The BAU go after a pack of killers who mercilessly beat their victims to death simply for the thrill of violence.


(as Felix Alcala)


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Jennifer Jareau
J. Turner
Nate Witty ...
Karen Osborne (as Sharon Brathwaite-Sanders)
Dan Osborne


In a gentrified neighborhood in southeast Washington D.C. vandalism has increased recently. Two upper middle class couples - one white, one black - are found beaten to death in a home invasion. Nothing was taken from the home. The BAU's initial assessment is that there are at least three male unsubs, and that the beatings are related to the vandalism. A second set of victims are later found dead - a young white working class couple who were killed in a parking lot outside a blue collar restaurant. The BAU know that the unsubs, who have a pack mentality, are motivated purely by nihilism and the need to exert power. In monitoring on-line chatter, Garcia finds another more broad threat of vandalism. Although the BAU do not believe this act of vandalism was initiated by the unsubs, they know the unsubs will react in their typical violent fashion. Their reaction does yield useful information for the BAU to narrow in on the unsubs. During the process of this case, Garcia has some words of ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

14 October 2009 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



| (some sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The plot of this episode bears a striking resemblance to the actual killing spree in Dniepropetrovsk, Ukraine in 2007. The perpetrators were sentenced to life around the time the episode was originally aired. See more »


In the opening sequence the unsubs are watching a recording of themselves torturing their victims. The unsubs filmed this themselves, but the clip shows the victim's point of view on several occasions. See more »


Derek Morgan: [First call after their argument] Hey girl
Penelope Garcia: [down] Hey. We're good?
Derek Morgan: Yeah, we're good
Penelope Garcia: [smiling again] What do you need?
See more »


Heavy and Hanging
Written by Patterson Hood
Performed by Patterson Hood
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User Reviews

One of the bottom 3 Season 5 episodes- a contender for the worst Season 5 episode even
23 October 2016 | by See all my reviews

The other two being "Parasite" and "The Performer". Of the three, "Hopeless" is for me the weakest of the three because while "Parasite" was bland and very average and "The Performer" being strange and over-the-top they did at least have enough to still feel like 'Criminal Minds'.

"Hopeless" did too often feel like a completely different show. Not as bad as "The Thirteenth Step", "200" and the worst of Season 11, but close. 'Criminal Minds' have varied wildly when trying to break formats and having changes of pace, and "Hopeless" is one of the prime examples of an episode that does not execute different well.

Generally there is too much of the unsubs, a pack mentality group killing for the thrill, a very familiar idea done to death and done to excessive and dull effect here ("The Tribe" from Season 1 also had the pack mentality idea, though different circumstances, and handled it much more cleverly and harrowingly while still having enough of what makes the show so great). And sadly none of them are interesting in the slightest, neither of them having any menace or anything that screams you hate him, you feel sorry for him, just three guys killing for the thrill without remorse.

Consequently, there is too little of the team too. There are great moments here, especially Garcia reminding Morgan that his close relationship with somebody related to a victim is inappropriate and Hotch's no-nonsense and suitably stiff rapport with the detective. Rossi's role and the character are growing all the time as well. Mostly however the team are underused, with some having barely anything to do. It has to be said though that the acting is good things considered.

"Hopeless" is stylish and atmospheric when the unsubs are not the focus, the gritty look appropriate. However, some the editing did get nauseatingly bizarre in some of the scenes depicting the killings and with the unsubs in general. While 'Criminal Minds' is a brutal and unsettling show, it has never before or since been this ultra-violent (even violent Tarantino films have more subtlety than this, which handles the violence with gratuity and the subtlety of a sledgehammer) and it was excessive and left a bad taste in the mouth.

Music is haunting and hypnotic, with a melancholic edge, at times but then feels over-scored in other parts. The writing is thought-provoking and intelligent with the team, with some nice character moments that feel too far and between, but feels really awkward with the unsubs. The story just didn't engage me either, there was just too much of an imbalance of what and who to focus on and everything felt both excessive and dull, very little is suspenseful or exciting here, not even the bizarrely shot and anti-climactic climax.

Overall, Season 5 at its weakest. 4/10 Bethany Cox

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