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Criminal Minds (2005–2020)
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True Night 

The team heads to LA to investigate a number of brutal killings which turn out to be related to the creator of a graphic novel, Jonny McHale.


Jeff Davis (created by), Edward Allen Bernero




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Mantegna ... David Rossi
Paget Brewster ... Emily Prentiss
Shemar Moore ... Derek Morgan
Matthew Gray Gubler ... Dr. Spencer Reid
A.J. Cook ... Jennifer Jareau
Kirsten Vangsness ... Penelope Garcia
Thomas Gibson ... Aaron Hotchner
Frankie Muniz ... Jonny McHale
Parry Shen ... Bobby Kim
John Walcutt ... Detective Brady
Ellen Hollman ... Vickie Wright
Sara Van Horn ... Helen Trestle
Craig Gellis ... Glen Hill
Steve Richard Harris ... Jasper
Johanna Parker Johanna Parker ... Jean


The BAU are brought to Los Angeles to investigate a string of seven brutal slayings over a two week period. The killings are what Reid describe as "overkill", suggesting that the single killer has suffered a psychotic break which prompted the killings. The overkill that Reid describes is the fact that the victims all had severed body parts, the severing done by a large sharp bladed weapon. When there are more killings, the BAU get a clearer victimology. Although the BAU are closing in at least geographically on the unsub, they get a major break when they are made privy to some drawings resembling the murders and murder sites. Meanwhile, Garcia returns to work after the recovery from her gunshot wound. She is frustrated to find that her office is not the way she left it. Written by Huggo

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TV-14 | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Nominated for a 2008 Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing in Television: Short Form Music. See more »


[first lines]
Jonny McHale: No one sees *True Night*, what's really there in the dark. It's not that they can't see, they simply don't. They feel an elemental force that scares them into deepest reaches of their minds. But they refuse to see the actual source. Something watching them just out of their reach. Something cold and frightening. Something inhuman.
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References 300 (2006) See more »


Harlem Nocturne
Written by Earle Hagen and Dick Rogers
Performed by Joe Augustine
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User Reviews

Different but incredibly powerful
15 July 2016 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

The third season got off to a rocky start with Gideon's departure (before "Children of the Dark" and "Seven Seconds" turned things around further in the right direction, but the first three episodes were surprisingly not too bad at all (far from it in fact) considering.

While it's not top-tier 'Criminal Minds', and some may find it too much of a departure to usual, "True Night" in my mind was a truly powerful episode. Sure people are not going to like that the unsub is known early on, that there is a lot of focus on him and that the role of the BAU is somewhat limited. Regarding this, some of the team not being in the episode long enough (Prentiss especially) and not enough profiling (which there is is done thoughtfully this said) was disappointing.

However, the unsub is actually an interesting one, which can be a danger with unsubs being introduced early on and being focused on-predominantly. A rare case of one feeling genuinely bad and sorry for the unsub, with a background story that will tear the heart and wrench the gut, after seeing a fair share of monsters with no redeeming qualities. Considering the brutality of the murders, this is something that comes across as a surprise to the team as well as the viewer.

"True Night's" visual style is another departure, the audacious but gritty typical 'Criminal Minds' style is maintained but it is mixed with scenes brilliantly constructed and shot in a graphic novel/picture sort of style, that's both harrowing and beautiful. Despite the differences, there is still enough of a 'Criminal Minds' feel, with the sweet scenes between Morgan and Garcia, Reid's facts and the banter between Morgan and Reid, the witty, gritty and adorable chemistry within the BAU and the psychology of the criminal's mind that helps one to understand why the unsub has unravelled so badly and that in a way he's very much a victim too, for 'Criminal Minds' this was different.

Edward Allen Bernero's direction is bolder than usual, but is paced in a way that takes time to absorb what's going on while still being told a lot. The script is thought-provoking and high in emotional impact, and the story is perhaps the most disturbing, powerful and heart-breaking of the third season (even more so than "Children of the Dark"). The characters are interesting and well-written, with a particularly great job done with the unsub.

All the acting is strong from the regulars, plus Joe Mantegna after an inevitably slightly shaky character introduction is settling in nicely. The biggest surprise was Frankie Muniz, who struck me on paper as too lightweight for such a meaty and intense role but actually he's a revelation in a role so far apart from his previous work, Muniz portrays Jonny as intensely dark and deranged but also tormented and heart-wrenchingly tragic in numerous sudden but seamless shifts from one to the other.

In conclusion, different but incredibly powerful. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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Release Date:

28 November 2007 (USA) See more »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Stereo | Dolby Digital


Black and White (some sequences)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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