged a home in wilderness and tells the rangers to look for a makeshift shelter.

Robert and Ana tell the unsub they have to go to the bathroom. The unsub only lets out Robert, who strikes his leg with a pipe and tells Ana to book it. Ana crawls out of the underground cave and Prentiss and Morgan find her. She later tells Hotch that the unsub walked funny. Prentiss and Morgan find the cave and go inside, but the unsub and Robert are gone. The unsub left money, pills and flowers. Reid says the flower is a Devil's Claw, a homeopathic treatment most commonly used for swollen joints. But if the unsub is suffering from a degenerative disease, he'd had a hard time getting around without painkillers. Cut to the unsub, whose name turns out to be Shane, going to fellow pedophile Brandon's apartment near Harrisburg, which is by his first abduction site. He wants more pills and offers Robert to Brandon as payment. Ick.

Garcia (hey, where have you been all episode?) pulls up info on sex offenders in the area who have been paroled since the early '90s. She says 11 of them had the same last known address. They live in a cluster to feel safe, Prentiss says. Garcia cross-references with offenders who had a degenerative disease and pulls up Shane's file. He was incarcerated in 1994 for raping a 10-year-old boy.

After getting/stealing pills from Brandon, Shane lends Robert to him for an hour. Brandon knocks Robert unconscious when he tries to run away. Directed to Brandon's apartment, Prentiss and Morgan break in, but Brandon and Robert are gone, except for one of the boy's shoes. Hotch, Rossi and other cops are in the alleyway and on the street. Shane sees the cops — but they don't see him — and he turns around. Inside the building's basement, Robert wakes up, kicks Brandon in the balls and tries to run away. Morgan and Prentiss open the door and collar Brandon. Robert tells them that Shane had said he was coming back in an hour. But it's too late. At the station, Reid tells Joseph that Shane got away. He gives him Daniel's clothing that was found in the mineshaft.

On the jet, the team takes in the bittersweet result. Hotch says they now know what Shane looks like. But there's no justice for the families he destroyed, Reid says. "We'll get him," Hotch vows. Meanwhile, a clean-shaven Shane hops off a pick-up truck and heads into the woods.

This was a very creepy and unsettling episode — but what involving pedophiles isn't? There were some weird plot points — like why Shane felt he had to abduct both Ana and Robert (they were temporarily split up, so he could've easily just grabbed Robert) and why the cops weren't actively looking for Shane in the area outside of the apartment building. But I love that Shane didn't get caught, which rings more true to life than having the good guys catch the bad guys every week. Sometimes they get away, which the show doesn't portray often enough. The last time an unsub got away was The Reaper. And we all know how that ended up. The final shot of Shane limping and lurking in the woods looking for his next prey provided the right spine-chilling punctuation to the episode. Despite Hotch's vow to catch him, I hope we don't see him again. I don't think we need to, and luckily, they weren't positioning him as a super-unsub like The Reaper, Frank or even The Fox.  If we do — and he gets caught or dies — it wouldn't have the same disturbing effect as this episode did. And unfortunately, sometimes these guys never get caught. And one last bravo to the kid actors for some great performances.

What did you think? Were you creeped out by Shane and Brandon? Are you happy or upset that Shane got away? Do you think we'll see Shane again? How badass is Robert, being strong for his lil sis and kicking Brandon in the family jewels? And don't you love when we see the team in casual wear (the Alaskan gear remains my favorite)? More, please!

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On this week's Criminal Minds, the BAU heads to the Appalachian Trail in search of a child abductor.

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Premiered: September 22, 2005, on CBS
Rating: TV-14
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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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