Criminal Minds (2005–2020)
21 user 1 critic

Riding the Lightning 

The team of investigators interview husband and wife serial killers with their execution date set for two days time.


Chris Long


Jeff Davis (created by), Simon Mirren | 1 more credit »




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Mandy Patinkin ... Jason Gideon
Thomas Gibson ... Aaron Hotchner
Lola Glaudini ... Elle Greenaway
Shemar Moore ... Derek Morgan
Matthew Gray Gubler ... Dr. Spencer Reid
A.J. Cook ... Jennifer Jareau
Kirsten Vangsness ... Penelope Garcia
Jeannetta Arnette ... Sarah Jean Dawes
Michael Massee ... Jacob Dawes
Roger Aaron Brown ... Warden Charles Diehl
Michael B. Silver ... Sam Shapiro
Constance Towers ... Deb Mason
David A. Kimball David A. Kimball ... Frank Sheffield
Cher Calvin Cher Calvin ... Lara Sedgwick
Ren Casey Ren Casey ... Riley


The team investigates the Dawes couple on death row in Florida State Penitentiary for thirteen (or more) murders on young blonde girls in 1985. A dozen girl's bodies were found buried under the sexual psychopath Jacob's garage after the police got an anonymous call. Sarah Jean Dawes (née Mason) 'the Ice Queen' only confessed killing her own two-year old son Riley, Jacob would have ordered her to kill him because he slowed down their flight. Sarah's mother Deb Mason claims she was a normal shy girl util she met Jacob, her late father was a strict soldier but hit his wife. Gideon concludes from a letter to her mother and an interview that Sarah Jean is physically innocent. She just blames herself for failing to stop Jacob and tipped the police herself. Jacob, who clearly craves notoriety, refuses to tell Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner or Jennifer "JJ" Jareau if there are more bodies. When told that Sarah got a stay of execution, Jacob spontaneously offers the location of their son's burial ... Written by KGF Vissers

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TV-PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


During the poker game the Jack of spades is in the killer's hand. When the camera comes back on the same hand, the Jack is now a Jack of Hearts See more »


In the closing scene, where Riley plays the cello, the cello-sound we hear doesn't match what Riley plays. See more »


Sarah Jean Dawes: [Gideon rushes in] My last supper. Like some? Look, it came with a toy
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Criminal Minds Theme
Composed by Mark Mancina
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User Reviews

One of the best episodes of television I've ever seen.
1 June 2011 | by boughton-brianSee all my reviews

The reviewers who criticize this episode for plot holes must not have been watching the rest of the season. The show requires a suspension of disbelief, as do most law enforcement shows based on the unique talents of a special group of individuals (Bones, Lie to Me, etc. etc.).

But this was one of the best written episodes of television I've seen. The acting was flawless. The writing was beautiful. The emotional power of the episode was stunning. It pulled at every heart string and had me crying out loud by the end. Of the episodes I've seen so far, definitely the best Criminal Minds case so far.

And the ethical implications... so beautiful... so tragic...

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USA | Canada



Release Date:

25 January 2006 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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