Criminal Minds (2005– )
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Tabula Rasa 

A suspected serial killer who's been in a coma since 2004 due to an accident when he was arrested wakes up 4 years later, with no memory of his past, not even his name. While he is tried in court, in which Hotch is testifying against him, the rest of the team investigates his past further.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
David Rossi
Mr. Corbett
Nina Moore


Four years earlier in Roanoke, Virgina, the BAU were in pursuit of Brian Matloff, alleged to be the Blue Ridge Strangler who killed three women. While Morgan was chasing him, Matloff fell several stories from a building roof. Miraculously, Matloff survived, but fell into a coma, from which he has just awaken. The authorities may have problems now in convicting Matloff since he claims to have amnesia, and their only key witness has since passed away. All remaining evidence is circumstantial. Surprisingly, Matloff agrees to a cognitive memory recognition exercise, since regardless of guilt or innocence he states that he wants to know who he is/was. However, some argue that if Matloff does not regain his memory, he is no longer the person he was and thus no longer a threat to society. So, is this a ruse perpetrated by a cold blooded killer? An unknown woman who was Matloff's sole regular visitor may be able to shed some light on the case. Regardless, the father of one of the Blue Ridge ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

14 May 2008 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title, "Tabula Rasa," is a Latin term that literally means "erased slate." It is used philosophically to refer to the state of a person's mind before it has any experience of the world -- and here refers to the suspected killer, Brian Matloff, awakening from a coma with no memory of his crimes. See more »


Penelope Garcia: [On the phone] Right! 54, native American. Ma'am, I have all that. Look,
[JJ enters]
Penelope Garcia: I really need now is identifying information.
[Garcia shakes no to JJ]
Penelope Garcia: . Yes, I... I know what a closed adoption means. Do you know what a court order means?
Jennifer Jareau: [Whispers] Wow, we don't have time for a court order
Penelope Garcia: You know what ma'am? I am done being nice! If you look to your cursor, you'll notice it's moving on its own. That's me hacking your secure network. Now I got her file, now I got her social and now, cause ...
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References 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) See more »


Criminal Minds Theme
Composed by Mark Mancina
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User Reviews

Classic 'Criminal Minds'
19 November 2016 | by See all my reviews

While 'Criminal Minds' is a personal favourite show of mine, some seasons are better (some much better) than others.

Seasons 1-4 are mostly great and Season 5 had some high-points, before becoming hit and miss Season 6 onwards, with apart from three or four exceptions a particularly disappointing Season 11. There are many good to great episodes, as well as several outstanding ones, while others range from bad to average.

"Tabula Rasa" is one of my favourites from the early seasons, and one of Season 3's best episodes alongside the emotional and very relatable "Elephant's Memory" and the tense and non-stop suspenseful "Lo-Fi", also was really impressed by "True Night" and "Seven Seconds". Will even go so far to say that it's one of the best 'Criminal Minds' episodes.

The only minor complaint actually is the side-lining and under-use of Rossi, who was settling well at this point but he properly became interesting in "Damaged" and more so in Season 4 with "Masterpiece" and "Zoe's Reprise", but that is easily overlook-able because everything else is so masterfully done.

Particularly great here is the story and script. The story is riveting throughout, starting with an opening that is the very meaning of adrenaline-rush all the way to one of the show's most unforgettable and haunting endings. In between, there is some great profiling on Matloff. This sees the team working as a team and actually doing investigating, rather than conclusion-jumping or relying too conveniently on Garcia's computer to provide the answers, and Matloff is one of the show's most well developed and interesting criminals in my opinion, in struggling to understand who he was and what he did.

Also present are some nice little character moments within the team or with the supporting characters (the chemistry is brilliant), particularly loved the more mature and empathetic Reid's scenes with the vengeful father (one does understand his feelings here), as well as finding out more about how Reid joined the team and the first appearance of "baby girl", well before the flirtatious banter started getting too much. Other than the ending, the scenes with Matloff really resonated and the profiling-analysis scene in the courtroom with Hotch is one of the best ever scenes on 'Criminal Minds'.

Regarding the script, that was very cleverly structured, tightly paced and thought-provoking. Making one think and feel deeper than any episode before, especially with the whole questioning who Matloff is and is he guilty. The twist is one one doesn't see coming and is nail-biting. The production values are high in quality once again and the music suits the mood and tone of the episode well. Direction is solid.

Matthew Gray Gubler and Thomas Gibson especially stand out of the regular actors, due to their very strong scenes. Eric Lange is really quite brilliant as Matloff, one of those characters who one actually felt sorry for and for a while unsure about. Very different from the irredeemably evil unsubs often present on the show, and after seeing episodes that try to make one feel sympathy for the criminal but fail (mainly due to lack of development or their crimes being too awful and gratuitous) it was great to see an instance where it is done very well (one of the show's supremely successful attempts actually).

In conclusion, a 'Criminal Minds' classic and a Season 3 highlight. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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