Criminal Minds (2005– )
3 user 1 critic

52 Pickup 

A greatly sadistic serial killer who disembowels women and forces them to clean it up before killing them proves difficult to catch thanks to his social charm and simple, yet clever, disguises.


Bobby Roth


Jeff Davis (created by), Breen Frazier | 1 more credit »

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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 (credit only)
Kirsten Vangsness ... Penelope Garcia
Thomas Gibson ... Aaron Hotchner
Currie Graham ... Viper
Meta Golding ... Jordan Todd
Gabriel Olds ... Robert Parker
Keri Lynn Pratt ... Ashley Holden
Riki Lindhome ... Vanessa Holden
Courtney Ford ... Austin
Joanna Cassidy ... Mrs. Holden
Kimberlee Peterson ... Melissa Foster


A killer is disemboweling women, keeping them alive for a few hours, making them clean up after their injury, then killing them. The original victims were prostitutes, but the latest victim, Vanessa Holden, was from a wealthy and prominent family, hence her murder being a different victimology. And this latest murder took place one year after the previous, Vanessa picked up at a nightclub. With a different victimology, the BAU determined that the unsub also had changed over the previous year. Finding who would have helped him "change" would assist in finding the killer's pattern and new motivations, namely why he moved from prostitutes to women just out for a good time. Prentiss and Todd may have uncovered a key piece of of puzzle when they track who they suspect of being the killer's teacher. This case also tests the new working relationship between Todd and Hotch. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-14 | See all certifications »






Release Date:

26 November 2008 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Thomas Gibson (Hotchner) worked with Cari Shayne (Det. Harding) in the TV movie The Inheritance (1997) based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott in which they starred opposite each other as unlikely lovers. See more »


The unsub uses a roll of tape to cover the victims mouth and then drops the roll into the bucket of cleaning solution. The thunk it makes shows the bucket is empty. See more »


Emily Prentiss: [opening quote, voiceover] Author Harlan Ellison wrote, "The minute people fall in love, they become liars."
See more »


Million Dollar Baby
Written by Phontaine Judd (as Phontaine)
Performed by Phontaine Judd (as Phontaine)
See more »

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User Reviews

Good premise, lacklustre execution
21 May 2018 | by kaleestrazaSee all my reviews

Criminal Minds is at it again with their trend of eschewing their horror-ridden, psych profiling roots for rote cop drama I could easily find in any one of the many police procedurals currently airing.

The idea of a serial killer disemboweling people and using the slow death that entails to force them to clean up their own blood and guts is uniquely horrifying in a way that, as the series grows, becomes harder and harder to find. Unfortunately, this episode contains almost no criminal profiling, and utterly fails to capitalize on that horror. Why a serial killer may choose this method of killing and this avenue of sadism is left entirely unexplored. There are no artistic shots inviting the viewer to understand what being victim to this killer might be like. We are given no insight into his daily life. Even after we find out why he commits these crimes and what his stressor was, there is no interesting psychobabble explaining it all.

The idea of a serial killer using oft-sociopathic PUA tactics was a great idea as well, one that predicted the recent Isla Vista and Toronto killings, but again, this episode fails to dissect and criticize the practice properly despite taking much time to present them. I have no idea why they missed the opportunity to go in-depth on why such techniques are poor and attractive to antisocial personalities.

The scene with Reid and Morgan was cute and a nice insight on them both. The filmmaking and script were competent, I suppose, if barren.

The time spent on things tangential or even outright extraneous to the case is disproportionate to how meaningful the scenes therein are. Take, for example, "What Fresh Hell" from Season 1, and compare it to this episode. It uses less than half the time that "52 Pickup" does to cover extraneous subjects, but somehow the scenes from "52 Pickup" with the sole exception of Reid and Morgan's one manage to be far less meaningful, informative, or realistic.

If these showrunners lack the ability to make plot-irrelevant information compelling, I suggest they give us more of what we came here for: Actual criminal profiling and infamous, mind-bending crime.

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