When a boy is found murdered on the Appalachian Trail, the BAU team goes deep into its forests in search of a man lurking in the wilderness who is targeting children.

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(created by), (as Kimberley Ann Harrison) | 1 more credit »
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Shane Wyland
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Joseph Lanham
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Robert Brooks
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Ranger Walter Turner
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Brandon Stiles
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Frank Brooks
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Violet Brooks
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Charlie
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Storyline

The dead body of ten year old Daniel Lanham is found buried in Harwood State Park in Pennsylvania. Missing since November when he and his father, Joseph Lanham, were camping, Daniel was kept alive over the winter before being killed in March. Experienced hiker and camper Joseph was and is a suspect, most notably now since he purportedly stopped looking for Daniel around the time he was killed. Reviewing the crime scene, the BAU find another dead body of a boy around Daniel's age, who also was killed months after his abduction. Reid suspects that the serial killer would have murdered more boys over several years over the entire course of the Appalachian Trail, and that he lately has confined himself to a smaller portion of the trail due either to his age or a physical disability which is making him less mobile. The unsub is working like an animal in the woods, hibernating with the boys over the winter before disposing of them. Meanwhile, adolescent brother and sister Robert and Ana ... Written by Huggo

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17 November 2010 (USA)  »

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16:9 HD
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Trivia

This is last episode that SSA Derek Morgan carries a 9mm Glock 17 with a TLR-2 weaponlight module. He switches to a new 9mm SIG Sauer P226R with a TLR-1 weaponlight module. See more »

Goofs

When Garcia displays the unsub's prison record on her computer monitor, it lists his sentencing date as 1994, but indicates his date of birth as 10-28-1990. (making him only 4 years old when he was sent to prison). See more »

Quotes

Penelope Garcia: Ten-year-old Daniel Lanham was reported missing while on a camp trip with his father last November. His remains were just discovered by hikers in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Spencer Reid: That's really close to the Appalachian Trail.
Penelope Garcia: The rangers are the ones calling us in.
Dr. Spencer Reid: The trail covers 14 states and is nearly 2,200 miles long. It's a miracle he was ever found.
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The darkest, most disturbing and most poignant episode of Season 6
15 November 2016 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Also will say as well that it is one of Season 6's better episodes too. Not top-tier 'Criminal Minds', but its numerous strengths are so good that it's nowhere near close to being rock-bottom.

"Into the Woods" has been criticised for unnecessary content, treating an already disturbing subject matter too excessively that has put viewers off 'Criminal Minds' altogether and disappointing profiling. "Into the Woods" didn't put me off the show, and actually appreciated what it tried to do.

The only big problem is the profiling, which was not like it was in earlier seasons and while there was profiling (unlike many of the latter season episodes) there was hasty and baseless conclusion jumping, especially with Reid. Do enjoy Garcia on the most part, but when a profiler she feels out of character and like she was trying too hard to fill JJ's role. To a lesser extent, if the episode gave the reason as to why the unsub did what he did and what drove him to it, to say it was vague is an understatement.

However, as always the episode looks great with the woods providing an appropriately unsettlingly dark atmosphere and the place where the children are imprisoned is something like out of a horror film. The filming is stylish, while also darkly gritty. The music is haunting and melancholic, and the direction throughout is solid and effectively gives a real sense of horror and dread.

Writing is smart and thought-provoking, faltering only really with some of the profiling, while the case itself was incredibly intriguing. It is very suspenseful, but it was the emotions that made it especially memorable. Season 6 never got darker than "Into the Woods" or more disturbing, especially Robert reuniting with Ana and making her promise she'll escape, which is really harrowing and heart-rending. What he goes through before this scene is left to interpretation and not shown, but what is strongly implied is gut-wrenching and we can only imagine the terror and horrifying nature of the situation, it is unthinkable.

In "Into the Woods" defence, the unsub's crimes were disturbing and sick and he was a depraved individual, and the episode does a great and realistic job at showing the full horrors of this and to me it wasn't that excessively done. Compared to 'Criminal Minds' previously in general it's a stretch but a bolder and darker tone is needed once in a while which was the case here. These kind of crimes and these kind of people do exist, and the episode shows the full horrors of the darkest and worst among us rather than sugar-coating.

All the acting is very good, the regular leads do their usual great work and Gill Gayle is absolutely terrifying as the unsub especially in his capture of the Brooks children (a real heart-in-the-mouth moment). The biggest surprise was the acting of the children, performances of rare naturalism and complexity. Particularly praise-worthy is the spell-binding turn from Gattlin Griffith (a contender for the best child performance on the show). He doesn't just recite lines or overly orchestrate what is being told of him, he lives his character and makes a compellingly real one through his nuanced facial expressions (like after he returns from his ordeal) and line delivery that never once rings false and makes one feel something.

On the whole, Season 6 at its darkest, most disturbing and most poignant, and while the profiling could have been better handled with less conclusion jumping it is one of the season's (one of the show's most hit and miss) better episodes too. 8/10 Bethany Cox


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