Criminal Minds (2005– )
4 user

True Genius 

The BAU is called to San Francisco to investigate a possible Zodiac Killer copycat. Meanwhile, Reid wonders what he's done in his life as he reaches 30.


Glenn Kershaw


Jeff Davis (created by), Sharon Lee Watson | 2 more credits »


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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
Thomas Gibson ... Aaron Hotchner
Jeff Newburg ... Caleb Rossmore
Finn Wittrock ... Harvey Morell
Toni Sawyer ... Mrs. Zablonsky
Claudia Choi ... Agent Rebecca Lin
Marissa Armijo ... Marisa Devon
Joe Ford ... Dan Feinberg (as Joseph Fuhr)
Christine Garver ... Nicole Puli
Jonny Jay Jonny Jay ... David Atley
Jimbo Barnett ... Roger Smith


The BAU is called to the San Francisco Bay area when a young couple named David Atley and Nicole Puli are found shot to death, with evidence pointing to the unsub being the Zodiac Killer, who has not been heard from since 1974. The local police detective leading the investigation believes it to be the work of the real Zodiac Killer, but Hotch, Rossi and Reid believe that it is not, especially since there has been no evolution in the nature of these latest killings since those by the real Zodiac Killer. The team nonetheless follow leads back to the original investigation, including tracking those who were involved in that investigation as well as anyone who either wrote about it or tracked the investigation. They are hindered in the investigation by an anxious and sometime media hungry public who want to cash in on the Zodiac Killer's notoriety. They are also helped and hindered when they learn the unsub has a genius IQ, he who may understand the BAU's tactics. As the BAU goes through ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-14 | See all certifications »






Release Date:

18 January 2012 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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Did You Know?


Best-selling crime author Patricia Cornwell makes a guest appearance as herself. See more »


At the beginning of the show two men are playing chess in a park. The gray haired man moves, and calls check on his opponent. The man in the white shirt moves what looks to be his queen, across the board then calls check on the gray haired man. Since the man in the white shirt did not first move to get his king out of check, and the one move with the queen could not have accomplished this, he lost the game. See more »


Dr. Spencer Reid: Can I get a physical copy of the online version of today's paper?
Agent Rebecca Lin: You want a printout of the online version?
Dr. Spencer Reid: Yeah. With all the comments printed out as well, if possible, thanks.
Jennifer 'JJ' Jareau: Don't ask.
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Criminal Minds Theme
Composed by Mark Mancina
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User Reviews

'Criminal Minds' is on top form in one of the best episodes of Season 7
11 February 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

For me, "Foundation" and "True Genius" are the two best episodes of Season 7, which had a fair share of good episodes and a few mediocre or less episodes ("I Love You Tommy Brown" and "There's No Place Like Home" being the worst.

As always for 'Criminal Minds' (apart from a couple of exceptions), "True Genius" is stylishly filmed and atmospherically lit with a lot of grit and class. The music is haunting and melancholic, the pacing never feels rushed or drawn out, instead being very taut and gripping, and the direction lets the story breathe while never spoiling the momentum.

The writing is smart and thought-provoking and develops the characters and the adorable, family-like bond between the BAU beautifully. The balance between case, character development, any scenes with the unsub and the role of the BAU is wonderfully done and feels equal.

With the story, it may not be an original concept but that does not matter when the tension and suspense is so frightening, the personal moments and conflicts so heart-warming and emotional and the profiling and psychology so intriguing. Reid has always been one of the best characters on 'Criminal Minds', and one of the few reasons why the show is still being stuck with despite its staggering decline, and loved his development and his chemistry with the team, especially his sweet one with Prentiss.

Regarding the acting, that is top-notch (not very often was it less than very good, though admittedly coming from a fan there were exceptions). Matthew Gray Gubler is a revelation, while Jeff Newburg is skin-crawlingly creepy as a remarkably complex unsub.

Only the slightly anti-climactic ending disappoints, but not badly enough to bring down the episode.

In summary, one of the best episodes of Season 7 and sees 'Criminal Minds' on form. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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