Criminal Minds (2005– )
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Elephant's Memory 

When a spree killing begins in a small Texas town, Reid's identification with the killer may endanger the girl with him, and cause Reid to put his own life in jeopardy.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Owen Savage
Jordan Norris
Paul Barter
Eileen Bechtold
Ike Stratman


A teen girl, Jordan, and her father are killed by a bomb planted in their house. When two cops arrive, they are shot by a shooter with a full-auto weapon. The BAU soon discover that the shooter is Owen Savage, a constantly bullied teen with learning difficulties, and that Jordan, who's also been abused and has learning difficulties, is still alive and in a relationship with Owen who's planning to kill again... Written by J. Rieper

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Release Date:

16 April 2008 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The plot of this episode is very similar to the events of December 24, 2012 in West Webster, NY. A fire was set and the arsonist shot the first responders, killing two and wounding four others. See more »


At the end when Rossi puts his hand up to stop the police cars after the Reid/Owen scene, his gun has already been put away. However, when Reid and Morgan start to walk Owen into the station, Rossi's gun is out and he puts it away again. See more »


[first lines]
Rod Norris: [speaking to a creaking tree] You wake me again tonight, it'll be a chainsaw for you!
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References 60 Minutes (1968) See more »


Written by Trent Reznor
Performed by Johnny Cash
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User Reviews

Season 3 at its best
24 August 2016 | by See all my reviews

Not just that, but "Elephant's Memory" is for me up there with the show's best episodes, certainly a standout of the early seasons. As well as being such a well-written and acted episode, it's also one of the most emotional 'Criminal Minds' episode.

What immediately stands out is the brilliant character development of Reid. He always was one of the show's best characters, both in development and personality, and "Elephant's Memory" sees one truly relating to him here.

Being mercilessly bullied in school (still think about it every day, and people really do under-estimate how bullying badly dents confidence and damages you, leaving me with severe anxiety and self-doubt which has contributed towards health problems), for being different from the rest- in a school where anybody with layered/wavy hair, a posh Southern accent, was autistic (Aspegers Syndrome, with learning difficulties and awkward social interaction) and who performed and listened to classical music and opera was not considered normal-, the character development of Reid and his situation and feelings genuinely resonated with me.

Also loved his very touching chemistry with Morgan, Morgan's more empathetic, sympathetic and protective big brother attitude being a very welcome change from his tough guy personality. Particularly strong is a scene where Reid opens up, which must have been incredibly hard for him but took immense courage on his part, ended up admiring him even more and reminded me of my opening up of my health problems and feelings on prejudice directed towards me earlier this year.

The scene at the end with Hotch was similarly great, Hotch showing both his serious boss side but also a caring friend side. The unsub is one that one actually feels genuinely sorry for, after seeing unsubs who are irredeemably evil or frightening or in later seasons poorly developed or ones that you're meant to be sympathetic towards but their crimes are just too cruel to make that happen.

On top of that, "Elephant's Memory" is beautifully made and shot with atmosphere, style and class, while the music is a perfect fit, the script is taut, tense and poignant and the story has great suspense and is genuinely emotional. The acting is very good from all involved, with Matthew Gray Gubler being absolutely outstanding here and giving one of his best performances on the show (and he has always been a high point). Great to see Michael Ironside too, though his role is small.

All in all, wonderful, emotional and remarkably relatable episode and shows Season 3 and 'Criminal Minds' in general at its best. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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