Criminal Minds (2005–2020)
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The Tribe 

The massacre of students using Native American rituals leads the team to consult the reservation policeman, who is also an activist.


Matt Earl Beesley


Jeff Davis (created by), Andrew Wilder | 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
Gregory Cruz ... John Blackwolf (as Gregory Norman Cruz)
Chris Ellis ... Sheriff Rhodes
Robert Curtis Brown ... Peter Greisen
Eric Johnson ... Sean Hotchner
Chad Allen ... Jackson Cally
Skyler Shaye ... Ingrid Greisen
Geoff Meed ... Eugene Leland
Sky Soleil ... Kyle Van Owen


Aaron 'Hotch' gets a visit from his brother Sean, who intends to abandon the plan to study law, like their late dad and Aaron. Five students aged 19 are found horribly murdered in a vacant house in Terra Mesa, New Mexico, unbound, skinned alive, one impaled alive: traditional Indian torture methods. The team quickly suspects it must be the collective work of a 'pack'. First they consider the local reservation policeman Benjamin Blackwood's son John, a teacher noted for Indian activism. His tracker skills on the murder site concludes it was not the work of real Indians, as no tribe practiced all these methods, he agrees to act as a consultant. As the killers were probably not Indian but wanted it to appear so, next suspects are the heavily armed ADU. They were founded by local businessman Roy Minton, mainly recruiting from construction, to fight the Indian land claims. A fingerprint belongs to a sixth student, Ingrid Greisen. Her parents say they didn't even know she was missing as she... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Did You Know?


This episode reunites Gregory Cruz (John Blackwolf) and Chad Allen (Jackson Cally). The two previously worked together on Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman. See more »


When Gideon and Blackwolf walk out of the school, Blackwolf is putting his jacket on right arm first with his knife in the left hand and then moves the knife to his right hand. In the next shot, his left arm is already in the jacket and his knife is in his left hand as his puts his right arm into the jacket. See more »


Dr. Spencer Reid: I notice you don't carry a gun.
John Blackwolf: Twenty-one feet.
Dr. Spencer Reid: What?
John Blackwolf: Ask Agent Hotchner there. He's the real gun hand.
Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner: Why do you say that?
John Blackwolf: You carry two guns.
Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner: The maximum distance an attacker with a knife can close in the time it takes to react, draw your sidearm and fire is twenty-one feet.
John Blackwolf: Inside twenty-one feet, I win. Outside twenty-one, I have other options besides shooting a man.
Dr. Spencer Reid: Like negotiating.
John Blackwolf: Like running.
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The Scientist
Composed by Guy Berryman, Jon Buckland, Will Champion, Chris Martin
Performed by Coldplay
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User Reviews

While there are better episodes in the season, it is hard not to forget this episode
14 October 2016 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

For 'Criminal Minds', "The Tribe" is different, with a not yet seen before (for the show that is) focus on the Native American Indian Apache and more gruesome murders than usual.

By all means, "The Tribe" is not one of the best episodes of 'Criminal Minds', and there's also better in the season. This said, it is hard not to forget it, not just because it is a change of pace for 'Criminal Minds' and stands out as more unique compared to usual (in a fascinating yet slightly tonally odd way) but also there is a lot to remember about the episode's execution too.

Gideon, the show's most interesting regular team member at this point, takes a backseat and is very underused, and that is true sometimes for most of the team. The regulars that make the biggest impression here are Hotch, in what is at times a Hotch-centric (which is a dream come true for Hotch fans, and after seeing episodes throughout the show recently where he's invisible to see him used so well here was refreshing) and Garcia, who lightens things up masterfully back when she was a ray of sunshine and not a pale and annoying caricature. Reid also has a delightful scene in the classroom, and the depiction of the Native American Indian culture was intriguingly and sensitively handled rather than being stereotypical.

"The Tribe" benefits also from having strong supporting characters, especially the character of Blackwolf, who brings some welcome humour and great one-liners as well as being world-wise and sincere. The tribe of the title are chillingly sadistic and dangerous, and their leader a true psychopath in every sense of the word with not a redeeming quality in his body. Hotch's brother is good fun too.

Case itself is diverting, with some neat twists and turns, especially the revelation of who was behind the kidnapping (did not see that one coming) and the tribe's motivations for killing, and interesting profiling. The murders and modus operandi are very gruesome when being described, but maybe could have done with being a little gorier and a little less sterile (which would have made the team's reactions more horrified and not quite so indifferent) so that the viewer feels the full impact of the crimes.

Acting is very good, with Thomas Gibson and Kirsten Vangsness coming off best of the regular cast members and Gregory Cruz is excellent as Blackwolf. The direction is solid, the production values are stylish, the music is haunting and while lacking in tightness and polish in places the script does balance the humour and the serious at least very well.

On the whole, there are better episodes in Season 1 but "The Tribe" is certainly very high on the "memorable" and "different" factors. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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Release Date:

8 March 2006 (USA) See more »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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