Criminal Minds (2005– )
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3rd Life 

Two teenage girls go missing, one of which is soon found dead and freshly buried. The team soon suspects that the killings are related to the witness protection program.


Anthony Hemingway


Jeff Davis (created by), Simon Mirren

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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
Fredric Lehne ... Jack Vaughan (as Fredric Lane)
Michael Harney ... Pat Mannan
Brian McNamara ... Bruce Owen
Cheryl White ... Lori Owen
Riley Smith ... Ryan Phillips
Gia Mantegna ... Lindsey (as Gina Mantegna)
Rick Otto ... Det. Payton
Hayley McFarland ... Katie Owen


In Chula Vista, California on a holiday long weekend, a dead body is found with the hands and face damaged to prevent identification. The authorities believe it is either one of two teen-aged girls, Katie Owen or Lindsey Vaughan. Both went to the movies together eighteen hours prior, but who have been missing ever since. The BAU also believe that the victim knew her murderer, hence the reason for the obliterated face and hands which will give the unsub extra time to escape capture. From a telephone call made just prior to the murder, the BAU have an identity of the dead girl and hope to find the other girl still alive. Profiling victimology, the BAU discover that one of the fathers of the missing girls is not who he appears to be on the surface. Following up on other leads, the BAU find another dead body - not one of the missing girls - which provides a clearer profile of the unsubs and thoughts of vigilante-ism. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-14 | See all certifications »






Release Date:

9 January 2008 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Stereo | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The William Shakespeare verse Hotch quotes is from Act 2, Scene 2 of "The Merchant of Venice". See more »


When trying to figure out the identity of Douglas Silverman, the first of the group of boys to be found dead, Reid lists off his physical attributes from a picture of the boy's body to help Garcia narrow down possible kids. Because of back lighting, you can see through the photo, and it is Douglas's school picture. They would not have this until he was identified. See more »


Dr. Spencer Reid: [Jack has his daughter's kidnapper at gunpoint] Jack, you swore to your wife you'd protect Lindsey. Listen to her, Jack. Listen to what she wants. She's... she's begging you to kill somebody right in front of her. What do you think your wife wanted you to protect her from? Jack... your life has been, uh... it's been about violence, and if... you do this, Lindsey's will be, too. Do you want that?
Ryan Phillips: [pleading] No, you don't want that.
Dr. Spencer Reid: When does it end, Jack?
Ryan Phillips: Put down the gun.
Lindsey: [whispering] Kill him.
Dr. Spencer Reid: ...
See more »


Featured in Criminal Minds: Unforgettable (2017) See more »


Criminal Minds Theme
Composed by Mark Mancina
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User Reviews

Solid episode but not spectacular
24 November 2016 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

"3rd Life" may be a lesser episode of Season 3 (which to me is a solid season and generally among the better ones of 'Criminal Minds'), "Birthright" being another. This said, even a lesser episode of Season 3 is leagues better than the worst of Season 9 and 11, those being among the show's low-points.

It is a solid and intriguing episode but not a spectacular one, that could have been better if some of the story was executed a little bit better. The motive for the unsub's crimes could have been made clearer and more expanded rather than being as vague as it was, so much so that it's hardly surprising that a lot of people missed it and questioned whether the episode provided one at all.

Even more could have been done with the mob lead, while somewhat clichéd it was a fascinating angle, it added a lot to the father character giving him a not-what-he-seems side to his character and was really starting to invest in it so when it was dropped it felt like it didn't amount to much. The US Marshall character was also an annoying, unpleasant and cold character, who didn't seem to give a monkeys for the case, which had real urgency and like a race against time for everybody else.

Much of the story however is very compelling. It begins very suspensefully, making one really care what happened to the girls and which one died and the details of the crime were shocking. Really felt for the parents here, while the climax (the most memorable thing about "3rd Life") disturbed me to the core and raised a number of moral questions. Reid questioning his actions gave a startlingly human side to his character, showing that even geniuses can make mistakes, he was developed very well too. The outcome and aftermath of the climax did seem unsatisfying and unrealistic at first, but after finding out the justification provided which was admittedly missed initially it was much easier to swallow. The father and the chilling character of Ryan were interesting characters, did feel sorry for the father while also being shocked by his past while Ryan is more and better developed than your typical teenage criminal.

Production values are high in quality as always, with a darkness and grit throughout particularly at the start. The music is haunting and melancholic, while the writing is tight and thought-provoking with interesting profiling (the climax dialogue, the team banter and Rossi wanting to play the voice mail with Prentiss protesting being highlights), great banter and the direction is solid, keeping the drama and tension alert while allowing breathing space. Character interaction is very strong here, with the team working really well as a team and the interaction between Lindsay and Ryan gives urgency and tension to the situation.

Acting is excellent. Not just from the leads, with particularly stellar acting from Matthew Gray Gubler but also from the support. Gia Mantegna is very good as Lindsay, while Frederick Lehne brings gravitas to his not what he seems role and Riley Smith's Ryan is chillingly played in a way that's not hammy or low-key.

Overall, solid episode but not spectacular. Proof that even a lesser episode to this particular season fares much better than those of latter seasons. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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