Criminal Minds: Season 6, Episode 11

25 to Life (15 Dec. 2010)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 371 users  
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Hotch is off on leave, leaving Rossi in charge. Hotch has provided an electronic OK for Ashley Seaver to complete her remedial training at the BAU, she who wants to atone for the mistake ... See full summary »

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Title: 25 to Life (15 Dec 2010)

25 to Life (15 Dec 2010) on IMDb 7.9/10

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Aaron Hotchner (credit only)
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Don Sanderson
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James Stanworth
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Bill Codwin
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Mrs. Stanworth
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Young Mary Rutka
Mike Hoagland ...
Young James Stanworth
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Tom Wittman
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Storyline

Hotch is off on leave, leaving Rossi in charge. Hotch has provided an electronic OK for Ashley Seaver to complete her remedial training at the BAU, she who wants to atone for the mistake she made in the strangled women case in New Mexico. With support from Prentiss who would act as Seaver's agent supervisor, Rossi provides his reluctant OK. Meanwhile, the parole board has asked the BAU to do a risk assessment on Don Sanderson, who has served his minimum twenty-five years of a life sentence for killing his wife and daughter. A former medical resident, Sanderson has always professed his innocence, telling a story of two men and a woman who he saw commit the murders. Rossi delegates the task of the risk assessment to Morgan, who sees in Sanderson a man who has lived solely for the sake of his now grown son, Joshua, and being able to tell him what he knows to be the truth. Morgan provides his approval for Sanderson's parole. Two days after his release, Sanderson is charged with the murder... Written by Huggo

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15 December 2010 (USA)  »

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Trivia

Intro is 10:23 long, more than twice the usual 4:30. See more »

Goofs

When interviewing a convict to see if he is worthy of parole, the interview would happen in a meeting room, not in the convicts cell where the convicts on either side of his cell can hear everything being discussed. See more »

Quotes

Erin Strauss: My office will handle the press from here on.
Derek Morgan: That's unnecessary.
Erin Strauss: You don't need any more distractions. He looks genuinely distraught. He's very convincing. I can see why you fell for it. I don't need to remind you that your reputation's on the line here.
Derek Morgan: That's not what matters to me right now.
Erin Strauss: It should.
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One Thought
10 November 2011 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

This is a good episode. It could have been a classic, though. The main plot is solid, and while it isn't revolutionary (an man is out to prove he committed no murder), it is told in more confidence and without almost any of the usual stylistic problems that plague Criminal Minds (for once, the flashback at the crime scene doesn't come off as clumsy), and the guest actors perform really well. The best bit is that until the second kill after the man's release from prison happens, the viewer can't be absolutely certain that Morgan was right when he recommended to the parole board that the man be released back into society. From that point onwards, the main plot offers no surprises for anyone whose watched hundreds of episodes of crime procedurals. Though the way the BAU compare serial killers to power mad businessmen is borderline genius. They are, of course, completely right.

So, the lack of surprises in the second half is the first problem. Were it the only one, this would have been an *excellent* episode. But there is another problem: the way-overlong pre-credits sequence is, at 10½ minutes, simply a textbook example of a structural car-wreck and quite probably the longest pre-credits sequence on TV ever, anywhere. The *function* of the pre-credits sequence is to give a *taste* of what's to come, not to be a complete act in a four-act episode. Luckily, *this* time, it isn't that damaging to the overall dramatic structure.

But the most pressing problem is the character of Strauss. For a moment it seemed, that since Hotch is absent, we would be able to pretend his problematic character did not exist in the show, but then Struss walks into Rossi's office and delivers exposition with all the subtlety of a crowbar. How Hotch is *now* taking time off since it's *almost* a year since his wife was killed (actually, if the original air dates are to be taken as *approximate* dates when each episode takes place in the show's world, it's been 10 days shy of 13 months since she died). Anyway, the problem is Strauss was OK when Hotch *did* beat an unarmed, defenseless man to death with his bare hands, but when she learns that Morgan *may* have made an error in his profiling, thus leading to a killer being released, she goes all kinds of crazy, especially when she starts to want to play it safe near the end. There is *no* consistency in her character. She should have said, "You made a mistake, just like Hotch. And if that politician is the killer, go bust him. Beat him if you want to." This is sarcasm, just in case someone didn't notice - after all, the writers of Criminal Minds treat their audience like dullards most of the time, unlike, say, the writers of The Closer or the late, great, possibly never-to-be-beaten The Wire.

So, two points off, and we end up with a 7/10. Which is still good. Just not great.


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