Criminal Minds (2005– )
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The Uncanny Valley 

An unusual personal obsession is at the center of a BAU abduction case. Meanwhile, Hotch struggles with his return to work.


(as Anna J. Foerster)


(created by), | 1 more credit »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
... David Rossi
... Emily Prentiss
... Derek Morgan
... Dr. Spencer Reid
... Jennifer Jareau
... Penelope Garcia
... Aaron Hotchner
... Dr. Arthur Malcolm
... Samantha Malcolm
... Bethany Wallace
... Detective Marty Cotrone
... Linda Jackson
... Shop Manager
... M.E.
... Karl Wallace


In Atlantic City, New Jersey, two women have thus far been identified as having died at the hands of the same killer. Both victims were drug-induced paralyzed and still conscious during their two-month abduction, but otherwise well taken care of. Both were also petite but physically fit, and in life were fashion conscious, although the clothes in which they were found did not match what they would have worn in real life, these new clothes which were more doll-like. And both dead bodies were found in a place that represents a fun childhood, one on a playground swing, another on an amusement park carousel. Because the two women have no other similar characteristics beyond their small stature, the BAU believe the unsub to be a woman who is "collecting" the victims as surrogates for a doll collection that the unsub has lost. When the BAU learn more about the doll line that the unsub is mimicking and after one of the pieces of clothing is analyzed, they stumble across a lead to the unsub ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-14 | See all certifications »




Release Date:

13 January 2010 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Uncanny Valley is an idea created by Japanese robotics researcher Dr Masahiro Mori in 1970. Dr Mori made a graph showing, vertically, how well people accepted certain images and horizontally, how human the images were. He found that people reacted well to other people (who both looked and acted human) and also accepted images that acted human but didn't look at all human (like talking animals in cartoons). However, many people were repulsed by images that looked almost human (like zombies or talking skeletons). The chart looked like a pair of hills (high acceptance) with a valley in between (revulsion), which Dr Mori called the Uncanny Valley. The word "uncanny" had previously been used in a similar way by Ernst Jentsch and Sigmund Freud. It has been suggested that this response may be due to evolutionary pressure to maintain distance from people who are diseased or injured in order to avoid danger. See more »


The New Jersey license plates on the cars are shown to have a bright yellow stripe of about 2 inches across the top with the remainder of the plate being white. In actuality, New Jersey plates have a more beige-yellow tint at the top which fades very gradually toward the whiter bottom, so that there is no noticeable line differentiating the colors. See more »


Dr. Spencer Reid: [voiceover] Mildred Lisette Norman wrote, "Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you, and in this materialistic age a great many of us are possessed by our possessions."
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References Star Trek (1966) See more »


Criminal Minds Theme
Composed by Mark Mancina
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User Reviews

Both creepy and sad
25 November 2016 | by See all my reviews

Season 5 has had its ups and downs (though much less so than the succeeding seasons, with the exception of perhaps "The Fight" none of its lesser episodes come close to the low-points of Season 9 and 11).

Most of the season's episodes are decent to very good. There are disappointing episodes such as "Parasite", "The Performer", "Hopeless" and especially "The Fight" (the last one being a rare example of a Season 1-5 episode of 'Criminal Minds' that didn't feel like an episode of 'Criminal Minds' at all). At the same time, there are some great to outstanding episodes such as "100", "...A Thousand Words", "Mosley Lane" and this episode "The Uncanny Valley".

It is a shame that for my money a few of the BAU members are very underused, particularly Hotch and Morgan, particularly disappointing in the case of the former when from the IMDb summary you naturally assume that him struggling with work would feature more heavily. It is true also that the science is ludicrous, and while some will be willing to suspend disbelief (which was successful on my part) it is not hard to see why it won't be so easy for others.

All this aside, "The Uncanny Valley" strictly speaking is one of Season 5's best episodes. Particularly standing out here is the story, which is unsettlingly creepy but also equally sad that tearing up is guaranteed no matter how hard anybody tries to resist. Love the beginning and end scenes with the Reid and how the chess is incorporated. The episode also features one of the show's most sympathetic unsubs, despite her actions this is one that we do feel sorry for for her traumatic past and child-like and docile manner that makes one really believe that she is unstable and not that bad a person.

Production values as always are top-notch, with classy yet gritty photography. A huge kudos has to go to the make-up and costume department on the work they did on the victims, how they are made up is incredibly eerie and they actually do look like dolls. The music is one of the season's, and perhaps even the show's, most disturbing while also being emotion-filled being especially good at the end.

Writing has a great mix of eeriness and pathos, while the story is absorbing and rich in atmosphere. The direction is solid as rocks, doing nothing to hinder the tone and atmosphere of the storytelling, the pace is never rushed or dull and the acting from all is very good indeed. An ever excellent Matthew Gray Gubler (after not seeing enough Reid generally in the season it was wonderful to have him at the forefront, and the episode develops him splendidly) and an understated and moving but also somewhat chillingly psychotic Jennifer Hasty are the standouts. The victims are also wonderfully played.

To conclude, a creepy and sad episode and one of the best of the season. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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