Criminal Minds: Season 5, Episode 12

The Uncanny Valley (13 Jan. 2010)

TV Episode  |  TV-14  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 883 users  
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An unusual personal obsession is at the center of a BAU abduction case. Meanwhile, Hotch struggles with his return to work.


(as Anna J. Foerster)


(created by), , 1 more credit »
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Title: The Uncanny Valley (13 Jan 2010)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Arthur Malcolm
Samantha Malcolm
Bethany Wallace
Detective Marty Cotrone
Linda Jackson
Shop Manager
Karl Wallace


In Atlantic City, New Jersey, two women have thus far been identified as having died at the hands of the same killer. Both victims were drug-induced paralyzed and still conscious during their two-month abduction, but otherwise well taken care of. Both were also petite but physically fit, and in life were fashion conscious, although the clothes in which they were found did not match what they would have worn in real life, these new clothes which were more doll-like. And both dead bodies were found in a place that represents a fun childhood, one on a playground swing, another on an amusement park carousel. Because the two women have no other similar characteristics beyond their small stature, the BAU believe the unsub to be a woman who is "collecting" the victims as surrogates for a doll collection that the unsub has lost. When the BAU learn more about the doll line that the unsub is mimicking and after one of the pieces of clothing is analyzed, they stumble across a lead to the unsub ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis





Release Date:

13 January 2010 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Uncanny Valley is an idea created by Japanese robotics researcher Dr Masahiro Mori in 1970. Dr Mori made a graph showing, vertically, how well people accepted certain images and horizontally, how human the images were. He found that people reacted well to other people (who both looked and acted human) and also accepted images that acted human but didn't look at all human (like talking animals in cartoons). However, many people were repulsed by images that looked almost human (like zombies or talking skeletons). The chart looked like a pair of hills (high acceptance) with a valley in between (revulsion), which Dr Mori called the Uncanny Valley. The word "uncanny" had previously been used in a similar way by Ernst Jentsch and Sigmund Freud. It has been suggested that this response may be due to evolutionary pressure to maintain distance from people who are diseased or injured in order to avoid danger. See more »


The New Jersey license plates on the cars are shown to have a bright yellow stripe of about 2 inches across the top with the remainder of the plate being white. In actuality, New Jersey plates have a more beige-yellow tint at the top which fades very gradually toward the whiter bottom, so that there is no noticeable line differentiating the colors. See more »


Dr. Spencer Reid: [voiceover] Isaac Asimov wrote: "in life, unlike chess, the game continues after checkmate."
See more »


References Star Trek (1966) See more »

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User Reviews

Eyes to See, Ears to Hear
10 August 2011 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

Such a great episode! On a base level, there is something *so* disturbing about live human dolls that no matter how many variations of it have been already done, it never loses its creepiness. Combine it with good acting from the actresses of both the unsub and the dolls - harder than it at first thought seems - and brutally effective, if rather unimaginative direction combined with a disturbing score, and you have a winner. The surprise reveal in the plot works also well, even if it is of the "of course that happened to her when she was a child" type staple.

Unfortunately, this episode also shows exactly how inconsistent Criminal Minds is even on its *fifth* season. In the 1990s inconsistency was more of a rule than the exception to it, The X Files (No. Hyphen.) being the worst offender despite pioneers such as Babylon 5 airing simultaneously and showing how a series *should* be done. Almost two decades later, the show-runners of Criminal Minds seem half-stuck in the Reset Button era of TV when most shows, regardless of genre, have matured to ongoing *character* development, whether there is a Mytharc plot (the new BSG, Lost, Supernatural) or not (The Closer, House M.D., The Office, The Wire).

The Plot outline says, "Hotch struggles with his return to work." On Criminal Minds this manifests as Hotch not himself solving anything, just asking questions and giving orders. Yeah, that's a really dramatic struggle alright. Were Criminal Minds *truly* a Reset Button show, each episode could be rated as a completely separate subject, but since they *have* established continuity, the barely-there aftermath of Haley's death on Hotch's life hangs like a loadstone on this series, constantly denying it at least one star. Twenty years ago, this would have been a 9/10, but in the 2010s it is "only" an 8/10 - still, a clear improvement over the previous episodes.

3 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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